Recently we were hosted by The Israel Connexion on J-AIR Community Radio to discuss EU-Israel relations, together with Peter Stano, spokesperson for the European External Action Service – EEAS.

Mr Stano reiterated the EU’s official position that supports a two-state ‘solution’ through bilateral negotiations. He also claimed that the European Union is not engaged in illegal activity in Judea & Samaria.

Fact check: Wrong!

Over the years, Regavim has documented EU complicity in mass, illegal construction throughout Judea & Samaria. According to the Oslo Accords, to which the EU is signatory, around 60% of the territory (known as Area C) is under full Israeli jurisdiction. Despite this, thousands of structures that proudly bear the EU symbol are scattered strategically throughout Area C, without receiving the necessary permits. The goal is to create facts on the ground that serve as a backbone for a future Palestinian state, rendering Palestinian negotiations with Israel superfluous. We’ve covered this issue at length in our reports: War of Attrition (2019), Roots of Evil (2018), and EU Construction in Area C (2014).

The EU also rejects the notion that it is funding terrorist activity. Sadly, however, this is not true. Only a couple of days ago, the Shin Bet announced that European “humanitarian” funding has been diverted to terrorism!

Instead of fighting extremism, and despite proclamations to the contrary, EU states contribute significant funds to the Palestinian Authority and its various branches/organizations that incite, reward, and celebrate terrorism.

Even if unintentional, or disguised in European politeness and doublespeak, the EU is violating Jewish national and individual rights in the Land of Israel. This is unacceptable and must be stopped. To the European Union we say – politely, of course: mind your own business!

Regavim: Protecting Israel’s Resources, Preserving Israeli Sovereignty

Shin Bet, together with the IDF and Israel Police, has exposed what Regavim has been shouting for ages. Under the guise of “humanitarian aid”, millions of euros that are donated to the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) actually fund terrorist activities.

For years, we’ve been sounding the alarm bells about the direct link between European funds and terrorist organizations. Take, for example, the Union of Agricultural Works Committee (UAWC), the ‘agricultural arm’ of the PFLP – a terror organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction. Last year, it was reported that the Dutch government paid the salaries of two senior UAWC members, Samer Arbid & Abdel Raziq Faraj, who murdered 17-year-old Jewish girl Rina Shnerb.

In our 2018 report ‘Roots of Evil’, we also exposed the UAWC’s illegal projects in Area C, intended to create facts on the ground and establish a de-facto Palestinian state.

The Europeans and their various aid groups like to meddle in Israel’s internal affairs. We think that this needs to stop. European colonialism, while cleverly and slyly masked as “humanitarian aid”, violates Jewish national and individual rights in the Land of Israel. All this reminds us of an age-old term that begins with an A…

Regavim: Protecting Israel’s Resources, Preserving Israeli Sovereignty

Illegal school in the Jordan Valley, strategically placed by the European Union

Under the radar: Palestinian Authority builds a new illegal school in a Jordan Valley nature reserve

Over the past several weeks, the Palestinian Authority built a new illegal school at Hamam al Maliakh, in the Bazak Nature Reserve in the Jordan Valley. Regavim: “The PA builds, the EU funds, and the State of Israel ignores.”

The Palestinian Authority (PA) built a new school in the site of the historic Hamam al Maliakh hot springs, located in the heart of the Jordan Valley’s Bazak Nature Reserve. The site is in Area C, under full Israeli jurisdiction.

Some years ago, an Arab family took over the site, turning the historic structure into a private residence and making structural changes as if it were their personal property.

Now, aside from the illegal invasion and damage to the site, insult has been added to injury: A new school has sprung up at the site in recent weeks, complete with signage announcing that the construction was funded by the European Union and group of European countries – all of which have been playing an increasingly significant role in the PA’s quiet takeover of Area C in recent years.

Without shame: European signage at the entrance

The new school is adorned with colorful wall murals – as well as tarpaulin sheets that are meant to hide the illegal structure from the eyes of Civil Administration inspectors.

Regavim turned to the Civil Administration, seeking answers: How is it possible that a school was built in the heart of an historic site located in a national nature reserve – and no one did a thing to stop it?

