In early May, more than 50 Jewish families packed their bags and moved to the top of a hill in the West Bank in the occupied Palestinian territory.
They soon built modular houses, a synagogue, a nursery, and even dug up a playground to claim a piece of land they had not acquired or inherited.
These settlers called him the advanced Evyatar, after Evyatar Borosky – a Jew killed in 2013 allegedly by a Palestinian.
All settlements or outposts – a back door to continuing to reclaim Palestinian land after Israel committed to freezing settlements in the 1993 Oslo Accords – are considered illegal under international law.
The advanced post Evyatar stands out because it was illegal even under Israeli law.
On the other hand, she was born at a time when US President Joe Biden had replaced her. Donald Trump and Israel has witnessed a change of government in a multiparty coalition of left, right and center parties.
The terrain is also strategically located. It is located south of Nablus in an area called Jabal Sabih in the villages of Beita and Yatma which is expected to be a part of the future state of Palestine. An establishment here would break the Palestinian territorial contiguity.
Last week, the settlers were finally evicted and the Palestinians celebrated it as a victory for their resistance. However, analysts warned that the celebrations were premature and unjustified.
Al Jazeera spoke to several experts who said the crackdown did not reflect a change in Israeli policy and showed only how the Israeli state uses its tools to facilitate the systematic theft of Palestinian property.
Instead of being reprimanded by the state for the illegal confiscation of land that did not belong to them, the settlers made a promise.
Israeli media have reported Naftali Bennett, the new Israeli prime minister and a staunch supporter of illegal settlements, offers settlers an agreement – the state will ascertain whether the land can be classified as “state land” and if so – the conclusion that the state is expected to reach – would be returned to the settlers even if it is located in the Palestinian countries.
Hagit Ofran, executive director of the Israeli NGO Peace Now’s Settlement Watch program, backed Al Jazeera. “It was published: The colonists leave; the houses remain; the army puts up a military post; the government is beginning the process of declaring the lands of the State, ”Ofran said.
Israel legalizes such outposts or settlements by spreading a draconian interpretation of Ottoman law that, if the land was not cultivated for several years in a row, it would become state property.
Peace Now, however, said the Evyatar outpost was actually built on “Palestinian private land,” and that an aerial photo of the 1980s showed that parts of the land were also “cultivated” – implying that it could therefore not be considered state land.
Yet the state can only confiscate it for settlers, as it has done hundreds of times. Israel has settled 441,000 settlers in 280 settlements in more than two million dunams – a dunam equal to 1,000 square meters – of Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
It has passed a series of discriminatory laws to confiscate Palestinian property.
Property rights absent
Israel uses the Absent Property Law to reclaim land it forced the Palestinians to abandon in the 1948 and 1967 wars. It also has a series of tactics to declare all land unregistered – left out by the occupiers. Ottomans and British are believed to be two-thirds of the West Bank – as a possible “state” land.
Palestinian lands are also confiscated in the name of archaeological and tourist purposes, and if they are bought by Palestinians it is almost always through coercive measures, Peace Now noted.
According to B’Tselem, Israel’s Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Israel grants tax benefits to settlers to build houses and to Israeli industry to settle in these territories. The Israeli state also encourages Jews to set up farms and allows large-scale takeover of Palestinian agricultural land and pastures.
“Forty such farms have been established in the last decade, effectively taking tens of thousands of dunams,” B’Tselem confirmed in a March report.
Anwar Mhajne, an assistant professor at Stonehill College and a political scientist specializing in international relations, said in 1968 that Israel had halted the land registration process, allowing it to label any land not registered as land. in the State.
He added that Israeli law allows the Israeli state to confiscate private land for Palestinian public needs, which is then handed over to the settlers ’infrastructure.
“Israel uses this law, however, to take private land to build segregated roads to connect the settlements,” Mhajne said. “Based on a similar law in East Jerusalem, Israel has established 12 settlements in East Jerusalem.”
Mhajne added that if the piece of land south of Nablus receives state land status, what Palestinian experts feared would be likely will create a dangerous precedent. He encouraged, “the settlers to build even more illegal settlements to put pressure on the government to recognize them even if they are illegal.”
Ines Abdel Razak, a member of the Palestinian think tank Al-Shabaka and the defense director of the Palestinian Institute for Public Diplomacy (PIPD), said several illegal outposts are in the process of being legalized.
“Israel’s colonial-colonial project that began a century ago has a clear goal: maximum land with the minimum of Palestinians,” Abdel Razak said. “This is very clear in Jerusalem and in the West Bank today whether in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan or Beita.
“From the Absentee Property Law to the settlement business in the West Bank, the policy and practice has been to build Jewish settlements and expel Palestinians from their homeland.”
According to a Human Rights Watch report published in May last year, Israel is targeting Palestinian communities – refusing to accommodate its natural population growth – not only in the West Bank, but also in Palestinian cities and countries in Israel.
He said the Israeli state controlled 93% of all land, including in East Jerusalem, and delegated the task of managing this land to a state agency – the Territorial Authority of Israel. But this body is dominated by the Jewish National Fund whose “explicit mandate is to develop land for Jews and not any other segment of the population.”
The report also cited a 2017 finding that while Palestinians make up 21 percent of Israel’s population, less than 3 percent of the land falls under the jurisdiction of Palestinian communities.
What will Biden do?
The fate of the Palestinians, caught up in an unequal struggle with state-backed settlers, now depends on how Biden tackles the issue as he meets Prime Minister Naftali Bennett later this month or early next.
Will Biden pull him out and ask him to freeze the establishment, or will he just give him a slap on the wrist and agree to disagree?
Ofran of Peace Now said that if left unchallenged by the United States, Bennet would naturally want to continue with the “legalization” of all outposts.
“The question would be to what extent the pressure from the government and the world will lead him to asthenia,” Ofran said.