Shiloach (Silwan), Jerusalem
Shiloach (Silwan), JerusalemIsrael news photo: Yoni Kempinski

Fatah officials are urging Arabs to build illegally in the eastern section of the capital in order to establish new facts on the ground.

Hatem Abdel Qader, the Palestinian Authority minister who deals with Jerusalem affairs, predicted last week that Israel would lose a battle of demographics with the PA in the city if they continue building.

Calling for Arabs to build in response to the demolition of illegally-built homes in the Silwan (Shiloach) section of Jerusalem, Qader said the rate of demolitions would nevertheless be unable to match the pace of illegal construction.

To win the demographic battle against the Jewish “settlers,” as Qader referred to Jews who live in the areas of Jerusalem restored to the capital in the 1967 Six-Day War, the PA minister urged Arabs to pick up the speed of illegal construction.

According to a report by the Israel Broadcast Authority, the PA plans to actively promote Arab building and residences in northern, southern and eastern Jerusalem. The PA reportedly will pour more than $400 million through Arab financing into construction and tourism projects. The specific source of the Arab financing was not revealed, however.

The PA has had great difficulty in the past several years in persuading Arab nations to make good on their pledges of support for the cash-strapped entity. The United States and European Union have taken over the lions' share of the funding, with Arab nations pledging little and actually donating even less.

One reason for that, perhaps, may be the fact that the PA has yet to create the “solid institutions” governed with “transparency” spoken of by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere last December as he scheduled yet another international fund raising conference for April 2011. A PA expert who spoke at the United Nations Seminar of Assistance to the Palestinian People in 2010 noted that the large sums of foreign aid given to the PA were absorbed primarily by its armed “police” forces and the large PA public payroll rather than being used to develop the entity's social and economic infrastructure.