The illegal Bedouin outpost of Khan al Ahmar near Kfar Adumim

For the ninth time: the State of Israel asks the High Court to allow another postponement of its response to Regavim’s petition for the evacuation of the Palestinian Authority’s flagship outpost, Khan al Ahmar. Regavim: “A right-wing government is tested by deeds, not by words.”

The extension granted to the state four months ago to respond to Regavim Movement petition to relocate the Bedouin squatters of Khan al Ahmar ended today, and the state has requested an additional four-month extension to present its position.

“The political echelon remains steadfast in its position that the rule of law requires the demolition orders to be carried out in the Khan al Ahmar compound,” according to the state’s request, adding that in the weeks since the formation of the present government, the new head of the National Security Council, Tzachi Hanegavi, has been working in cooperation with the National Security Advisor, representatives of the Ministry of Defense, the IDF, the General Security Service (Shin Bet), the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice, and other government representatives.

“The details of this intensive effort speak to the complexity, sensitivity and importance that state officials attach to compliance with the conditional orders already issued in this matter, as well as the fact that the issue is a high priority… On the other hand, given the complexity of the issue and its sensitivity, the high level of interest in the international community and the and implications for the foreign relations and security of the State of Israel at the present time, those charged with handling this case at the professional level have been instructed to complete all necessary steps required to formulate an appropriate response to the conditional order as soon as possible. The formulation of a detailed response on such a sensitive and complicated issue justifies the position of the political echelon that an additional stay be granted to enable the professionals to complete their work and to submit a comprehensive analysis to the political echelon.”

The Regavim Movement issued a strongly-worded statement criticizing the postponement request. “We were hoping for an appropriate response by a national right-wing government – as promised in the election campaign,” said Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim. “There is no justification for this. Like Cato in ancient Rome, we continue to repeat the same demand, to hold the same consistent position, to call upon our representatives in the government to act immediately to evacuate this illegal encampment – as well as dozens of other Palestinian Authority outposts created in the same mold – not 300 meters away from its present location, but to the neighborhood prepared precisely for this purpose near Abu Dis.”

Regavim responded to the state’s request for postponement by calling on the High Court to issue a final order, as it intimated it would when it granted the previous postponement, and put an end to the saga once and for all. “This is an extreme case of ‘lack of reasonableness’,” added Deutsch. “After all is said and done, this case will prove whether the High Court applies the same standard of reasonableness to cases from both sides of the political divide, or whether the reasonableness standard is nothing more than a judicial fig leaf for a particular agenda. We await a final judgement for the relocation of the Khan al Ahmar outpost in a manner that is consistent with Israel’s national interests.”

Interview: Regavim’s Naomi Kahn speaks to Kan English Radio about Khan al Ahmar postponement
Photo credit: Jerusalem Environs Forum

This morning (Monday), Likud MKs Danny Danon and Yoel (Yuli) Edelstein joined the Regvaim Movement and the Jerusalem Environs Forum – and faced by a pro-Palestinian demonstration. Regavim: “The question isn’t whether or not, but how and when the outpost will be evacuated.”

The deadline for the state’s response in the Khan al Ahmar case is rapidly approaching – and the political pressure is climbing. This morning (Monday), World Likud Chairman MK Danny Danon and Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee MK Yoel (Yuli) Edelstein were joined by Likud activists on a tour of Khan al Ahmar hosted by the Regavim Movement and the Forum for Jerusalem Satellite Communities. A group Palestinian Arab and leftist activists protested nearby, waving Palestinian flags.

Less than 2 weeks remain for the state to submit its response to the High Court of Justice in the sixth petition submitted by the Regavim Movement regarding the illegal outpost adjacent to Route 1, the main access road connecting Jerusalem to the Dead Sea and Israel’s eastern border. This most recent deadline marks the eighth time the state has delayed compliance. The fast-approaching deadline of 1 February is the ninth such extension granted by the High Court – which also declared that it would be the last.

