J Street’s New Mission: Destroy Regavim and Israel at all Costs

It has been revealed that Jeremy Ben-Ami head of J-Street, the anti-Israel organization based in America, sent an email out to the group’s supporters notifying them that he is personally applying pressure to the Obama administration in order to force the government to remove Regavim’s 501(3)(c) status in order to cripple the group’s fundraising power in the USA.

This threat is serious, but what is more serious are the implications of Ben Ami’s actions. Regavim’s goal has always been to pressure the government to enforce the already determined law or ruling by the Knesset or Supreme Court. By J-Street going after Regavim in such a public and base way, Ben Ami is essentially denying the legitimacy of Israel’s own governing institutions.

Taking down a group like Regavim will not only harm the Israeli right, but all corners of Israeli society as Israel’s government will be rendered ineffective.


Ben Ami’s tirade against organizations like Regavim who he claims uses US donations to destroy the “Arab village at Susiya” is ironic, since it is in fact J-Street itself that uses donations to prop up and create illegal facts on the ground in contravention of Israel’s own sovereign laws.

With the stakes high and during the presidential election, Ben Ami is rolling the dice to see if Hillary and Obama would risk alienating moderate Jewish Democrats precisely when they need them the most.  Yet, that could be Ben Ami’s core strategy.  J-Street has always sought tocreate fissures and divisions in the American Jewish community.

So far he is succeeding.


BREAKING NEWS: Final Decision Pending on Removing Arab Squatters from Susiya

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman is set to make a final decision in knocking down multiple makeshift structures erected by Arabs on the ancient Jewish village of Susiya.

These Arabs claim to be the real land owners and have caused multiple problems with local Jews and the State of Israel.  The problem for their case is even a usually sympathetic Supreme Court has ruled that the State must knock the structures down as no clear proof can be shown for there ever being an Arab village there.

“Surveys of villages and populations conducted by the British Mandatory powers in 1945, which mention all of the villages in the area and even some of the inhabitants, prove there is no hint of the existence of an Arab village named Susiya,” says Josh Hasten, spokesman for Regavim an Israeli NGO dedicated to ensuring Israeli land laws are followed especially in the Arab sector. “More recently aerial photos obtained by Regavim from 1999 show nothing resembling a village in that area. An identical photo from 2013 shows how squatters have infiltrated the locale.”

So will Lieberman knock the buildings and tents down? Not if Obama has anything to do it. The State Department has already issued a warning that “there will be severe consequences” if he goes through with it.


Why Does Obama Care About Susiya?

If there was ever an archeological site that destroys the myth making of the Palestinian Arab population it is Susiya. The village was inhabited continuously by Jews up until the early 8th Century. It was clearly a large commercial hub for the Southern Hebron Hills, showing that it was in fact the Jews that remained the majority population up until the Muslim conquest.

This narrative supports Israel’s solid claim to being the sole indigenous culture in Israel, only being superseded by the conquest of Islam over the Holy land.

Regavim is Battling the European Union…Again

Fresh of its successful campaign to encourage British citizens to vote for Brexit, Regavim has filed a Supreme Court appeal against Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and the Civil Administration.  The claim is that they have not fulfilled their duty in enforcing the law. This claim tackles an outpost near the village of Hizme just North of Jerusalem.  The site is funded and built by the EU in contravention of the Oslo Accords.


Regavim has been successful in the past in forcing the government to take EU backed illegal building seriously. The EU is actively attempting to change the status quo in Area C, which is under full Israeli control.

“This non-enforcement policy strengthens the stated plan of the head of the Palestinian Authority to destroy the Bedouin outposts that are in the Maale Adumim area,” notes Regavim. “The purpose of this is to strengthen the Palestinian authority territories that are under full Israeli control and to capture the territories of strategic significance which are adjacent to major transportation arteries, and in this way to tie the hands of the State of Israel within the framework of future negotiations.”

Petition: European Union will be required to report on construction in area C

Regavim is appealing the EU’s immunity from prosecution. Based on the legal opinion of an expert on international law, Regavim is petitioning the Supreme Court to require accountability and reporting for building violations committed by the Union.

