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Palestinian villagers lose appeal against land confiscation

Court rules ‘no proof of ownership,’ says road to be built on land near Alfei Menashe settlement will serve Palestinians and Israelis

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

The West Bank settlement of Alfei Menashe (Wikimedia Commons/Jonathan Schilling/CC BY-SA 3.0)
The West Bank settlement of Alfei Menashe (Wikimedia Commons/Jonathan Schilling/CC BY-SA 3.0)

The High Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by Palestinian villagers against Israel’s confiscation of 25 acres (a tenth of a square kilometer) to build a West Bank road.

The court said the villagers of al-Nabi Ilyas had failed to prove ownership of the land.

The court said that the road, near the settlement of Alfei Menashe, would benefit Palestinians as well as Israelis.

It added that if the Palestinians could prove ownership even after confiscation, they would be eligible for compensation, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported.

Construction of the road is due to start in January.

A bulldozer levels land for a construction project in the West Bank, as Israeli soldiers look on. (YouTube screenshot)
A bulldozer levels land for a construction project in the West Bank, as Israeli soldiers look on. (YouTube screenshot)

The Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem, a Palestinian nonprofit organization researching environmental, agricultural, and water issues, said nearly 44 per cent of land available to the village had been confiscated in the past to build the Alfei Menashe settlement, which is located nearby on the seam between Israel and the West Bank.

Plans to run a section of Israel’s security barrier through the area would also isolate the village from “agricultural lands and open spaces which were previously considered the only chance for the village residents to build and expand in the future,” the organization said.

In January 2015, the government published tenders to build an additional 78 homes in Alfei Menashe.

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