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

The State of Israel enacted an effective enforcement order to fight the Palestinian takeover of Judea and Samaria, but the Civil Administration has refrained from using it – despite the approval of the High Court of Justice. Now, the Regavim Movement and the Samaria Regional Council have submitted a High Court petition demanding that the legislation be applied against Palestinian invasion of an archaeological site in Samaria.

Over the past several months, Regavim has documented a persistent stream of incursion and annexation, as residents of Burkin, a village located in the area under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction, have taken over a significant parcel of land in the Ariel Commercial Zone – located in Area C, under full Israeli jurisdiction.

The area that is being quietly annexed is adjacent to an archaeological site known as Khirbet Khurkosh, where a magnificent Hellenistic Era mausoleum was discovered, along with other remains dating from the Iron Age through the Middle Ages.

This gradual annexation began with road work, which was soon followed by land clearing and preparation for agricultural work. Mature olive trees were quickly planted, in an attempt to make the newly-cleared area look “old” – and now, a large structure, already connected to electricity infrastructure despite its considerable distance from the village, is nearing completion. This entire project is unfolding on “survey land,” Israeli state land for which full registration has not been completed.

The recently-filed High Court petition emphasizes that six different requests for enforcement were submitted to the relevant authorities at each of the stages of the annexation process, but the work continued, unhindered, and no discernable enforcement has been carried out.

For years, the Palestinian Authority and its partners in the European Union have exploited the Israeli bureaucratic and legal systems, successfully preventing law enforcement against illegal Palestinian annexation.

In 2018, the “Order for the Removal of New Illegal Structures” was enacted by the defense establishment and the State Attorney’s Office as part of the “Battle for Area C.” This legislation allows the demolition of new structures built without a permit within six months of construction. The order may be implemented within 96 hours of issuance of an eviction order.

The “Removal of New Structures” order is an effective enforcement tool that makes it possible to streamline the law enforcement process and make it more difficult for offenders to establish facts on the ground by abusing the judicial process.

After the “Removal of New Structures” order was enacted, left-wing organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice to strike it down, but their petition was rejected and the High Court approved the order’s use. Nonetheless, to this day the state has made minimal use of this order, despite the fact that it has proven to be the most efficient and effective tool in the fight against illegal construction.

In the petition filed by Regavim Movement and the Samaria Regional Council, attorneys Avi Segal and Yael Cinnamon requested that the High Court order the authorities to apply the “Order for Removal of New Structures” against the ongoing invasion of Khirbet Khurkosh.

Samaria Council Chairman Yossi Dagan said: “The Security Cabinet announced its intention to battle the PA’s annexation of Area C, and the time has come for the enforcement authorities to act accordingly – to approach the problem in a systematic fashion and to act systematically. We must stop the Palestinian Authority’s rampage, and tell them, loudly and clearly, who’s the boss.”

The joint petition stresses that “this case illustrates the PA’s systematic, well-financed and carefully-planned takeover of Area C, which seeks to shift the focal point of Palestinian development from Area B to Area C. The Palestinian Authority is establishing facts on the ground in order to tie Israel’s hands – both in terms of current security considerations and in terms of political leverage in strategic points in Area C. These one-sided facts on the ground will impact the opening positions for future negotiations, and the State of Israel must address them right now.”

An illegal structure built on Israeli state lands at the archaeological site of Khirbet Khurkosh
The squatters’ highway in April 2021

The Squatters’ Highway: How the PA connects illegal encampments in Area C to the villages of Area B

The Palestinian Authority has blazed a new illegal trail through the Jordan Valley, connecting the towns of Taysir and Tubas in Area B to its network of illegal outposts in Area C. Regavim: “The Palestinian Authority continues to carry out its masterplan for territorial contiguity in the Jordan Valley, and the State of Israel continues to allow it.”

