Israel’s Supreme Court has ordered the removal of an illegal Jewish-only settlement built on privately-owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, according to a Reuters report.
Established 20 years ago after claiming to have received the Israeli authorities’ approval, Mitzpe Kramim outpost occupied the hilltop overlooking the Jordan Valley currently housing about 40 families.
However, accepting a petition by Palestinian plaintiffs submitted in 2011, Israel’s top court overturned a 2018 District Court ruling that infuriated the Palestinians, by giving legal recognition to the outpost.
The 2018 ruling was based on an Israeli law that states that transactions with legal errors can be validated if conducted in “good faith”, without prior knowledge of Palestinian ownership, or if the government had ordered homes to be built there.
The Supreme Court concluded that Israeli authorities had not acted in good faith by “turning a blind eye to the many warning signs given over many years” which pointed to the land’s Palestinian ownership, Reuters reported.
The court gave authorities 36 months to find alternative housing for them.
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in a statement: “I’m saddened by the High Court wrong decision ordering the evacuation of Mitzpe Kramim. I instructed the director general of my office Ronen Peretz to meet with the community’s representatives. We will do everything possible to keep the residents where they are and are convinced that we will succeed in this.”
Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett called it “an outrageous ruling that has neither logic nor justice,” reported the Times of Israel.
Roughly 650,000 Israeli settlers live in illegal settlements built in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967. All settlements and outposts are in breach of international law.