Israel seeks to resume building on private Palestinian land in 40 West Bank settlements

on 19 Comments
Illegal construction work resumes in the West Bank settlement of Beit El.
Photo by Azmi Badeer / Yesh Din

Only a few months after Israel carried out the High Court ruling to evacuate the illegal settlement buildings of Uplana, which was built on private Palestinian property, the State is back in court working to retroactively legalize illegal structures. As new illegal construction resumes only a few meters from the evacuated buildings , the state is claiming that old military expropriation orders in effect prior to a 1979 court order, known as the Elon Moreh ruling , allow for construction on privately owned Palestinian land.

Press Release Yesh Din:

The state wants to officially renew building on private Palestinian land in 40 settlements built on land seized by military orders before 1979.
By pursuing this policy the state is renouncing the Elon Moreh ruling. The decision has momentous international consequences because it violates commitments the government of Israel made in the “road map” and at the Annapolis summit.

The state’s response to the court indicates that the political echelon intends to legalize the construction – which is on private Palestinian land – since there is nothing to preclude it from doing so in this case (according to the state’s position) in order to exhaust the full building potential of Beit El and preserve the interests that led to the establishment of Beit El; furthermore, the seizure order was issued before the Elon Moreh ruling was given.

This means that in 40 existing settlements built on the basis of military seizure orders (orders issued for temporary military-security needs) where construction continued after the Elon Moreh ruling, the state’s position is that exhaustion of the planning channels should be permitted. The state concedes that issuing new military seizure orders to build civilian settlements has been forbidden since the Elon Moreh ruling was issued, but maintains there is no preclusion to realizing those that were issued before the ruling for civilian construction, even if it is not military (and cannot be military).

Haim Erlich, Yesh Din executive director: “In its eagerness to pursue building for Jews only, the state continues to violate the right to private property of the Palestinians it is obligated to protect, while trampling on Supreme Court rulings that were accepted by Israeli governments through the ages, and in blatant violation of international law.”


The government is working to enable new construction and has retroactively approved existing construction on private Palestinian land in more than 40 settlements, based on old expropriation orders that were issued for military purposes.

The efforts were revealed in the state’s response to a High Court of Justice petition filed by the Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights organization regarding the non-enforcement of demolition orders issued for structures built in Beit El on private land.

In the submission to the court, the State Prosecution acknowledged that some 40 Israeli communities in the West Bank were erected totally or partially based on expropriation orders for private land issued for military purposes.

The prosecution admitted that construction continued in these communities even after the Elon Moreh ruling of 1979, which stipulated that the army had power to confiscate land only for pure military purposes, and not for civilian settlements. But, the state argued, that ruling “does not prevent exploiting the potential of these communities.”


The petition was submitted by attorneys Michael Sfard, Shlomo Zaharia, Avisar Lev and Mohammed Shaqier, from the Yesh Din legal team. 

Ynet quotes Dror Etkes, and activist who documents illegal settlement construction:

“It seems that in order for these phenomena to stop, the State of Israel would have to undergo brain marrow transplant so as to replace the criminal DNA that has taken over the government.”

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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19 Responses

  1. seafoid
    September 13, 2012, 4:48 pm

    It hardly matters at this stage. The endgame will come when the world realises what the Israelis have done in Gaza. Made it uninhabitable.
    And then it will be irrelevant how many Jews make Erez Israel hashlemah.
    Because it will just be a massive hash. And that will be the end of Zionism.

  2. DICKERSON3870
    September 13, 2012, 9:51 pm

    RE: “The state wants to officially renew building on private Palestinian land in 40 settlements . . . By pursuing this policy the state is renouncing the Elon Moreh ruling. The decision has momentous international consequences because it violates commitments the government of Israel made in the “road map” and at the Annapolis summit.” ~ Yesh Din Press Release

    MY COMMENT: A “nation of laws”, my ass! ! !