In recent months, the Palestinian Authority has invested massive human and financial resources to create a new illegal road connecting the large Arab villages of Taysir and Tubas in eastern Samaria with the network of illegal outposts near the Jewish communities of Ro’i and Beqaot and the IDF bases of the Jordan Valley.

The Regavim Movement has been tracking, documenting and warning the authorities about the project for many months: The PA began work on the illegal “squatters’ highway” in Area C as early as November last year. Initially, paving materials were deposited in neat piles all along the route; now, only a few short months later, they have been steamrolled into a solid and smooth surface to accommodate vehicular traffic.

Regavim alerted the Civil Administration and other relevant authorities in the early stages of the project, demanding decisive enforcement action against the illegal activity and those responsible for it. Nonetheless, the PA has managed to steamroll and surface the entire roadway without interference, and if the current pace of “law enforcement” continues, there is every reason to believe that the road will soon be fully paved with asphalt.

The squatters’ highway in November 2020

“We warned the Civil Administration and the authorities, and appealed to them to take swift, active steps to prevent further progress of the work on the road, designed to support the illegal structures already on the ground and to link the scattered outposts into a  network and connect them to the central villages of Area B, but they did nothing,” said Eitan Melet, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria.

“The Palestinian Authority is constantly working to create contiguity of Palestinian settlement; they aren’t standing around waiting for a Civil Administration inspector to show up and stop them. Either knowingly or unwittingly, the inaction of the enforcement authorities and the State of Israel is enabling the Palestinian Authority to achieve its vision of territorial contiguity and control in the Jordan Valley.”

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
Turn on English subtitles
Illegal construction near Duma

The Palestinian Authority (PA) took advantage of the Passover holiday recess for large-scale illegal construction, including sites already under court-issued work-stop orders. Regavim: “This pattern repeats itself over each holiday, and the Israeli authorities continue to do nothing to prevent it.”

While Israelis enjoyed the week-long Passover holiday, the PA used the Civil Administration’s vacation to full advantage, carrying out lightning-paced construction at a number of strategically-placed sites in Area C, the portion of Judea and Samaria under full Israeli jurisdiction.

One of the projects aimed at establishing facts on the ground during the inspectors’ vacation is on the outskirts of Rujeib, located between Shechem (Nablus) and the Jewish community of Itamar in Area C. Over the intermediate days of the Passover festival, new areas were leveled for construction and infrastructure was laid for an illegal construction project that broke ground in recent months.

In the vicinity of Duma, a village adjacent to the Alon Road in the eastern Binyamin section of Area C, three permanent structures were built over the holiday – part of an enormous illegal construction project that is doubling the size of the village.

At Khirbet Khurkosh, an archaeological site in central Samaria that has been subjected to large-scale invasion and destruction in recent months, a very large brick-and-mortar structure was built over Passover.

Under current Civil Administration operational guidelines, all field inspectors vacation for the duration of the Jewish high holidays in the fall and Passover in the spring. For a week or more, no oversight, inspection or enforcement activity is carried out in Judea and Samaria. The results have become depressingly predictable: an outbreak of illegal construction in Area C.

Illegal construction on the outskirts of Rujeib, between Nablus and Itamar

Several years ago, Regavim released a report titled “Festivals of Construction” (Hebrew) surveying this phenomenon. Among other recommendations, the report suggested that the Civil Administration hire Druse inspectors to carry out the necessary fieldwork on Jewish days of rest and festivals, paralleling the system used by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor to enforce Israel’s days-of-rest laws and the Ministry of Interior’s system for enforcing Passover Chametz laws.

“These are the tip of the iceberg of the systematic annexation-via-construction program that is carried out on Jewish holidays, which have become festivals of illegal construction in the Arab sector throughout Israel, and particularly in Judea and Samaria,” says Eitan Melet, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria. “The authorities know full well what will happen, but fail to take any preventative measures.”

The Regavim Movement filed a petition against the Jerusalem Municipality, demanding law enforcement against an illegal subterranean tunnel dug by the Church of the Dormition on Mount Zion, in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City – an area dense with historical and archaeological treasures.

