In the case of Jordanian Law #40, the racist law still in force that prevents individual Jews from buying land in Judea and Samaria, the High Court of Justice claimed that there is no justifiable reason to intervene. When Regavim petitioned against the law, the High Court judges sent us to the legislator.
However, in two other cases, the High Court deemed it right to intervene: when a Jewish community refused to allow an Arab to move in, the judges ruled that he can live there (the Kaadan case); and when a Jew requested to lease land in a Bedouin town, the Court rejected his petition (the Avitan case).
The High Court of Justice intervenes in government and Knesset decisions only if they seem unreasonable. But it’s clear that the question of what’s reasonable or not depends on your political outlook. If it is *reasonable* to cancel the law against infiltration in Israel and *unreasonable* to cancel a racist law which prohibits the sale of property to Jews, what does that say about “reasonableness” in the eyes of the justices?
Purim is over. It’s time to take the masks off, and restore the balance between the different branches of Israeli government.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
In a renewed petition submitted to the High Court of Justice, the Regavim Movement calls for changes in Civil Administration procedures that automatically freeze enforcement against thousands of illegal structures in Area C. Regavim: “This procedural distortion encourages illegal construction, entrenches and enables the Palestinian takeover of Area C.”
In 2021, a Regavim petition to the High Court of Justice (HCJ) challenged Civil Administration and Ministry of Defense operational guidelines, in force for years, that actively violate the Planning and Construction Law. The implementation of these guidelines has created a protective shield for illegal structures by granting indefinite suspension of enforcement procedures against thousands of illegal Arab-built structures, entrenching their status and permanence and encouraging a surge of new illegal Arab construction.
The operational guidelines grant automatic, open-ended suspension of enforcement procedures against illegal construction in Judea and Samaria from the moment statutory appeals are submitted for any illegally-built structure – including requests for TABA (municipal masterplan), requests for a waiver of building permit requirements, appeals against demolition orders, requests to freeze enforcement procedures, appeals to the High Court of Justice – even when it is clear from the outset that these motions are totally without basis and will not be upheld due to insurmountable flaws in design, engineering, location, land ownership or other objective facts. By simply submitting unfounded or even absurd requests or applications, illegal structures enjoy an umbrella of protection, as enforcement is automatically frozen – indefinitely.
Regavim’s 2021 petition was dismissed when the State claimed that it had revised the problematic procedural guidelines – but Regavim’s petition argues that the changes instituted by the Civil Administration involve a minor procedural sub-paragraph that has no substantive impact on the operational guidelines or their problematic results. Regavim has now submitted a second petition, arguing that although the correction limits the blanket enforcement freeze to a certain degree, the procedural guidelines continue to uphold illegal practices and grant offenders protection from enforcement.
“The Civil Administration, which is responsible for enforcing the law in Judea and Samaria, has inexplicably expanded a loophole in the Jordanian law that is in force in this area, enabling illegal construction on a massive scale,” says Attorney Boaz Arzi of Regavim’s Legal Division. “There are currently some 80,000 illegal Palestinian structures in Area C of Judea and Samaria, the area ostensibly under Israeli civil and security jurisdiction. Every day, an average of 8 new structures is added to this incomprehensible number, alongside the massive territorial takeover through agricultural and roadwork projects – all of which are planned and carried out by the Palestinian Authority with the support of foreign concerns.” Arzi adds: “This absurdity must be stopped – immediately. There’s a battle raging on the ground for control of Area C, and the Civil Administration’s illegal procedural protocols are aiding and abetting the Palestinian Authority’s takeover.”
The Masafer Yatta case illustrates how leftist propaganda manipulates the kind hearts and good intentions of people in Israel and around the world.
It’s a whale of a tale that has enabled anti-Israel organizations, foreign governments and the Palestinian Authority to turn run-of-the mill illegal construction into a massive international issue. It also illustrates that although “better late than never” might work in some situations – in others, if you miss the boat, the ship sails on and you’re left to swim against the tide and battle the sharks on your own.
