Netanyahu vows to stop high court demolition order of settler homes

Houses were built on private Palestinian lands in unauthorised West Bank outpost

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu: ‘All avenues will be explored to keep the residents where they are and we’re convinced that we will succeed in this.’  Photograph: Debbie Hill/Pool/EPA

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu: ‘All avenues will be explored to keep the residents where they are and we’re convinced that we will succeed in this.’ Photograph: Debbie Hill/Pool/EPA

 

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has vowed to prevent the implementation of a high court demolition order of settler homes that were built on private Palestinian land in the unauthorised Mitzpe Kramim outpost in the West Bank.

“All avenues will be explored to keep the residents where they are and we’re convinced that we will succeed in this,” he said.

The court ruling, accepting a petition by Palestinian plaintiffs, overturned a 2018 lower court decision that had declared the settlers the legal owners on the basis that the Israeli authorities were unaware the land was privately owned when they originally mapped out the area. The justices said the person in charge of the government property “closed their eyes to the numerous warning signs over the years”.

The state was given three years to find alternative accommodation for the 45 settler families on the Jordan Valley hilltop, which overlooks the ancient Palestinian city of Jericho.

The Israeli right views the judiciary as part of a left-wing elite that invariably rules in favour of Palestinian land claims. Ayelet Shaked, the former justice minister from the right-wing Yamina party, called the decision an “accursed ruling” and said justice had not been done.

Crushed rights

Settlers were already angry with the government after plans to annex up to 30 per cent of the occupied West Bank under the terms of US president Donald Trump’s peace plan were ditched as part of the agreement by the United Arab Emirates to normalise ties with Israel.

Now, they fear the high court ruling will act as a precedent in regard to privately owned Palestinian hilltops seized across the West Bank.

Yisrael Gantz, the head of the Binyamin settlers’ council, north of Jerusalem, called on Mr Netanyahu to intervene.

“The high court judges have crushed the human rights of 250 residents and instructed the ruin of a living, thriving settlement,” he said. “The settlement was built with the authorisation and consent of all state authorities. The responsibility for preventing the injustice lies on the shoulders of the prime minister, the defence minister and the elected public officials.”

The Yesha settler’s council described the decision as “dictatorial” and “discriminatory” and called on the government to immediately order increased settler construction in response.

“We demand that the prime minister give a proper Zionist response and immediately approve the construction of thousands of housing units throughout the settlements,” it said.

A Mitzpe Kramim spokesperson stated: “The high court of Justice has determined that a settlement in Israel should be destroyed. Once again, justice did not stand with the 45 families and 250 residents who live there. But we will not despair, and we will change the ruling through legislation.”