Palestinian boys walk near Jewish settlements in the West Bank village of Jaloud near Nablus.
(photo credit: ABED OMAR QUSINI/REUTERS)
The phenomenon of European Union illegally funded modular housing for Palestinians in Area C has mostly halted due to better enforcement and legal tools to help demolish them, the Defense Ministry’s Secretary of Settlement Affairs Kobi Eliraz said on Sunday.
“We have stopped this – it almost doesn’t exist,” Eliraz said.
He spoke during a debate at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s subcommittee for Judea and Samaria.
Subcommittee chairman Motti Yogev challenged him, however, charging that “It continues.”
“It doesn’t,” Eliraz said.
He explained that a new injunction which allows the structures to be removed within 60 days without legal recourse, had given the Civil Administration time to locate and remove such building.
Col. Uri Mendes, deputy head of the Civil Administration said that his staff identities and hands out injunctions for illegal Palestinian building.
“There is almost no illegal construction or land infiltration that is not recognized,” Mendes said.
He added that there was no enforcement action taken against illegal Palestinian construction in Area C of the West Bank during the Ramadan holiday.
The issue of EU funding for such structures has been a point of tension between it and Israel. The EU and the United Nations could not confirm Eliraz’s statement. But Hagit Ofran of the left-wing group Peace Now said she had also noted a drop in that type of construction.
The meeting focused in general on illegal Palestinian construction and takeover of land in Area C of the West Bank.
Meir Deutsch of the right-wing group Regavim urged the subcommittee not to see illegal Palestinian building as a simple land dispute but rather as a strategic attempt by the Palestinian Authority to seize hold of Area C, which is now under Israeli military and civil control. Yogev and right wing politicians in the room agreed.
Defense Ministry and IDF officials “are not doing enough here,” Yogev said.
He accused the Civil Administration of failing to be informed about the PA’s attempts to seize land in Area C and added that Regavim had done a better job collecting data on this phenomenon then it had done.
He called on Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to intervene, charging that it was the PA and not the Civil Administration that controlled Area C.
The Defense Ministry must thoroughly survey Area C and provide better legal tools to halt the Palestinian takeover of the land, he said.
Ofran, who attended the meeting, said that the entire discussion was based on the premise that Palestinians in Area C presented an existential threat.
That’s not the case, she said, because it is not in Israel’s interest to remain in Area C.
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