Self-Destruct Double Standard

Ynet Hebrew edition, January 20, 2006

Over 1,000 illegal houses are built annually – by Jerusalem Arabs – since 1997.  Only 30-40 are demolished by the authorities.

 

About 10,000 illegal houses are built, annually, by "Green Line" Arabs in the Galilee, Negev, "Triangle", Lod and Ramleh. About 100 are demolished.

 

Since 1967, there has been more Arab residential (largely illegal) construction in Jerusalem than Jewish construction in the capital of the Jewish State. 

 

But, Israel is enforcing the law in an iron-fist manner when it comes to a few scores of Jewish houses throughout Judea & Samaria and Hebron (built on a Jewish-registered property, which was ravaged by Arabs in 1929). 

 

Legal and governance impotence have characterized Israel's battle against illegal Arab construction, which threatens Israel's sovereignty and the rule of law in Jerusalem and all over the country.  Palestinian documents, found at the PLO's "Orient House", highlight illegal construction as a key instrument in the campaign to erode the Jewish character of Jerusalem. According to the documents, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has enticed illegal construction in Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods of Shoafat, Beit Haninah and A-Zaim, in order to prevent continuity between the Jewish neighborhoods of French Hill and Pisgat Ze'ev, and to avert the unification of Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adoumim. Illegal construction is raging along Highway 443, the critical road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, with the aim to transform it into an Arab road, threatening the security of Jewish transportation. While a 1999 Palestinian document anticipated that Israel was determined "to demolish 400-500 illegal houses in Beit Haninah and Shoafat", a 2000 document notified the PA that "no need to worry", since Israel would only demolish a few houses, and illegal construction could proceed with full speed ahead. But, Israel is determined to enforce the law in an iron-fist manner when it comes to a few scores of Jewish houses in Hebron and throughout Judea & Samaria.

 

Illegal Arab construction has become a norm, led by the Palestinian Authority (many PA officials reside in illegal homes), bankrolled by Saudi petrodollars and observed by the wide-closed eyes of Israel.

 

Illegal construction has become an effective means to challenge Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem, to undermine major infrastructure and housing projects in the Negev and Galilee, to limit the freedom/security of Jewish movement along major transportation arteries, to facilitate terrorism and to exacerbate crime.

 

For instance, illegal construction in the Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Silwan has been a platform for intensified terrorism and felony. Forging real estate titles has proliferated in the Arab sector, robbing state-owned land as well as privately owned Arab land, fueling extortion, protection, gang-wars and the importation of illegal Arab residents from Hebron and other towns to Jerusalem – a fertile ground for terrorism.  But, Israel is determined to enforce the law in an iron-fist manner when it comes to scores of Jewish houses in Hebron and throughout Judea & Samaria.

 

Legal and administrative proceedings, to uproot the imminent and present danger of illegal construction, have been extremely cumbersome. In fact, they have encouraged disregard and violation of the law. For example, a demolition order may be attained only if a construction permit cannot be obtained – by the offender - retroactively!  A demolition order would be authorized by the courts only if the illegal structure were built on a state-owned-land zoned for public purposes, for road construction, for a "green area", etc. A demolition permit for an occupied/populated house would be issued if construction were completed less than 30 days before filing complaint (less than 60 days for unoccupied house). In addition, the ultra permissive appeal process, available for construction offenders, has transformed the law into a "Swiss Cheese". Apparently, concern for civil rights of criminals, who deliberately violate the law and undermine Israel's national security – rather than the battle against the plague of illegal Arab construction – has preoccupied the concern of Israel's judiciary. But, Israel is determined to enforce the law in an iron-fist manner when it comes to scores of Jewish houses in Hebron and throughout Judea & Samaria.