The IDF's Legal Advisory for Judea and Samaria came under fire Monday during a heated session of a Knesset committee specializing in Judea and Samaria, which is chaired by MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home). The meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee's Subcommittee on Judea and Samaria was held to address waves of illegal Palestinian Arab and Bedouin building in Areas C of Judea and Samaria, which are under Israeli security and administrative control
Yogev said that PA Arabs have been building illegally with funds received from international bodies of a supposedly humanitarian nature. The meeting was attended by local government ("regional council") officials as well as representatives from the Defense Ministry, the IDF Civil Administration, the Israel police, the State Attorney's Office and the Foreign Ministry.
"There is no doubt that we face a harsh reality which raises questions for those responsible for enforcing law and order in Judea and Samaria," Yogev noted. "I will raise these issues with the Defense Minister, Justice Minister, and Foreign Minister and demand that a hearing be held to address illegal regulation of Bedouin construction, as well as land grabs through illegal construction by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and international organizations."
Tensions flared high at the accusation.
"You are cooperating [or collaborating] with the Palestinian Authority," Jordan Valley Regional Council Head David Elhayani fired off. "These are actions to our detriment. In my opinion, we are being discriminated against -- when the Palestinians come to you, you give them temporary orders [against Jewish construction] immediately! Do you know how many temporary orders are issued [at the request of] Jews?! Since the year 2000, you have done nothing!"
"You sit high on Mount Olympus and have no idea what the facts are on the ground," Elhayani accused.
When photo evidence of Arab illegal building surfaced in November, it was met with a conspicuous silence by the US and EU.
At first, the Palestinian Authority (PA) kept the buildings under black tarps, to prevent photos being taken and establishing proof of illegal building. Over time, these tarps have disappeared, revealing even more buildings in their wake. All of the buildings are in Area C, the area exclusively under Israeli control.
While Regavim, a watchdog group for Jewish national property rights, has asked the government several times to intervene, no action has yet been taken. The Civil Administration has reportedly posted signs forbidding the building -- but that is all.
The Knesset meeting was held just days after accusations were launched against Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon for stating that an illegal Arab outpost outside Ma'aleh Adumim, east of Jerusalem, will not be destroyed. The Attorney General's Office also stated recently that it does not intend to enforce the building laws against the PA Arabs, sparking fury and determination to uphold the law by rights organizations and nationalist MKs.