Israeli police officers outside of illegal Arab settlement of Khan al-Ahmar
Israeli police officers outside of illegal Arab settlement of Khan al-AhmarHillel Meir/TPS

Former Education Minister Naftali Bennett (New Right) blasted the Netanyahu government Thursday, accusing it of turning a blind eye to illegal Arab construction and land grabs in Judea and Samaria.

Responding to a report released last week by the watchdog group Regavim, which monitors illegal construction in the Arab sector, Bennett said the Likud-led government was ‘afraid’ of dealing with the growing phenomenon of illegal Arab construction in Israeli-administered areas of Judea and Samaria.

“The Palestinians are stealing our country’s territory and the government is doing nothing. It is just terrible,” said Bennett.

Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas and the PA are “rushing forward with plans to effectively take over land in Judea and Samaria,” continued Bennett, “land that is under Israeli control in Area C, in order to create a Palestinian state. They are creating facts on the ground.”

Bennett claimed that the government was afraid of reining in the illegal construction wave, even as it clamped down on unauthorized construction by Israeli Jews.

“But anytime Israelis have an illegal porch, they come demolish it. That is a complete surrender, without any resistance. The government is quiet, and it is afraid.”

The former Education Minister cited the example of Khan al-Ahmar – an illegal Bedouin settlement built on Israeli land adjacent to the town of Kfar Adumim, east of Jerusalem.

While the Supreme Court has ordered Khan al-Ahmar’s demolition, the government has repeatedly postponed implementation of the order.

“Even the Supreme Court has ordered its demolition. But when it came to the cabinet vote, only Shaked and I voted in favor of immediate demolition. Everyone else, including Likud ministers and [Avidgor] Liberman…voted to delay. Netanyahu promised it would be demolished within weeks. And up until now, that still hasn’t happened.”

Last week, the Regavim NGO published a report on illegal Arab construction in Area C of Judea and Samaria, which is under full Israeli control.

According to the Regavim report, the number of illegal Arab structures built in Area C had doubled between 2009 and 2018, from 29,784 to 58,435.

The surge in illegal construction followed the Palestinian Authority’s publication a decade ago of the “Fayyad Plan”, named after then PA premier Salaam Fayyad, which sought to create facts on the ground in Israeli-controlled territory in Judea and Samaria in the hopes of forming the basis for a future Palestinian state.