The Regavim Movement filed a petition yesterday (Tuesday) in the Jerusalem District Court, against the Jerusalem Municipality, which has been concealing the existence of an underground tunnel dug by the Church of the Dormition, one of the largest and most recognizable Catholic churches in Jerusalem. The Dormition, located just outside the Zion Gate, on the highest point in ancient Jerusalem, is included in the historic preservation compound known as “The Sovev Homot [Jerusalem Ramparts] National Park.”

As a result of Regavim’s legal pressure over the past two years, the Jerusalem Municipality was forced to measure and document the tunnel, which encroaches on public property in an area dense with archaeological remains. Since the completion of the mapping project, the municipality has ignored Regavim’s continued requests to release documentation of the tunnel and law enforcement at the site.

Mount Zion, one of the gateways to the Old City of Jerusalem, is well known for its unparalleled historic and archaeological importance to the three monotheistic faiths. The section of the mountain that is protected by the “Sovev Homot (Ancient Jerusalem Ramparts) National Park” contains numerous archaeological sites, including the site identified as King David’s tomb, the Hasmonean-era city walls, and the First Temple-era city wall.

Path of the illegal tunnel on Mount Zion

Despite the national, religious, scientific and historical importance of the area as a whole, the Dormition Church dug an underground tunnel, more than 100 meters long, to connect the Church with “Beit Josef,” a dormitory/guest house it built nearby decades ago.

For years, the existence of the tunnel was nothing more than a rumor shared among local residents and Jewish institutions active on Mount Zion, until Regavim sent an official request to the  Jerusalem Municipality in 2019 for confirmation of its existence and precise details of the tunnel’s location, in order to determine the extent to which it encroaches on public land as well as the extent to which priceless antiquities may have been harmed by the unsupervised digging.

Last year, as a result of Regavim’s demand and after the Jerusalem Municipality was forced to admit that the there is, in fact, an “old tunnel” at Beit Josef, official documentation was carried out on behalf of the Jerusalem Municipality; the illegal underground passage, measuring some 150 meters, was documented at last.

The investigation revealed that along the path of the tunnel there are underground rooms containing ancient artifacts, and the tunnel itself encroaches to a significant extent on public property. This illegal passageway was dug without a permit, violating existing planning codes and Israel’s Archeological Protection Law, without any oversight by engineers or archaeologists, as required by law, and may have damaged antiquities and other artifacts. 

Despite its findings, the Municipality has not charged the Church arnona (municipal land taxes) for the illegal tunnel, while all other residents of the city are expected to pay these and other taxes and tariffs or face heavy penalties.

“When the details began to come into focus, we demanded over and over that the Jerusalem Municipality publicize the documentation of its findings, as required by the Freedom of Information Law. We further demanded that oversight, inspection and law enforcement procedures be taken immediately, to restore the site to its previous condition either by sealing off or demolishing the tunnel,” said Attorneys Avi Segal and Yael Cinnamon of the Regavim Movement. “We filed this petition only when our repeated requests to the Jerusalem Municipality were not answered.”

Route of the secret tunnel and the road above

Freedom of Information Petition: Who is providing electricity to illegal Palestinian construction?

The Regavim Movement has petitioned the Jerusalem District Court, after the Civil Administration refused to provide data on the extent of electricity connections apparently supplied by the East Jerusalem Electric Company, an Israeli subsidiary of the Israel Electric Company which is subject to Israeli law, for thousands of illegal Palestinian structures in Judea and Samaria.

Tens of thousands of illegal structures have been built in the last decade in Area C, the section of Judea and Samaria under full Israeli jurisdiction. Most of these structures are connected to the electricity grid operated by the East Jerusalem Electric Company, an Israeli company supervised by the Public Services Authority. Other than the Israel Electric Company, the East Jerusalem Electric Company is the only company in Israel licensed to distribute electricity throughout the country.

