Move is Netanyahu government's first confiscation of land in the territories.
By Chaim Levinson
For the first time in three years, the state has confiscated uncultivated land in the
Last week, acting on orders from the government, the Civil Administration declared 189 dunams of land belonging to the Palestinian
An Ottoman land law dating from 1858 allows uncultivated land to be declared state land. This law, which is still in force in the
According to last Sunday's decree, the lands in question belong to the
After the Peace Now and Yesh Din organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice against the construction in 2005 and 2009, the Civil Administration reviewed the land's legal status. Since
In 2004, then-Prime Minister Ariel
This is the current government's first such expropriation of lands. The last lands to be similarly expropriated were 20 dunams near Betar Ilit that were declared state land in November 2008 to allow the construction of a gas station.
The declaration is another move toward retroactively legalizing Hayovel. The Palestinians now have 45 days to appeal to the military appeals committee. But the road to full legalization is still long, as the entire settlement of Eli lacks an approved master plan.
Peace Now chairman Yariv Oppenheimer said Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were going to great lengths to legalize isolated outposts deep in the territories, even if this involves land expropriations, but "as far as evictions are concerned, the state is dragging its feet." He said this will encourage settlers to keep building illegally.
Eli's mayor, Kobi Eliraz, said he is glad the state is making progress toward formalizing the status of the Hayovel neighborhood.
For background on the state-funded building of the illegal settlement outpost of Hayovel near the West Bank settlement Eli, on privately-owned Palestinian land, see "New Support for West Bank Outpost," BBC, March 26, 2009