MK Danny Danon: “I have come here today to strengthen our government as it prepares its response to the High Court regarding the evacuation of this site. Israel is a state governed by law and order, and we must not accept selective enforcement. Khan al Ahmar must be evacuated immediately. I am well acquainted with the international community. Our friends around the world will understand that there can be no place for selective enforcement that discriminates against Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

The illegal outpost of Khan al Ahmar next to Route 1, east of Jerusalem, September 2022

Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim: “The State of Israel must understand that this is a mega-issue that goes far beyond the Khan al Ahmar outpost. Our annual documentation and mapping of the illegal construction in Area C proves that in the past decade the Palestinian Authority has taken tremendous strides toward establishing a de facto state in the heart of the Land of Israel – and the government is simply closing its eyes to reality.”

“The new government must prove to the voters who elected them that it is a real Zionist nationalist government – and place the Battle for Area C at the top of the agenda. The question regarding Khan al Ahmar is no longer whether the outpost will be evacuated, but when and how.”

Recent pictures of illegal gas stations in the Negev

While the cost to fill up your car continues to rise, there are those living in a parallel universe – in Bedouistan.

For many years, Regavim has been sounding the alarm bells about the phenomenon of dozens of illegal gas stations that are scattered throughout the Negev. Even when Police forces manage to shut one down, three new ones appear.

These gas stations don’t meet any regulatory standard, endanger lives, damage the environment, and bring in millions of shekels for criminal organizations that avoid tax payments.

This is another major task for the new government and Knesset: to restore governance in the Negev and the Galilee.

Learn more about the lawlessness and lack of governance in Israel’s Wild South in “Bedouistan” – the book published by Meir Deutsch, Regavim’s Director General. Place your order here.

Listen to Regavim’s Naomi Kahn discuss Bedouistan

To mark the 49th anniversary of the passing of David Ben-Gurion, we launched our “Sde Boker Initiative.” This comprehensive roadmap for the future of the Negev is the result of 16 years of fieldwork, analysis, legal research and activism that have enabled us to formulate a vision for the future, looking ahead to 2050 through the prisms of national planning and development imperatives, improved governance and resolution of land ownership claims.

Over the past year, we presented the Sde Boker initiative to each of the Zionist parties in the Knesset, and immediately after the establishment of the new government, we have begun to present it to the general public. Many members of the new government view the plan favorably, and we will continue to push for implementation of its core recommendations.

To view a summary presentation of the Sde Boker Inititiative, click here.

Naomi Kahn, Regavim’s International Director, was in Toronto for a speaking tour last week, and met hundreds of people from the local Jewish community to discuss issues such as governance and sovereignty in the Negev and in Judea and Samaria, and about Regavim’s activities in general.

Naomi also encountered hostile, anti-Israel organizations and BDS activists who called to boycott her visit and block tax-exempt donations to Regavim from Canada.

We won’t allow extremist organizations and activists to silence us and take away our right to share our views, data, and research anywhere we choose. We welcome debate, discussion, and disagreement – but we refuse to allow fanatical political movements to dictate what we can and cannot say.

In response to those who wish to silence Regavim, we invite you to support our activities. Make an online, tax-deductible donation here.

Israeli town of Efrat, a six-minute drive from Jerusalem, and the hill upon which a new neighborhood, Givat Eitam, is to be built.

This evening (Tuesday) the High Court of Justice rejected a “Peace Now” petition arguing that Israel’s land allocation policy in Judea and Samaria is discriminatory and demanding that territory be granted to Palestinians in Efrat. Regavim: “As far as the left-wing organizations are concerned, no tactic is off limits when it comes to harming the State of Israel.

A panel of Supreme Court judges led by Chief Justice Esther Hayut today rejected a petition filed by Peace Now on behalf of Arab residents of Bethlehem, claiming discrimination in Israel’s land allocation policy. In an earlier stage of the case, Israeli authorities proposed that the Palestinians submit a request for allocation of a 51 dunam plot in the area designated for Efrat’s newest neighborhood; representatives of Peace Now rejected the proposal, claiming that it is “not even a Band-Aid on the systemic discrimination.”

