The Regavim organization has claimed the Civil Administration has not demolished illegal structures built by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Area C, Despite Supreme Court rulings ordering the demolition.
The Civil Administration is an IDF unit that is charged with implementing Israel’s civil policy in Judea and Samaria.
Regavim, an organization which monitors and pursues legal action against illegal construction by Palestinian or Bedouin settlers, has published a statement blaming the Civil Administration of protected and granting post-facto “legalization” to illegal structures built by the Palestinian Authority.
According to Regavim, an illegal school building constructed by the Palestinian Authority on privately-owned land near the South Hebron-area village of Samua, has received unprecedented legal protection, thanks to what it considers to be a “warped interpretation and skewed application of the Regulation Law for Judea and Samaria.”
The Judea and Samaria Settlement Regulation Law, in its full name, was passed in the Knesset in 2017. The legislation aims to regulate the legal standing of buildings that were found to have built on private land. It determines such building will, in some cases, be legalized and the landowners will be compensated.
In 2017, Regavim petitioned the High Court of Justice to demolish the structure in question, which had been built illegally. In response to the petition, the Civil Administration informed the court that the structure would be demolished shortly. Regavim, therefore, retracted the petition.
Ten months later, construction at the site continued unhindered, despite a temporary injunction forbidding any further work, issued by the High Court. Regavim submitted a second petition that went unheard by the High Court.
In February 2019, eighteen months after the second petition was set aside, Regavim requested a status report from the Civil Administration.
The Civil Administration responded to the request, saying they have no plans of demolition for the structure. “The Civil Administration has no intention of demolishing the structure, since it falls under the stipulations of the Regulation Law, and the government is required to legalize it,” they wrote.
The Regulation Law states that in cases involving structures built on privately-owned land with government approval or support, or when structures were built on land not known to be privately-owned at the time (“absence of malice”), the property on which the structures in question stand will be leased by the government, and the equivalent sum paid to the land’s rightful owners, without the need to demolish existing structures.
The Regulation Law further stipulates that in order for this arrangement to be applied, the State must be shown to have been actively involved in the construction, “including assistance in the creation of infrastructure and planning,” or in cases where “it is found that the structures were built in good faith, prior to the ratification of this law, on land that has not yet been registered or regulated.”
As a result of petitions submitted by leftist organizations to the Supreme Court, enactment of the Regulation Law is currently pending a High Court of Justice decision. It was decided that until such a decision is reached, no enforcement procedures will be carried out against structures that fall under the law’s protections.
Regavim has called the Civil Administration’s argument, that the structure falls under the protections granted by the Regulation Law, a “brazen legalistic manipulation which ignores the explicit language of the law itself.”
“This is not the only case in which the State is twisting the Regulation Law to protect illegal Arab construction,” said Regavim’s spokesperson. “What we have here is a clear case of ‘the rule of bureaucrats.’ The Civil Administration opposed the Regulation Law from the outset, and is now using it as the basis for a warped interpretation of the law in what appears to be a calculated attempt to shirk its most basic responsibilities.” He added.