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Monday, November 26, 2012

Part of Beit El to be declared 'illegally built'?

I've had this one sitting open for a while, but it was pushed aside for Operation Pillar of Defense. It's still relevant.

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court gave the State of Israel and an alleged Arab landowner four months to address the question of whether private building on land taken by the state for military purposes before 1979 is illegal and must be demolished. The question relates specifically to Beit El, which is in Samaria (and which has already had one neighborhood demolished for similar reasons), but there are 40 Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria where land was originally taken for military purposes before 1979, and subsequently housing was built upon the same land. The magic of 1979 is that a Supreme Court ruling from that year related to Elon Moreh, in Northern Samaria, made it illegal for Jews to build upon private land that was originally taken by the government of Israel or the IDF for military purposes.

This is from the first link.
The court cautioned the plaintiff and the defendant against viewing the decision as a sign of support for one side or the other. At issue are five apartment buildings, two of which are already under construction and three others which a developers hope to build.
The nongovernmental organization Yesh Din, which represents the Palestinian land owner, attacked the state.
The state’s argument as already partially stated, both in a September brief to the court and in a hearing on Sunday, runs counter to 33 years of legal interpretations with respect to a 1979 High Court Decision that dealt with the Elon Moreh settlement. In that ruling, the court prohibited Jewish construction on private Palestinian property seized for military purposes.
Following Alon Moreh, the government turned its focus to the development of state land for West Bank settlements.
The state is trying to upend 33 years of legal precedent, Yesh Din said.
It added that if the state’s “new” arguments, as they referred to them, are validated by the court, it would impact private Palestinian property located within the boundaries of 40 West Bank settlements.
Yesh Din first filed a petition with the court in December 2010, on behalf of a resident of the nearby Palestinian village of Dura al-Quara. In April 2011, the state promised to remove the buildings, but has subsequently changed its position, and is now looking to legalize them.
The court’s interim decision on Sunday was that the state would have four months, until March 11, 2013, to elaborate on its position.
The state said that its request to continue with the building and legalize the land are not a question of an old or new position.
According to the state, until recently, not all of the legal tools available for legalizing and promoting building in the West Bank were being used.
Attorney Chani Ofek, representing the state, said that military orders applying to the structures in question had been issued prior to the 1979 Elon Moreh decision.
Ofek added that the same military orders that apply to these structures were the basis for the entire Beit El settlement.
Thus, according to Ofek, the idea of fulfilling the “potential” of the Beit El settlement and the rights to use these lands predated the Elon Moreh decision, and cannot be “reversed” by that decision.
My guess is that no one has a clue how many people would be impacted if the court decided to expel all the Jews who live on land like this, and that's one of the issues that needs to be addressed. But either way this is not good. At some point, you have to see that use of land for a certain amount of time is enough to create ownership rights (it's called adverse possession in the US). 33 years and up ought to be more than enough time, regardless of whether the buildings were built legally or not. It's outrageous to expel people from their homes due to technicalities so many years later.

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