Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, sent a letter to senior Israeli officials on 23rd of May, urging them to cancel open tenders offering Palestinian lands declared as state property in the West Bank because Israel has no legal authority over the 1967 occupied territories.
Lawyer Suhad Bishara, director of Adalah’s Land and Planning Rights unit, wrote in the letter to Israel Land Authority (ILA) director Shimron Adiel, construction minister Yoav Galant, finance minister Moshe Kahlon, and attorney general Avichai Mandelblit 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 of land in illegal 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,” lawyer Bishara wrote.
“The Basic Law on 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,” the letter reminded.
Adalah emphasized that this Israeli practice is a violation of the international law, which determines that any long-term changes imposed upon occupied territories must be in the interests of the protected local civilian population.
International law also forbids the occupying power from exploiting occupied territories for its general use, it added.
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