  3. DICKERSON3870
    September 13, 2012, 10:08 pm

    RE: “As new illegal construction resumes only a few meters from the evacuated buildings . . .” ~ Annie Robbins

    • HYPOTHETICAL COMMENT AT YNET NEWS MADE BY SOMEONE FROM CALABASSAS, CALIFORNIA: “Illegal” construction? NONSENSE! Any and all construction by Jews for Jews in Judea and Samaria is absolutely legal because G_d gave all of that land to us Jews. It is part of G_d’s covenant with us!
    And don’t give me any guff about needing to get a stinking “permit” from the Israeli Civil Administration. G_d didn’t say anything about us Jews needing a silly “permit” in order to build! It’s not in the covenant!

    SEE: “A Serial Obstructionist”, By Rachel Tabachnick, ZEEK – Forward, 3/15/10

    (EXCERPTS) . . . Shortly after Vice President Joe Biden’s arrival in Israel, Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat were the headliners at Pastor John Hagee’s two-hour Christians United for Israel (CUFI) extravaganza at the Jerusalem Convention Center. . .
    . . . Monday’s CUFI production was based on the concept of “biblical Zionism,” or the belief that God mandates nonnegotiable borders of Israel, and any leader or nation who thwarts this divine plan will be cursed. Before introducing Netanyahu, Hagee stated, “World leaders do not have the authority to tell Israel and the Jewish people what they can and can not do in Jerusalem.” He added, “Israel does not exist because of a decree of the United Nations in 1948. Israel exists because of a covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. . . The settlements are not the problem.”
    In his books and sermons Hagee has promoted a “greater Israel,” that will reclaim all of Israel’s former biblical territory, stating “In modern terms, Israel rightfully owns all of present-day Israel, all of Lebanon, half of Syria, two-thirds of Jordan, all of Iraq, and the northern portion of Saudi Arabia.”
    At the Jerusalem CUFI event Hagee described Ahmadinejad as the Hitler of the Middle East who could turn the world upside down in 24 hours, words similar to those he made when lobbying for the attack on Iraq. . .
    . . . During a performance by singer Dudu Fisher, the God TV camera panned to the audience and centered on Joel Bell, leader of Worldwide Biblical Zionists. WBZ is currently building a center in Sha’ar Benjamin for “facilitating absorption” of Christian Zionists into the West Bank. It was established after a joint meetingheld in Texas of the Board of Governors of World Likud led by Danny Danon, and World Evangelical Zionists led by Joel Bell. Speakers included ZOA’s Morton Klein. . .


    • DICKERSON3870
      September 13, 2012, 11:32 pm

      P.S. FROM WIKIPEDIA [Land of Israel]:

      (EXCERPT) The Land of Israel (Hebrew: אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל‎‎ ʼÉreṣ Yiśrāʼēl, Eretz Yisrael) is a name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant (also known in English as Canaan [after the original inhabitants of the land according to the Bible], Palestine [after what Roman Judaea was renamed after the Romans ended the Bar Kochba revolt, Syria Palaestina], the Promised Land [after the Biblical promise of land to Abraham and his grandson Jacob (called Israel) and his sons in perpetuity], or simply the Holy Land [after its religious signification in both the Jewish and Christian religions]). The religious belief that the area is a God-given inheritance of the Jewish people is based on the Torah, especially the books of Genesis and Exodus, as well as the Prophets. According to the Book of Genesis, the land was promised by God to the descendants of Abraham through his son Isaac and to the Israelites, descendants of Jacob, Abraham’s grandson. A literal reading of the text suggests that the land promise is (or was at one time) one of the Biblical covenants between God and the Israelites. . .

      SOURCE –

      • seafoid
        September 14, 2012, 10:05 am


        I was talking to a Sephardi Israeli the other day who finds it appalling that Ashkenazi Jews make pilgrimage at Rosh Hashana to the grave of Rav Nachman in Uman, Ukraine because “there is no possible way that Ukraine could be more holy than Erez Israel”.

  4. ColinWright
    September 13, 2012, 10:32 pm

    This is definitely an ‘only in Israel’ legal argument.

    More to the point, the Netanyahu administration probably wants to ram this through while the Obama administration is paralyzed by the upcoming election. It might prove trickier after the second tuesday in November.

  5. Annie Robbins
    September 13, 2012, 11:14 pm

    i liked the quote about the brain marrow transplant.

