Israeli Supreme Court seeks Palestinian access to land

Israeli Supreme Court seeks Palestinian access to land that used to be settler outpost
3 min read
12 December, 2019
Israel's top court has asked the government to allow Palestinian landowners to access Amona - a hilltop site near Ramallah from which hundreds of settlers were evicted two years ago.
Amona was evacuated by the Israeli army in 2017 following a Supreme Court ruling [AFP/Getty]

Israel's Supreme Court has asked that Palestinians be able to access the land that belongs to them in the occupied West Bank after it was cleared of an illegal settler outpost two years ago, Haaretz reported.

The request was filed by human rights group Yesh Din and concerns Amona, a hilltop site northwest of Ramallah from which hundreds of illegal settlers were evicted in 2017 following a Supreme Court ruling that the outpost was built on privately-owned Palestinian land.

Two years on, the Palestinian owners of the land have not been able to access the area because of a demarcation order.

The military order was placed shortly before the settlers were evacuated in 2017 to prevent them from returning.

Yesh Din is petitioning the Israeli army to allow Palestinian landowners to access the area while maintaing the order barring Israeli settlers from returning.

Israel claims that the order barring entry to the land is necessary to prevent friction.

Many settlers have managed to access Amona in the past years, even maintaining crops there and placing illegal structure.

In January, dozens of Israeli police officers were injured by stone-throwing settlers while evacuating the illegal settlement outpost in the occupied West Bank.

Hard-line Jewish settlers had set up two caravans at the Amona outpost the month before. Settlers threw stones, burned tires and threw iron bars at police officers who attempted to remove them, injuring more than 23, Israeli media reported.

One officer was stabbed in the hand, while four settlers were also injured during the violent clashes.

The evacuation was carried out after a court ruling on Wednesday rejected the settlers' petition against eviction.

Amona outpost was dismantled in early 2017, but Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed to build a new settlement to replace it.

Pro-settlement hard-liners who dominate Netanyahu's coalition and oppose Palestinian statehood on security or religious grounds had pressed him to keep that promise.

The decision to evacuate the illegal Amona outpost had threatened to tear apart Netanyahu's coalition government.

Work began on the Amichai settlement in the occupied West Bank in early 2018, the first new government-sanctioned settlement since 1991.

Under international law, all settlement construction is illegal, but Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it does not, such as outposts.

Read more: Israel's Netanyahu pushes Jordan Valley, West Bank settlements annexation plan as third election looms

Settlers have, however, built homes without legal permits since 1991, with the Israeli government retroactively legalising them.

More than 600,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, in constructions considered illegal under international law.

Along with stealing land, Israeli soldiers and settlers routinely harass Palestinians in the occupied territories in various ways.

Israel has launched a new settlement push in the occupied West Bank since US President Donald Trump took office, laying the groundwork for what could be the largest construction binge in years.

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