Decades on, state to return unused land to Palestinians

Decades on, state to return unused land to Palestinians

Cancellation of 1,700 dunams worth of seizure orders from 1970s and 80s in central West Bank comes after High Court petition

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

General view of the settlement of Ariel, January 17, 2014. (Flash 90)
General view of the settlement of Ariel, January 17, 2014. (Flash 90)

The government is to cancel decades-old land seizure orders for 1,700 dunams of Palestinian land in the central West Bank because no use was made of the plots.

Most of the land in question lies near Jalud, north of the Sholih settlement, with an additional few dozen acres near Mukhamas, outside Ramallah.

Orders issued by the IDF in the 1970s and 1980s appropriated the areas covering about 420 acres. With the seizures set to be revoked, the land will return to Palestinian control.

The development, announced this week, came after two High Court petitions filed by the rights group Yesh Din together with five council heads of Palestinian villages in the West Bank.

The petitions were filed several months ago by Yesh Din attorneys Shlomy Zachary and Muhammad Shuqier, who argued the appropriation orders should be canceled because the only use that was made of them was the installation of a small IDF post that took up only one dunam (0.2 acres) and which has since been abandoned.

“It is a shame that it was necessary to petition the High Court to get the state to return the private land to its owners,” said Zachariya. “The IDF needs to do some housekeeping and immediately return all that lands that were seized for no real reason, as is required by law and common sense.”

The land in the area of Jalud was seized in 1978 as part of a program to allocate plots for settlement construction. The program was canceled a year later by the High Court. Since that time the land has remained unused.

The land near Mukhamas was appropriated in 1978, 1980, and 1984, the Hebrew-language Walla news website reported, but was never put to use.

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