  6. American
    September 13, 2012, 11:58 pm


    Israeli immigration authorities jailed newborn baby in detention facility
    Haaretz-Sep 12, 2012
    Immigration authorities jailed a newborn baby at Saharonim prison last week. Following pressure, the authorities have promised to remove the ..

  7. Ctwosides
    September 14, 2012, 3:20 am

    I don’t know about you folk, but I have to wonder how is this settlement building going to end unless either the Israeli Citizens vote out Netanyahu, Danon, Lieberman and at least most of the rest of the Likuds? OR, in the absence of that near impossibility taking place A U.S. President is going to have buck the Israeli Lobby AIPAC stranglehold in the US, Congress and the Senate, as well as the very loud Christian Fundi’s led by Hagee’s CUFI and threaten to end the billions in aide to Israel unless those damn Settlements are stopped completely.

    Its going to take some major and drastic changes creating some rough times to get the Israeli Leadership to stop this intransigence. I don’t see it happening unless they are forced to do it, they’ll never come to fairness on their own and the longer this goes the worse it will get for the victimized Palestinians.

    Just imagine being a Palestinian whos home was destroyed or their farm taken for “Military Purposes” and then learn that it was taken permanently away for Jewish settlements. All this while knowing that US Christians send money to assist the Jewish settlers on that land. Just imagine if anything similar happened in 40 locations in the US to 1000’s of we US Citizens, would we be able to have patience and not get violent about our homes and lands being stolen from us ? No add that these kinds of theft have been going on since the Palestinians were run out of their homes in Jerusalem and all over what is now Israel. Frankly Its a miracle to me that the Palestinians are at all peacefull toward these thieves and settlers, and I’ve only touched the highlights of the miriad of mind bending and enraging aspects of daily life for Palestinians under the Israeli Occupation, Settlement building and apartheid system they face daily.

    The US has paid dearly for supporting the Israeli Leaderships unfairness for all these years and this cannot go on and on and on, without things getting much worse where our relations with the middle east in particular and in the eyes of the rest of the world also. THIS HAS GOT TO BE BROUGHT TO AN END. (sadly I don’t see Obama developing enough spine to bring it about, it would be great for the sake of the Pal’s and the Israeli Citizens, but I just don’t see it happening under his second term)

  8. ColinWright
    September 14, 2012, 4:53 am

    Ctwosides says: “…Just imagine being a Palestinian whos home was destroyed or their farm taken for “Military Purposes” and then learn that it was taken permanently away for Jewish settlements…”

    I doubt if they would be surprised at all. Why would they have any illusions about the nature of the Jewish state?

  9. amigo
    September 14, 2012, 5:12 am

    Why would land need to be seized under Military Orders if there is no Occupation.

    Will Justice Levy and crew be up in arms about this.

    Israel continues to tighten the noose around it,s own neck.

    You gotta love it.

  10. amigo
    September 14, 2012, 6:06 am

    When will Obama grow some balls and do something about this rogue state.

    Or is he also just standing back watching Israel commit suicide.

  11. Kathleen
    September 14, 2012, 9:21 am

    Israel continues to expand their apartheid state.. Normalized Apartheid

    • seafoid
      September 14, 2012, 11:33 am

      It’s the remorseless logic of the organ. But the organ can’t see very far ahead and is oblivious to danger.

  12. manfromatlan
    September 14, 2012, 10:42 am

    Funny how Jim Crow laws in the United States and apartheid laws in South Africa start to look almost benign in comparison. They at least had codified laws and a constitution, however reprehensible, to adhere to.

    Israel has no constitution, and its laws are applied unevenly to all the people under its control, so when its Supreme Court can’t even enforce its own rulings, it might qualify as as a mongrel form of ‘democracy’, but certainly isn’t ‘civilized’.

  13. eljay
    September 14, 2012, 11:44 am

    >> Israel seeks to resume building on private Palestinian land in 40 West Bank settlements

    This is worth getting riled up about.

    • manfromatlan
      September 16, 2012, 12:52 pm

      And destroy 740 dunums of Palestinian land to build a Jews only access road. What next, a burning Star of David on someone’s lawn?

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