Illegal Arab construction plans slice through Gush Etzion bloc

Palestinian Authority plans to pave road just beyond Jerusalem, exerting de facto control over State-held lands.

Ido Ben Porat ,

Site of proposed construction
Site of proposed construction

The Regavim movement has sent a letter to Defense Minister Benny Gantz and to the Civil Administration (that has authority over Judea and Samaria), demanding that they take immediate action to enforce Israeli law and prevent the paving of a strategic road that would link two key villages under Palestinian Authority control.

The two villages in question are Battir, south-west of Jerusalem, and Husan, further south-west and just moments away from the haredi city of Beitar, both located in the Gush Etzion bloc in the Judean Hills. The Palestinian Authority is planning to pave a road that runs from Har Gilo, just outside the capital, and links areas of illegal expansion north of Battir all the way south to Husan.

Eytan Mellet, Regavim’s coordinator of activities in Judea and Samaria, filmed the areas concerned on Thursday morning, and explained the special significance of the road that would link Battir and Husan. He stressed that the road creates a strategic corridor through land that is ostensibly under full Israeli control, land that links Jerusalem to the Gush Etzion bloc, and that the paving of the road would create a de facto situation in which the Palestinian Authority takes control over this area instead.

The head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, Shlomo Ne’eman, added that this specific case perfectly illustrates the ongoing attempts of the Palestinian Authority to create facts on the ground and continuity of Arab settlement across swathes of State-held land. “The paving of this road constitutes yet another attempt to harm Israeli sovereignty,” he said. “We have to stop this yesterday already, and prevent them from establishing a state under our very noses. The issue of protecting State-held lands and enforcing laws against illegal construction, takeovers, and infiltrations is something that should be at the top of the government’s agenda.”

This is the second warning on this specific matter that has been issued by Regavim, an organization that is dedicated to monitoring illegal Arab construction and preventing encroachments into State lands. Regavim is now demanding that the government open a criminal investigation against those culpable, and that it release the details of all action taken to enforce the law with regard to illegal construction between Battir and Husan. Regavim also noted that the Palestinian Authority plans to go ahead with the paving of the road in the very near future, and that if it does not receive a satisfactory response from the government, it will appeal to the courts.