THE OFRA SETTLEMENT is seen from the Amona outpost in the West Bank..
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
The attorney-general has decided to “refresh” administrative procedures when defining the municipal jurisdictions of settlements in the West Bank so as to give greater standing to Palestinians who claim their rights are being violated by land allocations.
The decision comes following a petition to the High Court of Justice by the head of the municipal council of the Palestinian village of Jalud and the Yesh Din NGO demanding that the court instruct proceedings for the demarcation of settlement jurisdictions be made public and transparent.
Yesh Din argues that decisions regarding the demarcation of settlement jurisdictional boundaries are made behind closed doors and not made public, preventing Palestinians who might be affected from gaining knowledge of possible expansions of existing or new settlements.
The NGO said that such expansions often include privately owned Palestinian land that has been seized for military needs or expropriated for public use which it says is then deemed to be public land and that this practice is unlawful and contradicts previous High Court rulings.
The state said in response to the petition on Sunday that the attorney- general intends to “refresh instructions for the procedures for demarcating Israeli jurisdictional boundaries” in the West Bank.
This will include contacting directly “private, interested parties who are likely to be harmed by the decision,” and allowing Palestinians to submit requests for changes to the boundaries once they have been determined.
Yesh Din’s petition also included demands to annul the boundaries of the new Amichai settlement, being built for the former residents of the illegal Amona outpost which was dismantled earlier this year, which the NGO says includes parcels of private Palestinian land.
However, the State Attorney’s Office rejected Yesh Din’s claims, saying that the Amihai municipal boundaries include only state land. It acknowledged that the municipal boundaries surround and close off some parcels of private Palestinian land, but claimed that the landowners will be able to use them with advanced coordination with the relevant authorities and in accordance with the prevailing security situation.
Yesh Din expressed strong criticism of the state’s decision, saying that instead of determining a procedure allowing the public to express opposition to boundary demarcations in the West Bank and protect the rights of private landowners, the state “created a tortuous solution that is intended to preserve the current situation,” giving preference to settlements over the rights of Palestinian landowners.