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.

The illegal Bedouin outpost of Khan al Ahmar near Kfar Adumim

Khan al Ahmar: High Court of Justice grants the government an additional delay.  “Compromise attempts have become uncompromising contempt.”

The High Court of Justice granted the government an additional six-month delay in the Khan al Ahmar case. Regavim: Kicking the can down the road isn’t the solution, it’s part of the problem.

This morning (Wednesday), the High Court of Justice approved the government’s request for an additional six month extension of the deadline, to present to the court its plan for the evacuation of Khan al Ahmar, an illegal Palestinian Authority/European Union –supported  outpost in the Adumim Region. The decision is the most recent stage in the sixth petition filed by the Regavim Movement against what it has called “the Palestinian Authority’s flagship outpost in the systematic takeover of Area C.” In 2009, Regavim filed the first petition against this Bedouin encampment on Route 1, a few short minutes’ drive from Jerusalem, in an attempt to compel the Israeli government to enforce the law and block the PA’s creeping annexation of state land throughout Judea and Samaria.

Presiding over the judicial panel, Justice Solberg’s decision included harsh criticism of the government’s conduct: “There is no doubt that the day is fast approaching when it will no longer be possible to accept the lack of clarity in this case, which requires a clear and decisive resolution – one way or the other. Even if the various proposed solutions were sufficient cause to postpone the inevitable, it is not possible to stall indefinitely. Even attempts to reach a consensual resolution must have limits. At a certain point, these attempts become a source of contempt, and this we must not accept. Our job as judges is to bring clarity to the petitions that are brought before us; this is our task, and this is our duty. We cannot sit idly by and do nothing in the face of this continued procrastination. We intend to complete the hearing process in this case soon after the government files its reply and after we consider any further responses to that reply; either way, this case must be resolved.”

Justice Stein joined Justice Solberg’s decision, adding that “the principle of legality, which we have been entrusted to carry out and to encourage, does not allow the state to ‘sit on the fence’ for years at a time and gaze at illegal structures without taking a definitive decision to either regulate or demolish them.”

Justice George Kra expressed reservations regarding the criticism voiced by his fellow justices, noting that he “at this time I see no reason to tie the court’s hands and limit our options regarding the continued adjudication of this petition.”

The Regavim Movement, which has been at the forefront of judicial and public opinion efforts to combat Palestinian annexation in Judea and Samaria, has been waging the battle for law enforcement in the Adumim Region through over a decade of Supreme Court petitions.

Responding to this morning’s decision, Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim, noted: “The chronic ‘after-the-holidays’ excuse isn’t a solution – it’s part of the problem.  In the case of Khan al Ahmar, procrastination is an attempt to ignore reality and erase hard facts. The state is attempting, for the umpteenth time, to push off its commitment to evacuate Khan al Ahmar – until after the next holiday, Passover. Procrastination won’t change the bottom line: The State of Israel must take action against the ongoing Palestinian takeover of Judea and Samaria. Khan al Ahmar has been, and continues to be, the test case for the larger strategic challenge.”

The start of a new year gives us a unique opportunity to thank you for your support, encouragement and partnership.

This past year presented a new set of challenges. Lockdowns and social distancing, along with a volatile and exceptionally challenging political environment, forced us to find new, creative solutions in order to continue our important work. Despite it all, we are gratified by the progress we have made and the successes we have had in our fight to protect our national resources.

  • With your help, we protected our brothers and sisters in Lod and other mixed cities.
  • Our meticulously researched and carefully crafted strategic plan for the protection of state land in Area C and the Negev has taken center stage in the public discourse.
  • We prevented the repeal of the Kaminitz Law.
  • We blocked political deals that would have spelled disaster for the Negev.
  • We helped strengthen and empower regional land protection departments.
  • We successfully blocked highly polluting projects, and more.

All of our activities sent one message, loud and clear: The land of our forefathers – and of our children and grandchildren – is a good and beautiful land.

Throughout the year, and particularly at this time of year, we at Regavim share our success and our vision for the future with you, the partners who make our continued efforts possible. With your help and the help of the Almighty, we look forward to redoubling our efforts and achieving even more in the year ahead.

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Our newest report, tracking the Palestinian Authority’s use of illegal schools as a tactic of annexation, has been presented to the government, and will be available in English soon.

