Proposed Israeli military order would make it easier for Jewish citizens to obtain Palestinian land in occupied West Bank

Adalah: Order blatantly serves illegitimate political interests of occupying power, seeks to expand and facilitate illegal settlement enterprise.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel is calling on the Israeli attorney general and military officials to reject a proposed military order that would make it easier for Israeli Jewish citizens to obtain land in the occupied West Bank.


In a letter sent on 2 October 2019, Adalah Attorney and Director of the Land and Planning Unit Suhad Bishara called on Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, Deputy Attorney General Erez Kaminitz, and the Israeli military's head of Central Command, Major General Nadav Padan, to reject the proposed military order titled "Regarding the Rental and Sale of Real Estate to Foreigners (Judea and Samaria)" due to its blatant and extreme violation of international law.


The proposed order seeks to enshrine a change in the Law on Leasing and Selling Real Estate to Foreigners No. 40 (1953), a Jordanian law in force in the West Bank, which would remove existing restrictions on Israeli Jews to purchase real estate in the occupied territory.


Jordan’s King Hussein flying over Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem when it was under Jordanian control, 1965. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)


The proposed military order would allow the commander of the Israeli military's Civil Administration to "permit any person – generally or specially – to acquire, to receive, and to use real estate in the area, even if the conditions specified in Sections 3 and 4 of the [Jordanian] Law are not met, including the conditions relating to the scope and purpose of the acquisition."


The system of Israeli military governance applied to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank states that changes in the law enforced in the territory can only be made explicitly on the basis of security legislation that adheres to the parameters laid out by international law. As such, changes in the law should only be made as a function of security considerations or the benefit of the local Palestinian population.


Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara wrote in the letter:


"There is no doubt that the proposed order has a clear political purpose: to facilitate the purchase of land in the West Bank by Israeli Jews, a population of the occupying power. This order thus blatantly serves the illegitimate political interests of that power, and seeks to expand and facilitate its illegal settlement enterprise in the occupied territories."


The Israeli military's own attorney general overtly confirmed Adalah's assertion:


"…it is clear that the security issue is irrelevant", and it would be difficult to justify the proposed order as intended "to improve the situation of the Palestinian population – which [is considered] the local population according to international law."


Indeed, international humanitarian law prohibits the State of Israel, as an occupying power, from utilizing occupied territories for political or civilian needs, including the construction of settlements.


CLICK HERE to read the letter [Hebrew]