Palestinian village council heads of A-Sawaya, Luban a-Sharqiya, and Qaryut, with Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights and Yesh Din, today petitioned the Supreme Court demanding it prevent the Civil Administration from approving a detailed master plan for the settlement of Eli. According to the petition, 221 dunams not declared as state land are included in the settlement master plan. Their inclusion in the settlement plan effectively expropriates these lands, without public announcement or right of appeal, gravely violating the rights of residents of the neighboring Palestinian villages. The petition also calls on the Court to order the Civil Administration to halt all new construction and refrain from granting construction permits in the plan area. The petition was submitted after the Civil Administration rejected an objection to the plan submitted by Bimkom and the councils of A-Sawaya, Luban a-Sharqiya, and Qaryut, claiming the master plan does not include a new declaration of state land, only a “technical” correction of mistakes made during the 1983 declaration of state lands.
Submitted by Attorneys Michael Sfard, Shlomy Zachary, and Muhammad Shuqier from Yesh Din’s legal team, the petition argues that Eli’s master plan now includes some 1,000 dunams and authorizes the construction of 620 housing units, of which many have already been built illegally prior to the plan. According to Supreme Court rulings and several State commitments, settlements may be established or expanded only when land has been declared government property or if it was purchased by Israeli citizens. And yet, the plan for the settlement of Eli includes extensive areas never declared as state land. According to on-site measurements, 221 dunams – approximately 22 percent of the total plan area – are not included in the only declaration of state land completed in the area in 1983. The Civil Administration’s “Blue Line Team” re-examined the borders of the 1983 declaration and decided on substantial and extensive changes without any due process. In so doing, the State has effectively violated the Palestinian residents’ right to appeal the decision at the Military Appeals Committee. In addition to violating the rights of Palestinian residents in the neighboring villages, the settlement master plan is a substantive violation of administrative norms, as the Civil Administration’s Blue Line Team is not authorized to declare state land.
Architect Alon Cohen-Lifshitz of Bimkom: “Israel declares that it does not build settlements on land other than state land. Yet the Civil Administration’s Blue Line Team has declared various lands to be government property without any possibility of appeal. This practice enables the ongoing theft of Palestinian property, both private and collective.”
Attorney Shlomy Zachary of Yesh Din’s legal team comments on the petition: “The Civil Administration’s shortcuts to promote construction plans in settlements repeatedly lead to violations of the rights of Palestinian residents and communities. The thirst for land annexation and expropriation is unquenchable. In addition to the daily price Palestinians must pay, this process also contradicts the basic principles of the rule of law.”