A petition filed this week by Regavim to the Supreme Court may put an end to the systematic evasion of the EU from being accountable for violations of building regulations that it has initiated in Area C of the of Judea and Samaria (West Bank). Regavim is requesting from the judges to require the European Union to participate, first as a respondent to the petition to the Supreme Court and to give an account of its construction activities.


For some years the EU has been trying to take over extensive regions in area C through the establishment of buildings and infrastructures in illegal Bedouin outposts. One of the areas where the EU has made a large concerted effort to invest in is the area surrounding Maale Adumim.

Two weeks ago, Supreme Court justices, Uzi Fogelman, Daphne Barak-Erez and Meni Mazuz rejected the petition presented by Regavim against the Civil Administration in the Judea and Samaria (West Bank) on  ignored breaching of the law. The petition demanded that the Civil Administration implement peremptory demolition orders issued against the 15 illegal structures built by the Union within the limits of the jurisdiction of Mishor Adumim and Kfar Adumim.

The judges rejected the petition by Regavim based on the Civil Administration’s statement that the removal of illegal construction there is already a high priority item, and asked them not to get involved in managing schedules for implementing orders. However, in the decision Justice Fogelman hinted that he is not sure that there is basis for the Union’s immunity from such proceedings.

Regavim decided to take up the challenge laid down by Justice Fogelman, and worked on preparing a new petition concerning other illegal structures built by the Union in areas under the jurisdiction of Kfar Adumim. As for these buildings the Civil Administration announced a year ago that they are a top priority for demolition, however since then no enforcement action against them has been made.

Regavim contends that the long drawn out period of time is “the unreasonable renunciation of enforcing the law”, and seek to place the EU illegal construction activities at the center of the Supreme Court hearings.

The petition is based on the opinion of the expert on international law, Professor Aryeh Reich from Bar Ilan University, who doubts the claim of immunity of the EU. “The EU mission is indeed right that it enjoys immunity from lawsuits, both criminal and civil, and administrative,” says Reich, “but there is an exception in this regard in Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, in connection with activities relating to its private land that is located within the territory of the host country.”

Professor Reich explains that international law imposes the obligation of respecting the law on foreign diplomats who enjoy immunity.  “They are obligated to respect the laws and regulations of the country in which they serve, and not to interfere in its internal affairs.”

Another argument raised by the lawyers of Regavim states that immunity is granted to countries only, while the EU has no absolute status as a country. The inclusion of the Union in the petition is made possible in principle because if the petition is accepted by the court and consequently buildings are demolished, the EU will have to absorb EU economic damage.


When Camels Roam Free and Dangerous (Walla Interviews Meir Deutsch of Regavim)

Tomorrow, Tuesday, there will a discussion in the Knesset on the issue of the roaming camels in the South.  In preparation for discussion in the Knesset, Meir Deutsch, Director of Policy and government relations at Regavim, came to the studio of Walla! News and explained the severity of the disaster that roaming camels can cause.

In face of the fatal road accident that occurred last month in which a 60 year old woman was killed when her car collided with camels, Deutsch said “accidents involving camels are more fatal than regular traffic accidents.  When there is a collision with a camel, the main brunt of the blow in the accident is on the driver.  This is because the camel is so tall.  The engine of the car is almost not damaged at all and all the weight of the camel, which is around on average a ton, falls on the driver.”

Regavim keeps close track of the phenomenon of stray camels in the Negev. The association also is the legal representative for the family of David Cohen, who was killed a year and a half ago after being hit by a roaming camel.  “It is difficult to pick out camels when driving because of their color which is like the color of the dunes that blends in so well with the natural landscape,” added Deutsch. “If you hit a camel, it is very difficult to escape without injury.”


Deutsch affirms that each year the organization receives reports of approximately a   thousand camels roaming the South. “The accident this past month could have been avoided. We and motorists have turned to the police and warned them.  The Police indicated to us that they have received a very large amount of reports, but they have noticed that in the last two years they were successful in finding the owner of the camel only once. Usually Bedouins reach the accident site and cut the number imprinted on the camels ear in order to hide his affiliation to them. Most of the time it is not possible to find the owner.”

