Data from Israel’s Civil Administration has revealed that some 3,455 settler homes in the occupied West Bank were illegally built on privately-owned Palestinian land. Of those, roughly 45% are built on land whose owners are well-established, with the rest built on definitely Palestinian lands, but whose specific owners the Israeli government hasn’t figured out.
The details were provided by the Israeli government as part of ongoing legal battles surrounding the “expropriation law.” If the court determines that law stands, who actually owns the land, to the extent it’s some Palestinian, is of little consequence legally.
The law argues that since the Israeli government has given the impression for decades that they’re okay with the settlers taking Palestinian land, the construction was done “in good faith,” even if in many of these cases the construction was explicitly illegal at the time it was carried out.
The “expropriation law” was developed as a response to the High Court forcing the demolition of a major illegal outpost at Amona. The law would allow Israel’s government to retroactively legalize the settlements, providing the lands’ owners with no real recourse beyond accepting any payments the Israeli government might decide were appropriate.