The current petition, submitted on behalf of 13 Arab residents of Bethlehem, demanded that the state allocate land in the area of a future neighborhood of the Jewish community of Efrat, the Eitam Hill. The petition made a precedent-setting argument against Israel’s land allocation policy in general, claiming that there should be parity between land allocations for Jewish and Arab use in Area C, the portion of Judea and Samaria under full Israeli jurisdiction.

The petition followed a long and winding legal battle, with roots dating back some 30 years to the establishment of Efrat on state land in Gush Etzion. “This petition represents a new tactic: In addition to the back-door methods of Palestinian annexation – illegal construction and agricultural landgrabs – Peace Now is trying to open the front door for the Palestinian Authority’s takeover of Area C through Israel’s High Court,” explained Avraham Binyamin, Director of Policy and Parliamentary Affairs at Regavim. “The petition argues that the state discriminates against the Palestinians in the way it allocates land – but completely ignores the reality on the ground, in which the Palestinian Authority already controls nearly half of Judea and Samaria, and has vast available land reserves to which Jewish residents have no access.”

Binyamin added: “Far-left organizations will stop at nothing in their attempts to torpedo the growth of Jewish communities on the one hand, and promote the Palestinian takeover of Judea and Samaria for a Palestinian state, on the other hand. As far as they are concerned, any and all means, including causing harm to vital Israeli interests and causing harm to Israel’s reputation and integrity, are acceptable.”

The High Court rejected the claim of discrimination, noting that the state had, in fact, opened the door to Palestinian requests for land allocations. 

Attorney Boaz Arzi of Regavim’s Legal Division noted that although the High Court rejected this petition, the state took its first step on a slippery slope by declaring that it will, under certain circumstances, agree to allocate land in Area C to Arab petitioners. “There is absolutely no justification for giving land away, for ceding control of vital state assets to the Palestinian Authority’s control, when there is more than enough land available in Areas A and B to provide for the needs of the Arab population. The land involved in this petition has been part of the municipal property of Efrat for years; the Arabs have been trying to lay their hands on it by every means possible – through illegal construction, through agricultural land-grabs, and now, through the Israeli courts.”

“The Peace Now campaign against the establishment of the Eitam neighborhood has been going on for decades,” noted Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim. “From the start, it has been riddled with distortions, half-truths and outright lies. We can only hope that the High Court’s rejection of this most recent attempt will put an end to the saga, and will clear the smokescreen that is used by the anti-Israel left to delegitimize Jewish community-building in Judea and Samaria and to defame the State of Israel.”

Regavim’s video from May 2022 that explains Law 40

The High Court of Justice rejected the Regavim Movement’s petition to repeal Jordanian Law #40 which prohibits the sale of property in Judea and Samaria to Jews, on the grounds that “there is no call for intervening in matters of state”: “Despite the difficulty we have in coming to terms with the language of the law, there is no justification for this Court to intervene.” Regavim: “The High Court is enabling appalling discrimination. This is the first test of the new government’s mettle.”

Yesterday (Wednesday), the High Court of Justice rejected a petition filed by the Regavim Movement to compel the military commander and the Civil Administration to repeal Jordanian Law #40 which prohibits the sale of land in Judea and Samaria to Jews – a law still in force due to Israel’s decision not to extend its law or sovereignty to territory liberated in 1967.

In the High Court hearing earlier this week, Regavim’s attorney, Boaz Arzi, argued that this patently racist law should be struck down without further delay. In an earlier stage of the case, the High Court issued a conditional order requiring the government to respond within 60 days and explain why this discriminatory law should be allowed to stand. The attorney representing the Civil Administration argued that no real harm is caused by Jordanian Law #40 to Jews who wish to carry out real estate transactions in Judea and Samaria: the state’s work-around solution allowing would-be buyers to incorporate as a legal entity in Judea and Samaria in order to circumvent the antisemitic restriction against individuals, they argued, was sufficient. Regavim’s attorney responded: “Focusing on the quantity of transactions obscures the real issue. This is racism.”

