Israeli ministers push bill to ease Jewish purchase of West Bank land

The Ministerial Legislative Committee is scheduled to debate a bill Sunday that would make it easier for Jews to purchase land in Area C of the West Bank.

The bill was put forward by , who has been among the leading legislators working to strengthen Jewish property rights in Judea and Samaria.

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Smotrich‘s proposed legislation aims to change a 1953 law, put in place when Jordan ruled the West Bank prior to the Six Day War, that prevents foreigners and non-Arabs from directly purchasing land.

That law has remained on the books for the last 51 years. A 1971 injunction designed to amend the Jordanian law, does allow for a company registered to operate in Judea and Samaria to purchase property, irrespective of the ethnic or national identity of the owners. This loophole has been used to enable Jewish purchase of property.

Smotrich’s bill would allow anyone to directly purchase land in Area C.

The explanation for the bill states that it is “unacceptable” for Israelis citizens to be barred from buying land in Judea and Samaria just because they are Israeli citizens.

A second bill, also sponsored by Smotrich, would allow the Kiryat Arba settlement and settlements in the South Hebron Hills to be considered part of the Negev for economic purposes.

The law would not annex those settlements to Israel, but would allow them to benefit from government initiatives and grants to develop the Negev.

At present, such funds and initiatives can only be applied to Israeli communities within sovereign Israel.

Former prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert had an understanding with the US that Israel would refrain from providing special economic assistance to the settlements.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not abided by those restrictions.