Palestinians lay claim to land reserved for relocation of Amona settlement

AMONA , West Bank, Sept. 9 (UPI) — West Bank Palestinians have filed objections to plans to move Amona, an illegally built Israeli settlement, to what officials consider nearby absentee-owned land.

The Civil Administration, which regulates settlements in the West Bank, intends to move an illegally built Israeli settlement, Amona, to neighboring land, but Palestinian owners of that land have come forward to prove their claim of ownership.

In 2014 Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that Amona was built illegally on private Palestinian lands and residents must be evicted within two years. In August the Civil Administration chose 35 plots near Amona’s current location, planned site of the new community, and requested that Palestinians who claim to own the land demonstrate proof of ownership.

Administration officials believe the plots are owned by Palestinians who left the West Bank in 1967, but with the help of the non-governmental organization Yesh Din, a pro-Palestinian legal aid group, claimants came forward with evidence including ownership papers and aerial photographs indicating the land was cultivated, by children and grandchildren of registered owners, as recently as the 1990s.

Lawyers for the claimants say the claimants’ plots of land are spread over the entire area Israel has reserved to relocate Amona, while the unclaimed plots are scattered in between, so the outpost cannot be moved to this site.

Several dozen Israeli families currently comprise Amona. The court’s 2014 decision obligates them to evacuate by Dec. 25.

A pro-Israeli group, Save Amona, said in a statement that the Palestinians’ “false claims [are] funded and encouraged by the Palestinian Authority in cooperation with extreme left-wing groups and the European Union, and all these groups want just one thing — to prevent Jews from living in Judea and Samaria.”

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