According to Deutsch, it is the responsibility of the camel’s owners to ensure that roaming does not go unsupervised near roads. “We are initiating a law that would require the owners to put a microchip on the camels under their skin much like on dogs, to help to be able to identify the owners.”  He added that the incompetence of the authorities has led to loss of life on the roads. “Every year there are about 15 accidents with injuries. Three years ago, for example, an entire family perished in an accident. This is due to cost-saving policies by the camel owners.  Instead of having the owners pay for hay to feed the camel, they send the camel out to graze in the open,” Deutsch  said. “With the help of the bill of MK Bezalel Smotrich which has the support of 50 other MKs, which is being brought forth to the in the Knesset, we hope that the situation will change.”


Is Lieberman a Closet Dove?

With the ascendancy of Avigdor Lieberman to the post of Defense Minister, politicians from across the spectrum were ready for the Russian right wing populist to start assassinating Hamas leaders as soon as he could.  Nearly every political pundit was convinced Lieberman as Defense Minister would ensure the state’s transition into some sort of neo-fascism.

All of these premonitions amounted to nothing.  “When there is a dispute between the integrity of the nation and the integrity of the land, then integrity of the nation is more important,” Lieberman said upon his swearing in as Defense Minister.  This line is not inconsequential and reaffirms his acceptance of the two-state solution.

So why is the right gleeful about Lieberman’s appointment and Ya’alon’s resignation?

Despite Lieberman’s expression of support for the two-state solution, there are some big differences between Ya’alon and Lieberman.

  1. Style
  2. Support for soldiers no matter what
  3. Ending the warping of the IDF’s crippling purity of arms
  4. The Civil Administration will now be run by Eli ben Dahan in following with the coalition agreement


This last point is highly consequential.  It is ultimately the Civil Administration that decides on building, zoning, and a host of other important matters in Judea and Samaria. Rabbi Eli ben Dahan, member of the Jewish Home party, will now be able to provide favorable zoning to communities long held back in Judea and Samaria, while helping to create structures that allow for increased building through the area.


“We are very happy with the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman,” says Meir Deutch of the Regavim organization. Regavim battles illegal Arab building throughout Israel.  In Judea and Samaria where the laws are antique and administered by the Defense Ministry, Lieberman’s appointment means the Arab flaunting of Israeli law can finally be addressed.

No Second Sharon

It is clear that members of the right are wary of a second coming of Sharon.  Lieberman may often times speak with bombastic rhetoric when it comes to Arabs, but is little trusted by those on the right in the reigns of power.  Land of Israel activists are cognizant that a Lieberman unchecked could flip and help push through a final status accord.  

Of course the new defense minister is not about to march to the beat of the Left, but in a world where international forces are gearing up to foist a “peace plan” on Israel, pressure on Israel’s less ideological right can turn someone like Lieberman into a perfect delivery man for the west’s neo-colonial aspirations in the Middle East.

The right has much to be thankful for in Lieberman’s appointment and yet remaining cautious and ready to check the newest member of the security cabinet is a strategy that remains necessary.

Is the Israeli Government Empowering Islam’s Disregard for History?

“Israel is not the problem on the Temple Mount; Israel is the solution,”Bibi Netanyahu said back in October 2015. “We’re keeping the status quo, we’re the only ones who will do it, and we will continue to do this in a responsible, serious manner.”

Over six months after those tense fall and winter months, when it looked like all was about to unravel under an increasing terror wave from Palestinian radicals, the spring seemed to bring an odd calmness.  Even the Temple Mount, the supposed heart of the conflict saw a growing amount of Jews being allowed up.

To many, the Prime Minister’s approach seemed to have worked and yet we see, like always what the real reason is for the reprieve in Palestinian violence in connection to Jerusalem.

With the help of Regavim and other activists, a situation came to light concerning the Muslim Waqf’s intention to alter the status quo by harming the walls of the Temple Mount in order to facilitate increased access for Muslim worshipers in time for Ramadan in June. The site in question is on the Mount’s South side and would irrevocably damage a declared antiquities site.


In March 2016 the Israel Antiquities Authority  filed a lawsuit against the Muslim Waqf in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court that petitioned the court  to give a permanent injunction prohibiting the continued work of the illegal site and restitution.  The injunction was in fact granted, yet one day later the Prime Minister’s office intervened and the injunction was lifted.

This is Bibi’s style.  He talks tough and behind the scenes gives the Palestinian Arabs some gifts in order to remain calm. This particular gift is set to be explosive and would be the first time since the Waqf dug up ancient artifacts on the Temple Mount that they would be allowed to completely alter the status quo.

