A resident of Efrat noticed from the balcony of his house that Palestinian Authority Arabs were carrying out surveying work in the valley adjacent to the town's fence, which is in Area C, under full Israeli control.
Documentation and a report to the Regavim movement revealed that the Council of Artas, the Palestinian Authority village located between Bethlehem and Efrat, issued a call to the residents of the area to register their lands in the complex known by them as Umm Rukba in the Palestinian Authority property registry.
The announcement to the public, published on the council's Facebook page, is reminiscent of the local planning and construction administration announcements used in Israel. The notice states that construction and development works for residential neighborhoods are planned to take place there, and those who claim rights to the land are asked to come and arrange the land registration with the Authority.
According to Regavim, this is a phenomenon that is occurring in these years on a huge scale: "In the face of the governmental vacuum of the State of Israel in the open areas of Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian Authority is carrying out a systematic land grab in the territories of Judea and Samaria, with an emphasis on areas C, while completely ignoring the Oslo agreements. The process is led by the Ministry of Justice and it includes land registration, division into blocks, plots, basins and lots, inspection of land rights and finally, determination of ownership and registration of the land. Later, in many cases planning and development works for electricity, water and access roads are carried out."
"For years we have been demanding that the Israeli government wake up and in the meantime, the Palestinian Authority is creating facts on the ground," said Avraham Binyamin, director of the policy department of the Regavim movement.
"The Palestinian state in the heart of Israel is being established before our eyes: this is not just the agricultural invasion and the breaking of the law, and not just the construction on a huge scale that we know, but a well-oiled financed system that works systematically to regulate the land registry. The State of Israel knows and is silent. We demand this government, as we demanded from the previous governments, to restore justice and make an Israeli real estate settlement."
Attorney Michael Shaferber from the Yesha Forum, the forum that unites land committees of settlements in Judea and Samaria, said: "Efrat is being suffocated under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority's plan for the creation of a de facto Palestinian state. Land surveying and registration procedures for the Palestinians are carried out with great vigor adjacent to the settlement of Efrat. We, the residents, are following with great concern what is being done, which is of course accompanied by intensive illegal construction adjacent to a fence and on our houses, sometimes even within the settlement itself and in area C".
"The Government of Israel, Minister-in-Charge Smotrich and members of the Cabinet - wake up! Gush Katif 2 is happening before our eyes every day and there is no enforcement and no significant action, not even in the current government, against this serious and dangerous phenomenon. The Palestinian state is being built before our eyes and within arm's reach of us."