The area referred to as Masafer Yatta is state land, which was declared a military training ground in the early 1980s. Like all state lands set aside for military use, there was not, nor had there been in over 100 years, settlement of any kind on the land in question – no private property, no historic villages, nothing. This is a desert area, very difficult terrain, with no water or arable land. During the Ottoman era it was classified as mawat – “dead” – and owned by the sultan (in other words, by the state); the same classification carried through the Mandatory era and the Jordanian occupation. Mandate-era maps (below, 1935) show some archaeological ruins in the area, but no settlement of any kind. By comparison, the map shows Yatta and Hebron, Bani Naim and other villages that were real, actual settlements during the same period. “Masafer Yatta” was desolate.
Aerial photos from as recently as 1997 make this point unequivocally – but they aren’t really necessary: The “proof” offered to the High Court of Justice by the Arab plaintiffs in the Masafer Yatta case actually disproves their claims. The recent High Court decision lists some of the more egregious examples that prove unequivocally that the residents of the illegal “villages” of Masafer Yatta arrived after the IDF closed off the area for military use. It also proves that these residents, almost without exception, have permanent homes in the nearby town of Yatta.
How were these “villages” born? The shepherds of Yatta would sleep in caves in nearby grazing areas, rather than trekking back to the village each night. After the IDF closed off the area, the shepherds were permitted to continue grazing their flocks there; the IDF gave them a few days’ warning before live-fire exercises to insure that no one got hurt. The Palestinian Authority seized the opportunity – and began funding construction of permanent structures. Foreign interests jumped right in after them, funding infrastructure projects to support the “indigenous farmers” – laying water and electricity lines that enabled more and more people to set up homesteads on the “free” land. This pattern, repeated all through the area, was exposed in the High Court of Justice – by the plaintiffs themselves!
The first petitions regarding Masafer Yatta were filed over 20 years ago by leftist organizations that tried to wrest control of the area out of the State’s hands. Temporary injunctions weren’t merely ignored, they were trampled – but instead of immediately tearing down the few structures that had popped up in the firing zone, the IDF kept pulling back, limiting the area it used for training, to avoid harming the squatters. What started off as a few structures in three specified areas metastasized into hundreds of structures, many hundreds of residents, and a brand new fake-news international humanitarian crisis. A full two decades passed before the High Court finally asserted what had been clear from the start: The Arab claims to this land are unfounded, and the claim that Israel is dispossessing indigenous people is a lie.
After a seemingly endless stream of correspondence and complaints by Regavim, the Civil Administration cleared an illegal garbage dump in the Binyamin region. But the Regavim Movement discovered that the dumping site was cleared and rehabilitated at the expense of the Israeli taxpayer, and not a single one of the criminals arrested for dumping the trash were charged or tried – even when they resumed dumping at the very same spot only weeks later. Regavim has petitioned the High Court of Justice.
In 2019, Regavim’s field staff noticed that criminals had taken over the open space near the Psagot Junction in the Binyamin region of Area C (the portion of Judea and Samaria under full Israeli jurisdiction), and used it to dump and burn massive quantities of trash. With no oversight, inspection or permits and in complete disregard of the most basic criteria for waste disposal and environmental protection, this illegal dumping ground was causing unspeakable, irreparable damage to the soil and water, and creating a health hazard to plant, animal and human life in the vicinity that was affecting all residents of the area – Jews and Arabs alike.
Regavim complained to the authorities – repeatedly – and demanded oversight and enforcement at the site, restoration of the environment and prosecution of those responsible for this criminal abuse. The authorities eventually announced that they had apprehended and impounded several dump trucks that were unloading trash – meaning that the identity of the offenders was known and duly recorded. At the end of 2021, the Civil Administration, which is responsible for law enforcement in Area C, announced that it had completed clean-up and restoration of the site – at a cost of NIS 370,098. The project was funded from the Civil Administration’s budget, while the official announcement also noted that “the Civil Administration has no information regarding the identity of the perpetrators.”
