Illegal Arab construction
Illegal Arab construction Israel news photo: Dov Barak

The State Prosecutor's office is establishing a team to examine government enforcement policy on illegal construction in Jerusalem.

The team will be tasked with examining building violations and the enforcement of relevant laws, especially in eastern Jerusalem where the amount of illegal construction far outstrips the number of demolitons carried out.

According to Israel's Channel 2 Radio, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided to form the new team after receiving an appeal from the "Legal Forum for the Land of Israel," which has been tracking the pervasive problem of illegal building in Jerusalem.

Prosecutors said a new draft outline for land-use policy enforcement in Jerusalem is already in development in light of the fact that the implementation of demolition orders has "significantly tapered off" in recent years.

In addition to examining the disparity of illegal construction to demolition orders, and the failure to implement those orders that are issued, the new team will also review the "enforcement priorities" that led to the current situation.

The current land-use enforcement policy was drafted six years ago by the Ministry of Justice, and gave security officials significant autonomy in prioritizing the execution of demolition orders.

Access to many of the municipal areas where illegal construction is booming is controlled by the IDF, due to their location beyond Israel's security wall that winds through western Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem.

Activists charge senior IDF and police officials systemically refused to carry out demolition orders in eastern Jerusalem, or even allow inspectors access, frequently citing "security concerns" as the reason for inaction.

In a letter informing the Supreme Court of the team's creation, prosecutors asserted that "enforcement policy must dictate enforcement priorities," signifying the enforcement autonomy enjoyed by security officials may be coming to an end.