JERUSALEM (JTA) – A settlement that is home to 3,000 Israelis should be considered an illegal outpost, an Israeli human rights group says.
Ofra, a 600-familiy community located between Jerusalem and Nablus, does not meet the criteria laid out in the 2005 Sasson Report to be considered an officially recognized settlement, according to a report released Monday by B’Tselem.
Some 58 percent of the land on which Ofra is built is officially registered to Palestinians from the villages of ‘Ein Yabrud and Silwad, the report states. The Ofra Cooperative Society, the association of the settlement’s residents, contends in the report that it purchased land in the area from its Palestinian owners. According to both a government decision and an Israeli High Court ruling, an Israeli settlement cannot be built on Palestinian-owned land.
Contrary to the Sasson Report criteria, the report continues, "no jurisdictional area has ever been defined for Ofra, no detailed outline plan has been approved for the settlement, and no lawful building permits were ever issued for it. Thus, the entire community of Ofra, with its hundreds of residential units, was built unlawfully."
B’Tselem called on Israel to "dismantle the settlement, return to the Palestinian landowners the land that was unlawfully taken from them, and remunerate them for the use of their land."