General of Central Command Nitzan Alon has signed a military order forbidding access to the land ownership registrars for Judea and Samaria, essentially undermining a Supreme Court debate on Wednesday about the issue.
The order was given despite a Jerusalem District Court decision allowing access to the registrars on land for residents of adjacent communities, which was to be discussed in a Supreme Court petition.
Access to the land ownership registrars is a critical step in obtaining ownership of land in Judea and Samaria. In practical terms, the information is the basis for identifying land owners from which land may be purchased.
The new order follows years of the Civil Administration refusing to issue such information in Judea and Samaria, despite the freedom of information laws in Israel which allow every citizen to know the identity of land owners.
A court proceeding in the works since 2009
In 2009, then Civil Administration chief General Yoav Mordechai, who currently works as Territories Operations Coordinator, administered a procedure allowing those defined as "involved parties" to view land registrars.
As a result, several residents of Psagot, located to the north of Jerusalem in Samaria, petitioned the Jerusalem District Court through Regavim, an NGO watchdog group for Jewish national property rights.
In the petition, residents demanded information on lands adjacent to their community, arguing that they were an "involved party."
Judge Yigal Marzel accepted the petitioners' claims and half a year ago ordered the Civil Administration to give the Psagot residents the requested information.
In response, the state petitioned the ruling to the Supreme Court, and asked to delay the transfer of information until the Supreme Court discussed the matter.
"They changed the rules in the middle of the game"
That delay was taken advantage of in Alon's new order, which forbids access to the land ownership registrars.
In looking at the wording of the order, it is clear that it was crafted to counter the Supreme Court debate, while ignoring the numerous considerations standing behind the issue.
The Regavim movement, which as noted presented the petition, slammed the order as "an unprecedented scandal."
"Instead of making claims and accepting the ruling of the court, the Civil Administration and Central Command decided to issue a new order changing the rules while in the middle of the game," stated Regavim.
The group added "it's inconceivable that the State Attorney asks to delay the implementation of a court order claiming the debate on the petition should be waited for, and then in practice they prepare a new order to negate the ruling."
"This is an anti-Democratic process," noted Regavim, saying the whole importance of the land ownership registrars is their openness to the public, without which hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens are now blocked from legally acquiring land.
Regavim concluded by expressing hopes "that the basic right given to ever citizen of freedom to information and accessibility will rise above all these problematic processes of the Civil Administration."
No way to legally acquire land, Ya'alon destroying "illegal" buildings
The new move comes as Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has instructed IDF commanders, police forces and the Civil Administration, in a series of closed forums over the past several weeks, to step up demolitions of Jewish homes deemed as "illegal" in Judea and Samaria.
Apparently communities deemed "violent" will be targeted first with demolition.
The decision apparently stems from clashes between the IDF and several residents of the Samaria town Yitzhar. After the IDF seized the Yitzhar yeshiva two weeks ago, residents complained that an illegal mosque opposite the yeshiva has had a destruction order on it from the Supreme Court for many years with no action taken.