A UN investigator on Sunday accused Israel of imposing a “strategy of
Judaization” in its housing policies in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, as
well as in areas of the country within the pre-1967 lines.
activity against Negev Beduin and Palestinians in both east Jerusalem and Area C
of the West Bank “are the new frontiers of dispossession of the traditional
inhabitants and the implementation of a strategy of Judaization and control of
the territory,” said Raquel Rolnik, a special UN rapporteur on adequate
She spoke at a Jerusalem press conference as she wrapped up a
two-week visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Rolnik plans to
submit a full report on Israel’s housing policies to the UN Human Rights
Council, which will debate the issue in March 2013.
But her initial
findings, she said, already indicates “that the Israeli planning, development
and land system now violates the right to adequate housing.”
true, Rolnik said, both for Palestinians, minority groups and all low-income
individuals, who are finding it increasingly hard to find affordable
The state owns 93 percent of the land in Israel, she said, so
the government could have policies that allow for adequate affordable
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Israel had an “impressive” housing record in the past, Rolnik
said, but it changed its policies on affordable housing over the last two
decades. Since then, the situation has deteriorated, she said.
is now tendered for the highest price to maximize profitability, Rolnik
In addition, the Beduin and Palestinians suffer from discriminatory
practices, including land expropriation, she said.
In east Jerusalem,
Palestinians can apply for building permits on only 13% of the area, Rolnik said.
“The number of permits issued is grossly inadequate to
housing needs, leading many Palestinians to build without obtaining a permit,”
As a result, tens of thousands of Palestinians’ homes are at
risk of being demolished, she added.
More than 70% of the demolitions in
Jerusalem are carried out against Palestinian residents, even though they make
up only 20% of the infractions, Rolnik said.
In the West Bank, security
and administrative measures result in the demolition of Palestinian homes, she
said, and also limit Palestinian growth and access to livelihood and
Rolnik said she was concerned by plans to forcibly relocate the
Jahalin Beduin who live in the area near Ma’aleh Adumim.
Israel demolished 622 Palestinian structures, including 222 that were family
homes, she said, and 1,094 people were displaced. “This is almost double the
number from 2010,” she said.
The largest number of demolitions occurred
in the Jordan Valley, she said.
She also took issue with plans by
Palestinians to construct a new city in the West Bank, called Rawabi, because it
will not provide affordable housing to “numerous communities living in
Overall, Israeli housing policy in the West Bank
had been shaped by security concerns, Rolnik said.
“But certainly the
nondemocratic and discriminatory elements in Israeli spatial planning and urban
strategies appear to contribute to deepening of the conflict instead of
promoting peace,” she said.
The Foreign Ministry, which assisted Rolnik
during her visit, took issue with her comments.
Ministry spokesman Yigal
Palmor said her statements “manifest such a profound misunderstanding of basic
realities that one really feels obliged to request the honorable rapporteur to
go back to square one and do her homework properly.”
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