Status of Judea and Samaria

The region of Judea and Samaria is considered by international law as territory subject to belligerent occupation. In accordance with the restrictions of international law, the legislation which applies is the same as that implemented prior to the IDF's presence. Only necessary amendments were made by use of legislation on the part of the regional governor (security provisions) in order to maintain safety and security in the region. The law applied in the region includes Ottoman law, the British Mandate Legislation and Jordanian Law, in so far as applied prior to 1967. Diverse legal amendments are made under the framework of security legislation, according to security and civilian needs. In addition, public international law, partial Israeli law (by means of applying extra territorial provisions) and also indirectly Israeli administrative law are also applied in the territory.

Following the transfer of power to the control of the regional IDF governor, the rule is essentially military. The Legal Advisor for Judea and Samaria is the Military Advocate General's representative to the region [click here for more details] providing legal advice for all IDF units operating in the region.

This is a collection of applicable military legislation for Judea and Samaria. In these booklets security legislation is published, which is promulgated by the military governor or other sanctioned bodies. Recent editions are published at The Coordination and Communications Command in Judea and Samaria and are also uploaded online. Likewise, they are accessible in legal libraries and computerized legal databases.

In 1981 the Israeli government decided to establish a Civilian Administration for Judea and Samaria in order to manage civilian matters in the region. An officer (Brigadier General Rank) commands the administration. Civilian employees of the State of Israel also work at the administration, for the purpose of filling staff posts. Their authority stems from the power allocated to them by virtue of applied law in the region in general, and security legislation specifically.

Interior Affairs

The major law in the legal field of planning and zoning is The Jordanian Law of Planning Towns, Villages and Buildings, No. 79 of the year 1966, as amended by Jordanian authorities until the year 1967. Further modifications were introduced in this law through the security legislation, primarily through The Decree of Planning Towns, Villages and Buildings, No. 418 of the year 1971.

By the virtue of the combination of the abovementioned Jordanian law and the Decree No. 418, the major planning organs established in Judea and Samaria are the Supreme Planning Committee and the Local Planning Committees.
The Supreme Planning Committee, is primarily in charge of establishing general policy of planning and zoning and approval of outline plans (schemes), appointed several subcommittees acting on its behalf in different areas (among those are the Subcommittee for Planning and Licensing, the Subcommittee for Transport Issues, the Subcommittee for Environmental Issues, the Subcommittee for Building Supervision, etc.).

Following the interim agreement between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Council, the authorities in the field of planning were transferred to the Palestinian Authority in Areas A and B. Thus, the major Local Planning Committees which continue to act in Area C are the Local Councils of Israeli settlements, acting within the boundaries of the setllements' municipal boundaries. The Local Planning Committees have no authority to approve new outline plans (this authority is given to the Supreme Planning Council and its subcommittees), while their primary function is licensing building construction according to the approved outline plans, filing proposals for outline plans serving the local purposes and supervising over the actual construction process.

It is possible to submit an appeal to the Subcommittee for Objections of the Supreme Planning Council within 30 days of receipt of the
decision of the local committee, subject to the payment of a symbolic fee. For the purposes of submitting an appeal it is necessary to contact the Central Bureau of Planning at the Civilian Administration of Judea and Samaria

As only few Israeli Knesset laws (such as fiscal laws, criminal laws, security service laws etc.) were applied directly on the inhabitants of the settlements in Judea and Samaria, a need to provide the Israeli settlements with certain instruments of self-governance arised. Following the validation of the Decree of Regional Councils Management of 1979, and the Decree of Local Councils Management of 1981, regional and local councils were erected. The councils are authorized to provide for the needs of local Israeli inhabitants within the specified municipal boundaries of the settlements, in areas such as welfare, education, sanitation, etc. The councils possess similar powers to those held by the local authorities within Israel, and thus, inter alia, are authorized to levy local taxes, form municipal corporations, license business activity etc. The supervision over the local and regional councils is vested mostly within The Ministry of Interior in Israel.

Real Estate in Judea and Samaria

Israeli law does not apply in Judea and Samaria. Land law in this region is based upon the Ottoman codes, and those amendments made during the British mandate and Jordanian rule periods. Additionally, various amendments and corrections were also made in accordance to need, via the Security legislation.

The role of the Supervisor of Governmental Properties in Judea and Samaria is to manage state land in the region. Administration of the land includes the authority to allocate it (for example within the framework of contractual leasing or contractual authorization) and to collect the lease fee for use, and also to maintain the grounds status as state land and to expel unauthorized incursions of state land. The role of the Supervisor of Abandoned Property in Judea and Samaria is to manage such property in this region (property whose owners and occupants have left the area), and to rent the property and safeguard the revenue for the owners. The supervision of governmental and abandoned property is one function which is based at the Civilian Administration Command in Judea and Samaria.

According to the law applied in Judea and Samaria, the Supervisor of Governmental Property is authorized to sign a certificate approving that the indicated real estate in the attached map are governmental property. In and of itself the issuing of a certificate isn't determinative, that the real estate is governmental property, rather, it removes permits by declaring that the real estate is governmental property, thereby transferring the burden of proof to one who claims otherwise. The certificate is published after carrying out comprehensive examination of the real estates' extent of use over the years and their situation in relation to property law after receiving professional legal opinion.

An intrusion by a person into state or private land not belonging to him/her constitutes the offense of trespass, and in particular situations additional provisions of law (for example the prohibition of entering a closed military area). In order to submit a complaint it is necessary to approach the nearest police station and to present all relevant existing documentation, which can substantiate the complaint when investigated. It is also possible to approach the Commander of Coordination and Communication in the district where the real estate is located, and to submit a complaint that is checked by representatives of the civilian administrator and the legal advisor to Judea and Samaria.