The government’s representatives also argued that a committee, headed by the Assistant Minister of Defense, had examined the issue and determined that the restriction is “minor” while the level of political sensitivity regarding land in Judea and Samaria is immense. Therefore, the state argued, there is no justification for the Court to intervene in decisions taken by the military commander. Justice Groskopf noted, “The law is racist; that is clear. However, the cost outweighs the benefit. Essentially, the question is whether the considerations of the military commander in this matter are reasonable or unreasonable to the extent that the intervention of the Court is necessary.” The panel of three Justices accepted the State’s argument and rejected Regavim’s petition.

Jordanian Law #40 prohibiting the sale of property to non-Muslims was passed in the 1950s, during the illegal Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria following the War of Independence. Although the occupation came to an end in 1967, Israel refrained from extending sovereignty to the territories it had liberated, holding them in a “temporary” state of limbo in order to negotiate a political resolution to the conflict. Ever since, land purchases for Jewish settlement and development has been carried out through a bureaucratic-legal process designed to circumvent, but not annul, the anti-Jewish Jordanian law. In 1971, the IDF Chief of Central Command issued an order permitting commercial entities to purchase land in the area; individual Jews are barred from purchasing land to this very day. Regavim argued that the technical difficulties created by this “work around” are significant – and are nonetheless overshadowed by the inherent racism underlying the law itself, and the violation of Jews’ basic rights.

“This is an outrage,” says Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim. “For the first time, the High Court of Justice is upholding and permitting continued racial discrimination, hiding behind supposed diplomatic repercussions. No such discrimination against Arabs would be allowed, even if the government argued that there would be certain political or diplomatic fallout.” Deutsch added, “Can you imagine if the US Supreme Court had argued that because public transportation was readily accessible for black people, the cost of allowing them to use the front of the bus outweighed the benefit that would be achieved by judicial intervention?! If the Justices of Israel’s Supreme Court had been on the bench in the US, Rosa Parks and all those who came after her would probably still be on the back of the bus, and racial discrimination would still be the law of the land.”

“Law is an expression of a society’s values,” said Attorney Boaz Arzi. “Are these the values that we expect our justice system to uphold? We call upon the newly-elected government to reassert Jewish rights and the foundational principle of equality under the law that are the bedrock of the modern Jewish and democratic State of Israel.”

Standing outside Benny Gantz’s house, Regavim’s Meir Deutsch presents the latest data on illegal construction in Judea & Samaria

The Regavim Movement constructed a “Palestinian outpost” outside the home of Minister of Defense Benny Gantz – and within minutes were “evicted.” “Gantz is singlehandedly creating the Palestinian state.”

This morning (Monday), members of the Regavim Movement erected a structure, decorated with Palestinian and European Union flags, near the Rosh Ha’ayin home of the Minister of Defense. In a matter of minutes, municipal patrol units and a police enforcement team arrived at the scene and demanded they evacuate the area.

The structure was built as part of the launch of Regavim’s most recent report on the status of land in Area C of Judea and Samaria. The “War of Attrition 2022” report reveals that the rate of illegal Arab construction has increased dramatically over the past year.

Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim, presented the central findings of the new study: “During Benny Gantz’s tenure as Minister of Defense, 5535 new illegal Palestinian structures were built in Area C, the Israeli-controlled section of Judea and Samaria. Regavim conducts precise and in-depth analysis of the situation on the ground every year, and carefully monitors the spread of illegal construction. This month, when we completed our mapping and analysis of the most current data, we were shocked and appalled. Although we had strong suspicions that the situation was devolving, the facts are even worse than we imagined: Over the past year, the rate of illegal construction skyrocketed by 80%. Gantz is not merely abandoning Judea and Samaria, he is actively establishing a de facto Palestinian state. Israeli voters should make no mistake; the upcoming elections are about one thing: will a Palestinian state arise in the heart of the Land of Israel.”