To ascertain the extent of this phenomenon, Regavim submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Civil Administration last August. The request focused on electrical connections provided for illegal structures located a few meters from the entrance gate to Efrat in Gush Etzion. These structures, built illegally by Arabs with the encouragement and support of the Palestinian Authority, are connected to the East Jerusalem Electric Company network.

Regavim wanted to understand how the East Jerusalem Electric Company received permission to connect the illegal structures to the grid, and precisely how the electricity pillars were placed: Is there an approved masterplan for the area? Were these structures given permits, or perhaps granted permit exemptions which allowed for their connection to the grid?

The Civil Administration did not respond; after Regavim’s second request for information, the Civil Administration’s official response was that “staff members are working vigorously to formulate a response to this query;” although these structures had been hooked up to the electrical supply only a few months before the query was submitted, the Civil Administration explained that the structures in question are “old,” and that “in-depth examination of the archives is required.”

Months after this puzzling response, no substantive reply was received from the Civil Administration to the Freedom of Information request, so Regavim petitioned the court to compel the Civil Administration to provide satisfactory answers about this absurd situation.

“Aside from the safety hazards posed by unauthorized, unsupervised electrical connections, this situation lends permanence to the illegal structures,” says Yakhin Zik, Director of Operations at Regavim. “It is inconceivable that a company subject to Israeli law should provide unauthorized electrical connections to structures built illegally. It is inconceivable that while on the one hand the Israeli government has vowed to fight and win “the battle for Area C,” on the other hand it is allowing this phenomenon to entrench and reward the illegal construction that is the primary tool for the hostile Palestinian takeover of Area C.”

חיבורי חשמל
Bir Hadaj

Israel’s High Court of Justice denies appeal of landowners whose property has been overtaken by thousands of Bedouin squatters: “This case does not justify judicial interference.”

After a decade of legal proceedings, yesterday (Monday) Israel’s High Court of Justice denied an appeal by owners of private property who sought a court-mandated deadline for the removal of squatters from their land – land located on the outskirts of Bir Hadaj, the crime capital of the Negev. “An outrageous miscarriage of justice.”

Yestrday (Monday), Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected a petition filed by individual land owners whose property has been overrun by Bedouin squatters. Over the past number of years, more than 1,000 Bedouin families invaded state land and private properties on the outskirts of Kibbutz Revivim, while rejecting a series of increasingly generous relocation-compensation packages offered by the Israeli government. The owners of the property took their case to court ten years ago, and in their most recent appeal, they sought a court-mandated timetable for the restoration of their property.

In stark contrast to a well-established record of High Court judgements that required the state to remove Jewish homes built on privately-owned Arab property according to non-negotiable deadlines, in the case of the Jewish landowners of Bir Hadaj, Justices Groskopf, Mazuz and Wilner decided that “the rights of ownership of the appellants regarding their private property are not absolute, and do not exist in a vacuum,” and that this “is not among those exceptional and extreme cases that justify judicial intervention in the policy of the authorities responsible for enforcing planning and construction laws.”

The squatters’ camps near Bir Hadaj began to take shape in the early 2000s, after the Israeli government temporarily relocated 15 families from the Ramat Beka area to state land near Kibbutz Revivim. This set off a massive movement of families from the Al Azazmeh tribe, who quickly covered thousands of dunams of state land in the vicinity, as well as some 2000 dunams of land owned privately by Jews, with hundreds of illegal structures.

This sprawling squatters’ camp has grown into the crime capital of southern Israel, an exterritorial no man’s land where Israeli law enforcement is virtually nonexistent. Residents of the squatters’ camp have been in the news recently: The suspects in the rape of a 10-year old girl in the course of a home invasion, the massive drug production plantations on the nearby Tzeelim firing zone, large-scale plunder of IDF ammunition and harassment of IDF trainees and reservists are all “credited” to residents of the Bir Hadaj hinterland.

