UN: 94% of W. Bank construction denied

Agency reports Israel demolished 1,600 Palestinian buildings since 2000, thousands more pending.

IDF bulldozer, road 298 (photo credit: AP)
IDF bulldozer, road 298
(photo credit: AP)
In the past seven years, Israel has denied 94 percent of Palestinian requests for building permits in West Bank areas under its full control, a UN agency said in a report Tuesday. During the same period, Israel demolished more than 1,600 Palestinian-owned structures in those areas, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The report also stated that more than 3,000 Israeli demolition orders are pending against Palestinian-owned structures in those areas. Ten small communities are at risk of being almost entirely displaced by demolitions, the agency claimed. The UN report studied building permits and demolitions in Area C, or the 61 percent of the West Bank where Israel retains full administrative control. Palestinians have greater administrative control in the remaining areas of the West Bank. The Civil Administration, which issues building permits and demolition orders, said the demolition orders are almost always issued early in cases of illegal construction, but are often ignored. Spokesman Maj. Peter Lerner said Israel has approved plans that would allow the construction of hundreds of homes, and that more such approvals are being considered. Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair told reporters earlier this month that Israel had agreed to reconsider some of the demolition orders. At least part of the built-up area of nearly 400 Palestinian villages falls in Area C, the report said. OCHA estimated that about 260,000 Palestinians, or about 10% of the West Bank's population, live in those areas. OCHA noted that, due to the difficulties in obtaining building permits, many Palestinians now build without seeking them.