West of Bethlehem Governorate Structures in the illegal outpost of Derech Ha’Avot to be legalized

West of Bethlehem Governorate
Structures in the illegal outpost of Derech Ha’Avot to be legalized


On the 8th of March 2016, the Peace Now organization revealed that the Israeli Authorities are seeking to legalize construction on private Palestinian land in Derech Ha’Avot outpost, north of the illegal Israeli settlement of El’azar, in Gush Etzion settlement bloc.

According to the Peace Now, the Israeli Authorities updated the Israeli High Court of Justice on its position regarding Peace Now’s petition for the evacuation of 17 structures in the outpost of Derech Ha’Avot. The “State” announced that it seeks to work on the retroactive legalization of 10 of the structures built on private Palestinian land in the illegal outpost of “Derech Ha’Avot”. “The Israeli Authorities hope to do so by applying a “First Registration” procedure,  as a part of complicated process asking applicants to prove their legal ownership documents of a land.”

This came despite that on the 22nd of June 2015, the Israeli High Court of Justice issued its ruling in which it considered the 17 structures (out of 60) were built in the illegal outpost of Derech Ha’avot, on private Palestinian land. Therefore, the court ordered the related Israeli authorities to demolish the aforementioned structures soon. But nowadays these Authorities work to legalize 10 of 17 structure were in the question. And if the Israeli High Court of Justice accepts the Authority’s  position, there will be two scenarios; the first one, that the demolition of the illegal structures in the aforementioned outpost and evacuation the land as well as return the land to the Palestinian owners will be postponed for several years waiting for the final court decision. The second one which is actually more likely to be adopted ;  that the Israeli Authorities to find a way to legalize the 10 structures in the outpost, and for the remaining 7 structures the Israeli Authorities may will demolish them.


Derech Ha’avot is an illegal Israeli outpost was established in February 2001. It’s located north of the illegal settlement of El’zar in Gush Etzion settlement bloc, at the west part of Bethlehem Governorate. More than 17 structures were built on private Palestinian lands owned by local residents from the nearby Palestinian town of Al-Khader. 

Currently, there are 60 houses and structures in the site of the outpost : 22 caravans, 12 of which faced with stone, 5 concrete structures , 6 containers, watch security tower, water tank , stone fencing in addition of all important adequate infrastructure….

It is worth pointed that despite the fact that Derech Ha’avot considered illegal according to “Talia Sasson Report[1]”, the Israeli Ministry of Housing and Construction financially supported the illegal outpost of 300,000 NIS.

The case of “Derech Ha’avot” outpost….Chronology of Events:

On the month of February 2001, the Israeli settlers established the outpost, north of Elazar settlement in Gush Etzion settlement bloc, west of Bethlehem Governorate.

And in the year 2002, the Palestinian land owners petitioned against the outpost to the “Israeli High Court of Justice” since the outpost built on private Palestinian land.

Between the years 2002-2007, four cases were submitted and closed against the outpost by the Palestinian land owners.

While in the year 2008: the fifth case, jointly filed by Palestinian land owners and “Peace Now” organization, but the case was closed in the year 2010, after the Israeli Authorities declared its intention to legalize the outpost. Where “the Israeli “State prosecutor” had notified the Israeli High Court of Justice, that the state prosecutor is updating his report on the case concerning the illegal outpost of “Derech Ha’avot”, and that the status of the illegal outpost will become “legal”.

However, on the April 2014, what is so called “Custodian of the Absentee Property in Judea and Samaria” attached to the Israeli Ministry of Defense, issued a military order to confiscate 984 dunums from Al Khader, Nahhalin and Beit Ummer towns, west and southwest of Bethlehem Governorate. According to the military order the "Custodian of the Absente Property” based in his decision to an illegal Israeli law issued following the Israeli military Occupation of the Palestinian Territory – (Absentee Property – Judea and Samaria- 59/1967) – in which it considered the targeted lands (984.35 dunums) as “State lands” and based on the Israeli interpretation of the Ottoman Law according to which if land is not cultivated for several years by the owners, it becomes state property. Therefore parts of the illegal outpost of “Derech Ha’avot” located within the land that classified as “State land”, while the rest of the area privately owned by Palestinian residents from Al Khader town.

And for that, on the October 2014,  “Peace Now” organization called on the Israeli court to enforce the Israeli Authorities to demolish the structures that were built on privet Palestinian lands.

This forced the Israeli Court in June 2015, to order the Israeli Authorities to demolish 17 structures that lies in the outpost and were built on land classified as “Private Palestinian property”.

And nowadays, the Israeli Authorities seeks to legalize 10 structures out of 17 structures that were built on private Palestinian land, and the renaming 7 structures might be demolished by the Israeli Authorities to return the land to the Palestinian owners, and this will need several  years .

