Moshe Ya'alon
Moshe Ya'alon Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) had no choice but to essentially concede to figures presented against him in a question session at the Knesset on Wednesday by MK Orit Struk (Jewish Home), which reveal the unfair practices against Jews in Judea and Samaria.

Struk began by responding to Ya'alon's plan to heighten criminal enforcement of construction crimes, noting there is enforcement on only 2% of construction crimes inside sovereign Israeli territory, with percentages much higher in Judea and Samaria.

The IDF Civil Administration under Ya'alon's guidance does not demand from the Palestinian Authority (PA) construction outline plans or building permits in the region, said Struk, observing that as a result Ya'alon's plan "will only go against Jews."

"According to the figures that your people presented in the Knesset, demolitions of homes in the Jewish sector are conducted at much higher percentages than in the Arab sector," said Struk. "In the Jewish sector they destroy over a third, and in the Arab sector less than a quarter is destroyed. These are the figures that you all presented."

Struk further noted that Ya'alon had answered a question of hers before, saying that the Civil Administration is advancing 31 Arab construction projects in Area C - regions designated under the 1993 Oslo Accord as being under full Israeli administration - "and not even a single Israeli project."

Raising yet another troubling point, Struk continued by saying that members of Ya'alon's Defense Ministry had told her "the Civil Administration is investing money and human resources into illegal Palestinian outposts for electricity," which the residents don't pay for.

The MK then cited a report by the Regavim movement, which revealed that in 2014 alone in the Gush Adumim region of Israeli communities to the east of Jerusalem, nearly 1,000 illegal buildings were constructed by the PA on Israeli state land in an astonishing land grab.

Illustrating the lack of enforcement against Arab infringements, she further cited the Civil Administration head, who said in the Knesset he doesn't feel comfortable issuing demolition orders when he knows that most of them will not be enforced, so he is considering to stop issuing demolition orders.

"How do you live with that? Where's the equality?" asked Struk after the string of points she raised, before turning the forum over to Ya'alon to respond.

Making order - what kind?

Ya'alon in his response tried to avoid the issue somewhat by saying the absolute numbers of demolitions of illegal Arab buildings is higher that that of Jewish building, even if the percentage is much lower given the fact that there is so much more illegal Arab construction.

The point of course does not negate that facts are being changed on the ground in favor of Arab control of the region, due to the greater relative likelihood Jewish buildings have of being destroyed, along with the severe building freeze of Jewish construction gripping the area amid a housing crisis. 

Ya'alon defended the one-sided building projects in Area C for Arab residents, saying it was so as to "make order," and therefore they had been allowed to build so as to impose an "order" on the region's construction and enforce violations. He did not reference the fact that no Jewish projects had been granted.

Gush Adumim is a known problem according to Ya'alon, who noted there are High Court orders stopping demolitions and that quite often there is Arab building on Shabbat when there is no building enforcement so as to quickly create facts on the ground.

Regarding the unfair status in Judea and Samaria, a forum of Struk's Jewish Home party in the region on Monday called on the party's representatives in the Knesset to demand answers as to why there is a freeze on Jewish construction, expressing their shock that the party continues to sit in a coalition imposing such a freeze.

The exchange between Struk and Ya'alon, in Hebrew, can be seen here: