Evyatar Eliashiv Rakovsky/TPS

On Sunday, the Israeli Supreme Court unanimously rejected a petition submitted by a group of Palestinian Arabs against the agreement between the government and the (former) residents of the Samarian town of Evyatar.

The petitioners had argued that they are the true owners of the land on which Evyatar was constructed and that therefore, the agreement was illegal in nature. They also alleged that the government’s survey of the land (which is already underway) is a pointless exercise “as the results are a foregone conclusion.”

In its response, the government asked the Supreme Court to reject the petition on the grounds that it is merely theoretical and premature, as the survey of the land in concern has yet to be completed.

In their ruling, the Supreme Court Justices noted that, “This petition is based on the arguments of the petitioners regarding their rights to the land in question; however, the survey of the land has not yet been completed, and only then will it be possible to verify any claims regarding ownership. The petitioners’ claim is also speculative in nature when they claim that the outcome of the survey is known in advance, and it should also be noted that the agreement [between the government and the former residents] stipulates that any structure found to have been built on privately owned land will be evacuated.”

Judge Amit also stated that, “It would be advisable for the relevant authorities to investigate and determine how it was possible for an illegal incursion to occur at the site on such a large scale that included the construction of 50 buildings that were then inhabited.”

Responding to the ruling, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said, “We took a significant step forward today with regard to the settlement of the town of Evyatar. The ball is now in the government’s court – will they fulfill their obligations as stated in the agreement which require them to swiftly complete the survey of the land, announce it to be State-owned land, and allow the yeshiva and the families to move back in?”

Last week, in response to a query sent to him by MK Yinon Azulai (Shas), Defense Minister Benny Gantz confirmed that the survey procedure had already commenced and was being accorded high priority. He added that it was not possible to predict how long it would take, and that once the survey was complete, the results would be sent to him and “the necessary steps taken.”

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