Responding to a petition filed by the Regavim Movement, Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ) issued a preliminary injunction against Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who has refused to repeal the Jordanian law still in force in Judea and Samaria prohibiting the sale of land to Jews – despite the recommendations of previous ministers and Ministry of Defense professional and legal advisers.

Today (Tuesday) the High Court of Justice handed down a preliminary injunction requiring the government to submit, within 60 days, a defense of its continued enforcement of Jordanian Law #40 which prohibits the sale of land in Judea and Samaria to Jews. This law, passed in the 1950s during the Jordanian occupation, remains in force to this very day.

Among the many restrictions that apply exclusively to Jews and limit their ability to purchase land in Judea and Samaria, this is perhaps the most egregious – but it is certainly in not alone: Jews, and only Jews, are denied access to the Land Registry for this region, unlike any other area under Israeli jurisdiction, where land deeds and property titles can be obtained with the click of a mouse and downloaded from the government’s website. Likewise, Jews – and only Jews – are required to obtain approval of any property transactions (even when both the buyer and seller are Jews) in Judea and Samaria; Jews alone are subject to a staggering array of military orders that obstruct the use of land. – and the list goes on and on.

Since the liberation of Judea and Samaria in 1967 from Jordanian occupation (which was almost universally rejected and condemned by the international community), land purchases for settlement by Jews were carried out according to extremely convoluted work-around procedures designed to evade the problem rather than solve it: Corporations were registered as legal entities in Judea and Samaria, for the purpose of circumventing the prohibition against sale of property to Jewish individuals , thus avoiding “the Jewish problem.” Aside from the inherent racism of this arrangement, the work-around “solution” has posed a major obstacle to the development of Judea and Samaria, and a major violation of Jews’ fundamental rights.

In late 2018, the Ministry of Defense’s legal counsel and professional staff initiated an examination of Jordanian Law #40 and the regulations that require Jews to receive special permits for property transactions, with an eye toward their repeal.

The conclusions of this examination, reflected in a policy recommendation that took shape in the final months of Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s tenure, were finalized during the tenures of Netanyahu and Naftali Bennet who succeeded Lieberman at the helm of the Defense Ministry. They recommended the repeal of the restrictions that prohibit Jews from purchasing land, as well as a very significant easing of requirements for special land – transaction permits.

Regavim petitioned the High Court of Justice when the current Minister of Defense, Benny Gantz, announced that he does not intend to repeal Law #40 – despite the recommendations of the Ministry of Defense professionals and his predecessors, Netanyahu and Bennett.

Justices Hendel, Groskopf and Shochat today issued a preliminary order against Defense Minister Gantz, and required him to present his arguments against the repeal of the law within 60 days.

The Regavim Movement welcomed the news of the newly-issued order. Attorney Boaz Arzi said, “Our petition asked an obvious question: How is it possible in Judea and Samaria, of all the places in the world, a racist law still prohibits Jews from buying property? The High Court of Justice has demanded that the government explain why this law is still on the books, and why it is still enforced.”

The ancient aqueduct. Credit: Preserving The Eternal

The illegal Palestinian quarry in Beit Fajjar has damaged around two kilometers of the ancient aqueduct that runs between Gush Etzion and Jerusalem. The aqueduct, which dates back some 2,000 years to the time of the Second Temple is considered a marvel of engineering, as it twists and turns for a distance of some 40 km (25 miles) along rocky, hilly terrain that has virtually no incline.

For over 15 years, Regavim has been waging a legal battle to shut down the illegal quarry in eastern Gush Etzion. Responding to our first petition over a decade ago, the government informed the High Court that it had carried out a number of enforcement steps, and was working on a zoning plan for the area that would establish land-use directives for quarrying at the site.

On the basis of the government’s statements and commitments, the High Court rejected Regavim’s petition at that time. Then-Chief Justice Dorit Beinish, who presided over the case, stressed in her judgement that “we are assuming that the enforcement and regulatory actions taken by the respondents will continue, and that the policy that has been formulated will be enforced without interruption.”

Unfortunately, over a decade has passed, and not only have the Israeli authorities failed to take any steps to prevent the continued operation of the quarry, they have allowed it to expand by 33%, deepening the invasion of state land by more than 200 dunams beyond its boundaries. When repeated inquiries and correspondence on the matter were ignored, Regavim went back to court, filing a petition against Minister of Defense Beni Gantz, Minister of the Environment Gila Gamliel, the IDF Commander of Central Command, the Civil Administration and the Israel Police.

Above: 2019. Below: 2009.

The environmental damage caused to this area by the inaction of the authorities responsible for law enforcement is staggering, and, sadly, irreparable. The State of Israel has strict regulations for quarrying permits, and owners and operators are required to finance the rehabilitation of quarried areas when they become inoperative in order to minimize the environmental impact – but this policy vanishes when the imaginary line into Judea and Samaria is crossed. Adding insult to injury, when micro-measures are taken to rehabilitate illegal quarries in these areas, they are paid for by Israeli taxpayers, and the criminals who cause the damage simply carry on, rapaciously exploiting the natural resources of the Land of Israel as they scoff at the law and pocket vast profits, without any responsibility for the destruction they leave in their wake.

