The High Court of Justice is set to hear a petition Monday submitted by the radica leftwing Peace Now organization arguing that Israel’s land allocation policy in Judea and Samaria is discriminatory — and demanding land allocation for Palestinian Authority construction in the area on which the Givat Eitam neighborhood is to be built in the Jewish community of Efrat, six minutes south of Jerusalem.
Peace Now is submitting the petition on behalf of more than a dozen Arab residents of the nearby Palestinian Authority town of Bethlehem, who demand the State of Israel allocate land in the area slated for construction of Givat Eitam, a new neighborhood of Efrat that is to be built on Israeli state land in Gush Etzion.
The petition claims Israel’s policy of land allocation discriminates against Palestinian Authority citizens.
According to Peace Now, the allocation of the land to the Efrat Municipality for construction of Givat Eitam – in Area C, the portion of Judea and Samaria placed under full Israeli jurisdiction under the Oslo framework – is tainted by racial and national discrimination, and disregards the interests of the Palestinian Authority residents of the general area who allegedly have a “connection” to the land.
In an earlier stage of the case, a panel of High Court justices headed by Chief Justice Esther Hayut issued a conditional order instructing the Israeli government to explain why it does not consider allocating land to the Palestinian Authority petitioners.
However, Peace Now was not satisfied, and petitioned the High Court for a temporary injunction to freeze all planning procedures for the new neighborhood until a final judgement is handed down in the case.
Avraham Binyamin, Director of Regavim’s Policy and Parliamentary Affairs Division, called the petition “simply ludicrous.”
Binyamin said the petition ignores the reality on the ground – a reality in which Areas A and B, 40 percent of Judea and Samaria, are under full Palestinian Authority jurisdiction. “Some 70 percent of the land in those areas is completely undeveloped, and remains available for Palestinian construction,” he said.
“There is absolutely no justification for allocating even one centimeter of land in Area C for Palestinian use – particularly since this area is already suffering from an intensive program of illegal annexation by the Palestinian Authority.
“It goes without saying that there is absolutely no Israeli planning or construction in Area A and B; we might well imagine what would happen if Israelis demanded that the Palestinian Authority allocate land for Jewish construction. The claim of discriminatory land allocation policy is absolutely ridiculous,” he added.
“We expect nothing else from Peace Now, an extreme-left organization funded by foreign anti-Israel benefactors. Peace Now has made its name by representing those who not only discredit Israel but actively attempt to erase the Jewish State as a whole, and not only the Jewish presence in the historic heartland of the Land of Israel.
“On the other hand, we do have expectations of Israel’s High Court of Justice. Only last week the HCJ rejected a Regavim petition against Jordanian Law #40, an admittedly racist, discriminatory and retrograde law that prohibits the sale of property in Judea and Samaria to Jews, on the grounds that the Court does not involve itself in matters of state policy,” he noted.
“We expect the HCJ to be consistent and to throw out the brazen, ludicrous petition filed by the extreme-left organization that has made a career out of lawfare against Israel.”