Israeli Authorities move forward to legalize “an illegal outposts” in the occupied West Bank

It’s not the first case, that the Israeli Authorities seek to legalize structures /outposts built on the occupied West Bank.   Where during the years of the Israeli military occupation, the Israeli settlers with the help and support from the Israeli Authorities established about 232 illegal outposts in several areas in the occupied West Bank.  And throughout the years, the Israeli settlers enforced the Israeli consecutive Governments to legalize these outposts,  to be funded form the Israeli Authorities as well as they will get the “master plan” for these outposts, which allowed the outpost to be expanded in the future.  

Following are three cases where the Israeli Authorities legalized illegal outposts:

  1. On the 11th of March 2014, the Israeli daily newspaper “Haaretz” published on its website that the so called “Israeli Defense Ministry” was pushing towards legalizing Avigal outpost in the southern Hebron Hills despite the demolition orders that were issued against it since its establishment, where the last orders was on March 27, 2012. The so called “Defense Ministry” intends to issue building permits for the unlicensed structures that were constructed in the outpost. Additionally, the “Defense Ministry” intends to draft a master plan for the outpost, which also includes designating more vacant area for the outpost to expand in the future. For more information about this case, follow the links below: http://poica.org/details.php?Article=6170
  2. On the 1st of October 2015, the Israeli daily newspaper “Haaretz”, revealed on the Israeli Government intention to legalize four illegal outposts northeast of Ramallah Governorate. According to the newspaper, the plan came as a response from the Israeli Supreme Court to “Yeash Din” -Israeli human rights organization- to evacuate the illegal outpost of ‘Adi ‘Ad east of the illegal settlement of Shilo which was built on private Palestinian land. Moreover, and in its response, the Israeli prosecution informed the court concerning the Israeli government intention to legalize the aforementioned outpost as well as three other outposts (Kida, Yeash Kodesh and Ahiya) that are located eastward to the settlement of Shilo. For more information check the follow link: http://poica.org/details.php?Article=8493
  3. Later on and  on the 9th of November 2015, what is so-called “Higher Planning Council” in the Israeli Civil Administration related to the Ministry of Defense, approved a new master plan for  five illegal settlements located northeast of Ramallah Governorate. Moreover and according to the approved master plan , two illegal settlement outposts set to me legalized. The five illegal settlements in Ramallah Governorate slated to expand are: Ma’aleh Mickhmas  (southeast) Rimonim (northeast), Kockav Hasha’ar (far northeast), Psagot (east) and Tel Zion part of Neve Yackov settlement (southeast). The  additional two outpost to be legalized are : Neve Erez and Mitzpe Dani ( attached to Ma’aleh Mickhmas settlement). For more information: http://poica.org/details.php?Article=8600

To sum up

The Israeli construction and expansion for the Illegal settlements and their outposts contradicts with the International law rules and conventions:-

Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of, December 10, 1948, Article 17 reads: 'No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.' Which means it bans Israel from destroying or confiscating the property of the Palestinians at any case.

Moreover, articles 53 & 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 indicated that: Extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. is a grave breach of the Convention.

Also Art. 23 of the Hague Convention of 1907 also provides: In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden to destroy or seize the enemy's property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war.

Article XXXI of the 1995 Oslo agreement Israelis forbidden from building or planning to any project or settlements or any colonial expansion or any plan that lead to change the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The article provides “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations”.

The existence of the Israeli settlements and outposts in the West Bank and their expansions are Illegal and contradicts with the international law rules, United Nations Security Council Resolutions such as 237 (1967), 271 (1969), 446 (1979), 452 (1979) ,465 (1980).

Resolution 446 March 22, 1979 calls on Israel to rescind its previous measures and to desist from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographical nature and materially affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem and, in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories"

Also the resolution 452 of the 1979 “calls upon the Government and people of Israel to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.”

Furthermore the Fourth Geneva Convention also states in Article 49 that “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territories it occupies.” and Article 174 of the same convention “prohibits the 'extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.”

In May 2001, the head of the International Red Cross delegation to Israel and the Occupied Territories said that settlements are "equal in principle to war crimes". (Note: "The transfer, the installation of population of the occupying power into the occupied territories is considered as an illegal move and qualified as a 'grave breach.' It's a grave breach, formally speaking, but grave breaches are equal in principle to war crimes", Rene Kosirnik, head of the ICRC delegation to Israel and the OPT, press conference 17 May 2001).


[1] In March 2005, the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon asked former attorney Talia Sasson to organize a report on the status of established Israeli outposts in the occupied West Bank territory. The report acknowledged more than 125 outposts illegal and that they were established with the indirect support of many Israeli ministries who disregarded the Israeli judicial counselor’s decision to stop all indirect financial support to these outposts.

Prepared by:  
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem


Categories: Settlements