Surprisingly – or not – only a few short weeks later, in February 2022, dump trucks were back at work, unloading tons of garbage at the very same site and rebuilding the massive mountain of trash.
Regavim decided to take the matter to the High Court of Justice. The petition they submitted claimed that the Civil Administration’s conduct in this matter violates both the law and the most basic standards of good governance, and that it is unreasonable to force the law-abiding public to bear costs of hundreds of thousands of Shekels to remove the trash while the offenders, whose identity is no secret, have not been charged or tried for this crime – and are given a free hand to continue to violate the ecosystem and the law, causing irreparable harm to the environment.
Attorney Yael Cinnamon, who is representing Regavim in this petition, noted: “The Civil Administration’s policy of negligence that allows criminals to commit offenses with impunity, without being required to pay the price for their crimes or for the damage they have caused, has taken root, and criminals have learned to take full advantage of the law enforcement void and the Civil Administration’s reticence in order to expand their dangerous and illegal activities. The re-activation of the illegal dump in Binyamin, which was cleared and restored only a few months ago, is a case in point.”
Moshe Shmueli, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria, added: “We are engaged in a protracted battle against the illegal dumping site near Psagot. When we finally managed to force the Civil Administration to shut down the dump and do what had to be done to rehabilitate the surrounding environment, we were shocked to discover that the costs were funded by the public. Even worse, it took almost no time at all for the dumping to resume. This is not the only illegal dumping site in the area, either. The criminals know how to use the chaos and inaction of the authorities to their advantage, just as they do with the lack of enforcement against illegal construction.”
Yisrael Gantz, Head of the Binyamin Regional Council: “The failure to enforce the law is strangling the environment. Sadly, there is no deterrence against Arab criminals or the Palestinian Authority. When there is no serious enforcement, there is a free for all, and it takes a toll on our health. Enforcement is currently only a drop in the ocean – it’s nowhere near enough to stop the rampant criminality.”
“The fact that the hard-earned tax money of the municipalities and citizens of Judea and Samaria is collected by the Civil Administration and used to tend to illegal Arab dumping sites, rather than to develop infrastructure and environmental projects for local communities, is nothing short of scandalous.”
Today (Wednesday, 8 June) the Supreme Court denied a petition filed by the Rahat Municipality – neutralizing one more attempt to sabotage the relocation of thousands of Bedouin squatters and the regulation of Bedouin settlement in the Negev. Regavim: “The Bedouin leadership itself is throwing the monkey-wrench into the works and obstructing the regulation process.”
Earlier today (Wednesday), the High Court of Justice (HCJ) rejected a petition submitted by the Rahat Municipality against the State’s decision to allocate plots of land in a new neighborhood for resettlement of members of the Abu Quider clan who have been squatting illegally on privately-owned land. The government decision to develop a new neighborhood in Rahat for this clan was taken many years ago, but has languished, unimplemented, ever since.
More than three decades have passed since an agreement between the Bedouin Authority and representatives of the Abu Quider tribe was signed. The plan was to resettle squatters in permanent housing in Rahat, but it was opposed by the municipality, which claimed that the land in question was needed for “natural growth” of the existing population of Rahat who would be at an unfair disadvantage if the Abu Quider agreement is upheld. Over the years, in the context of attempts to reach a compromise through mediation, Rahat’s municipal lines were expanded – at the expense of the neighboring Bnei Shimon Regional Council – in order to set aside plots for “natural growth;” the cost to the Israeli taxpayer was hundreds of millions of shekels.
Today’s HCJ decision refuted the Rahat Municipality’s claims that the resettlement agreement with the Abu Quider clan would result in discriminate against the residents of Rahat or create inequality. The Court determined that the steps taken by the Bedouin Authority were all fully within its purview; the Bedouin Authority has both the authority and the responsibility to develop new neighborhoods for the resettlement of squatters. The judicial panel, headed by Judge Khaled Kabub, was “unconvinced” that the authorities’ behavior was disproportionate to the extent that judicial intervention was required. At the same time, the Court upheld the State’s argument that Rahat’s land reserves are sufficient to meet the needs of natural growth for decades to come.
