Nine homes in the outpost Derech Ha’Avot are facing a new threat of demolition if the High Court rules in favor of a petition by the Leftist Yesh Din NGO.
The group claims all nine of the homes, which are under construction, are located on private land belonging to residents of the nearby Arab village of al-Khader.
Derech Ha’Avot (Footsteps of the Patriarchs) was established in 2001 as a neighborhood of Elazar, formerly a moshav, located along Highway 60 in Gush Etzion. Today the community is 60 families strong.
The Civil Administration has determined that most of the land in the community rests on property that is not private and never was privately owned by any Palestinian Authority Arab. It therefore can be declared state land.
However, the Yesh Din NGO has declared its intent to appeal this ruling. In addition, the organization has succeeded in winning a High Court ruling to order the demolition of 17 homes built on what it claims is private Palestinian Authority property within the outpost. Derech Ha’Avot has until mid-September to appeal that ruling.
The Gush Etzion Regional Council is proposing a land swap – or re-parceling plan – known as “united and divide” in order to save those 17 structures. This would offer alternative land in the same area to the Palestinian Authority owners, in exchange for the 17 lots on which the current structures are located, so they may be declared ‘state land.’
Because of all this wrangling, the bureaucratic procedures to declare the outpost property as state land cannot be completed until court proceedings have finished.
Yesh Din meanwhile continues to tie up that process with a petition to halt construction, claiming that no building can take place until the outpost is ‘legalized.’
Four cases were opened against the outpost, and then closed. A fifth was filed jointly by Peace Now together with the alleged Palestinian Authority Arab land owner in 2008, and then closed two years later when the State declared its intention to legalized the outpost.
In a petition to the Supreme Court submitted in 2008 by the leftist Peace Now organization together with Munir Mussa, the alleged owner of the land on which a single house was in question, subsequently demanded the entire outpost be evacuated.
Hana Levi Julian