Photo Credit: Regavim
The Regavim movement, dedicated to ensuring “responsible, legal, accountable & environmentally friendly use of Israel’s national lands and the return of the rule of law to all areas and aspects of the land and its preservation” on Tuesday revealed the existance of a new, illegal highway being built by the Palestinian Authority with funding from the European Union, in the heart of the Judean Desert. Regavim has submitted an appeal asking for a Supreme Court injunction against the project. At this stage, according to the appeal, the road, running in the PA territory from Gush Etzion to the Dead Sea, is fully built and waiting to be paved over.
So far, according to Regavim, five out of an estimated 12.5 miles have been built. The road could cut travel time from Gush Etzion to the Dead Sea to 20 minutes. But being owned as it is by the PA, would mean the latter could use it to enhance its hold over Area C, which is under Israeli control according to the Oslo Accords. The new highway sets out in PA owned land, near Arab T’koa and eastern Gush Etzion, but then cuts into Israeli controlled territory.
More than half a year ago, before the heavy machinery hit the track, Regavim filed a complaint with the Civil Administration about the planned project, but nothing was done to stop it, even after a few more complaints had been filed. And now, after promises by former Minister Avigdor Lieberman and current Transportation Minister Israel Katz to pave a road from Gush Etzion to the Dead Sea remained just that—promises, the EU and the PA have put their money and their effort where their mouths are. Except that their new road, cutting across the Judean desert, is being built against the law, without Israeli permits, in an area that’s entirely within Israeli owned territory.
According to Regavim, “the state of Israel must not give up this area — and certainly not enable lawlessness by foreign countries. The European Union has declared in official documents its intention of aiding the PA enhance its hold and to bite into the Area C lands. This is illegal on its face and an unacceptable conduct. The State of Israel must draw a line in the sand before the EU’s advance.”