The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation, on Sunday, was scheduled to consider a bill that would allow Jews to acquire land rights in the occupied West Bank.

The bill was proposed by Israeli Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich, from the Jewish Home party, and seeks to strengthen Jewish property rights in “Judea and Samaria”, by allowing the right of land ownership to everyone.

The proposed bill aims to modify a 1953 law that entitles only Jordanian and Arab citizens to purchase property in the occupied West Bank territories.

The law remained in effect for 51 years, but in the 1970’s a loophole was found, in which Jewish citizens were allowed to purchase property through a company registered in the West Bank.

Smotrich’s bill would allow any non-Arab or foreign citizen to directly purchase property in Area C without having to acquire land rights through a company registered in the West Bank.

Ma’an reports that, according to Haaretz, Smotrich’s explanation for the bill states that it is “unacceptable” for Israeli citizens to be restricted from purchasing property in Judea and Samaria, just because of their citizenship.

The 1995 Oslo Accords between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israeli authorities divided the West Bank into Area A, B, and C. Area A, comprising the populated Palestinian cities and making up 18 percent of the West Bank, would be controlled by the newly formed PA, while Area B remained under Israeli army control with the PA controlling civil affairs.

Area C, the majority of the West Bank, however, was placed under full Israeli military control and contains the majority of natural resources and open spaces in the Palestinian territory.

The Israeli-controlled land was expected to be gradually transferred to the PA over a five-year period, according to the Oslo agreements. Yet, two decades later, the land has remained under Israeli control.
Area C, along with East Jerusalem, has been the site of rapid Israeli settlement expansions in contravention of international law, while Israel’s separation wall has further divided Palestinian communities and has restricted Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza from even visiting what was intended to be their capital.

According to Palestinians and rights groups, Israel’s overall goal, both in its policies in Area C and Israel’s settlement enterprise, is to depopulate the land of its Palestinian residents and replace them with Jewish Israeli communities in order to manipulate population demographics in all of historic Palestine.

(Al Ray archive image)