Palestinians argue in court against Efrat expansion

Locals protest plan to classify 120 hectares of property in the Efrat settlement as state land before High Court of Justice.

Efrat settlement 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner )
Efrat settlement 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner )
Palestinians on Wednesday argued before the High Court of Justice that the state’s plan to classify 120 hectares of property in the Efrat settlement as state land was discriminatory.
The court held a hearing Wednesday on a 2009 petition against the move by neighboring Palestinians, represented by attorney Sani Khoury.
He argued to the court that within the 120 hectares were lots that privately belonged to Palestinians and two that had belonged to the Jewish National Fund.
But he noted that the state was only classifying the Palestinian property as state land, but was not doing so to the Jewish property.
The state in turn argued that the issue was whether the land classification was consistent with the abandoned property regulations under the former laws of the Ottoman Empire and that the issue of discrimination was irrelevant.
According to Efrat Council head Oded Revivi the land in question is located on a hill called Eitam that was part of the original plans for the settlement drawn in 1983.
Most of the land has not been cultivated and is located outside the settlement’s builtup barrier. Residents of Efrat, however, have built a farm on some of the JNF land.
Efrat has initial plans – which have yet to be processed or approved – to build 2,500 housing units there.
Revivi said that the land has been classified as state land under the Ottoman Empire, but that it now needed to be recertified.
The civil administration, he said, began that process in 2000, during which time the Palestinians filed nine appeals, eight of which they lost, according to Revivi.
They did win one appeal, and those hectares were removed from the parcel that the state is looking to classify, he said.
Once the military appeal process was exhausted, he said, the Palestinians then turned to the HCJ with the claim of discrimination.
Khoury could not be reached for comment.