Now, in the latest development, our friends at Preserving the Eternal (“Shomrim al Hanetzach”) have exposed the grave damage to one of Israel’s major archaeological treasures.

The Regavim Movement issued a scathing rebuttal of Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s statement earlier today comparing the Palestinian Authority’s takeover of land in Judea and Samaria to Israeli land grabs.

The written statement by Gantz was issued as an official reply to a parliamentary query submitted by MK Keti Shitrit (Likud) requesting clarification of the Defense Ministry’s response to the hostile takeover of the open spaces of Judea and Samaria.

In his response, publicized by Amiel Yarhi, political correspondent for the Kipa news site, the Defense Minister noted “attempts to trespass and to commandeer land in Judea and Samaria by both Palestinians and Israelis.”

Gantz referred to renewed issuance of construction permits for the Palestinian sector in Area C as the solution to the problem of land grabs.

Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim, responded: “This document indicates that the present Defense Minister is completely clueless regarding the strategic issues involved. This is nothing less than a revisiting of a “Yom Kippur War-style” implosion for the Defense Ministry,” Deutsch said.

“The Defense Minister has compared a situation described by the Palestinian Authority itself as its primary objective for the past decade, establishing the Palestinian state in Area C – an objective that is funded by European support in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year that has enabled the Palestinian Authority to pave dozens of kilometers of roads, put up thousands of electricity poles, build hundreds of public structures, schools and religious institutions in illegal outposts, supports agricultural work that has already taken over hundreds of thousands of dunams of Israeli state land, and orchestrate the construction of some 3500 illegal structures each year – and the Minister of Defense of the State of Israel compares this enormous, organized, systematic program of annexation to illegal construction in the Jewish sector in Judea and Samaria, the sum total of which amounts to some 3000 structures.”

Deutsch added that “the Defense Minister’s utter lack of understanding of this matter is an existential threat to the State of Israel. It is clear to us that this disgraceful document, which reflects a dangerous and reckless approach to the problem, will be a key piece of evidence in the official hearings of the Commission of Inquiry, the updated version of the Agranat Commission, that will be appointed to investigate and analyze the conceptual failure behind Israel’s acquiescence to the conquest of Israeli territory by the Palestinian Authority without a single shot being fired.”

The written statement issued by Gantz

Last weekend, Minister of Defense Benny Gantz announced that six Palestinian NGOs have ties with the PFLP. In response, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) designated Regavim and NGO Monitor as terrorist organizations.

The PLO called on international bodies to break off all relations with us and NGO Monitor, claiming that our activities are carried out in conjunction with the Shin Bet and in line with the instructions of the “occupation government”.

The Palestinians probably don’t understand the difference between civic engagement and terrorist activities.Terrorist activities include the murder of innocent civilians, paying salaries to terrorists who have murdered men, women, and children simply for being Jewish.

Civic engagement, meanwhile, is what we’ve been doing for the past 16 years. Regavim has dedicated itself to the protection of Israel’s most basic and most scarce resources – first and foremost, the land itself. We monitor, document, research, and report on illegal use of these resources, and work to promote policy and legislation that expresses the Zionist vision for a safe and prosperous Jewish homeland.

In this context, we have exposed the terrorist affiliations of numerous foreign-funded Palestinian ‘civil society’ organizations that have co-opted the language of humanitarian rights to disguise their goal of eradicating the Jewish State and its citizens.

Honestly, we’re proud to be labelled a terrorist entity by the Palestinian Authority. It means we’re doing something right.

We’ll continue our fight to protect Israel’s resources, preserve Israeli sovereignty, fight the illegal takeover of Area C, and expose the murderous activities of supposedly ‘humanitarian’ organizations.

Cover of Regavim’s 2018 report

Regavim: “We exposed the terrorist ties of Palestinian NGOs years ago, and we congratulate Minister of Defense Gantz for his important decision to officially blacklist organizations that have been actively pursuing Israel’s eradication.”

In a report released in 2018 entitled “The Roots of Evil,” the Regavim Movement exposed the connection between the Union of Agricultural Work Committees and the Peoples’ Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Late last week, Israel’s Minister of Defense took the necessary – and long overdue – step of officially banning the UAWC, along with five additional PFLP-affiliated organizations.

Immediately after its publication in 2018, Regavim’s “Roots of Evil” report was presented to the Israeli government – MKs, ministers and other members of the defense establishment – and then to the US Ambassador and other foreign diplomats, as well as Members of the European Parliament.

Founded by George Habash in 1967, the PFLP is a Marxist-Leninist Palestinian terror group, originally supported by the Soviet Union. The PFLP, infamous for carrying out suicide bombings, shootings, and assassinations, hijacking commercial airlines and other attacks that harmed thousands of civilians in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, is responsible for countless deaths and injuries in Israel. The PFLP is designated as a terrorist organization by governments around the world, including the US, EU, Canada, and Israel.