Eitan Melet, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria, explains: “The Palestinian Authority is playing hide and seek with the Civil Administration. The PA builds “confrontation schools” – illegal schools in Area C – for the purpose of anchoring a network of outposts in Area C. The Palestinians come up with new, inventive ways of camouflaging their activities, and the Civil Administration, either intentionally or unintentionally, continues to fall into the very effective trap that the PA is using over and over again: Once these illegal schools are completed, they create a win-win public relations headache which the Civil Administration hasn’t learned to contend with. The PA appears to be the only team on the playing field.”

The school covered in sheets to hide it from the Israeli authorities
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The EU-funded illegal PA outpost of Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem

For 10 years, the illegal Bedouin outpost of Khan al-Ahmar has been undermining Israel’s rule of law, making a mockery of Israeli sovereignty, enabling the Palestinian Authority to carry out the Fayyad Plan for the establishment of a de facto state on Israeli-controlled sections of Judea and Samaria and galvanizing a coalition of anti-Israel NGOs and foreign interests. Now, Khan al-Ahmar has become an instrument for the evisceration of High Court of Justice rulings and the erosion of the very foundations of Israeli democracy.

On Monday evening, the State Attorney submitted a request to the court on behalf of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asking to delay a hearing on a petition submitted by Israeli NGO Regavim against the government’s failure to evacuate Khan al-Ahmar. Should the court grant this request, the hearing, scheduled for early December 2019, would be postponed until March 2020.

Khan al-Ahmar is one of more than 170 illegal outposts created by the P.A. and funded by the European Union for the sole purpose of establishing a corridor of P.A.-controlled territory disconnecting Jerusalem from the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. These outposts are populated by the most vulnerable, disadvantaged and easily manipulated Bedouin families, stateless pawns in the P.A.’s power play, and follow a very simple, very predictable pattern of development.

First, the P.A. places water tankers at strategic points: along major Israeli highways, on land belonging to or abutting existing Jewish communities, or along lines that create territorial contiguity between major Arab population clusters in Areas A and B of Judea and Samaria. Knowing that Bedouin require little more than a steady supply of water to congregate and remain in any particular spot in this arid region, the P.A. thus attracts the tribes to strategic locations, even when those locations pose serious hazards to the health and livelihood of the Bedouin.

The next step is the construction of a school. This, too, attracts population—and makes for devastating publicity if Israel’s Civil Administration knocks it down. From this point, the battle of narratives begins. The “village” quickly rises up, constructed almost entirely of prefab housing units bearing the symbol of the European Union. It is given a name and equipped with a fictitious history. An army of internationally financed “do-gooders” takes up the cause of the unfortunate Bedouin who are “threatened” with relocation by the Israeli authorities—to new, modern neighborhoods on Israeli state-owned land, along with cash payouts and other forms of compensation.

The P.A., the European Union and a host of “humanitarian aid” groups take to the High Court of Justice to block any and all compromise solutions, forcing the helpless Bedouin to remain in unbearable conditions in the illegal outposts, in the service of the P.A.’s geopolitical machinations.

More than a decade ago, Regavim began monitoring, mapping, reporting on and petitioning against Khan al-Ahmar and its sister outposts. It took years to force the Israeli government to take notice of the strategic nature of these seemingly innocuous Bedouin squatters camps, and even more years to convince the government to demand that the European Union stop funding this illegal activity.

After six rounds of Supreme Court petitions, each of which resulted in clearly worded decisions regarding the illegality of Khan al-Ahmar and the necessity to relocate the Bedouin families living there, the only thing standing in the way is the Israeli government. Regavim strenuously objects to the delay of the hearing on the government’s inaction.

“This is the sixth petition we have submitted in the matter of Khan al-Ahmar,” said Meir Deutsch, director general of Regavim. “The State of Israel should have cleared the encampment as far back as 2009, when the Supreme Court handed down its first decision on the matter. We believe that further procrastination eviscerates the ‘final’ judgment handed down by the High Court after the fourth round of hearings. The government’s behavior in this matter is an affront to the stature of the court and harms the national interest.”

One year ago, Netanyahu publicly declared that Khan al-Ahmar would be evacuated in a matter of days. Since then, every passing day is one more day of shame for the rule of law in Israel.

The State admits: Illegal construction for Arabs was whitewashed– but policy has changed

In the course of a High Court of Justice hearing on  Regavim’s petition against the illegal Arab city growing in the Judean Desert, the State’s attorney admitted that in the past Arabs had been allowed to build without permits or planning approval.

