Meshek Achiya's vineyards
Meshek Achiya's vineyardsCourtesy of the photographer

Israel's Supreme Court has approved an agreement between the Israeli government and the Emek Shiloh Orchards in the Binyamin Region.

Under the new agreement, Meshek Achiya and the owners of the other orchards will receive an allocation of alternative land, to which Meshek Achiya must transfer its trees before February 1, 2023, following the end of the shemittah (agriculture Sabbatical) year.

During the shemittah year, farmers do not tend or touch their crops in any way.

The agreement follows a Supreme Court ruling that 170 dunams (42 acres) of orchard must be removed due to a Civil Administration order that claimed they were disrupting over a decade ago. The Supreme Court left a loophole which allowed for an organized agreement which would allow the delay of the removal and the replanting of the orchard in an organized fashion. The ruling was partially based on the fact that the Palestinian Authority Arabs had not succeeded in proving ownership of the land.

In recent weeks, there has been a public battle demanding that an organized agreement be reached to prevent the removal and destruction of the orchard.

Negotiations included the Defense Ministry, Prime Minister's Office, land owners, and State, and the sides reached a unified stance.

Meshek Achiya CEO David Zitzer said, "Healthy logic has won. There was no reason to carry out a removal which would cause irreversible damage to the farm's agricultural activities. I am happy that the Defense Minister and those in his office, as well as in the Prime Minister's office, prevented unnecessary scenes of removal just ahead of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and reached an agreement which included alternative land, and an organized replanting. And now the Supreme Court has also reached this conclusion."