The European Union and the Palestinian Authority are working to create an alternative land registry in Judea and Samaria which would retroactively cancel all land acquisitions by Jews in the last 140 years, Makor Rishon reported Friday (הפלסטינים רשמו בטאבו כמחצית משטחי יו”ש). According to the report, by the end of 2019, they had managed to regulate the registration of ownership on about 45% of Judea and Samaria including in Area C, which is ostensibly under full Israeli control.
According to Ad Kan researchers, the Palestinian Land Registry employs hundreds of architects and government officials to create a new land registry of the villages of Judea and Samaria, while completely ignoring historical purchases by Jews as well as the Israeli and Jordanian land registries that are under the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories’ control.
Registration of land ownership in Judea and Samaria began in the days of the Ottoman Empire and continued under the British Mandate and Jordanian occupation, until in 1968 Israel halted the regulation of land ownership there, and it has not been completed to date. Following the Oslo Accords, the Land Registry is divided between the Palestinian Authority, which is responsible for Areas A and B, and Israel, which is responsible for Areas C.
In 2002, the Palestinian Authority established the Palestinian Lands Authority, which resumed the land regulation with a $6 million grant from the World Bank. In 2016, the Palestinian Lands and Water Settlement Authority, headed by Acting Minister Mohammad Sharaka. The new agency has also taken upon itself to begin regulating land ownership in Area C, in brazen violation of Israeli sovereignty and the Oslo Accords.
Sharaka’s agency has been able to accelerate its activity thanks to a $12.6 million grant from the World Bank slated for registering lands in areas A and B (the former under full PA control, the latter under both PA and Israeli control – DI), and $4.4 million from the European Union specifically for Area C. The UN also supports this alternative registry through its United Nations Human Settlement Program (UN-Habitat).
Showing far more resilience and decisiveness than his lethargic Israeli officials, Sharaka has recently obtained from the Turkish government the Ottoman Kushan-land ownership archive, which contains valuable information the PA would be able to manipulate in the future in front of international mediation panels.
Finally, Ad Kan explained the takeover process: in the first phase, the local land PA land registry director announces the issuance of a registration order in a certain area, and the residents begin submitting documents to prove their ownership of the land. The director then prepares a list of ownership claims by block and plot and draws a new map where no such map has existed before. The residents are then given thirty days to appeal the registration. Needless to say, Jewish landowners aren’t informed and therefore can’t show up to prove their ownership.
After a hearing of all the objections to his decision, the director issues a final registration of land rights, and a PA judge approves it. The land registry offices issue ownership documents to the landowners after they pay the fees.
The PA expects to complete the process of altering the land registration in all of Judea and Samaria next year. Fans of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—and there are many of them in the settlements—would no doubt be reminded of the opening scene, where the people of Earth are informed by an alien ship that their planet is slated for demolition to make way for a hyperspace bypass and that they had failed to register their objections 30 days from the issuance of the edict. These folks would do well to look for the nearest Vogon consulate to file their complaints.
According to Ad Kan, the Palestinian Authority employs about 600 inspectors in the land registration endeavor, while the Israeli Civil Administration has only about 10 inspectors fighting to prevent the takeover. The Lapid-Bennett-Liberman budget added 50 inspectors to the Civil Administration, but then, just before the vote, their number was cut back to 20.
Ad Kan CEO Gilad Ach warned that the PA’s project “is establishing irreversible physical and legal facts on the ground. Israel is doing nothing to prevent the violation of governance that is contrary to agreements with the Palestinians and allows the Palestinians to continue unhindered. The continued Palestinian registration in Area C must be prevented, along with a diplomatic activity to stop funding for the project from the European Union, the United Nations, and the World Bank.”
Now ask me if this article or the holy work of Ad Kan will cause a change in this government’s shocking neglect of Israeli sovereignty (or its predecessor’s for that matter). Ask me, I dare you, ask me…