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Israel court 'legalises' West Bank outpost in precedent-making decision

An Israeli court made a "precedent-setting ruling" yesterday, accepting the ownership claim made by settlers inhabiting an illegal outpost in the occupied West Bank, reported Haaretz.

According to the Times of Israel, the ruling used "an unprecedented legal tactic that could pave the way for regulating dozens of other illegal hilltop communities beyond the Green Line".

The Jerusalem District Court ruled that "the illegal outpost of Mitzpeh Kramim in the West Bank can be legalised, even though part of the land on which it is built is not state-owned land and Palestinians have claimed ownership."

The judge accepted the residents' "legal claim…based on the 'market overt concept' of property ownership, in which transactions conducted in good faith under certain conditions are considered valid – even if they have certain legal faults, such as in the case of the sale of stolen goods."

READ: New Israel settlement outpost established in northern West Bank

According to Haaretz, "Mitzpeh Kramim was built in 1999, near the settlement of Kochav Hashahar northeast of Jerusalem, on six plots of land: Five are privately owned and one is state land. The government allocated the land in the 1980s to the World Zionist Organisation."

Israeli occupation authorities have claimed that "the government did not know at the time that the land was privately owned because of confusion in the mapping of the area, and now admits that the land should not have been allocated to the settlement."

Right-wing MK Bezalel Smotrich of the Jewish Home welcomed the ruling as "a small step, but a big hope. This decision is a knockout. An important step in the right direction".

The Yesha settlement umbrella council described the decision as "important and joyous", and claimed it would allow settlers "to begin the legalisation process at other sites as well".

The Peace Now settlement watchdog, meanwhile, said "the court chose to align itself with the values of the annexation and dispossession project of the Israeli government".

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