Settler officials called on parliamentarians on Sunday to apply new
environmental laws to West Bank settlements in Area C, presently outside the
scope of that legislation.
“Our hands are tied when it comes to
enforcement if this change is not made,” said Yitzhak Meyer, director-general of
Samaria’s environmental protection association.
He explained that his
association and the one for the Binyamin Region were the enforcement arms of the
local authorities in the West Bank.
A legislative vacuum exists in West
Bank settlements when it comes to the environment, he said. Old environmental
regulations seen as applicable to settlements there have been erased and
replaced by tougher laws that do not cover Area C, under Israeli civil and
As a result, in recent years it has become impossible
to force factories in West Bank industrial parks and settlements to comply with
environmental restrictions, Meyer said.
He added that although former
environmental protection minister Gilad Erdan had taken the issue seriously,
Israeli officials for the most part ignored complaints.
The issue is
complicated by diplomatic concerns. Attempts to apply Israeli law to Area C are
often seen as a backhanded way of annexing that region of the West
On Sunday, the heads of the Samaria and Binyamina environment
protection association wrote a four-page letter on the topic, which they sent to
the media, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, the Environmental
Protection Ministry and the Justice Ministry.
Meyer explained that this
drive had nothing to do with diplomatic concerns and was purely an enforcement
issue. He added that the request was only to apply the laws to West Bank
settlements and industrial parks.
The failure to apply such legislation
to the municipalities of Judea and Samaria infringes upon the welfare of those
living there and creates an atmosphere of environmental lawlessness, the
letter’s authors explained.
“Largely, the non-application of Israeli
environmental law enables developers, private businesses and other bodies to
find in Judea and Samaria options for establishing a pollution haven,” they
The Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria said it needed more
time to respond to the letter.
Environmental Protection Minister Amir
Peretz (Hatnua) and his ministry took a middle- of-the-road position that spoke
to the need for environmental protection, but did not advocate for full
application of the environmental laws.
“We act according to the
conception that environmental pollution knows no borders and that environmental
protection should be systemic, and from a desire to improve the quality of life
of all the population,” Peretz said in a statement.
legal authority that governs in the Judea and Samaria region is the legal
advisor in Judea and Samaria,” the statement continued.
“It is important
to remember that the victims of environmental pollution in the Judea and Samaria
region include the entire population, and this also includes the
In their letter to the media, the environmental protection
associations cited eight examples of problematic areas that have arisen in the
last five years due to new legislation.
These include: the Local
Authorities Law (Environmental Enforcement – Authorities of Inspectors), the
Non-Iodizing Radiation Law, the Clean Air Law, the Packaging Law, the Asbestos
Law, the Electronic Waste Law, the Environmental Protection Law (Powers of
Inspection and Enforcement) and the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register
The only one of these eight to even have been presented in
draft form for application in Judea and Samaria is the notion of bringing in
“green police” to the Israeli settlements through the Environmental Protection
Law, which the writers said they hope will begin to take place within a few
The failure to implement the Local Authorities Law (Environmental
Enforcement – Authorities of Inspectors) has meant that although some
municipalities in the West Bank have trained environmental inspectors, such
specialists still have no enforcement authority in the region, the authors
This has led to issues regarding the ability of contractors from
Israel proper to enter the settlement areas in order to empty their building
Meanwhile, the lack of legislation also enables residents to dump
raw sewage on the ground and thereby contaminate the aquifers without
punishment, in a hydrologically sensitive region, the letter
Without the equivalent of the Non-Iodizing Radiation Law in
place, businesses are setting up facilities that emit radiation without proper
Meanwhile, the lack of legislation similar or identical to
the Clean Air Law means that air quality hazards are prominent throughout the
West Bank, and that wasteburning sites and industrial plants can release
emissions without permits that would be required in Israel proper, the authors
The absence of a law like the Packaging Law means that local
authorities are not required to determine arrangements for collection of
packaging, and residents do not have the opportunity to participate in the
Environmental Protection Ministry’s program for waste separation at the
Similar issues plague Judea and Samaria residents due to the fact
that they need not abide by the Electronic Waste Law, the authors
A lack of a law similar to the Asbestos Law indicates that there
are no rules determining the use of asbestos, nor regarding the proper
dismantling of asbestos – rules that are “critical to the preservation of public
health,” according to the letter.
Lastly, by not employing the Pollutant
Release and Transfer Register Law in Judea and Samaria, the government is
freeing businesses that operate in the region from providing transparent data on
emissions that they release to the environment in the region. Without the
requirement of such mandatory data registry, a “distorted picture” of the
pollution situation of the area emerges, the authors stressed.