Illegal Arab construction over the 'Green Line'
Illegal Arab construction over the 'Green Line' Regavim

Has the government found a new way to authorize illegal Palestinian construction via a back-door in the law?

According to a report in Israel Hayom, thousands of illegally built Palestinian homes may be about to be legalized under the guise of "building in the Bedouin sector." A new procedure within the Civil Administration, which directs all aspects of life "over the Green Line," appears to permit PA Arabs to submit requests for regularizing the status of their illegally built structures, if they were built before the year 2011, under the heading: "Submission of requests for regularization of structures in the Bedouin sector."

Furthermore, PA Arabs will be able to request regularization for buildings that already have a demolition order issued against them, and to submit requests to have those demolition orders postponed for the meantime.

Parallel to this development, another new procedure will make it far easier for PA Arabs to build new structures beyond the limits of their towns and villages. This procedure establishes that, "Under the authority of the head of the Civil Administration to make individual exceptions in extenuating circumstances ... taking into account the special importance of regularizing the situation for the local population where there is pre-existing construction ... and where the current limits of construction are too constraining..." and clarifies that no further amendments will be necessary in order to commence building.

Although the manner in which the laws will be applied is unclear, Settlement leaders are already concerned that the new procedures will lead to a vast increase in construction by PA Arabs beyond their current towns and villages, and that objections to this construction will not be taken into consideration. "In theory, they can now even build skyscrapers without taking into account the necessary infrastructure or the associated dangers," they say.

Another new procedure which has infuriated Settlement leaders is one that has been implemented in line with directives from the Supreme Court, requiring announcements of construction plans in Jewish areas in Judea and Samaria to be published in Arabic as well as in Hebrew. This change in the law will not apply to "pre-1967 Israel." Aside from adding to the cost of all the necessary bureaucratic procedures, there is no obvious reason for the new rule, as the building plans concerned are within Jewish communities and have no impact on PA Arabs.

"These are draconian moves that have been made without any coordination whatsoever, with no discussion and no planning and oversight procedures," said Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi. "This is war against the Settlement enterprise and no one is even paying attention. They are actively encouraging illegal construction in Area C and smoothing the way to have this construction authorized, even as the laws applying to Jewish construction are being ever more strictly enforced."

The governmental department for liaison with the Civil Adminstration noted in a statement that, "The procedures determine which cases of allocations and permissions for the planning of state lands will be published in Judea and Samaria, and do not deal with applications for building permits or distinguish between the various populations."