JERUSALEM — Israel’s Supreme Court has cleared the way for Jewish settlers at an outpost in the occupied West Bank to stay at home, overturning an earlier eviction order that determined the outpost had been improperly built on private Palestinian land.
In their decision, a panel of judges concluded that although the Mitzpe Kramim outpost was built on private Palestinian land, it was allocated to settlers in “good faith” by the Israeli government. Therefore, the 40 Jewish families living there remain, the judges said.
Palestinians and human rights groups fear this will set a precedent for future disputes over Jewish settlements built on private Palestinian land.
Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement watchdog, called the decision an “absurd decision.” According to the group, around 150 unauthorized outposts dot the West Bank. Peace Now fears Wednesday’s decision could open the floodgates for other similar decisions.
“These outposts in the future could be recognized by Israeli law,” said Mauricio Lapchik, a spokesman for Peace Now. “That’s the biggest danger.”
Israel seized the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war and built more than 130 authorized settlements there, many resembling small towns, complete with apartment buildings, shopping malls and industrial areas . The Palestinians want the West Bank to form the main part of their future state.
While Israel differentiates between recognized settlements and unauthorized outposts, the international community overwhelmingly views all settlements as illegal and obstacles to peace.
Israel refers to the West Bank by its biblical name, Judea and Samaria, and regards it as the heartland of the Jewish people. He sees the West Bank as disputed territory and says its fate should be up for negotiation. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks broke down more than a decade ago.
In 2018, the Jerusalem District Court issued a ruling legalizing Mitzpe Kramim, saying the settlers who purchased the land acted in “good faith” and were unaware they were building on private Palestinian property.
This decision was appealed to Israel’s Supreme Court, which ordered the evacuation of residents of Mitze Kramim. Wednesday’s decision by a larger panel allows the settlers to stay put.