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Israel approves construction of road on confiscated Palestinian lands

Nov. 24, 2016 10:21 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 25, 2016 4:20 P.M.)
(File)
QALQILIYA (Ma’an) -- The Israeli Civil Administration’s higher planning committee approved constructing a bypass road on confiscated Palestinian lands in the northern occupied West Bank on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma’an that the committee had approved the construction of a road on lands of the village of al-Nabi Elyas.

They added that the construction would begin in around a month, and was expected to be completed in a year and a half.

According to the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ), 97 percent of al-Nabi Elyas lands are located in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control.

Nearly 44 percent of the village’s lands have been confiscated to build the illegal Israeli settlement of Alfei Menashe, according to ARIJ.

Earlier this month, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected an appeal filed by residents of al-Nabi Elyas over Israel’s confiscation of 100 dunams of Palestinian land for the road, claiming that the Palestinian villagers could not prove ownership of the land.

In 1966, when Jordan was in control of the West Bank, the Jordanian government decided to declare hundreds of dunams of land as state land. After Israel took control of the West Bank, Israeli authorities allocated much of the declared state land for the building of settlements.

Since Israel is an occupying power, under international law it is obliged to act within the confines of the local laws of the occupied territory, which in Palestine refers to the British, Ottoman Empire, and Jordanian legal systems.

According to Jordanian law in the West Bank, the state is allowed to declare land “state land” only if it is to be used for the “public benefit.” However, Israel repeatedly uses already declared state land for the sole benefit of Israeli settlers, while also declaring 41 percent of land in the West Bank as Israeli state land through a variety of land confiscation strategies implemented after 1967, according to ARIJ.

The court said earlier this month that the road would benefit both Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the area. However, Hebrew news sites reported on Wednesday that the road would be used by Israeli settlers to avoid driving on roads near Palestinian villages where some youths throw stones at vehicles.

The decision from the Supreme Court came as the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, approved a preliminary reading of a bill which would retroactively legalize settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank, which are currently deemed illegal under both Israeli and international law, even those built on privately owned Palestinian land.
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