Most of the lands in Judea and Samaria have not undergone comprehensive settlement of title procedures. For the sake of registering land at the land registry office, it is necessary to implement a procedure called "first time registration of real estate". Within the framework of this procedure the applicant's request is discussed by a special committee which examines the documents that prove the owner's rights, the map site, any counterclaims and the status of the land, deciding whether to grant a certificate of registration. It is possible to submit an appeal against the committee's decision to the Military Appeals Committee. The pertinent body for approaching in registering for the first time is the Land Registrar at the Civilian Administration.

Population Registry

The population registrar department handles all issues concerning population registry (residence and status in Judea and Samaria), entry and departure from the region, visiting licenses and entrance for foreigners, entry permits to Israel for various matters (medical, legal, family unification, prisoner visitations etc.), seam zones, movement between Gaza and Judea and Samaria and more. The department's officers deal with thousands of applications and hundreds of petitions to the Supreme Court on administrative matters, thereby being involved in the advancement of their field.

The entrance of foreign citizens into Judea and Samaria is dealt with by foreign entry regulations, consolidated in conjunction with the interior and foreign ministries. The regulations determine categories, and those who fall within them may submit a request for entry into Judea and Samaria, (by means of category 2/B approval). By virtue of visa limitations, the maximal period is 3 months, and it is possible to extend it under appropriate circumstances, in accordance with policy and the security situation. In the matter of submitting requests and the criteria of approval, regulations distinguish between citizens of states which are signatory to the visa exemption agreement and those which are not.

Security and Criminal Law in Judea and Samaria


By virtue of the State of Israel's authority and obligation to protect its civilians, it is entitled to take varied measure in order to defend itself from all domestic and external threats to its national security. Since September 2000, the State of Israel has been confronted by a massive and seemingly incessant wave of Palestinian terror. After hundreds of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks, in 2003 the Israeli government began the construction of a security barrier in an effort to prevent Palestinian terrorist infiltration.


The question of constructing the Security Barrier has been discussed by Israel's High Court of Justice. The Court examined the issue in light of International law and Israeli administrative law determining, amongst other things that the military commander is authorized to assume possession of land subject to belligerent occupation for strategic reasons if it is a military necessity. It was held that the security barrier falls within this framework. Such being the case, there is no breach of private ownership which would have undermined the legitimacy for its construction. The Court accepted the State's position, emphasizing that the barrier's construction is motivated by security concerns rather than any political agenda.


Concerning the barrier's route, the Court held that the military commander is responsible to find the appropriate balance between human rights and the local populaces' needs on the one hand and security issues on the other. For this purpose, the Court makes use of the principle of proportionality, according to which it is necessary that the achievement of legitimate military objectives (in our case, state security, protection of its citizens and the region) outweigh the impingement of the rights of the individual (in our case, the freedom of the local inhabitants subject to belligerent occupation).

This is the area between the Security Barrier and the border of Judea and Samaria, in areas that the Barrier is located inside Judea and Samaria defined as "closed military area". In this area the permit requirement is implemented – meaning: the entry of those who are not residents is conditional upon permit holding.


The definition of the "seam zone" as a closed military area, whose entry is supervised, controlled, and requires a permit (excluding permanent residents) enables the army to contend with security threats from the region, and particularly penetration by terrorists and people who enter Israel illegally.

In accordance with the provisions of International law, the military commander is authorized to requisition private land in the region if it is determined that such action is imperative for military necessities, such as establishing an army installation.


The transfer is carried out within the framework of staff work, comprehensively examining the military-security need with regard to the breach of the proprietor's rights. Within this framework an examination is conducted raising the possibilities of achieving the same results by alternative means that do not require land requisition. Like all reviews, they are to be tested by the existing ground perception. In this way damage to the owner or the land itself, is mitigated as much as is feasible


If it is found that there is a military necessity in the requisition, this is implemented after hearing the owners' objections. The requisition is temporary, and the requisitioned property's owner is entitled to compensation and rent payments for use following an act of confiscation.

In light of the security threat facing Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, it was decided a number of years ago to protect a number of settlements by establishing special security areas around them.
There are a number of communities, around which the special security area erected, is composed of a peripheral fence and around other communities a technological special security area composed of sensors and cameras was created. The special security areas' range is designed to provide broad defense to the settlements and therefore building and dwelling are prohibited there.


At the time of establishing these areas in Judea and Samaria, their procedural organization was consolidated regarding Palestinian resident entry for in order to allow them to work their agricultural lands. All those with proprietary interests in agricultural lands are entitled to work those fields that lie within the area. Furthermore, those of his nuclear family and his workers are entitled to enter this area in order to work the fields.

A number of criminal justice systems apply to Israelis living in the region.
First and foremost, they are bound by the (previously mentioned) enforceable laws and security legislation which applies in the region. 
Furthermore, the Israeli Kenneset (parliament) has de facto implemented the general Israeli provisions of criminal legislation upon those citizens residing in Judea and Samaria.  
This was achieved by granting jurisdiction to the Israeli courts "…to judge according to the applicable Israeli law, a person who is located in Israel for his/her acts or omissions which occurred in Judea and Samaria and also an Israeli for his/her acts or omissions which occurred in land under the Palestinian Authority if the act or omission were offences if occurring within the jurisdictional scope of the Israeli courts" (article 2(a) The validity extension law of the emergency regulations ordinance 1967).

As a result of applying domestic legislation, Israelis who commit offences in Judea and Samaria are usually tried in Israeli courts.
Several provisions of the local law and the security legislation of a domestic character (breach of planning and zoning laws, business licensing laws etc., committed by Israelis) are also enforceable through prosecution in the Courts for Local Affairs situated in the major settlements.