'Discrimination in W .Bank construction'

Peace Now: Only 91 Palestinian houses approved in seven years, while 18,472 were built for settlers.

Settlement building 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
Settlement building 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Israel denied 94 percent of the building permit requests West Bank Palestinians submitted over the past seven years, the anti-settlement Peace Now group reported Thursday. In all, 91 of 1,624 requested permits were approved, Peace Now said. By contrast, 18,472 apartments and homes were built between 2000 and September 2007 in Jewish West Bank settlements, the group said, citing Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics. Peace Now also said the army demolished 33 percent of the 4,993 cases of illegal Palestinian construction against which it issued demolition orders. By contrast, 7 percent of the 2,900 cases of illegal settler construction that drew demolition orders were torn down, the group said. The data demonstrates "clear and conspicuous discrimination against the Palestinian population," Peace Now said. The report applied only to the 60 percent of the West Bank that Israel fully controls. Peace Now's assertions on the denial of building requests were based on data that MK Haim Oron (Meretz) received in response to a query to Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Information on demolitions were drawn from military data obtained by Peace Now. Capt. Zidki Maman, spokesman for the military unit that oversees civil affairs in the West Bank, accused Peace Now of skewing data to fit its political agenda. The number of building permits was low because Palestinians rarely submit requests, and then, generally after they receive demolition orders, Maman said. "If Palestinians would submit requests for building permits, there could be thousands more approvals," he said. He would not speculate on why Palestinians did not submit more requests. Palestinians have long complained that Israeli officials reject their building requests. Maman said the data on demolitions were distorted because the number of settler demolitions did not include construction the settlers themselves tore down after receiving demolition orders. The data on Palestinian demolitions did include self-demolition, inflating the numbers, Maman said.