In 2003, the Israeli government decided to create a new, legal alternative for the squatters: an all-Bedouin town, built on state land. Each of the squatter families was offered a “compensation” package of hundreds of thousands of shekels as well as a 5 dunam plot of land (!) – but this wasn’t enough to convince the squatters to relocate.

The owners of the stolen land, together with the Regavim Movement, petitioned the Beer Sheva District Court, asking that the state be required to provide a timetable for the evacuation of the squatters, but the government responded that it was carrying out negotiations with the squatters with the aim of achieving a mutually-acceptable evacuation – and the petition was dismissed. When the much-awaited agreement didn’t materialize, a second petition was filed in 2015 – which the court denied without explanation.

A third petition was filed after the Director of the Bedouin Authority, Yair Maayan, released an official announcement that all attempts to achieve a mutually-accepted evacuation agreement had failed.

The owners of the purloined property returned to court, proving that from the time they had first petitioned, the squatters had built hundreds of additional illegal structures on their property. To make matters worse, what meager law enforcement activity had taken place in the interim (6 relocation agreements were signed with squatters, out of over 1000) had focused on clearing state-owned land, and the private owners were left ‘high and dry.’

This third petition was also denied, despite the government’s response to the court that it could not predict when enforcement activity would be completed in the squatters camp as a whole, and in the privately-owned sections in particular. The property owners turned to the High Court of Justice to appeal the District Court decision.

Yesterday (Monday), the High Court of Justice denied their appeal. “The situation in Bir Hadaj as a whole, and in the privately-owned section in particular, is unacceptable,” wrote Justice Groskopf in the opening words of the judgement. “The state must not accept a situation in which there are areas under its jurisdiction that are beyond the law,” and even after a decade has passed, “it is unclear when the owners of the property will be able to exercise their rights to it.”

Nonetheless, the judges refused to require the state to adhere to a deadline for evacuation of the property. “The appellants’ ownership rights to the privately-owned land, which undoubtedly and undeniably been harmed, are not absolute and do not exist in a vacuum. They are to be weighed against the state’s policy of creating appropriate regulation solutions for the illegal compound at Bir Hadaj, in the larger context of efforts to regulate Bedouin settlement in the Negev.”

Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim, reacted to the judgement: “This is a miscarriage of justice that cries out to the very heavens. In inverse cases, the High Court ordered the wholesale evacuation of Jewish communities and the destruction of Jewish homes according to draconian, non-negotiable timetables. In this case, it has become clear that the government itself is creating the cesspool of lawlessness that is exploding on us all. The squatters’ camps have become an exterritorial incubator for the horrors that continue to befall Israeli citizens of the Negev and beyond. The unthinkable has become the norm; the rape of a child in her own home, the invasion and looting of IDF bases, and the terrorizing of law abiding Israelis speak for themselves.”

Chaim Goloventsis, one of the owners of the land, added: “We must not accept a reality in which the High Court of Justice once again denies us the right to our property. I am convinced that if our land had been located in the 03 area code (i.e., greater Tel Aviv), the judgement would have been totally different. This is just one more pathetic, embarrassing instance of the breakdown of the state’s institutions in southern Israel.”

In the last few years, in central Israel, next to Kfar Kassem and on lands zoned for agricultural use, an enormous commercial zone has popped up illegally.

With massive warehouses, garages, stores, factories, and sprawling over more than 2000 dunams, the commercial zone is the largest illegal one in Israel.

What’s so problematic about the Kfar Kassem commercial zone?

First and foremost, it creates enormous environmental damage! Dozens of factories and industrial buildings are operating without inspection, oversight, or supporting infrastructure, causing pollution of the air, the ground, and groundwater.

Add to that severe safety hazards. Many of the buildings in the commercial zone were built unsafely, obstructing the national infrastructure corridor, under high-voltage power lines, and dangerously close to a busy highway.

And if that’s not enough, lives are put at risk! As heavy vehicles try their luck at getting in and out of the commercial zone through newly made ‘passages’, drivers and passengers on Route 5, which is closely adjacent, are in danger.

