Last week, a new petition was submitted to the Jerusalem District Court demanding stop-work and demolition orders as well as additional administrative measures against a new, three-story luxurious villa, complete with a swimming pool in its expansive yard, which was built without a permit in blatant violation of the law near the village of Al-Funduq, in Area C, which is under full Israeli jurisdiction.
Al-Funduq is located 9.9 miles east of Qalqiliya, which in turn is 7 miles east of Kfar Saba inside green line Israel. The villa was built on the designated path of the Al-Funduq bypass road, a new thoroughfare planned by the Netivei Yisrael Corporation (the Israel Roadworks company) at a cost of hundreds of thousands of shekels, to ease traffic congestion in the area and improve road safety and security for all residents of the area – Jews and Arabs alike.
Needless to say, the illegal mansion is obstructing the construction of the new road, thwarting development and deepening the traffic chaos in the region from which all residents suffer.
A year ago, in the summer of 2021, when construction of the mansion was in progress, the Samaria Council and Regavim Movement appealed to the authorities, demanding that the law be enforced immediately. But the Civil Administration, back then still the domain of Defense Minister Benny Gantz, replied that “if necessary, supervision and enforcement procedures will be taken in accordance with established procedures, in accordance with enforcement priorities, and subject to operational considerations.”
For your next trivia competition, the above line is the answer to “what’s the largest number of words ever assembled in a sentence that means “No.” It’s 24.
When months passed and, as expected, no enforcement was carried out––while the construction of the villa continued at an accelerated pace––Regavim again turned to the Civil Administration to urge enforcement of the law. The Civil Administration’s response was: “A work-stop order will be issued as soon as possible.”
Naturally, no such order was issued, at which point, the Samaria Council and Regavim decided to petition the court.
The petition raises the issue of “enforcement priorities” which, according to Regavim, the Civil Administration uses to hide its enormous failure to enforce the law against illegal Arab construction in Area C.
In an appendix to the petition, Regavim lists dozens of cases in which the court accepted the Civil Administration’s fig-leaf claim of “enforcement priorities” based on system overload and insufficient manpower.
The court maintained a policy of non-interference in “professional considerations,” but in practice, according to the petition, under the auspices of this claim, the Civil Administration completely avoids enforcing the law. Moreover, Regavim’s petition contends that if the Al-Funduq case, which involves illegal construction on a major traffic artery––constituting a high priority for enforcement––received no attention whatsoever for more than a year, the Civil Administration’s priorities for enforcement are nothing more than a hollow excuse for inaction.
Yossi Dagan, Head of the Samaria Regional Council, said in a statement: “This is absurd. The state plans to invest millions of shekels to double the capacity of the road to provide a safety and security solution for thousands of Israelis and Palestinians, but on the other hand, it does not enforce the law and does not maintain the area.”
“It is inconceivable that while we see vigilant enforcement activity against Jewish pioneers in the Jewish settlement outposts, absolutely nothing is being done to fight the takeover of our national lands. Sadly, the law has not been enforced against a massive structure that was built as a deliberate takeover and is preventing the construction of the road. We hope that this petition to the Court of Appeals will result in the demolition of the illegal construction and the preservation of the nation’s lands in the area,” Dagan said.
Attorney Boaz Arzi, legal counsel for the Regavim Movement, said: “From our experience with the Civil Administration in hundreds of similar cases when we receive a response with a claim of enforcement priorities, it means the Civil Administration has no intention of enforcing the law. By turning a blind eye to a huge, luxurious villa that’s blocking the construction of a road that was planned at tremendous expense to the public, the Civil Administration indicates its questionable judgment, to put it mildly, and proves once again that the Civil Administration’s claim that it is acting according to ‘priorities’ is simply untrue. The Civil Administration repeatedly abuses the court’s trust and no less seriously, the trust of the public.”
It can be expected that now, after the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria has been taken over by the adjunct Minister in the Defense Ministry Bezalel Smotrich, who was also the co-founder of Regavim, better attention will be paid to the urgent need to demolish the beautiful obstruction where a highway will soon be paved.