Israel’s Supreme Court rules against ‘racist’ law preventing land sale to Jews in Judea, Samaria

Defense Minister Benny Gantz ordered not to observe archaic Jordanian law 55 years after end of Six-Day War.

By Gil Tanenbaum, TPS

Israel’s High Court of Justice issued a preliminary injunction against Defense Minister Benny Gantz that blocks him from enforcing a Jordanian Law prohibiting the sale of land in Judea and Samaria to Jews.

The Jordanian government claimed sovereignty over the area, which it annexed after the end of Israel’s War of Independence, but it was then captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.

The Court, in issuing the injunction on Tuesday, responded to a petition filed by the Regavim Movement, an Israeli NGO dedicated to the protection of Israel’s national lands and resources. Regavim acts to prevent illegal seizure of state land and to protect the rule of law and clean government in matters pertaining to land-use policy in the State of Israel.

The petition was filed after Gantz refused to repeal the Jordanian law in question, which has remained in force in Judea and Samaria more than 55 years after the Six-Day War ended. This was in spite of the recommendations of previous defense ministers and Ministry of Defense professional and legal advisers.

The High Court’s ruling requires Israel’s current coalition government to submit, within 60 days, a defense of its continued enforcement of Jordanian Law ,which prohibits the sale of land in Judea and Samaria to Jews.

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“Among the many restrictions that apply exclusively to Jews and limit their ability to purchase land in Judea and Samaria, this is perhaps the most egregious,” said Regavim. “But it is certainly in not alone.”

Regavim explained that Jews, and only Jews, are denied access to the official Land Registry for this region, unlike any other area under Israeli jurisdiction where land deeds and property titles can be obtained with the “click of a mouse and downloaded from the government’s website.”

“Likewise, Jews – and only Jews – are required to obtain approval of any property transactions (even when both the buyer and seller are Jews) in Judea and Samaria,” Regavim said. “Jews alone are subject to a staggering array of military orders that obstruct the use of land. – and the list goes on and on.”

Since the liberation of Judea and Samaria in 1967 from Jordanian control, land purchases for settlement by Jews were carried out under complicated bureaucratic procedures in order to circumvent the law against the sale of property to Jews.

In late 2018, the Ministry of Defense’s legal counsel and professional staff initiated an examination of the Jordanian Law and the regulations that require Jews to receive special permits for property transactions, with an eye toward their repeal.

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The conclusions of this examination, reflected in a policy recommendation that took shape in the final months of Minister Avigdor Liberman’s tenure as defense minister, were finalized under Netanyahu’s premiership — before Gantz assumed the post in 2020.

The recommendation included the repealing of restrictions that prohibit Jews from purchasing land as well as the easing of requirements for special land transaction permits.

The Regavim Movement welcomed the news.

“Our petition asked an obvious question: How is it possible in Judea and Samaria, of all the places in the world, a racist law still prohibits Jews from buying property? The High Court of Justice has demanded that the government explain why this law is still on the books, and why it is still enforced,” Attorney Boaz Arzi said on behalf of the NGO.