'Building laws in West Bank equally enforced against Israelis, Palestinians'

Coordinator of Israel's activities in the territories says his office works according to the decisions and policy laid out by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the IDF chief of staff.

April 7, 2016 02:05
1 minute read.
THE SYNAGOGUE in the outpost of Givat Sorek

THE SYNAGOGUE in the outpost of Givat Sorek. (photo credit: ELYASHIV LIVYATAN)


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Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai defended his office’s work in the enforcement of building laws in Area C of the West Bank, during testimony he gave Wednesday morning to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s subgroup on Judea and Samaria.

“Our treatment is equitable,” said Mordechai, who is the coordinator of government activities in the territories.

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More to the point, he said, his office and the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, which works under him, spend more time dealing with illegal Palestinian construction than with Israeli violations, because there is more illegal Palestinian building than illegal settler construction.

A State Comptroller’s Report published earlier this month showed that 68 percent of the structures the civil administration razed between the years 1992 to 2013 belonged to Palestinians. It further showed that 67 percent of all the illegal building in those years was by Palestinians.

Members of the subcommittee on Judea and Samaria have been highly critical of the civil administration in the past, charging that it focuses almost exclusively on illegal settler construction and ignores the same activity among the Palestinians.

From listening to the committee, Mordechai said, it sounds as though his staff was hijacking the affairs of the office in order to carry out their personal policies against the settlers. Nothing could be further from the truth, he said. His office simply works according to the decisions and policy laid out by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the IDF chief of staff.

Settler leader Roni Shanir, who is an assistant to the head of the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, told Mordechai that it was hard to match his words to the civil administration’s actions in the field.

Just last week, he said, the civil administration tore down an illegally built synagogue, and he understood why that happened. But why, he said, is an illegally built mosque that the High Court of Justice has determined should be razed still standing? he asked.

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