What Happens When a Palestinian Millionaire Paves an Illegal Road on Private Land?
The benefactor-developer of the Palestinian city of Rawabi is a Palestinian multi-millionaire named Bashar Al-Masri.
The massive new city is located in Area A, under full Palestinian Authority jurisdiction – but the access road to the city lies in Area A, an area under full Israeli jurisdiction, making the Civil Administration responsible for law enforcement at the site. The Civil Administration issued a temporary permit for the road several years ago – a permit that has absolutely no legal basis, since the land in question is privately owned. This makes the case of Rawabi’s access road particularly important as a precedent for similar cases involving access roads to Jewish communities throughout Judea and Samaria that have been brought before the High Court in recent years.
Regavim initiated legal proceedings (Case #6294/17), naming the Rawabi Corporation as a respondent in the case, as the law requires. But when the attorney that had represented the Rawabi Corporation in earlier court appearances informed the court that he was no longer the Corporation’s lawyer, the High Court instructed Regavim to deliver the summons to Mr. Al Masri directly.
Because Rawabi is in Area A, to which Israelis are forbidden entry, Regavim hired a non-Jewish messenger, Bassam M., who went to Al Masri’s office in the Rawabi Corporation’s administrative headquarters, located in a commercial mall in the new city. Al Masri’s bodyguards blocked the messenger at the front door of the building, did not allow him to deliver the legal documents, and “explained” to him that it would be healthier for him never to show his face there again.
“The security guard stationed there would not permit me to enter,” testified Bassam M. in papers filed by Regavim following the incident. “I waited outside, and when he returned he told me to leave the premises immediately. He instructed me to deliver the legal documents I was carrying to the Civil Administration. I informed him that these documents were addressed to the Rawabi Corporation and were to be delivered to Mr. Al Masri personally, but he told me in no uncertain terms to leave and to take the documents with me.”
The messenger added in his sworn statement that the bodyguards threatened him and warned him not to return. “Security people escorted me out and followed me to make sure that I did not leave the documents anywhere. They warned me very clearly and aggressively not to return with legal material.”
“The behavior of Mr. Al Masri and his thugs speaks for itself,” says Atty. Avi Segal, Regavim’s legal representative. “The High Court has taken a very hard-line stance in similar cases, issuing demolition orders for homes and roads constructed by Jews on privately-owned land. This case should be no different; it is inconceivable that the High Court would take the rights of the land’s legal owners lightly. If Al Masri continues his derision and threats, Regavim will petition the High Court and demand that he be fined for contempt of court.”