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Here’s a recent Israel Broadcasting Corp. video about the Negev, the 7th in a series already seen by thousands of Israelis:

The illegal outpost of Khan al Ahmar; Route 1 can be seen in the background

The Regavim Movement reacted with concern to the state’s response in the Khan al Ahmar case, which was submitted to the High Court this evening.

The government requested an additional six month delay of the deadline to submit its official position to the court in the matter of the illegal outpost on Route 1 slated for demolition over a decade ago. During this additional half-year period, the state intends to submit a confidential document to the court detailing all the considerations that impact the enforcement of demolition orders at the site.

Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim, sharply criticized the state’s response, and the conduct of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

“From the first day of the current government’s term, we have stressed that deeds, not words, are what count,” Deutsch said. “Today it has become clear that contrary to its oft-repeated declarations, this government is continuing along the dangerous trajectory set by its predecessor, conducting its law enforcement system according to the whims of foreign governments.”

“The root of anarchy is selective, preferential law enforcement. No sector or segment of the population should enjoy immunity from law enforcement because of international pressure while the law is enforced against other sectors.”

Regavim noted that in earlier responses to the High Court, the state explained that law enforcement at Khan al Ahmar would be postponed for fear that this would trigger proceedings in the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

“This conduct broadcasts a very problematic message to the world, intimating that the State of Israel is a guest in this territory when in fact Judea and Samaria have been under internationally-recognized Israeli jurisdiction for a longer period of time than the British Mandate and the Jordanian occupation combined,” noted Deutsch.

“The time has come for the State of Israel to exercise its rights to this territory, and to behave in a manner befitting the sovereign body responsible for law enforcement in the area according to international law and in accordance with the historic right of the State of Israel to the territories of Judea and Samaria.”

High Court’s decision to allow the State an extension until 5 September

This afternoon (Wednesday) the High Court of Justice granted the government yet another extension, requiring a response to Regavim’s petition by 5 September 2021 – but stressed that this would be the last time.

The most recent round in the Khan al Ahmar case – the sixth petition by the Regavim Movement demanding the evacuation of the illegal squatters’ camp – follows more than a decade of legal ping-pong.

In 2018, the Israeli government gave a commitment to the High Court that Khan al Ahmar would be evacuated, but since that time the state has requested a number of extensions, citing a virtual laundry list of excuses.

Last week, the state’s lawyer requested yet another delay, claiming that the formation of a new government requires a re-evaluation of government policy regarding the illegal encampment on the Route 1 highway. This time, it appears that the High Court is losing patience; today’s decision granted a short extension but made it clear that this would be the last such delay.

“Like us, the High Court of Justice is fed up with the government’s “theater of the absurd,” said Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim. “The government’s ineffectual – even helpless – posture in the face of the illegal construction at Khan al Ahmar is emblematic of its weak-kneed stance against the Palestinian Authority’s strategic takeover of the open spaces of Judea and Samaria. We are gratified that even the High Court of Justice has grown weary of the government’s failure to enforce the law, to maintain order in areas under its jurisdiction, and to protect Israel’s national interests.”

Khan al Ahmar
Turn on English subtitles for an explanation by Regavim’s CEO about the new “communities” discussed

What are the “new settlements” in the Negev that Raam Party leader Mansour Abbas is demanding?

When you imagine the establishment of new settlements, you probably think of architects and engineers who sit down together and plan framework and infrastructure of any new settlement down to the smallest detail.

But things in the Negev work differently. Hundreds of thousands of illegal homes and structures throughout the Negev are scattered across enormous swaths of land. The policy that Abbas is pushing for is to simply draw an imaginary blue line around each cluster of illegal structures and call it a community. Does that solve water, electricity, and construction problems? Is this a sensible, environmentally or socially sustainable utilization of the land? Of course not! Will it restore the land the state has lost to the huge expansion of illegal construction? No; quite the opposite.

The new agreement means that the State of Israel (and the Jewish residents of the Negev) will cede more and more land in the Negev for Bedouin “settlements,” and equitable, sustainable long-term planning be damned!

The bottom line is that Ra’am’s “nice ideas” are a disaster for the Negev, for Israeli sovereignty over what amounts to two thirds of the country’s total area, and for future national development.

