Israel says will legalize West Bank homes built on private Palestinian land

Moti Milrod / Haaretz)
State tells court it will retroactively legalize structures in Alei Zahav, invoking new legal mechanism for the first time.

By Yotam Berger | Haaretz | Feb 10, 2019

According to a Civil Administration document submitted in the past to the High Court, there are at least 1,048 structures built on West Bank land mistakenly thought to be state lands. According to the same document, 1,122 additional structures in the West Bank were built in breach of planning laws more than 20 years ago.

The state informed the Jerusalem District Court that it will retroactively legalize structures built in part on private Palestinian land in the West Bank settlement of Alei Zahav.

In doing so, the state will for the first time invoke a legal mechanism the attorney general approved in December, senior sources say. Alei Zahav is a secular settlement located close to Route 5, which links Ariel and the Greater Tel Aviv area.

According to the legal mechanism approved in December, it is permissible to retroactively authorize illegal construction on private Palestinian land if the land was allotted “in good faith,” meaning if the state erroneously believed that it was state lands when it allotted it.

After the West Bank was occupied in 1967, Israel used now-obsolete surveying technology to declare certain areas as state land, but these plots were not always marked accurately on maps. A Civil Administration team is now using new technology to correct the line, known as the “blue line,” retroactively, finding that some areas that were thought to have been state lands were actually never seized by the state.

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