The decision clears the last remaining obstacle to the relocation of the squatters into the city and the return of the land commandeered by the Abu Quider clan to its rightful owners. It should be noted that Regavim and the legal owners of the land upon which the Abu Quider squatters continue to live petitioned the HCJ a decade ago. The legal process for that petition, which dragged on for years, resulted in a High Court decision that required the evacuation of the squatters and the return of the stolen land to its legal owners – but did not make specific demands upon the State to take action, due to the Rahat Municipality’s objections.
“Abu-Sahiban, the mayor of Rahat, is doing everything in his power to sabotage resettlement and regulation efforts,” says Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim. “During the long years of legal procrastination, the Rahat Municipality has extorted more and more land and ever-expanding development budgets with one hand, while with the other hand it has obstructed the state’s regulation efforts. Today, the High Court finally put an end to this. We hope to soon see the land in al-Zarnug returned to its rightful owners.”
The Regavim Movement’s recent High Court of Justice petition targeting Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s refusal to revoke an anti-Jewish law still in force in Judea and Samaria is approaching the next stage, and Regavim has released a video highlighting the issue.
“The situation is so ridiculous, it’s difficult to explain how it has continued for so long,” said Tamar Sikurel, Regavim’s spokesperson. “The State of Israel continues to enforce a law that discriminates against Jews and bars them from purchasing land in the heart of the Land of Israel. Discrimination of this kind would be immediately struck down in any other modern democracy – but here, in our ancestral land, the government of the Jewish state is afraid to protect the rights of the Jewish People. It’s an outrage, an affront to justice and equality, and a badge of shame”.
Nearly two months ago, the High Court of Justice issued a conditional order to repeal Jordanian Law #40 in response to a petition filed by the Regavim Movement; the government and the Minister of Defense were given 60 days to file arguments in defense of their continued enforcement of the law that prohibits the sale of land in Judea and Samaria to Jews.
As the deadline nears, the Regavim Movement has called upon Defense Minister Gantz to adopt the professional opinion of former defense ministers Lieberman, Netanyahu and Bennett – an opinion shared and supported by the Ministry of Defense’s experts and legal advisers – and repeal the racist law without delay.
“Defending this indefensible law will only add insult to injury,” added Sikurel. “Defense Minister Gantz – don’t wait for the High Court to intervene. Strike down Jordanian Law 40 today!”
Last weekend, Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ) handed down a decision on a petition that’s been pending for two decades. The High Court allowed for hundreds of Palestinian invaders to be evicted from Training Ground 918, an IDF training zone in the South Hebron Hills region. The complicated case has been discussed in the courtrooms for no less than 20 years – a discussion that’s been based mainly on Fake News peddled by radical left-wing NGOs and the Palestinian Authority.
After repeatedly preventing any enforcement action against the invaders (who, in the meantime, built hundreds of additional illegal structures), the HCJ examined the aerial photos and maps, which prove beyond doubt that there was never any permanent Arab settlement in the area before it was declared an IDF training zone.
The Court’s verdict confirmed the obvious, and green-lighted the eviction of the invaders and return of the territory to the hands of the IDF.
It took two decades (!) for the HCJ to reach the right decision about 30,000 dunams that were stolen from the State of Israel – two decades too long, during which the case became more complex, problematic, and entangled in legal bureaucracy.
The Courts’ misguided and boundless leniency toward Palestinian intruders, even when at the expense of Israelis’ security and safety, proves to be a disaster, time and again. Instead of dealing with the problem in 918 early on, the State of Israel now needs to confront a difficult reality on the ground.
In the last few days, unsurprisingly, the Haaretz newspaper launched a propaganda campaign about the “Masafer Yatta eviction”. However, the facts are quite different, as we told you back in February 2021 >> see here.
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