Mansour Abbas, head of UAL, in the Knesset
Mansour Abbas, head of UAL, in the Knesset Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

Last week, the United Arab List (Ra'am) presented draft legislation that would approve the connection of tens of thousands of illegally built homes in the Arab sector to the electricity grid.

According to Yuval Segev of Army Radio (Galei Tzahal), the government is seeking to make a deal with the Joint List, in which in return for the coalition passing the “Electricity Law” in the Knesset’s next session, the predominantly Arab Joint List will either vote in favor of the state budget, or absent itself from the vote.

It should be stressed that this is not a new law, but rather one that was first passed in the ‘90s as a “temporary necessity” for just two years. It was then extended on an annual basis, creating a de facto situation of approval of thousands of illegal construction projects in the Arab sector; but in 2007, the law was finally allowed to lapse.

“Ever since, the Arab parties in the Knesset have been attempting to revive it, making no less than 10 attempts to pass this dangerous law – attempts which were blocked by the Zionist parties who made sure that the legislation did not pass,” said a spokesperson from the Regavim organization.

“Passing the law would effectively award a prize to criminal activity, and ensuring that illegally built homes cannot be connected to the electricity grid is one of the most effective tools at the State’s disposal for discouraging such illegal construction. If this new draft legislation now passes, it will have the de facto effect of granting legitimacy to tens of thousands of homes built illegally by Arabs.

“We must not tolerate a situation in which there are essentially two separate systems of justice and legal enforcement in the State of Israel,” Regavim’s statement continues, “with construction laws being rigorously enforced in the Jewish sector whereas in the Arab sector, homes that have been slated for demolition by the courts are not only not demolished but are actually connected to the state’s infrastructure. We demand of Prime Minister Bennett, Interior Minister Shaked, Construction Minister Elkin, and Justice Minister Sa’ar, that they issue a clear statement, right now, that this draft legislation is headed for the shredder.”