Inside a Jordan Valley kibbutz
Inside a Jordan Valley kibbutzFlash 90

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is considering filing a lawsuit laying claim to large tracts of land in the Jordan Valley, senior PA official for religious affairs Mahmoud Al-Habash told the PA’s Wafa news service.

Habash claimed that the land rightfully belongs to the Muslim Waqf, but was confiscated by Israel in 1967. The land has since been designated as Area C under Israel-PA agreements, meaning that Israel is in charge of both military and civilian matters in the region.

The land in question was used to build several Israel towns, including Naaran, Yitav and Netiv Hagdud, he said. Habash emphasized the PA’s determination to restore all lands that were part of the “Islamic trust.”

The threat of a PA suit for the “return” of the land follows, as predicted,  PA plaintiffs’ success in convincing the High Court in Israel to order the destruction of homes in Migron and Beit El. However, the government's policy regarding land settled by Israelis in good faith, either through private land purchases or due to the land being categorized as state land, is supposed to have changed since the Ulpana ruling so as to permit compensation if the court rules for the plaintiffs.

The Jordan Valley is one of the more heavily populated Israeli areas in Judea and Samaria: outside of Jericho, Israeli farmers outnumber their Arab and Bedouin counterparts in the region. Israeli military leaders have long stressed the region’s strategic importance in thwarting invasions.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said earlier this year that Israel will not leave the Jordan Valley even if a peace deal is reached with the PA.