(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Yesh Din on Monday filed a petition to the High Court of Justice seeking to return to the Palestinian village of Anata several hundred dunams of land, which the IDF seized in 1975 primarily for the creation of the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.
The actual 1975 seizure order was for 30,000 dunams from a number of Palestinian villages, but the court case has focused only on those dunams which the Ma’aleh Adumim Municipality never used.
Some of that unused land falls outside the city’s boundaries and is under the jurisdiction of the Binyamin Regional Council.
Yesh Din also asked that the land be removed from the jurisdiction of Ma’aleh Adumim and the Binyamin Regional Council, so that its owners could freely access it.
In its petition to the court, Yesh Din referenced a 2001 HCJ ruling which stated that land seizure orders should be rescinded if the reason for the property’s expropriation no longer existed.
If the several hundred dunams in question have not been used for the last four decades, then it is clear that the rationale for expropriation no longer exists, Yesh Din argued.
Restoration of the land to its owners from Anata addresses a wrong that was committed in 1975, Yesh Din said. It claimed that the entire seizure order was illegal, because its stated purpose to create the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim is not a legally recognized reason to expropriate land under Israeli or international law. So the state cannot claim that the land could be used in the future.
The group’s attorney, Shlomi Zacharia, who is representing the Palestinian land owners in this matter, said, “It’s unacceptable that Palestinian land that was expropriated, but never used for the purposes of the expropriation, should be annexed to a settlement in the West Bank.
“The expropriation of land for Ma’aleh Adumim was itself illegal to begin with and failure to return the unused property adds one more sin to this crime,” Zacharia said.
Ma’aleh Adumim, which is located just outside of Jerusalem, is the third largest Jewish city in the West Bank.
Its mayor, Benny Kashriel, told The Jerusalem Post
that the city’s attorney had just received a copy of the petition and is studying the matter.
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