Israel’s High Court of Justice on Sunday dismissed a petition by Palestinians against a deal cut between settler residents of an illegal outpost and Israeli authorities.
The 12 Palestinian petitioners claim they have the rights to the land on which the Evyatar outpost was established, and therefore assert that the deal, under which the settlers left the hilltop so that authorities can determine its status, was “blatantly illegal.”
Israeli authorities cut the deal with the settlers last month. In exchange for them leaving the outpost, the makeshift buildings they installed remained in place, and the Israel Defense Forces turned the area into a makeshift base. Over the coming months, the Defense Ministry will survey the land to determine its status and see if it can be legally transformed into a formal settlement.
Responding to the Palestinian petitioners, the justices wrote on Sunday that as the land survey is ongoing, it is impossible to determine yet what areas of the land, if any, are privately owned by Palestinians.
The three-justice panel of David Mintz, Yael Willner, and Yitzhak Amit found that the petitioners’ claims were “speculative.” They also wrote that there was “no basis” for an assertion by the petitioners that the outcome of the land survey was a foregone conclusion.
The court noted that if any of the structures were found to have been built on privately owned land, they would be evacuated.
However, Amit wrote, “the state will do well to clarify how hundreds of people came to squat on the land in the first place.”
The Evyatar outpost was established on Jabal Sbeih back in May, with hundreds of settlers flowing into the area and holding regular events in an attempt to push the state to legalize the outpost.
Palestinians say the plot is privately owned by residents of the nearby village of Beita.
In recent months, at least seven Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops during violent clashes near the outpost.
On Saturday evening, Palestinians protesting against the outpost set fire to a Star of David combined with a swastika.
Images posted on Palestinian media showed the makeshift construction and dozens of torches being prepared for nightly demonstrations near the West Bank town of Beita. Later, footage showed the structure set on fire.
The protests against Evyatar, built on a hilltop overlooking Beita, have continued despite settlers leaving the hilltop.