Index and Link to all issues of APN's "Settlements in Focus"
Acting Prime Minister Olmert is being accused by some of his opponents of using a double
standard - demolishing illegal settler construction but ignoring illegal "Arab" construction. Is
Opponents of the settlers both inside and outside the government - including Peace
Now - have long been accused, usually by settlers and their supporters, of caring only about
illegal construction being carried out in the settlements, and ignoring illegal construction
by "Arabs." This accusation generally reflects efforts to divert the public's focus from the
manifest illegality of settlers' actions.
The recent demolition of nine structures in the illegal outpost of Amona - a direct outcome
of a Peace Now petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice (for details see Settlements in Focus, Vol. 2, Issue 3) - has resulted in this
accusation being raised again and even more vehemently, especially in the context of the current
Israeli election campaign. For example, speaking on Israeli Army Radio, MK Uzi Landau, a staunch
supporter of the settlers, stated, "If Olmert had only the rule of law in mind, he would treat
everyone equally. The Palestinians build more than 1,000 illegal homes in the Jerusalem region
every year. But he (Olmert) takes care of nine homes in Amona."
An examination of Israeli past and current policies and practices in the West Bank, East
Jerusalem, and Arab communities inside Israel, reveals that the accusation is wholly unfounded and
that, to the contrary, it is the settlers who have consistently benefited from a double
Does Peace Now maintain a double standard?
Peace Now believes that real security for Israel can only be achieved through peace with its
neighbors, including the Palestinians. The organization's mission is to work to promote policies
that bring Israel closer to peace, and to fight against short-sighted, dangerous policies that take
Israel in the opposite direction. Peace Now does not generally involve itself in any issues that
are not directly linked to this mission and mandate, including issues like illegal construction by
Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.
Peace Now objects to the settlements for precisely the same reason that many in the
settlement movement support them: they prevent the emergence of a viable, contiguous Palestinian
state - a state some settlers view as anathema to Israel's existence and future, and a state that
Peace Now believes must come into being if Israel has any hope of continuing to exist as a Jewish,
democratic state. Peace Now also objects to settlements because they compromise Israel's security.
Settlements and settlement outposts stretch Israel's lines of defense, forcing the IDF to shift
resources from preventing terrorist attacks in Israel to protecting the lives, homes, and
transportation routes of those few Israelis living in the heart of Palestinian populations.
Settlements also compromise Israel's ability to build stronger defenses along the Green Line,
leaving large numbers of Israelis outside Israel's line of defense, or, where the route of the
barrier is contorted to include settlements, sweeping large numbers of Palestinians inside Israel's
line of defense. In addition, settlements are a drain on Israel's already beleaguered budget, with
significant direct government funding for construction, as well as substantial indirect government
funding that affords settlers a wide range of income, education, housing, and transportation
subsidies and incentives.
Is this really an issue of rule of law or just another way to attack the settlers?
For decades the settlers have brazenly trampled Israeli law and manipulated the Israeli legal
system for their own purposes. Since the inception of the settlement movement in the 1970s, settler
leaders and their supporters in successive Israeli governments have systematically subverted
Israeli laws and official bodies to support these illegal activities, in the process making a
mockery of the rule of law. For more information, see Settlements in Focus Vol. 1, Issue 10, which focuses on the
birth of the settlement movement.
It is appropriate to use all available legal tools to confront these illegal actions,
including recourse to the Israeli High Court of Justice in the case where the responsible Israeli
authorities appear unwilling to enforce Israeli law.
Is illegal construction by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs unimportant to the future of Israel
and a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
While illegal construction by Palestinians in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, or by Israeli
Arabs inside Israel, may be of serious concern to planners, inspectors, and law enforcement, such
construction is not a key element in determining the viability of a future peace agreement between
Israel and the Palestinians.
At the same time, some of the complaints of the settlers are very serious and as such, need
to be examined. Particularly serious are their claims that Israeli authorities discriminate against
the settlers in the enforcement of laws relating to construction and construction violations, while
ignoring violations by Palestinians and Arab citizens of Israel. Such complaints cannot simply be
dismissed, but merit careful examination to determine if they are true, and if not, what the real
Is it true that settlers are discriminated against in terms of enforcement of laws regarding
illegal construction, while "Arab" illegal construction is permitted to flourish?
No. The complaints of the settlers and their supporters are entirely without foundation. An
examination of the situation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Arab population centers inside
Israel leads to the inescapable conclusion that the settlers have benefited from discriminatory
policies in all aspects of construction: availability of land, provision and flexibility of
planning, and availability of building permits. Settlers have also benefited from the virtual
absence of enforcement of laws regarding illegal construction.
At the same time, Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Arab citizens of
Israel have faced systematic, formalized discrimination in terms of building permits, planning, and
land use, and have suffered from discriminatory enforcement of laws regarding illegal
Is all illegal construction equal?
In a situation where everyone had the same rights and was afforded the same treatment by the
government and law enforcement authorities, it would indeed be the case that all illegal
construction would be equal. However, in Israel and the West Bank, the situation is not this
simple. There are fundamental differences between the illegal construction being carried out in the
settlements and outposts on the one hand, and the illegal construction being carried out by
Palestinians in the West Bank, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, and Arab citizens of
Israel, on the other. These difference revolve around the reasons behind the illegal construction,
the nature of that construction itself (who is doing it and to whom the land belongs), and the
extent to which the law is enforced against the violations and violators. All of these are
discussed in greater detail, below.
