Palestinians Petition to Retrieve Jordan Valley Land

TEL AVIV, April 20, 2015 (WAFA) – The Israeli High Court of Justice is due to hear petitions by Palestinians seeking the return of land they own near the Jordanian border, which was illegally taken from them and granted to Jewish settlers, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.

The area, located near Palestine-Jordan border, was declared by the Israeli forces in 1969 a closed military zone barred to Palestinians.

The area, made up of about 5,000 dunams (1,250 acres) of private Palestinian land, and which was registered in the Jordanian land registry, was allocated to the World Zionist Organization in the 1980s and 1990s.

It added that, “After an aide to the defense minister, Uri Ben-On, decided in 1981 that that they could be cultivated. In issuing this decision, Ben-On ignored an opinion by the Justice Ministry that prohibited the cultivation of private Palestinian land, said Haartez.

In January 2013, Haaretz revealed that the land had been granted to illegal Israeli settlers, and thus this fact became known to the heirs of the Palestinian owners, who petitioned the High Court in October 2013. It added that, “The state tried to reach a monetary settlement with the petitioners, but they turned down the offer.

The Jordan Valley is part of Area C of the West Bank, under complete Israeli jurisdiction, where Israel rarely issues construction permits for Palestinians, prompting them to embark on construction without a permit.

Israel is planning to annex the Jordan Valley into a completely Israeli area, primarily in agriculture, targeting to ban territorial contiguity between a future Palestinian state and the rest of the Arab world.

To this end, tens of settlements and agricultural outposts have been established by Israel in the Valley, which makes up about one-third of the total area of the occupied West Bank.

Significantly contributing to the Israeli agriculture, the Jordan Valley is nonetheless part of the West Bank occupied since 1967, which the international community does not recognize as an Israeli territory.