The Netanyahu government last week informed the Supreme Court it would be unable to permit the access route to the new Arab city of Rawabi in Samaria because it cuts through private plots in Area C (under full Israeli control), according to hearing of the rightwing NGO Regavim’s petition against the IDF Civil Administration, the Defense Ministry and the Rawabi corporation.
Rawabi (“The Hills”), located near Birzeit and Ramallah, is the first planned city built for and by Arabs in the PA, which is hailed as the “flagship” of a future Palestinian State. Construction began in January 2010, and by 2014 650 apartments were made available, for an estimated 3,000 residents On March 1, 2015, developer Bashar al-Masri announced that Israel would connect the city up to the Israeli-run water grid, making it possible for residents to move in.
Two years ago, Regavim appealed to the Supreme Court against the Civil Administration, the Ministry of Defense and the Rawabi company, concerning the Rawabi company’s land improvements and the construction and paving of a road in one of the city’s neighborhoods. The works were carried out in “Zligat,” an Arab city under Israeli control in the direction of the nearby Jewish community of Ateret.
According to Regavim, and the state, the access highway to the city of Rawabi was partly built on private land, without the owners’ consent. Following the discussion, the Court gave Rawabi six months to prove ownership of the land. The Rawabi company promised the court that the construction work would not be renewed until the approval of the company’s programs.
The State told the court that the Rawabi company has yet to complete the planning aspects of the road, and began to building it before obtaining a legal permit: “The documents submitted by [the Rawabi company] were examined by the Planning Bureau. The examination showed that the title is not sufficient to fulfill the requirements in this respect. Among other things, in view of the fact that some of the road is on regulated land [without] the owner’s consent in relation to the specific area.” The state also stated that “documents provided do not solve the problem proprietary.”
The Supreme Court will hear the case again in about ten days, and the state is on the record as suggesting the only ways for the Rawabi company to be able to complete the road would be to purchase the plots in question from the Arab owners or to get the IDF Civil Administration to expropriate the plots.
However, if the court now approves of the Civil Administration expropriating lands in Area C to serve an Arab settlement, it might find it difficult in the future to halt similar impounding that would favor Jewish settlements.