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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Illegal Arab construction in Jerusalem

Last week, the PA called on Arabs to strike to protest alleged plans by Israel to demolish Arab homes in East Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Municipality released a statement showing that the rumors were lies, and that the demolition orders were in a different area that had been zoned and used as public space since Ottoman times. Not only that, but this illegal Arab construction in the King's Garden brought with it a huge amount of destruction to priceless antiquities.

Usually, "human rights" advocates and Palestinian Arabs claim that Arabs are at a disadvantage as the vast majority of houses ordered demolished in Jerusalem are Arab and that it is next to impossible for Arab Jerusalemites to get legal permits. It turns out that this is a lie. From JCPA:
In the Jewish neighborhoods, illegal construction typically takes the form of additions to existing legal structures - such as closing a balcony or hollowing out under a building to create an extra room. In the Arab sector, however, illegal construction often takes the form of entire multi-floor buildings with 4 to 25 living units, built with the financial assistance of the Palestinian Authority on land that is not owned by the builder.
  • Illegal construction has reached epidemic proportions. A senior Palestinian official boasted that they have built 6,000 homes without permits during the last 4 years, of which less than 200 were demolished by the city.
  • This frantic pace of illegal construction continues despite the fact that the city has authorized more than 36,000 permits for new housing units in the Arab sector, more than enough to meet the needs of Arab residents through legal construction until 2020.
  • Arab residents who wish to build legally may consult urban plans translated into Arabic for their convenience and receive individual assistance from Arabic-speaking city employees.
  • Both Arabs and Jews typically wait 4-6 weeks for permit approval, enjoy a similar rate of application approvals, and pay an identical fee ($3,600) for water and sewage hook-ups on the same size living unit.
  • The same procedures for administrative demolition orders apply to both Jews and Arabs in all parts of the city, as a final backstop to remove structures built illegally on roadbeds or land designated for schools, clinics, and the like.
  • The Palestinian Authority and Arab governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an intentional campaign to subsidize and encourage massive illegal construction in the Arab sector, seeing this as part of their "demographic war" against Israel.
  • Many large, multi-story, luxury structures have been built by criminals on land they do not own, frequently land belonging to Palestinian Christians living abroad.
  • This epidemic of illegal construction is similar to illegal building that troubles cities in scores of countries worldwide and where the authorities utilize the law to demolish the structures.
  • More than any single factor, the 35-year-long boycott of municipal politics by the Palestinian leadership has resulted in the continued imbalance in municipal services in Arab neighborhoods vis-a-vis Jewish neighborhoods.
  • Despite frequent accusations that the city's planning policy seeks to "Judaize" Jerusalem, the Arab population of the city has increased since 1967 from 27% to 32%. Moreover, since 1967 new Arab construction has outpaced Jewish construction.
(h/t Daily Alert)