On December 1, 2015 Peace Now submitted a petition to the High Court through Attorney Moria Shlomot, Michael Sfard and Attorney Emily Schaeffer-man, demanding to publish all land allocations in the Occupied Territories, and to allow for due process in the distribution of public resources. Since 1967 the state allocated over 680,000 dunams (170,000 acres) of public lands through the Head of The Government Property at the Civil Administration, and offered them to different establishments without tenders and publications, and without giving the public the opportunity to object.
According to Israeli law, when the State seeks to allocate land to a certain establishment, the authorities must issue a tender and allow the public to compete over the right to use the land. However, since Israeli law does not apply in the West Bank, land allocation there does not require a tender or even a publication. No wonder, then, that 98.7% of the lands in area C were allocated to Israeli settlers, while less than 1.3% were allocated for Palestinian purposes according to data of the Civil Administration. While most of the land in area C has already been allocated, and while land already being run by settler-related organization is sufficient for massive settlement expansion, there are lands which have not yet been allocated and upon which due process must apply.
One example for the lack of due process in land allocation was revealed through the High Court petition on the archeological dig in Hebron’s Tel Rumeida. A Palestinian family who has had a lease agreement with the Civil Administration over a land plot in the area lost the plot to a settler organization in July 2012 without any notification as the Head of The Government Property signed a new contract leasing the land to a settler organization in Hebron. The organization then initiated an archeological dig at the site and planned to establish a tourist park next to it. After a hearing at the High Court, the State announced that the contract will be canceled.
In another case we learned that the State intends to allocate 1,400 dunams near Qalqilya to a private company called “The Fund for Land Redemption” in order to establish a new neighborhood there for the Settlement of Tzofim. This allocation could potentially generate a revenue of millions of Shekels to the company, who will be granted the land for free and without a tender. According to the Civil Administration data, the Fund for Land Redemption has already received around 9,000 dunams in different areas, yielding it hundreds of millions of Shekels in revenues. Through its petition Peace Now seeks to increase transparency in land allocation, allow for objections and prevent such cases.
Peace Now: “The lack of due process in land allocation is leading to blatant discrimination. Continued land allocation behind closed doors allows the government to expand the potential for new settlements without any form of accountability.”