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Palestinian landowners file claim for Amona relocation site

Dec. 20, 2016 11:41 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 20, 2016 5:35 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A Palestinian has filed an appeal claiming ownership of land that the Israeli government allocated for the evacuees of the illegal Amona outpost, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Tuesday.

The appeal follows a deal struck on Sunday after weeks of discussions trying to assuage settler anger over the mandated evacuation, when the government said the settlers could be moved to a nearby hilltop to lease was is ostensibly absentee property that has been abandoned by its owners.

An objection was filed on behalf of the landowner by Attorney Shlomo Zacharia of Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, which came as the latest claim on the land to emerge since the government revealed their plan.

According to Haaretz, the land in question is plot 38, where 24 housing units are supposed to be constructed for the evacuees.

The Amona outpost was slated for demolition by the Israeli Supreme court by Dec. 25, on the grounds that it was built on privately-owned Palestinian land. However, the agreement on Sunday was based on a request by the state of Israel that the court postpone the eviction by an additional month to allow time to built housing on plot 38.

The Israeli government has reportedly said that construction of Amona’s new housing can commence on plot 38 since the land has already been allocated.

In Yesh Din’s objection arguing that the land has not been abandoned, Zacharia wrote that there was evidence supporting a number of other claims to land earmarked for the Amona settlers, in the Palestinian village of Silwad, Ein Yabrud, and other neighboring towns.

After receiving documents filed by Yesh Din on behalf of Palestinian landowners in recent weeks, Justice Ministry officials admitted that an initial examination indicated that the complainants do have a connection to the land in question, according to Haaretz.

Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now published a map earlier this month of the four plots of land the Israeli government was setting aside for Amona’s evacuees.

At the time, the appeal for plot 38 had not been submitted, nor had any appeal been submitted for 28 or 29. However, an appeal had been submitted regarding plot number 30 by one of its owners, who Peace Now said shared ownership over the entire plot with other Palestinians.

“In an unprecedented move, the government now seeks to divide the plot and then use the proportion of the land which is not owned by the petitioner for the relocation of the Amona settlers,” Peace Now said.

Referring to all four plots, Peace Now asserted that “These lands are private lands and their use for the purpose of settlement is contrary to previous legal opinions of the (Israeli) State.”

Mayor of Silwad Abd al-Rahman Salih told Ma’an on Monday that the municipal council had already been notified by Israeli authorities of plans to confiscate the privately-owned land in the town's outskirts.

"Israel claims the new land slated for confiscation has been deserted by its owners who live abroad," the mayor said. “We have all the documents to prove that the land is a private property of the town, known locally as Hawd Shbeikat. But this (Israeli) government brushes aside even the decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court." Salih said claims to the land in question have also been filed by Yesh Din.
Dec. 13 (Peace Now)
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