The Jordanian law banning the sale of lands to non-Arab foreigners, which is currently the accepted law of the land in the liberated territories, is racist and discriminatory, according to a petition the Regavim movement submitted to Israel’s High Court of Justice under the heading “Petition to remove disgrace from the State of Israel, Makor Rishon reported on Friday.
Meanwhile, Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich, who was among the founders of the Regavim movement, this week rebuked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for conducting underhanded deals with his pals in the Southern Islamic Movement to regulate hundreds of illegal Bedouin settlements in the Negev, while leaving in the cold some 70 Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.
Regavim is asking the court to order the state to annul the law in its entirety.
According to the petition, the declared aim of the Jordanian “Law no. 40”, legislated by the Hashemite Kingdom in 1953, was to prevent the transfer of lands to non-Arab entities, more specifically – revoke the right of Jews to receive or purchase ownership of lands in the region. The law specifies that, other than current Jordanian citizens, “any foreign person who at one time held a Jordanian or Palestinian citizenship and is of Arab origin is permitted to own real estate.”
After the 1967 liberation of Judea and Samaria, the IDF, which has been the legal sovereign there for more than 50 years, in 1972 issued a decree allowing registered Jewish-owned corporations to purchase land in Judea and Samaria – amending but not annulling the original Jordanian law. As a result, to this day, individual Jews are not permitted to purchase land in Judea and Samaria, only Jewish companies.
“To remove any doubt, the requested remedy of this petition is the erasure of the racist law,” wrote Regavim attorney Boaz Arazi. “We request a clear declaration that there is no room for this law under Israeli rule.”
The plaintiffs are trying to avoid the predictable court response that since Israel has not annexed the territory in question, the court cannot intervene in the jurisdiction of the IDF civil government, as if the IDF is some foreign entity – even though the “I” in IDF stands for “Israel.”
The petition points out that the legal counsels of both the Judea and Samaria Regional Division and the Defense Ministry have dealt with this issue and agreed that the racist law must be corrected, but they disagree on how to do it.
Back in 2019, the Regional Division’s counsel recommended that the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories be allowed to permit land purchases by individuals. The reason for involving the IDF’s civil authority was needed in order to include in each purchase “security, law and order, and political considerations.”
But attorney Arazi is convinced “they just need to erase this law, not look for even newer ways of amending it. This is simply an illegal law because it discriminates based on ethnicity.”
As to the question of whether Israel is at all entitled to intervene in the legal system in Judea and Samaria, Arazi points out that in 1967, the government canceled the Jordanian boycott of Israel and the law banning trade with Israel, both from pre-1967 – and the ban on real estate sales to Israelis should have been removed back then as well.
The court gave the state 60 days to respond.
As to the Bedouin – Netanyahu was caught red-handed by Smotrich, who was joined by a dozen or so Likud ministers, attempting to regulate three Bedouin outposts under the radar. Netanyahu then acquiesced and declared that Jewish outposts would also benefit from his regulation move.
But now it’s becoming clear that Netanyahu does not intend to redeem all 70 or so Jewish outposts – only three, same as the Bedouin. About which former MK Dr. Ayeh Eldad said on his 103FM radio show that anyone who considered Netanyahu to be part of the Israeli right should take another look at those regulation deals.