Illegal Palestinian construction in Area C

A report released by the Regavim Movement reveals that in 2022, illegal Palestinian construction in Area C, the portion of Judea and Samaria under full Israeli jurisdiction, increased by 80%. The report documents 5535 new illegal structures built in 2022, compared to 3076 structures in the same period in 2021. Regavim: “The Israeli government is creating a de facto Palestinian state.

In 2022, illegal Palestinian construction in Area C of Judea and Samaria boomed, outpacing the already-alarming rate seen in 2021 by 80%. Regavim’s most recent report, based on data collected through meticulous fieldwork, aerial photography and GIS mapping, compared the situation on the ground in 2021 to that of 2022. The study covered the period of April 2021 through April 2022, analyzing the number of structures, the legal status of the land on which they were built and the jurisdictional lines dictated by international law.

Regavim’s exhaustive study indicates that in comparison to previous years, the data for the most recent period are unprecedented, both in quality and quantity. The structures in built in recent months are not temporary shacks or makeshift shelters that characterized much of the illegal activity in earlier years; in 2022, new Palestinian construction is characterized by “palatial residences, sprawling holiday resorts, amusement and entertainment compounds and event halls, swimming pools and vacation villages, and high-rise residential and commercial towers.” In addition to the mass-scale construction, in many areas development and infrastructure work was carried out to lay the groundwork for future full-scale neighborhoods, such as at Khirbet Khattha near Tarkumiyeh and Lakef near Karnei Shomron.

Regavim studied construction patterns exclusively in Area C, the portion of Judea and Samaria placed under full Israeli jurisdiction in the Oslo Accords framework. At present, according to Regavim’s research, there are 81,317 illegal Arab-built structures in this area, covering an area of approximately 150,000 dunams – twice the total area of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria all told, legal and illegal. Illegal Jewish construction stands at 4,382 structures, of which 406 new structures were built in the time period of the new study. Although the disparity in number is striking, it is far overshadowed by the disparity in quality: Whereas illegal Arab-built structures are located in desolate, remote areas far from existing villages or settlement clusters, all of the illegal construction in the Jewish sector is located within the municipal “blue line” boundaries of Jewish settlements.

Analysis of the hard data reveals several additional important facts: Aerial photos show that in Areas A and B – the sections of Judea and Samaria placed under full Palestinian Authority civil jurisdiction under the Oslo framework, there are abundant empty spaces that remain undeveloped and completely un-utilized. Rather than developing these areas, Arab construction has continued to seep into the open spaces of Area C. Additionally, these same aerial photos leave no room for doubt: Arab construction is neither random nor haphazard. Construction is strategically placed, in accordance with the Fayyad Plan, according to pre-established criteria and objectives: Creating contiguous Arab settlement – a pattern that is particularly pronounced in northern Samaria; isolation and strangulation of Jewish communities; construction on the route of planned traffic arteries such as the Funduk Bypass Road and the Tekoa–Ibei HaNachal Access Road in eastern Gush Etzion; construction alongside existing highways, including Route 55 and Route 60, the main roads of Samaria and Judea respectively.

The Days of Awe are upon us – a time for taking stock, personally and collectively – which makes all of us at Regavim particularly proud of being chosen as the Jewish Press “Man of the Year.”

For over 16 years, Regavim has been waging the battle to protect Israel’s most basic resources and to preserve Israeli sovereignty. With a solid, significant impact on Israeli public policy and discourse and a reputation for impeccable fieldwork, uncompromisingly precise data collection and analysis, precedent-setting legal activism and forward-thinking, comprehensive solutions to the most serious challenges facing Zionist policy – we truly are “the most grownup … NGO in the room.”

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On Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, we pray: “Avinu Malkeinu… inscribe us in the Book of Merit”

Support Regavim – and merit a share in protecting the Land of Israel. Look for Regavim’s Pidyon Kaparot collection box in synagogues throughout Israel – or dedicate your Yom Kippur donation to supporting another year of activism to protect our precious Homeland. Simply click here to make a tax-exempt donation.