High Court: Don’t Evict Bedouin Interlopers From State Land

Maale Adumim. (Yaniv Nadav/Flash90)

After refusing to back down on ordering the demolition of what it said was illegal construction in Amona last week, the High Court this week did an about-face and ordered the state to find a solution that would allow a group that had taken over state land in Yehudah and Shomron and settled there for decades to remain in place. The ruling seeks to legalize the presence of the Jahalin Bedouin tribe, which has illegally occupied over 12 kilometers of strategic land between Yerushalayim and Maale Adumim.

The tribal leaders in 1989 signed an agreement in which they promised to leave the area, which was slated for future development, when asked. That request came in the mid-1990s, when the state decided to build in the area — also known as the E1 region — but some of the Bedouin refused to go. In 2008, the state began proceedings to evict them, and in 2013 the group appealed to the High Court. In response, the state said it was willing to make arrangements with the Bedouin.

The Bedouin asked the court to freeze the proceedings against them indefinitely, while they searched for ways to legalize their presence or find alternative places to settle. The court accepted this request, limiting the freeze to as long as was needed to develop a solution. “The state will keep an open mind about ideas for a solution to the issues presented by the petitioners, based on the suggestions the state itself made on the matter.”

In any event, the court said in its decision that it preferred to work out these matters by compromise, and that it was “worthwhile to find a solution that will be acceptable to both sides.”