Three months after the High Court ordered the demolition of the community of Migron by March 2012, the Attorney General is arguing, "The Palestinians cannot demonstrate rights to the land in Migron."
The court's ruling came after Civil Administration officials accepted claims from the left-wing NGO Yesh Din that several homes in the community were built on private land owned by Arabs from the neighboring village of Deir Dibwan.
However, on Thursday the Attorney General acknowledged in arguments before the court that evidence supporting claims of private Arab land ownership in Migron cannot be substantiated.
"The residents of Deir Dibwan cannot validate their land claims in Migron," the Attorney General wrote. "According to the lawsuit, the residents demanded compensation for the use of the land in Migron, which they claim are their private lands."
The State's reversal in court came on the heels of Yesh Din withdrawing its petition on behalf of Deir Dibwan. The organization claimed the retreat was made because the order to destroy the Migron obviated the need for their petition.
Legal experts, however, say withdrawing the motion on such grounds is "bizarre", noting the destruction of Migron by the state does not, in-and-of-itself, validate the legal claim to the land for Deir Dibwan's residents.
Attorney Michael Sfard, who often represents Peace Now and Yesh Din and is now representing Deir Dibwan, criticized the state's new arguments, "The state's position is based on the bizarre factual errors. All documents of ownership for Migron were provided - most are official documents from the Civil Administration."
Sfard added, "This is the contemptible spin of the settlers. The state is looking for an excuse to defy the ruling. We reserve the right to resubmit our petition if the High Court's order to destroy the community is not carried out."
Observers note the Civil Administration order was not based on normative documents proving land ownership and suggest, were such documents available, the petition would never have been withdrawn in the first place.
The community of Migron welcomed the state's new position, which provides a glimmer of hope the High Court's ruling can be averted.
"This is the beginning of the end for bullying litigation, which has plagued Migron and many other communities in Judea and Samaria for years," a spokesman for the community said.
"They called us pirates and thieves, but the state also now admits there is another side to the story that is only beginning to be told today."