In order to circumvent international sanction while continuing its murderous assault against Israel and its citizens, the PFLP co-opted the discourse of human rights and international law and created a web of “civil society organizations,” which was exposed in a 2015 ruling by Israel’s Minister of Defense: “Civilian activities of the PFLP draw a systematic picture indicating deep involvement in achieving [PFLP] goals – which are terrorist attacks against Israel…”  The PFLP established “civil society” and “charitable” foundations as a means of creating a “halo,” encouraging outside observers to associate the terror group with positive progressive values instead of violence,” using rights-based rhetoric to justify a host of illegal, violent activity and to obscure its ultimate goal – the elimination of Israel.

Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim: “We welcome the important decision taken by the Minister of Defense. Unfortunately, after the publication of our findings in 2008, the terror organization known as UAWC was allowed to continue its activities, which cost innocent lives: the UAWC was actively involved in the murder of Rina Shnerb.”

“The recent decision by Defense Minister Gantz illuminates the direct connection between terrorism and the Palestinian Authority’s aggressive, illegal annexation of Area C – under the guise of ‘human rights’ and ‘humanitarian aid.’ We hope that this important decision will result in the shuttering of these terror organizations and that our defense forces will take the steps necessary to halt the flow of funds that keep these terror fronts afloat.”

Read the full “Roots of Evil” report here.

In June, we told our followers on social media about a massive industrial structure that was built illegally next to the village of Kifl Haris in central Samaria. The structure poses a safety threat to drivers on Route 5, the highway that connects the Jordan Valley to Israel’s center and Gush Dan.

We approached the Civil Administration twice to urgently demand enforcement steps against the structure and its builders. As you probably guessed, on both occasions we received the classic response: enforcement would be carried out “in accordance with established enforcement priorities”.

However, the criminals weren’t interested in the CA’s “enforcement priorities” and finished the construction within six months. The industrial structure sprawls over 4.5 dunams (!), and has been hooked up to electricity. The whole area around it was paved with asphalt, and more surrounding structures are under construction.

Last week, we came to check out the situation on the ground and found that Civil Administration officials had hung up Stop Work Orders on the structure. Right after construction was completed!

We have a request for the Civil Administration and Defense Minister Benny Gantz: explain what on earth you were thinking! Why put up Stop Work Orders on a structure where work has already finished?!

Regavim is considering its next steps. We can’t be sure that the CA will enforce anything, so we may have to file a petition with the Courts. Maybe then the “enforcement authorities” would be forced to awaken from their slumber.

The enormous illegal structure

Regavim petitions High Court of Justice: Apply the enforcement tools legislated in 2018 against new Palestinian Authority de facto annexation in Gush Etzion region of Area C.

Following the Regavim Movement’s urgent requests to the Ministry of Defense to halt further progress on an illegal road being paved by the Palestinian Authority in a strategic area of Gush Etzion, Regavim filed a petition in the High Court of Justice this morning (Wednesday). The road, which connects the Area B villages of Battir and Husan, will effectively strangle the Jewish community of Har Gilo.

Last week, the Regavim Movement submitted a second urgent alert to Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and to the Civil Administration, demanding immediate enforcement action against a strategic Palestinian Authority project in Gush Etzion – a road connecting the Palestinian villages Battir and Husan.

The road skirts the Jewish community of Har Gilo, spanning the Heletz Valley, and connects the illegal “northern extension” of Battir to the village of Husan, both of which are designated as Area B (under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction).

Eitan Melet, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria, who documented the ongoing roadwork, explains that the land on which the Palestinian Authority is laying the road is of particular strategic importance: “This,” he says, “constitutes the corridor connecting Gush Etzion to Jerusalem, and is a vital strategic asset for Israeli control of the area. The illegal road, and the further expansion of the Palestinian villages that it will eventually facilitate, will turn territory under full Israeli jurisdiction into an isolated enclave surrounded by territory under de facto Palestinian Authority control.”

Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Neeman stressed that this incident illustrates the Palestinian Authority’s systematic method of achieving territorial contiguity: “The Batir road is one more attempt to dismantle Israeli sovereignty. The road work must be stopped – yesterday! – and we must prevent the creation of a Palestinian state right under our noses. Protection of Israeli state land and law enforcement against illegal construction, land-grabs and encroachment on our national resources must be at the very top of the list of priorities of every Israeli official.”

Regavim issued two separate alerts in recent days calling for a criminal investigation against the perpetrators who are carrying out the work, and full disclosure of any and all enforcement activity that has been carried out. In light of the urgency of the matter and the pace at which the work on the road is progressing, and after no response was received and no enforcement activity was carried out, Regavim petitioned the High Court of Justice to instruct the Ministry of Defense to apply the relatively new legislation, passed in 2018 and approved by the High Court in recent rulings, that empowers the demolition of new structures.