Thursday, February 18, 2016

Gov't quietly accepts EU-funded illegal Arab construction - David Rosenberg

by David Rosenberg

Government avoids enforcing demolition orders of EU-funded illegal buildings. Illegal Arab land grabs 'not a top priority,' say officials.

Reining in illegal Arab construction is simply “not a top priority” for the government, according to a statement the state conveyed to the Supreme Court.

The state was responding to demands that it carry out demolition orders issued against an illegally built Arab school just outside of Jerusalem. The school’s construction was funded by the European Union.

The Supreme Court subsequently dismissed the case on Wednesday, rejecting claims by Regavim, an NGO which monitors illegal construction in the Arab sector, that the state is intentionally avoiding enforcement of building laws.

“The state hasn’t renounced [its role] in enforcing the law”, argued the state’s counsel, “but right now there are other priorities, including security considerations regarding resources and manpower”.

But some are skeptical about the government’s claim.  MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) suggested that the government was purposely avoiding enforcement of the law in an attempt to curry favor with the European Union, even as the EU funds illegal construction across Judea and Samaria in violation of Israeli law.  

Smotrich noted the recent resumption of full relations between the Israeli government and the EU, blasting the apparent blind eye the state has turned to European support for illegal Arab land grabs.

“The European Union simply cannot blatantly violate Israeli law and try to determine the future borders of the State of Israel by creating facts on the ground,” said Smotrich.  

Illegal construction in the Arab sector has long been rampant on both sides of the Green Line.  In the past few years, however, the European Union has funded and coordinated illegal building across Judea and Samaria, often on state owned land, in an effort to create facts on the ground in strategically crucial areas.

On Wednesday afternoon, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely revealed that there were 1,000 illegal Arab buildings in Judea and Samaria which had been built with European funds.  This marks a dramatic increase from the roughly 400 such buildings which were constructed from 2012 through 2014. 

David Rosenberg


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