Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, sent a letter to senior Israeli officials last week demanding that they cancel open tenders offering “state lands” in the West Bank, because the Israeli agency responsible for issuing these tenders in fact has no legal authority over the territories occupied in 1967.
In the letter sent to Israel Land Authority (ILA) Director Shimron Adiel, Construction Minister Yoav Galant, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, Adalah attorney Suhad Bishara, director of the organization’s Land and Planning Rights Unit, wrote that the ILA does not have the legal authority to offer land tenders in the West Bank.
During 2016 and 2017, the ILA published open tenders for available plots in West Bank settlements including Givat Ze’ev, Ma’ale Adumim, Alfei Menashe, Ariel, Beitar Illit, Karnei Shomron, and Oranit.
“The territories included in these tenders are being managed as if they are part of the State of Israel to which Israeli state law applies. This practice – for all intents and purposes – therefore annexes these territories to the State of Israel,” Attorney Bishara wrote. “The Basic Law: Israel Lands determines that Israeli land is ‘land in Israel belonging to the state, a development authority, or to the Jewish National Fund.’ In other words: land within the territory of the State of Israel.”
Adalah emphasizes that this practice is a violation of international law, which determines that any long-term changes imposed upon occupied territories must be in the interests of the local protected civilian population. International law also forbids the occupying power from exploiting occupied territories for its general use.