Israel's top court rejects petition against illegal outpost
Israel's High Court unanimously rejected on Sunday a petition against the government's agreement with West Bank settlers on the illegal outpost of Evyatar, located in a rural Palestinian area south of Nablus.
Twelve Palestinians had petitioned the court to invalidate a deal between the government and the settlers, whereby the outpost’s structures are to remain intact if the land is deemed state-owned.
The petitioners claimed to be in possession of the rights to the land on which the Evyatar outpost was constructed, saying the government's deal was "blatantly illegal".
The court said it had denied the petition because it was submitted before the ownership of the land had been thoroughly assessed.
The three-justice panel of David Mintz, Yael Willner, and Yitzhak Amit found that the petitioners' claim that the land survey would reach a foregone conclusion to be "speculative".
Over the coming months, the defence ministry will survey the land to determine its status and see if it can be legally transformed into a formal settlement.
However, Justice Amit has criticised the authorities for allowing "illegal trespassing on a mass scale".
Justice Amit added that "the establishment of the illegal outpost went together with an undermining of security stability in the area in a period of complex security in the country".
A number of attempts have been made in recent years to establish an outpost on the land.
In May, after the shooting attack that killed Yehuda Guetta - a 19-year-old student at a Jewish seminary in the Itamar settlement - the outpost was illegally established on land belonging to three Palestinian villages - Beita, Qabalan, and Yatma.
Six Palestinians have been killed in protests over the Israeli outpost, which takes its name from Evyatar Borovsky - a 39-year-old Israeli man killed in a knife attack at Tapuah Junction in 2013.
Israeli settlers had been ordered to vacate Evyatar in July, following the agreement struck with the government that allowed their unauthorised constructions to remain intact.
Before leaving, the settlers erected a 13-meter-high iron Star of David facing the nearby Palestinian village of Beita with the message "we will return".