In early May the Antiquities Authority sent a message to the court insisting the government appeared set on settling the matter through discussion with the Waqf.  In fact, the political echelon admitted that they wanted time to have a dialogue and asked for an extension that would lead until July.

“In the meantime, and during the period in which you are active on the political level and try to finish the matter through dialogue with the Waqf, the  illegal construction at the archaeological site continues, in violation of the order to stop work against them with total disregard for their obligations according to the law and instead attempt to talk with them,” lawyers for the Antiquities Authority charged in  written statement. “The construction works are expected to be completed at the archaeological site with the start of Ramadan in about two weeks. The experience of our client says that as soon as work on the toilets will begin, it will be difficult for future enforcement actions.”

This week right wing NGO Regavim issued the following the statement: “This week, we issued an urgent letter to the prime minister, the mayor of Jerusalem and Minister Regev that the (IAA) is under her wing. We are also preparing a petition on the matter to the Supreme Court. This destruction of Jewish History can not continue on the Temple Mount.”

The question of status quo is constantly pushed to frame actions by Jews on the Temple Mount as encroachment, while actions by Muslims and their supporters are merely restoring that which the Jewish presence altered.  The real question for the government is at what cost do we incur by letting the Muslim Waqf radically change our holiest site in exchange for some quiet. Giving up on the Temple Mount sets the stage for the rest of Jerusalem and so forth. The government would be wise to admit to itself and to the public that the farce of a “status quo” is just that, a lie and if the Waqf cannot uphold its part of the agreement, we no longer need to as well.

Regavim Ready to Go to the Supreme Court to Defend Bedouin Rights

When the Begin-Prawer Plan, officially known as the Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev was passed in September 2011, advocates for the bill believed it would bring much needed reforms to the Bedouin communities of the Negev.  

According to the PMO official press release, the bill is based on four main principles:

  1. Providing for the status of Bedouin communities in the Negev;
  2. Economic development for the Negev’s Bedouin population;
  3. Resolving claims over land ownership; and
  4. Establishing a mechanism for binding, implementation and enforcement, as well as timetables.

Segments within the Bedouin communities had long benefited from a sense of anarchy and lawlessness, yet many more Bedouins were left without real zoning and local organization to advance their communities.

Proponents of the bill argued that it was necessary to integrate the Bedouin communities more closely to Israeli society. With successive Israeli governments putting an emphasis developing and settling the Negev, the bill became threaded into the region’s broader narrative.

Implementing Bedouin Land Reforms Hits a Surprising Snag

Five years after the Begin-Prawer plan  El Sayed, one of the villages in the El Ksom Bedouin Region that has been accepted by the State to be recognized as a community still awaits a new access road, yet the Bedouins are not the road block this time.  The local branch of Leumit Medical Insurance Company, located in an old building blocks the proposed route of the new access road.

Regavim, an organization typically focused on illegal Arab building has stepped into to help.

“One of the most important projects in the Negev is the community of El Sayed and therefore we are investing a special effort”, says Amichai Yogev, coordinator of the Southern District for Regavim.  “We are dealing with a big settlement that the access road  to it was through a narrow dirt road and distorted . The authorities wanted to promote a normal pavement of the road, so we were surprised to discover that it was the very structure of Leumit that had remained standing like a sore thumb on the route of the road, and is one of the last obstacles that prevent the construction of the access road to the settlement.”


Despite the fact that there is an existing judicial demolition order that was supposed to go into effect in the beginning of 2016, the local authorities have not rushed to start the demolition.  In recent months, Regavim has conducted extensive correspondence with the regional council, and is considering appealing to the High Court in the event the illegal building is not demolished in the near future.

In the last two years the Authority for regulating Bedouin settlements, has finalized the main access road design for the community. In order to pave the road, trees were uprooted and several illegal structures that were on the planned road were evacuated.  The only structure left on the road is an illegal structure where Leumit operates.

“Along with the consistent and systematic requests by us that the Bedouin citizens be citizens with equal obligations, Regavim makes sure that their rights are also taken care of,” says Yogev.  “Since the Leumit structure is illegal, and the residents of El Sayed deserve a proper wide road with proper safety standards, we will continue to apply pressure until the business at hand is taken care of.”