In early May, more than 50 Jewish families packed up and moved to a hilltop in the West Bank of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
They quickly built modular houses, synagogues, nurseries, and even dug a playground to claim a piece of land that they had neither bought nor inherited.
These settlers referred to it as the Evyatar outpost, named after Evyatar Borosky, a Jew who was allegedly killed by the Palestinians in 2013.
According to international law, all settlements or outposts — after Israel’s commitment to freeze settlements under the Oslo Agreement in 1993, continue to demand back doors in the Palestinian territories — are considered illegal.
The Evyatar outpost is notable because it is also illegal under Israeli law.
In addition, it appeared when US President Joe Biden took over as President. Donald Trump Israel has witnessed the change of government, a multi-party coalition of left, right and center parties.
The land is also in a strategic location. It is located in the Jabal Sabih area of Beita and Yatma villages south of Nablus, and it is expected that this area will become part of the future Palestinian state. The settlements here will break the continuity of the Palestinian territories.
last week, The settlers were eventually expelled The Palestinians celebrated this as a victory for their resistance. However, analysts warned that the celebration was premature and unfounded.
Al Jazeera interviewed several experts who said that the deportation did not reflect changes in Israeli policy, but merely demonstrated how the Israeli state deployed its tools to facilitate systematic theft of Palestinian property.
The settlers were not condemned by the state for illegally confiscating land that did not belong to them, but instead made promises.
Israeli media reported that Naftali Bennett, the new Israeli prime minister and a staunch supporter of illegal settlements, offered settlers an agreement that the state will determine whether the land can be classified as ” State-owned land”, if it is-the expected conclusion of the state is reached-even if it is located in a Palestinian village, it will be handed over to the settlers.
Hagit Ofran, the executive director of the Settlement Watch project of the Israeli NGO Peace Now, speculated this for Al Jazeera. “It published: the settlers left; the house is still there; the army sets up military outposts; the government begins the process of declaring state-owned land,” Overland said.
Israel legalized these outposts or settlements through a harsh interpretation of the Ottoman law. If the land has not been cultivated for several years, it will become the property of the state.
However, Peace Now asserted that the Evyatar outpost was actually built on “Palestinian private land” and that Aerial photos from 1980 It shows that part of the land is even “cultivated”-which means that it cannot be regarded as state-owned land.
However, the state may just confiscate it for settlers because it has done it hundreds of times. Israel has settled 441,000 settlers in 280 settlements on Palestinian land of more than 2 million dunams (one dunam equals 1,000 square meters) in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
It passed a series of discriminatory laws in order to be able to confiscate Palestinian property.
Absent Property Law
Israel used the Absent Property Law to claim the land it forced the Palestinians to abandon during the 1948 and 1967 wars. It also deployed a series of strategies to declare that all unregistered land-excluded by the Ottoman Empire and British occupiers and believed to occupy two-thirds of the West Bank of the Jordan-may be “national” land.
Peace Now pointed out that Palestinian land has also been confiscated in the name of archaeological and tourist purposes, and if purchased from Palestinians, mandatory measures are almost always passed.
According to B’Tselem, the Human Rights Information Center for the Occupied Territories, Israel provides tax incentives for settlers to build houses and open Israeli industries in these territories. The Israeli state also encourages Jews to establish agricultural farms and allows extensive takeover of Palestinian farmland and pasture.
“In the past ten years, 40 such farms have been established, effectively taking over tens of thousands of dunums,” B’Tselem confirmed in a report in March.
Anwar Mhajne, an assistant professor at Stonehill College and a political scientist specializing in international relations, stated that Israel suspended the land registration process in 1968, allowing any unregistered land to be marked It is state-owned land.
She added that Israeli law allows the Israeli government to confiscate private land for Palestinian public necessities and then transfer it to settler infrastructure.
“However, Israel uses this law to seize private land for the construction of isolated roads connecting settlements,” Mhajne said. “Relying on similar laws in East Jerusalem, Israel established 12 settlements in East Jerusalem.”
Mhajne added that if the land south of Nablus is granted the status of state-owned land, Palestinian experts worry that this may become a dangerous precedent. This will encourage “settlers to build more illegal settlements to force the government to recognize them, even if they are illegal”.
Ines Abdel Razak, a member of the Palestinian think tank Al-Shabaka and director of the Palestinian Institute of Public Diplomacy (PIPD), stated that many illegal outposts are being legalized.
“The Israeli settler colonization project that began a century ago had a clear goal: to obtain the largest land with the fewest Palestinians,” said Abdul Razak. “Today in Jerusalem and the West Bank, whether in Sheikh Jala, Sylvan or Beta, this is very obvious.
“From the Absence of Property Law to settlement enterprises in the West Bank, the policy and practice has been to establish Jewish settlements and drive Palestinians out of their homes.”
According to a report released by Human Rights Watch in May last year, Israel’s boxes in Palestinian communities — refusing to adapt to their natural population growth — are not only in the West Bank, but also in Palestinian towns and villages within Israel.
It said that the State of Israel controls 93% of all land, including East Jerusalem, and has delegated the task of managing these lands to a state agency, the Israel Land Administration. But this institution is dominated by the Jewish National Fund, and its “clear mission is to develop land for Jews and not for any other population group.”
The report also cited a 2017 survey that stated that although Palestinians account for 21% of the Israeli population, less than 3% of the land is under the jurisdiction of Palestinian municipalities.
What will Biden do?
The fate of Palestinians fighting unequally with state-backed settlers now depends on how Biden handles the matter when he meets with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett later this month or early next month.
Will Biden pull him up and demand that the settlement be frozen, or will he just slap him and agree or disagree?
Ofran of Peace Now stated that if the United States ignores it, Bennet certainly hopes to continue to “legalize” all outposts.
Overland said: “The question is how much pressure from within the government and the world will prompt him to avoid doing this.”