Last June, we submitted a petition to the District Court in Lod demanding that the law be enforced, and the major environmental and safety hazards prevented.

Last week, there was a court hearing on the matter. The State admitted that this is a ‘mega-issue’ and that criminals are active at the site.

We found the State’s official response sorely lacking. For its part, the court required a follow-up hearing for a more in-depth look at the hazardous conditions that have resulted from the authorities’ negligence.

Time to shut down this massive illegal enterprise – quickly!

Regavim: Preserving Israel’s Resources, Restoring Israeli Sovereignty

UNTSO compound in Armon HaNatziv
Regavim’s petition regarding the UNTSO Compound in Armon HaNatziv continues.

In March 2017, Regavim petitioned the Jerusalem Magistrates Court for a temporary injunction requiring the Israeli authorities to issue evacuation and restoration orders against illegal construction at the UNTSO compound in Armon HaNatziv, in southern Jerusalem.

This petition was the result of Regavim’s discovery that the UN was carrying out blatant violations of Israeli law and sovereignty at the site, including seizure and unauthorized use of property adjacent to the compound originally “rented” to the UN by the State of Israel, and construction of a number of buildings – including an illegal gas station – at and around the original site for which permits were never requested or received. The work that had either been completed or that was then underway had already caused significant changes to protected historic structures, and posed a possible environmental threat, aside from the basic violation of Israeli law and Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.

In the hearing of Regavim’s petition on 8 November 2017, the State’s representatives confirmed that these construction projects had, in fact, been carried out and were still in progress, but stated that the Israeli government would be carrying out diplomatic discussions with representatives of the UN on this matter.

Over the course of the next three years, these “diplomatic discussions” continued, and last week (15 September 2020) the State’s representatives notified the court that this process had reached a successful conclusion: The sides agreed that all future construction work at the site will be “consonant” either substantively or substantially (the wording in Hebrew is extremely vague) “with Israel’s Planning and Construction Code, and will be carried out according to mutually acceptable parameters.” In addition, the government’s attorney notified the court that its inspectors had received and studied plans and other documentation for the construction work that has already been initiated or completed at the site, and found the documentation “satisfactory.”

The State therefore argued that Regavim’s petition had been made redundant and should be rejected.

“While Regavim is happy to hear that the Israeli government and the United Nations have reached an understanding regarding future construction at the site, with all due respect – this ‘understanding’ is worthless,” said Naomi Kahn, Director of Regavim’s International Division.

“There is no argument that Israel’s planning and construction laws apply to the Armon HaNatziv compound, and that the UN and its representatives are required to obey these laws; in fact, this is stated clearly in paragraph 5 of the State’s response. The ‘understanding’ reached with the UN that future construction will be ‘consonant’ with Israeli law is another way of saying that the UN is somehow above the law, and has voluntarily agreed to take Israel’s Planning and Building Code into consideration. At the same time, the Israeli government’s acquiescence to this ‘understanding’ exempts it from enforcing the law.”

“This is an ‘understanding’ that we must not accept,” Kahn continued. “Regavim’s petition, from the very outset, has been as much about the physical damage caused to the historic compound as it is about the blatant disregard for Israeli sovereignty in our capital. ”

“We are unwilling to accept the Israeli government’s behavior in this matter,” added Attorney Avi Segal, who represents Regavim in this case. “The ‘satisfactory’ documentation presented by the UN should not empower our government or its agencies to undermine the basic principles of equal and universal law enforcement. If the planning and building code becomes nothing more than a set of recommendations, if the ramifications for our environment and the allocation of national resources of large-scale projects are only of secondary concern, and if political pressure suffices to suspend all semblance of legal process, Israel is in sad state indeed.”

“Regavim will continue to pursue this matter in court,” said Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim. “We will not accept our government’s willingness to forgo Israeli sovereignty – particularly when the challenge is posed by an organization that acts consistently against Israeli sovereignty on every possible front.”