(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The High Court of Justice has dismissed a bid by Palestinians to reclaim the land on which the illegal West Bank herding village of Khan al-Ahmar is situated.
The three judges upheld the Civil Administration’s classification of the property as state land, even though prior to 1975 it had been owned by Palestinians from the village of Anata, just outside of Jerusalem.
The court’s dismissal of the case on January 7, passed almost unnoticed, in spite of the massive publicity Khan al-Ahmar has received.
The Khan al-Ahmar residents had hoped that a positive ruling in the case could provide them with sliver of hope that they could prevent the pending IDF demolition of their homes, located just off of Route 1 near Kfar Adumim.
The Jahalin Bedouin of Khan al-Ahmar had wanted to see court approval for the Palestinians of Anata reclaim the land, so they could bolster their campaign to remain at their current location with the permission of the Anata landowners.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to remove their encampment, which sits on land which Israel plans to develop. The HCJ has ruled that there is no legal impediment to the demolition of the community’s shacks and tents.
But to date, no action has been taken. According to Khan al-Ahmar spokesperson Eid Abu Khamis Jahalin, the Civil Administration this month told the residents that the state now plans to relocate them close to the sewage treatment plant by Nabi Musa.
Initially the 2015 case filed by the left-wing NGO Yesh Din, bore little connection to the Khan al-Ahmar case.
Yesh Din, on behalf of the Anata residents, had asked the state to rescind a small portion 1,000 dunams of the 1975 land expropriation order for 30,000 dunams used to create the settlements of Ma’aleh Adumim and Kfar Adumim.
Yesh Din had argued that the land should be returned to Anata, because the state had failed to develop it.
Some of the land was within the boundaries of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement and some was within the auspices of the Binyamin Regional Council.
As the case progressed, the number of dunams under question was reduced to 288 dunams, including the Khan al-Ahmar encampment.
The judges said that in hindsight, it appears that the expropriation did not service the needs of the Palestinian population and did advance the interests of the settlements.
But they noted that the expropriation occurred 40 years ago, and that it is now a fait accompli. While the land in question has not been used to date, it is part of the larger development plan that already includes the city of Ma’aleh Adumim and the nearby settlement of Kfar Adumim.
It added that regional transportation will run through this area and as a result, the only logical step was to dismiss the petition.
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