Don’t be fooled: If Ra’am get their way, the country will essentially be split in half, with the northern and southern parts divided by a midriff section controlled by Bedouin clans – devoid of modern planning, beyond the reach of Israeli governance, a breeding ground for stunted communities with no sources of legal employment or industry and no prospects for development. The Zionist vision for the Negev and for the country will be nothing more than a distant memory.

Regavim: Protecting Israel’s Resources, Preserving Israeli Sovereignty

The details of the coalition agreements publicized in the media yesterday evening (7 June) reveal that Bennett and Saar, who blamed Netanyahu for the failure of governance in the Negev, are not only failing to provide solutions – they are exacerbating the problem.

Aside from approving the whitewashing of thousands of illegal structures on about 11,000 dunams of land to create three “new communities“, the coalition agreements do not stipulate what will happen to the rest of the illegal Bedouin squatters’ camps nine months from now, and neither Bennett’s Yemina Party nor Saar’s New Hope Party will have the ability to influence the outcome in a government kept afloat by Mansour Abbas and his Islamist Raam Party.

The coalition agreements place both the Bedouin Settlement Authority and the Knesset’s Interior Committee, the key actors in the Negev issue, under the complete control of the left-wing bloc and Raam.

This situation has unparalleled destructive potential, setting a course for total abandonment of the Negev while rewarding rampant illegal Bedouin construction that imperils the healthy development of the Negev, home of the vast majority of the State of Israel’s land reserves.

Regavim calls on any government that is formed not to abandon the Negev. The Negev is a key part of the Zionist vision! But when the State of Israel fails to govern, other forces fill the void. Regavim invites you to take a long, hard look at where we are and where we’re headed in the Wild South; it’s not too late to change course.

Wednesday’s emergency Knesset meeting about recent attacks on Jewish communities in mixed cities

Today (26 May) we participated in an emergency Knesset hearing to discuss the explosion of lawlessness throughout Israel in recent weeks. The hearing, organized by Regavim and MK Amichai Chikli of Yemina, was attended by many Members of Knesset, local leaders, civil organizations, and residents of mixed cities.

In his remarks, Meir Deutsch, Regavim’s Director General, criticized the Police: “Even if we accept that the Police was surprised by these riots, we must not accept that they will be surprised by the next round [of violence].”

“For many years, Regavim has warned that failures in law enforcement against seemingly isolated and unrelated issues – such as illegal construction, protection rackets, drug trafficking, and violence and dangerous behavior on the country’s roads – results in an atmosphere of chaos and the erosion of governance. Where there is no governance, there is anarchy, and almost inevitably – full scale war that threatens the existence of the State.

“The anarchy that began in Jerusalem with lynches, rock and incendiary attacks and vandalism, spread to blocking of roads from the north to the south of the country, and then to attacks against Jewish residents in mixed neighborhoods [where Arabs and Jews live side-by-side]”.

Deutsch said that he came to Lod at the beginning of the riots, answering calls for help from regular citizens whose lives had been turned upside down and were now under threat. Regavim suspended normal operations to focus its energies and expertise on Lod, purchasing equipment to protect besieged residents and the volunteers who came to their aid, and setting up a ‘situation room’ to answer hundreds of calls for help and thousands of offers of assistance that poured in from around the country.

“Every IDF soldier knows that every training exercise, and certainly every operational incident, is immediately followed up with an internal investigation; this is how we learn, how we improve our preparedness and our operational capabilities. It’s how we learn the lessons necessary to do better next time. For the first 72 hours of the riots, the Police did not function, and Lod residents, whose lives were at serious risk, were left to protect themselves, by themselves. Then volunteers came from all over the country to help, and only then did the Police step in.

“Even if the Israel Police did not anticipate riots of this sort or this magnitude, what are they doing to learn the lessons that will prevent a recurrence? Where is the self-examination by the Police, the Minister of Public Security, the Prime Minister? As things now stand, the next outburst of violence is only a matter of time”.

Deutsch called on the government to formulate a comprehensive and adequately-funded plan to restore law and order and to bring governance to the Negev, the Gallil, and cities throughout Israel through equal and universal enforcement of the law.

