Jerusalem Court Orders Transparency of Arab Landowners
The Jerusalem District Court has ordered the state to provide Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria with information on the identities of nearby Arabs landowners, Haaretz reported.
While inside the Green Line such information was easy to obtain, in Judea and Samaria the information had been secret and classified and only an individual with a “link to the land” could make a request from the Civil Administration in Beit El, and obtain the needed information from the Land Registry.
Last year, the settlement of Psagot and the non-profit organization Regavim, which aims to protect Israel’s lands and properties, petitioned the court for information on the identities of Arab landowners, but were turned down by state officials, who claimed their “link” was insufficient.
In the recent decision, however, Jerusalem District Court Judge Dr. Yigal Mersel accepted Psagot’s petition, writing that the state’s interpretation was unacceptable.
“Even if I assume that in the region (Judea and Samaria) special circumstances exist that differ from those in Israel, the state still had to show that the interpretation it adopted for the procedure is reasonable and proportionate,” he wrote, according to Haaretz.
“It still had to show that there was reason, from the start, not to discuss an individual request for information about land that bordered [on the settlement] and the wish to purchase it,” said Mersel.
The decision may have far-reaching effects on Jewish development in the area, since currently the state enforces only the prohibition against building on privately-owned Arab land.
In Jewish communities such as Psagot, Kochav Hashachar, Ofra, Beit El and Kochav Ya’akov, information may now be obtained that will enable the start of the process by which the land will be transferred to Jewish owners, according to the Israeli newspaper.