Jewish National Fund Board to vote on $18m purchase of [occupied !] Palestinian land in Jordan Valley

Middle East Monitor  /   August 4, 2022

The Board of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in Israel is scheduled to vote on the approval of the $18 million allocated for the purchase of Palestinian-owned land, based in the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank.

It comes after the Israeli Defence Ministry and the JNF attempted to buy the portion of land last year, which was halted after receiving international criticism due to the Palestinian who owns it, demanding legal rights to the balance of the land.

However, pressure had been applied to restart the transaction prior to a High Court hearing on the case in June earlier this year, reported Haaretz.

The Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea make up almost 30 per cent of the occupied West Bank. Almost 90 per cent of this region has been designated Area C, the West Bank land which remains under full Israeli military and civilian control.

The Palestinian community in the Jordan Valley is subject to daily harassment by occupation forces and settlers in an effort to force them to leave the area in order to annex it and expand illegal settlements.

In 2018, the Palestinian owners petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice, requesting that the military injunction be annulled and the settlers removed.

According to Haaretz, the State claimed that it did not know how the settlers had begun cultivating the Palestinian land or how the State or the Settlement Division of the World Zionist Organization had allocated it to them.

“It was decreed that we direct the process under a cloud of legal uncertainty [as to] how, decades ago, the settlers got to a situation in which they worked the parcel,” Avi Milikovsky, a lawyer representing the State, said in response to the Palestinians’ petition in the June hearing.

Chief Justice of Israeli Supreme Court, Esther Hayut, asked, “Given that you cannot explain how the land was given to those to whom it was given, does that give them the right to remain there forever?” At prior hearings, Hayut criticized the State for turning over privately owned land and then claiming it did not know how that had happened.

The Defence Ministry issued a statement claiming that, as with all High Court petitions, the State and the Ministry are addressing the petition in question on its merits.