Illegal construction

In an attempt to garner Arab parties’ support, the Israeli left is now seeking the total repeal of Amendment 116, better known as the Kaminitz Law, which seeks to address the epidemic of illegal construction.

Illegal construction on public and private land is a national epidemic that has been ravaging the Israeli landscape for far too long. Each year, thousands of structures spring up in violation of Israel’s Planning and Construction Law; current estimates number them in the hundreds of thousands.

This wildcat construction threatens the prospects for planned, organized construction and development, stymies formulation of long-range planning policy and stunts efforts to develop modern national and local infrastructure, but first and foremost, it endangers the resolution of Israel’s housing crisis, which is particularly acute in the minority sector.

Despite often repeated claims to the contrary, the majority of Arab settlements in Israel have municipal master plans that enable legal construction and development. On the other hand, most of the land in these communities is privately owned, and illegal construction is both widespread and unenforced, resulting in a supply-demand imbalance that prevents the implementation of existing development plans.

A special committee, headed by Deputy Attorney General (Civil Affairs) Erez Kaminitz, presented a comprehensive, in-depth analysis of the phenomenon of illegal construction and its devastating impact on the Knesset in January 2016, and proposed a series of legislative amendments that would vastly improve the state’s ability to address the problems and more efficiently enforce Israel’s Planning and Construction Law.

These proposed amendments, known collectively as Amendment 116 but commonly referred to as the Kaminitz Law, were ratified by the 20th Knesset in 2017 and incorporated in Chapter 10 (“Oversight, Enforcement and Penalties”) of Israel’s Planning and Construction Law.

Amendment 116 mandates stiff penalties for illegal construction and places efficient enforcement tools and significantly enhanced authority in the hands of inspectors, including the authority to issue work-stop and administrative demolition orders that cut through lengthy, complex legal procedures that had been required in the past. Hefty administrative fines were instituted as a deterrent to new illegal construction, and municipalities were empowered to act swiftly and decisively against offenders. In addition, the Kaminitz Law required the relevant authorities to revamp demolition priorities, carry out more efficient mapping and reporting of construction violations, and more.

According to data presented to the Knesset in December 2019, in the two years following the Kaminitz Law’s implementation, common construction offenses were reduced by 41 percent, and serious construction offenses were slashed by 75 percent.

Since the Kaminitz Law’s ratification, the Joint Arab List Party has waged an unrelenting battle to repeal it: In 2019, they conditioned their recommendation to the president of a candidate to form a government on the law’s repeal. In another attempt in late 2019, they conditioned their vote on the dissolution of the Knesset upon the repeal of the Kaminitz Law. In October 2020, an attempt by Knesset member Gadeer Mreeh (Yesh Atid-Telem) to legislate a “suspension” of the law pending approval of master plans for Arab municipalities was defeated.

Bowing to this incessant political pressure, in November 2020 then-Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn announced that the attorney general had reached an agreement with the Justice Ministry, the Treasury and the Joint List to institute a two-year enforcement moratorium against existing residential structures in Arab and Druze municipalities and structures in the agricultural sector eligible for legalization. The agreement also calls for expedited planning and registration activity during the moratorium period.

Nissenkorn’s “agreement” amounts to a severe limitation of the provisions of the law and a dangerous circumvention of the Knesset’s authority. It undermines the basic concepts of legislative democracy and the rule of law, protects offenders and encourages offenses. But that is apparently not enough: Left-wing parties, in an attempt to garner the support of the Arab parties for the coalition-building mandate, are now seeking the total repeal of the law.

This would restore the status quo ante, resulting in a complete reversal of the progress that has been made since 2017 against illegal construction. It would once again deprive municipal authorities of the ability to act effectively against construction criminals, making it difficult to promote stable, long-term planning policy for responsible utilization of Israel’s limited land reserves and severely impairing the state’s ability to develop national and local construction and infrastructure plans—particularly in the minority communities that suffer most from development inequity.

The Zionist parties must act in every way to prevent the repeal of the Kaminitz Law, and work to strengthen the rule of law in general. Israel’s Planning and Construction Law, including Amendment 116, was designed to create a rational land-use policy that will ensure a healthy future for all citizens of Israel.

This article by Regavim’s Director General, Meir Deutsch, appeared in the Jerusalem Post on April 12, 2021