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Israel ‘Legalizes’ West Bank Outpost On Palestinian Land

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli court ruled that a West Bank outpost can be legalized even though part of it is built on land that Palestinians claim they own.

The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday based its decision on laws regarding Israel’s market regulation, which allows for illegal property transactions to be when a buyer was unaware that the transaction was illegal, such as with stolen goods.

The Mitzpeh Kramim outpost sits on the outskirts of the Kochav Hashahar settlement located in the northern West Bank. The settlement was established in the 1970s; the outpost was established by several families in 1999.

The first 10 buildings constructed in 1999 had permits and assistance from the government. Subsequent building was undertaken without such permits, according to reports.

Israel’s Civil Administration told Haaretz that the Israeli government did not know in the 1980s when the land was allocated to the World Zionist Organization that it was privately owned because of confusion in the mapping of the area.

The court’s declaratory judgment on Tuesday states that the residents of Mitzpeh Kramim are the legal owners of the land and cannot removed from their homes. The Palestinians who claim ownership of the land parcels reportedly will be compensated.

Now that the District Court has issued its ruling, the Supreme Court can return to the Palestinian petitions, which had been frozen during the lower court’s deliberations. If the Supreme Court agrees with the District Court decision, then the outpost will be legalized.

Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

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