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World Zionist Organisation gave private Palestinian land to settler outpost

November 13, 2017 at 10:39 am

A Palestinian woman walks past a house belonging to a Palestinian family in Maaleh Rehavam on 17 May 2013 [Mamoun Wazwaz/Apaimages]

The World Zionist Organisation (WZO) gave privately-owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank to an unauthorised settler outpost, Israeli newspaper Haaretz revealed today.

According to the report, the WZO’s settlement division handed over 12.5 acres of land to Ma’aleh Rehavam, a settlement outpost south of Bethlehem, despite having no authority to do so.

The settlement division is “considered a quasi-private entity”, relates the paper, operating “as a branch of the WZO”, and, though “not under the direct authority of the Israeli government”, is “completely funded by the Israeli taxpayer”.

While its main role “is to manage land in outlying areas of the country”, in reality “a large part of the settlement division’s work is focused beyond Israel’s sovereign borders, in the West Bank”.

Israeli authorities “allocate land to the settlement division, which is responsible for managing it. The settlement division in turn then provides it to various communities”.

Read: Palestinians stand alone in defending their land

In 2002, a WZO settlement division official wrote to the residents of Ma’aleh Rehavam, announcing the provision of 50 dunams (0.005 square kilometres) of land “for the planting of olive and almond groves and for vineyards”.

The land in question, however, was privately-owned Palestinian land.

Haaretz notes that “this is not the first time the settlement division has turned over land that it had no right to”, citing nine homes in Ofra settlement evacuated by court order earlier this year, as well as a case in Beit Horon settlement of “state-owned” land being unilaterally allocated for construction.