Attorney General Approves Seizure of Abandoned Palestinian Land for Access Road in Yehudah and Shomron

The construction site of the new town of Amichai, for the evacuated residents of Amona. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

In an unprecedented decision, the Israeli government on Wednesday approved the expropriation of abandoned Palestinian land to build an access road for an outpost community in Yehudah and Shomron.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said that the road could be constructed in Haresha for the use of evacuees from the Amona outpost who were promised temporary housing there while a new town is being built for them in Amichai.

Mandelblit’s decision follows a ruling by now-retired Supreme Court justice Salim Joubran in which a majority of the judicial panel concurred, that abandoned private Palestinian land could be seized for the housing of the Amona families while they wait for permanent accomodations in Amichai. The only stipulation was that the original owners must be compensated.

Furthermore, according to Joubran’s opinion, residents of Yehudah and Shomron constitute a protected population that the army is responsible for, including among other things, the paving of roads.

Adding to the controversial nature of Wednesday’s decision is the fact that Haresha itself was established without government approval in 1995, in the Binyamin region near Talmon, and had been ordered to cease construction in 2005 following a legal petition by Peace Now.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who requested a review of the access road issue, welcomed Mandelblit’s recommendation in a statement. “The decision is another step toward the realization of the rights of hundreds of thousands of residents in Yehudah and Shomron,” she said.

However, the implications of the case may not be as broad as she would like. Mandelblit’s adviser Gil Limon told The Times of Israel that very specific circumstances allowed for the seizure, suggesting that proponents of Jewish building in the region should not hasten to extrapolate from this case.

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