Report: Israeli authorities seek to permit unplanned settler roads

MAAN NEWS AGENCY FEBR 20 2012

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Israeli military authorities in the occupied West Bank are pushing to change laws to allow Israeli settlers to build dirt roads “to protect state lands,” Israeli media reported on Monday.

The change in legislation will allow settlers to construct non-tarmacked roads without a permit, allowing settlers to extend their control outside settlement boundaries on the large swathes of occupied territory designated Israeli-state land, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Israel’s Civil Administration will request the legal amendment from Israel’s Deputy Attorney General, the report said. Currently settlers have to apply for permits to build, however the Israeli army is already permitted to seize land for roads to “protect settlements,” it added.

All Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem break international law banning the transfer of civilian populations into occupied territory. Israeli authorities want to make a distinction between authorized settlements and outposts that have not received official approval, as well as “state land” that rights groups say has been seized from Palestinian owners.

According to a 2006 report by Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, over 50 percent of the lands settlements have been built on have retroactively been declared state lands. The areas in the occupied West Bank are often declared state land if it is not formally registered as private property, or if it is not cultivated for three years, under Ottoman law it can be declared state lands.

Under the British Mandate a process of registration of lands began, continued under Jordanian rule, but was halted by an injunction by Israel when its military occupied the West Bank in 1967.

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