Eli Groner
Eli GronerArutz Sheva

The Knesset Interior Committee, led by MK David Amsalem (Likud), held a stormy discussion Monday about the burgeoning illegal construction in the Arab sector nationwide. The discussion followed a bill submitted to increase enforcement in the Arab sector.

The Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office, Eli Groner said that "the government's vision is that in future we will not be able to know to which sector a specific town belongs based on its infrastructure. We want to break the equation between Arab towns and "Wild West"-style chaos in planning and development."

MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint Arab List) interjected: "What do you mean Wild West? Where is the sheriff?"

Groner responded: "We are investing significant funds in realizing our vision. The funds were allocated for subsidizing, developing and constructing public buildings. In the Committee for Promoting Preferential Construction Areas we are promoting another 30,000 housing units in 14 Arab towns. An important aspect of implementation of this vision is the enforcement of law and order. It doesn't matter how much we invest, if the lack of enforcement persists, plans will not materialize and budgets will go down the drain."

Amsalem added that "We have to regulate the town plans and those who deviate from the rules should be treated accordingly. I want the committee to receive all the details- what are the plans and what is the extent of the problems."

MK Osama Saadi (Joint Arab List) claimed that "the Director-General of the Prime Ministers' Office is talking of conditioning budgets on enforcement. Just say that this law is intended for the Arab sector. In the other room they are discussing the Regulation Law. Here they are demolishing and there they are building."

Dov Khenin, the only Jewish member of the Joint Arab List, tried to explain that "nobody wants to build without a permit. The Arab population build without permits because they can't build with one. The land is their private land. Who is at fault for the lack of town plans? The state. Who pays the price? The Arab citizens. There is a connection between the discussion in the other room and ours- here they discuss the demolition of Arab houses built on their land and there they want to legitimate construction on private land which does not belong to them."

MK Akram Hasson (Kulanu) said that "the planning debacle has caused people to be felons. They are not violating the law because they like to. Somebody didn't plan. The state didn't give one plot to discharged soldiers in Usufiya [hometown of Hasson, a Druze member of Knesset]. Give us a chance to plan. We are 68 years behind you."

MK Zahalka emphasized that "we are not opposed to enforcement. Every plan requires enforcement. But there has to be a reasonable possibility for every citizen to build a house. I suggest that every building offense be examined according to law and if the responsibility for lack of planning is on the state, the citizen should be absolved. The state should be punished instead of presenting Arab civilians as Wild-West lawbreakers."