The Hypocrisy of Regavim — The Settler Movement’s Cheerleader for Demolitions

Yann Schinazi
on June 13, 2018

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth has just released a report that exposes the hypocrisy of the extremist pro-settler group Regavim.

Founded in 2006, Regavim presses for the displacement of Palestinian communities living in the West Bank. Because the IDF Civil Administration refuses to issue virtually any building permits to Palestinians in occupied territory, these communities are often forced to build housing illegally. Regavim sends “field inspectors” to document the resulting construction, using the materials they gather to pressure authorities into enforcing demolition orders and destroying the homes of the Palestinians residing in the areas.

The report published by Yedioth Ahronoth shows that multiple current and former Regavim staff members — including their current and past executive directors — have lived or are currently living in homes considered by the Israeli government to be illegal.

Since 2009, Regavim has been petitioning Israel’s High Court for the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village located in Area C of the West Bank. The village is located in the vicinity of the E1 corridor. The settlement movement aims to seize and build on this territory in order to link major settlements to Jerusalem — and to obstruct the creation of a Palestinian state.

With the Israeli High Court recently ruling in favor of the government’s demolition order, the 180 residents of Khan al-Ahmar are now under imminent threat of losing everything — including their local school, built from tires and mud, which serves their children alongside those of other surrounding Bedouin communities. Regavim has also petitioned the High Court for the demolition of many other Palestinian communities, like Susya in the South Hebron Hills.

Even as the group’s actions undermine prospects for peace and the possibility of a secure and peaceful future in the region, Israeli investigative journalists have documented that Regavim receives millions of Israeli taxpayer funds — largely as a result of specific provisions pushed for by ultraconservative elected officials at multiple levels of the Israeli government.

Yedioth Ahronoth’s report underscores the long-term impact and agenda of the settlement movement. For decades, they have moved aggressively to build housing in — and push Palestinians out — of key parts of the occupied territory, with varyingly strong degrees of support from successive Israeli governments.

Today’s circumstances are particularly dramatic: Israel’s current government — a coalition that includes the far-right Jewish Home party, whose ideology and support base are anchored in the settlements — is dominated by the settler movement. Adding fuel to the fire, the Trump administration has broken with decades of bipartisan US policy in refusing to endorse a two-state solution and clearly condemn settlement expansion.

The demolitions and displacement brought on by settlement expansion inflict a heartbreaking, incalculable cost on the individual communities that are targeted — destroying the lives of families simply trying to build a better future. In the long run, by obstructing progress towards a two-state solution, the settlement expansion and displacement advanced by Regavim also exacerbates conflict and imperils the future of both Israelis and Palestinians.

J Street is determined to rally US opposition to settlement expansion and demolitions — and to push back on groups like Regavim. Through the student-led “Stop Demolitions, Build Peace” campaign, J Street U chapters across the country are partnering directly with Palestinian communities. In Congress, we’ve encouraged members of Congress to urge Netanyahu to bring a halt to demolitions.  And just a few weeks ago, a J Street congressional and leadership delegation to Israel and the Palestinian territory visited Khan al-Ahmar to meet with the families under threat.

The fanatical ideology of Regavim and the broader settler movement — along with their allies in the Netanyahu government and the Trump administration — must be confronted.

Prevent the Demolition of Khan al-Ahmar

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