THE KNESSET’S Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee subgroup on Judea and Samaria observes Palestinian villages along Route 1 yesterday, near Ma’aleh Adumim.
(photo credit: MK MOTI YOGEV’S OFFICE)
High Court of Justice to halt IDF demolitions of illegal Palestinian structures have increased by 350% in the last six years, the Civil Administration said in Thursday.
Its representatives provided the data to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee subgroup on Judea and Samaria.
The parliamentarians spent the day in the West Bank to examine illegal Palestinian construction, and enforcement issues, particularly near Ma’aleh Adumim and in the Jordan Valley.
“The numbers of petitions are unprecedented and impact the policy of enforcement,” said a Civil Administration representative. “There is no day in which a petition is not filed,” he said, adding that it could reach up to 14 or 15 a week.
“The Palestinians know that these petitions tie our hands for a long time, and that is what they want to achieve,” he said. “It is not just about illegal structures, it could also be agriculture,” he added, as he recalled an instance in which they had planted 2,000 saplings in a firing zone.
If there were about 50 petitions in 2010, last year there were 224, two Civil Administration officials explained.
It’s an approximately 350% increase.
The parliamentarians observed the growth of Palestinian and Beduin herding villages along Route 1, as it stretches from Ma’aleh Adumim to Jericho.
They also stopped in the Jordan Valley moshav of Tomer.
Jordan Valley Regional Council head Dudu Elhayani pointed to a Palestinian village that was established 20 years ago and had grown to 350 families living in permanent homes.
He held up a map to show how the area they were living in was state land that was part of Area C.
He urged the Civil Administration to give his council the authority to deal with both planning for Palestinian building and for enforcement.
“Just give us the tools and we will take care of it,” he said.
A Civil Administration representative noted that it was “unrealistic” to imagine that the best resolution here was to evict the 350 families.
Even if the question is planning, a member of the regional council said, “we would do a better job.”
Some members of the group said the best resolution would be for the Civil Administration to issue building permits for the Palestinians, given that very few are handed out.
Other MKs put the issue in the context of the larger struggle between for Area C, noting that the Palestinians deliberately place illegal structures on state land to create facts on the ground.
Elhayani and MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi), who chairs the subgroup, said if the area was under full Israeli law, instead of military rule, it would be easier to deal with building issues.
Yogev, whose subgroup has been particularly critical of the Civil Administration, took it to task that it and the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories had not been able to appropriately deal with illegal Palestinian building.
There has been improvement, he said, but not enough.
“There is no doubt that the Jordan Valley is necessary for Israel’s defense,” he said. “The time has come to apply Israeli law to Area C, so law and order can be upheld.”
According to the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs, in 2016 the Civil Administration demolished 875 Palestinian structures.
On Thursday, it took down three structures in the E1 area of Ma’aleh Adumim, according to B’Tselem.