Illegal Arab buildings
Illegal Arab buildingsRegavim

A petition filed by the Regavim movement in the High Court states that the Civil Administration and the Ministry of Defense have in recent years been following an internal procedure contrary to the Planning and Building Law, which has led to inaction regarding any enforcement against illegal Palestinian construction in Judea and Samaria. This, Regavim claims, has led to a sharp increase in illegal Arab buildings being built in the area.

According to the Planning and Building Law in Judea and Samaria, the law enforcement authorities have the authority to freeze enforcement proceedings against illegal construction only if the owner of the illegal structure submits an application for a building permit to the planning authorities, and the proceedings are halted until finally approved.

The petition reveals that in recent years the Civil Administration and the Ministry of Defense have formulated an internal, illegal work procedure, which stipulates that enforcement proceedings against illegal construction in Judea and Samaria must be automatically frozen if various statutory applications are submitted for the illegal structure, such as a master plan, a building permit, a legal appeal, a request for a stay of proceedings and a petition to the High Court, even if it is clear in advance that the requests have no legal chance due to lack of land ownership, lack of planning chances, and even a declared request for a "non-legal" halt.

The Regavim movement turned to the Civil Administration about a year ago, demanding that it receive the procedure in question alongside a legal opinion explaining the use of a procedure that is in conflict with the language of the law, as well as data on the extent of buildings whose construction was halted due to the law.

Last January the Civil Administration's responded, denying the very existence of this procedure, but Regavim managed to obtain a copy of it, and again demanded explanations regarding the legality of its use and the extent of the freezing enforcement. When the answers were not given, attorney Boaz Arazi filed a petition with the High Court to which the said procedure was attached. The High Court ordered the state to respond to the petition towards the end of October.

Meir Deutsch, director-general of the Regavim movement, explains the strategic risk created by the procedure: "Even when the many bureaucratic procedures are finally over, it will be an old illegal construction over which no one will try to enforce the law."

"This procedure is the silver platter on which the Palestinian state is based," adds Deutsch, "and those who invented this silver platter are the defense system's spokesmen. "This is how the Palestinian Authority is building without a break, submitting a series of idle requests that torpedo enforcement, and continuing to seize the next hill."

It should be noted that in contrast to the Freedom of Information Law applicable to the Ministry of Defense, the defense establishment has so far refused to pass on the data on the number of illegal structures against which enforcement proceedings to halt construction have been used.