Zoning and Construction Law:

The Jordanian Planning of Cities Villages & Buildings law (No. 79) of 1966 (Hereinafter: “The Planning Law”) delineates the various zoning and planning stages in Judea & Samaria. The Planning Law states that that the first stage of planning is a regional zoning plan, On the basis of these regional plans general local plans may be advanced and finally specific local plans may be drawn up. Building permits may be issued based on the specific local plans. In many cases general and specific local plans are issued as one unified specific plan.

The planning law requires regional zoning plans be approved by the High Planning Council (Hereinafter “The High council”) while the secondary plans are approved by district committees. The security legislation cancelled the district committees and therefore all plans must be approved by the High Council. The High Council delegated its authorities to its various subcommittees – the Roads and Rails subcommittee, the Mining and Excavation subcommittee, the Environmental Protection subcommittee, the Settlement subcommittee and the Planning and Licensing subcommittee.

The planning law also states that building permits will be issued by the Special Committees (usually called Local Committees), which operate in the towns and villages of the area.

The Israeli Towns in the Area and the Planning Committees

Prior to the Israeli force’s entry into Judea & Samaria (Hereinafter “The Area”) in 1967, the area contained cities, villages and municipalities, created by British or Jordanian Law.

In the preexisting villages and cities which the area’s residents resided in prior to 1967, the zoning was done on a district basis therefore the committees were called the District planning Committees.

Upon the Israeli force’s entry, in accordance with article 43 of Convention (IV) Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land of 1907 (the Hague regulations), the authority of the ruler passed to the military commander of the area and he is tasked with ensuring security and public order.

Till 1979 the military commander founded Israeli towns in the area using military seizure orders, in accordance with his mandate to ensure security and public order. However, in 1979 the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled, in HCJ 390/79 Dwikat v. State of Israel, that the security purpose cited for the establishment of Alon Moreh was only a secondary purpose, therefore the seizure of property for Alon Moreh’s establishment, was not in accordance with the military commander’s mandate.

In turn on November 11th, 1979, the Israeli government decided that future settlements would be established on land, deemed by the law of the area to be state managed land and not on land seized for military purposes.

Also in 1979, along with the growth of the Israeli population in the area, a need for a new legal framework to govern the Israeli population arose. In turn, the military commander enacted military orders, which allowed the creation of regional and local councils in the area.

Thus, the Regional Council Governance Order (Judea & Samaria) (No’ 783)  of 1979 and the Local Council Governance Order (Judea & Samaria)(No’ 831)  of 1981, were enacted. The purpose of the orders was to allow, among other things, the military commander to enact regulations in the various councils, through which he can apply various Israeli special norms to the residents of the councils.

In accordance with the aforementioned orders, two main regulations were passed: The Regional Council’s Regulations (Judea & Samaria) of 1979 and the Local Council’s Regulations (Judea & Samaria) of 1981. The importance of this was to allow the Israeli residents of the area to maintain a uniform code of conduct to that of an Israeli citizen residing in Israel proper. [For more on the application of Israeli law to the residents of the Israeli councils please turn to previous summaries, specifically regarding “The Regional and Local Councils of Judea & Samaria”].

In general a regional council’s boundaries, also known as the council’s area of jurisdiction, is all state managed land and land seized by the state within an area delineated by the order which created the council, with the exclusion of areas closed by military order. On the other hand, a local council’s boundaries are the specific area delineated by the order which created the local council.

Within each Israeli council a Special Planning Committee was created, with similar authority to that of the local committees mentioned in the previous chapter.

Local Committees v. the High Council

The District planning Committees which existed prior to 1967, continued to operate in the years following the Israeli forces’ entry to the area. The military commander in accordance with his responsibility under international law, appointed representatives from the area’s residents to fill the committee posts as needed. Following the Interim agreement and the transfer of all building and zoning responsibilities to the Palestinian Authority the district committees became obsolete and ceased to operate.

On the other hand, the Special Planning Committees in the Israeli councils continue to operate. These committees are limited, as previously stated, to the relevant council’s jurisdiction boundaries. Furthermore, the area under the committee’s jurisdiction, was split into two zoning areas. The first, areas zoned after 1967. The second, areas zoned prior to 1967.

Only in the first area (zoned post 1967) the committee may grant a building permit to persons with property rights. However, in both area’s the committee may carry out supervision and enforcement against Israelis who commit planning or building infractions and may recommend the acceptance or rejection of zoning plans to the High Councils various subcommittees.

The High Councils Subcommittees

As described in our summation regarding the Planning Committees the High Council delegated some of its authority to its various subcommittees. The Environmental Protection, Roads and Rails and Mining and excavation committees received sole authority in each respective field. The Settlement subcommittee received authority within the Israeli councils, in turn it became a district committee with regard to the special planning committees. The Planning and Licensing subcommittee received the authority in the remaining fields not specifically given to a different committee. (Prior to the interim agreements the Planning and Licensing subcommittee was the district subcommittee with regard to the District Zoning committees).

The Actual Zoning Procedure

Building Permits:

·         In the Israeli councils – a building permit, in the jurisdiction of a Special Planning Committee, in an area where a zoning plan was approved after the relevant 1967 date, not affecting regional roads, mining and excavation or the environment – will be issued by the Special Planning Committee.

·         Outside the Israeli councils – a request is submitted to the Planning and Licensing subcommittee unless affecting regional roads, mining and excavation or the environment. If the permit is for a pre-existing infraction the request will be submitted to the High Council’s Inspection subcommittee. Decisions by the Inspection subcommittee may be appealed before the Planning and Licensing subcommittee.


·         In the Israeli councils – zoning in an Israeli council (whether for a new Israeli settlement or the enlargement of a pre-existing Israeli settlement or for the benefit of the area’s residents) will be submitted for the approval of the Special Planning committee. After their deliberations the plan will be submitted to the Settlement subcommittee in order to be publicized. After its publication, challenges may be submitted to the Challenges subcommittee. Unless the Challenges subcommittee rejects the plan, it will be sent back to the Settlement subcommittee in order to be validated.

·         Outside the Israeli councils – zoning plans for the benefit of the area’s Palestinian residents will be done by the Planning and Licensing subcommittee and do not require the approval of the Special Planning Committee.


·         Building permits: any request submitted to the special Planning committees may be appealed to the Challenges subcommittee. Any request submitted to the Inspection subcommittee may be appealed to the Planning and Licensing subcommittee.

·         Zoning: No appeals may be filed against a subcommittee’s decision to zone or not zone an area for construction.

·         Special “Appeal” before the High Council: If the Special Planning committee’s decision and the District Zoning committee’s decision differ, any one of the two committees may request that the matter be brought before the High Council for final decision. Only the committees themselves may file such a request.