TA City Council nixes demolition freeze for Jaffa

Bill proposer:Residents of Jaffa are not allowed to exercise their rights.

ajami neighborhood 311 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
ajami neighborhood 311
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The Tel Aviv City Council on Monday voted down a motion to freeze all outstanding demolition orders for Jaffa, and to issue a temporary moratorium on further such orders.
The motion, which was proposed by councilman Omar Siksik, failed by a vote of eight to 11, with three councilmen abstaining. The motion would also have called for the issuing of retroactive building permits for an unspecified number of houses in Jaffa that were built without approval.
Siksik told the council meeting that the motion had been drawn because “residents of Jaffa are not allowed to exercise their rights to build on their land in a legal manner.”
He said the refusal to hand out building permits in Arab areas of the city was “consistent with a 60-year policy of keeping people from building on their land, something that is hard to picture happening in [Jewish] neighborhoods of north Tel Aviv such as Bavli or Ramat Aviv Gimmel.”
Siksik stressed that he was not advocating that people violate the law by building without a permit, but that “people are in a situation where they have no choice.”
The crowd in the plenum greeted the failure of the motion with catcalls and booing, and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai went into the crowd to ask them to relax so they would not be thrown out of the hall.
Residents and activists in Jaffa have long accused the state of refusing for over 60 years to allow virtually any building whatsoever on land belonging to residents, a situation that they say forces them to build illegally and then face eviction or demolition orders.
Abed Abu Shehadeh, a resident of Jaffa and a member of the Youths of Jaffa Association, attended the meeting on Monday and told The Jerusalem Post that he and his friends had come because “the least we can do is to come and protest what is just a continuation of the plan since 1948 to move Arabs out of Jaffa.”
Abu Shehadeh claimed the refusal to give out permits was part of a process meant to force overcrowded, multigenerational households in Jaffa to move out, either because they were not allowed to build, or because they were being priced out by gentrification.