The Israeli Civil Administration is planning to confiscate 180 dunums (180,000 square metres) of private Palestinian land belonging to the residents of the villages of Ein Yabrud and Silwad near the West Bank city of Ramallah to build a sewage treatment plant to serve the Mateh Binyamin settlement bloc.
Several years ago the villages' residents petitioned against the project taking their case to the Israeli High Court through the Yesh Din organisation. The court ruled on their side, but Israeli media revealed today that the Israeli Civil Administration was planning to confiscate the land despite the court's decision.
Israel's Walla news site said the Israeli Environmental Protection Ministry and Civil Administration endorsed a new scheme which aims to legalise the confiscation and submitted it to the government's legal adviser for approval.
Although Palestinians will lose their land to the project, they will not benefit from it.
Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group, said the court's deliberations revealed the existence of criminal aspects to the project and questioned the government's motives to confiscate 180 dunums to establish a project which needs much less space.
Yesh Din attorney Shlomi Zacharia said that although Israel has vowed not to confiscate private Palestinian land for the benefit of the settlements, it plans to legitimise the confiscation and provide retrospective coverage for legal violations it has committed against the Palestinians and their properties.