On 20 November 2018, Israel’s High Court of Justice heard Regavim’s petition regarding an illegal Arab city growing on the grounds of IDF Training Range 917. The city, made up of 1,700 illegal structures – homes, schools, clinics, mosques – covers tens of thousands of dunams. The infrastructure that supports it all is spread over dozens of kilometers, thanks to generous funding provided by  the European Union, the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, and other foreign interests.

The bottom line: A new Arab city has been born in an area of critical strategic importance, creating a contiguous Arab pale of settlement that stretches from the Arad Valley through Har Hebron and eastern Gush Etzion.

Foreign funding for illegal construction in 917

Background:

In the 1980s, a few Bedouin families lived in temporary structures that dotted the landscape of IDF Training Ground 917. Without any legal foundation or precedent, the Civil Administration demarcated a number of clusters and declared them”no go zones:” No law enforcement steps would be taken against structures within these areas, despite the fact that they had no building permits or municipal plans as required by law.

As if this weren’t bad enough, Regavim has documented more than 500 additional illegal structures built outside of these demarcated zones in the last few years – structures that “connect the dots” between the original clusters and create an uninterrupted band of Arab territory that stretches from the Arad Valley through Har Hebron and eastern Gush Etzion.

The State’s representative admitted in court that the “arrangements” that had been in force, which allowed illegal construction to continue unhindered, “constitute an historic reality, but do not reflect the government’s current policy regarding illegal construction. Nonetheless, because of the ‘seniority’ of the structures in question, the State contends that construction and regulation should be allowed to proceed.” Despite the irrefutable evidence presented by Regavim to the contrary, the State’s attorney argued that the Civil Administration is carrying out law enforcement procedures “according to its priorities,” outside of the demarcated non-enforcement zones.

Questions without answers:

“The State decided in the past that there is no law within these clusters – but even outside of their boundaries there is absolutely no enforcement activity,” said Attorney Avi Segal of Regavim. “At issue is an increase of hundreds if not thousands of percentage points in the rate of illegal construction. The State should be required to explain by what authority it allowed this chaos to begin in the first place. Now, the government sends its attorney to court to announce that someone has been hired to formulate a plan – but he is unable to say who this “someone” is, when this plan will be implemented, or where it will be implemented. The State has not demonstrated that any concrete steps toward cleaning up this mess have been taken. Whereas the court handed down very strict timetables for resolving the matter of a few paltry meters in structures that were built without permits elsewhere, in this case we are talking about 1700 illegal structures – and counting.”

The hearing, in a nutshell:

At the hearing, Chief Justice Hayut reprimanded the State’s attorney, who had stated over a year ago that “progress” had been made – but since then, has not produced a time-frame or operational plans. “The regulation team that is eventually chosen through the tender process now underway will be tasked with planning in any number of locations. What are the specific timetables regarding this particular area? How is it possible that the State does not have a plan of action?”

On the other hand, the Chief Justice required Regavim to add additional respondents to the petition: “There is no argument that many hundreds of illegal structures are involved,” said Chief Justice Hayut. “Residents of these illegal structures must be included as respondents to Regavim’s petition.” Attorney Segal explained that the residents have managed to avoid being served with papers, which were posted on the illegal structures instead. Furthermore, Regavim’s earlier attempts to serve residents with papers, as the court has required, were met with threats of physical violence.

Looking ahead:

In one month, the court will reconvene to consider the State’s plans for regulation and law enforcement, and Regavim will be there to continue the fight to protect Israel’s land resources.

IDF Firing Zones 917 and 918 are situated in a strategic area in the South Hebron Hills, a region that connects Israel’s eastern flank to the Negev and the Dead Sea.

For the past few years, a massive take-over of land in this area has been underway, and we at Regavim have made a major effort to combat the phenomenon and have the squatters removed. In Area 918, for example, we submitted a petition against an entire village, Halet al Dabaa, which was constructed illegally by the European Union.

We also petitioned the Supreme Court last year regarding an illegal road that had been paved, in another attempt to create facts on the ground and fulfill the Fayyad Plan’s vision of connecting Gaza, the Negev, and the Hebron Hills and create territorial contiguity that would effectively amputate the Negev from Israel.

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This week, in response to our petition, the High Court of Justice issued an order to halt illegal development activities on IDF Firing Grounds 917 and 918.

We welcome the High Court’s clear pronouncement and hope it will be the first step toward halting this catastrophic plan.