The Government Declares 12,000 Dunams in the Jordan Valley as State Lands

On June 25, 2024, the Custodian of the State’s Property in the Civil Administration declared 12,700 dunams at the Jordan Valley state lands. This declaration supplements the declaration of 2,640 dunams on 29/2/24 between the settlements of Ma’ale Adumim and Keidar, the declaration of 8,000 dunams on 20/3/24 in an area adjacent to the current declaration, and the declaration of 170 dunams near the Herodium. The size of the area designated for declaration is the largest since the Oslo Accords, and the year 2024 marks a peak in the extent of declarations of state landSince the beginning of 2024, Israel has declared 23,700 dunams of the West Bank as State Lands.

Peace Now: “Netanyahu and Smotrich are determined to fight against the entire world and against the interests of the people of Israel for the benefit of a handful of settlers who receive thousands of dunams as if there were no political conflict to resolve or war to end. Today, it is clear to everyone that this conflict cannot be resolved without a political settlement that establishes a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Still, the Israeli government chooses to actually make it difficult and distance us from the possibility of peace and stopping the bloodshed.”

The declaration was signed on 25/6/24 but was only published on 3/7/24. This is the first declaration on state lands made under the authority of Hillel Roth, the Civilian Deputy appointed by Minister Smotrich to whom most of the powers of the head of the Civil Administration were transferred. The bureaucratic and legal work for these declarations was done under the management of the Settlement Administration established by the government and intended to speed up and increase settlement activity in the territories. The legal advice for this announcement was also apparently done by the lawyers in the legal advice department of the Ministry of Defense and not by the legal advice of the IDF in the Civil Administration. And as Minister Smotritch, whose recording we recently exposed, explained at a conference about all the changes that led to the transfer of powers from the army to civilian bodies:

This thing is mega-strategic and we are investing a lot in it. Once again, there is the creation of an infrastructure here, we can produce much more capacity of work, much more [land] surveys, more [land] declarations, more plans, more of everything. This is something that will change the map dramatically. [… the declarations we will make this year] are roughly ten times the average in previous years, I estimate that by the end of the year between 10,000 and 15,000 additional dunams will be declared [as state lands].

The declaration of state land is one of the main methods by which the State of Israel seeks to assert control over land in the occupied territories. Land declared as state land is no longer considered privately owned by Palestinians in the eyes of Israel, and they are prevented from using it. Additionally, Israel leases state land exclusively to Israelis.

A significant part of the area that was declared as state land was previously defined as a nature reserve, and also as a “fire area”, for military use, for decades. Today’s announcement completes the Israeli takeover of this area that has been done so far through the declaration of the area as a military area and as a nature reserve – something that imposed many restrictions on the Palestinians’ ability to use their lands. The declaration creates a territorial continuity between the settlements in the Jordan Valley (Yifit and Masu’a) and the settlements at the eastern end of the mountainside (Gitit and Ma’ale Efraim).

Throughout the 1980s, Israel declared hundreds of thousands of dunams as state land. The Rabin government decided in 1992 to halt the declarations of state land in the occupied territories, but the first Netanyahu government resumed using this method in 1998. Since then, declarations have been made periodically, amounting to nearly 40,000 dunams.

Read more about state land declarations.