This raises an important point. In their complaints and accusations, the settlers' advocates
raise the specter of unchecked illegal "Arab" construction, failing to distinguish between
construction within Israel pre-1967 borders, in East Jerusalem, and in the West Bank. In terms of
land use and construction issues, the common denominator for those seeking to play the "Arab" card
in Israeli politics is that "Arabs" live in these areas. However, other than this self-evident
fact, these areas fall under entirely different legal and/or political regimes, and their land use
issues are entirely distinct. Thus, any serious discussion of illegal construction by "Arabs" must
look, separately, at the phenomena of illegal construction in the West Bank, in East Jerusalem, and
inside the State of Israel.
What is the legal and/or political context in the West Bank?
From 1967 until 1993, Israel had total control over the West Bank. During this
period, Israel controlled all aspects of life in these areas. This included control over
Palestinian planning and construction, and during this period Israel carried out many home
demolitions based both on planning/permit violations and for punitive purposes (e.g., to
punish the family of a terrorist).
The 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords changed this situation, dividing the West Bank into
three areas: Areas A, B, and C. The vast majority of the Palestinian population of the West Bank
resides in areas A and B, which constitute around 40% of the West Bank and in which the Palestinian
Authority has civilian control (which includes control over planning and construction). Area C,
constituting around 60% of the area of the West Bank, includes all of the Israeli settlements of
the West Bank (with the exception of the settlements inside Hebron, which has its own
classification, H2, which for all intents and purposes is the same as Area C). Around 250,000
Israelis and around 40,000 Palestinians live in Area C, and Israel retains complete control in this
area, including authority over the mechanisms governing Palestinian construction and land
In 2002 the Israeli human rights organization "B'Tselem" published a report entitled "Land
Grab," detailing Israeli policies and practices in the West Bank regarding land use. With respect
to land planning and use, the report noted:
"The planning system in the West Bank, which is implemented by the Civil Administration
[an arm of the Israeli Defense Ministry], has decisive effect over the map of the West Bank.
...The planning system operates along two separate tracks - one for Jews and the other for
Palestinians. While the system works vigorously to establish and expand settlements, it also
acts diligently to prevent the expansion of Palestinian towns and villages. ...The Israeli
planning system in the West Bank utilized its power to advance the political interests of the
Israeli government in power rather than to benefit the local population.
"...Over the years, the main tool used by Israel to restrict building by the Palestinian
population outside the borders of the municipalities was simply to refrain from planning. ...As
a result, until the transfer of authority to the Palestinian Authority (and to this day, in
Area C), two regional plans prepared in the 1940s by the British Mandate continue to
apply...Areas in which these plans permitted building, generally around existing built-up
areas, were quickly exploited, while most of the area of the West Bank continued to be zoned as
'agricultural areas' or 'nature reserves', where building is prohibited.
"In the early 1990, the Central Planning Bureau of the Civil Administration prepared
Special Partial Outline Plans for some 400 villages in the West Bank....Instead of permitting
the development of the villages, these plans effectively constituted demarcation plans...Aerial
photographs were taken of each village, and a schematic line was then added around the settled
area. Construction was prohibited on land outside this line.Applications filed in the past by
Palestinian residents to the Civil Administration (and still filed, in the case of Area C) for
building on private land outside the area of these plans are almost always rejected. The
reasons for the rejections are based both on the demarcation plans (the land is outside the
plan area) and on the Mandatory outline plans (the area is zoned for agriculture or a nature
reserve). For example, between 1996 and 1999, the Civil Administration issued just 79 building
permits. The Civil Administration issued demolition orders against houses built without a
"...almost all the general local outline plans for the settlements are filed with the
Supreme Planning Council as an 'amendment to Regional Outline Plan S-15 or RJ-5'. This allows
the military planning system to authorize the establishment of new settlements and the
expansion of existing ones, on the other hand, without waiving the Mandatory outline plans,
which are effectively used to restrict the expansion of Palestinian communities, on the other
(For the complete report, see: http://www.btselem.org/Download/200205_Land_Grab_Eng.pdf)
What is the legal and/or political context in East Jerusalem?
Immediately after the end of the 1967 War, Israel announced the expansion of Jerusalem's
jurisdiction, particularly east of the Green Line, in the direction of the areas of the West Bank
which had been conquered during the war. This expansion added around 70,000 dunams to Jerusalem,
land that included 28 Palestinian villages that were home to some 70,000 Palestinians. Over time
the Palestinian population of the newly expanded Jerusalem grew, and today, there are around
230,000 Palestinians residing in Jerusalem, constituting over one-third of the city's
Almost all of the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are not citizens of Israel but
rather are considered "permanent residents." They do not have the right to vote for the Knesset,
but they do have the right to work in Israel. They are required to pay National Insurance and
health taxes, and are eligible to receive social benefits, health services, and National Insurance
pensions. They pay income and property taxes, and are entitled to vote in Jerusalem municipal
elections and be elected to the city council. In reality, very few Palestinians vote in the
municipal elections, believing that to do so could be interpreted as recognition of Israeli rule
over East Jerusalem. An inevitable result of this voluntary abstention from municipal elections is
that Palestinians of East Jerusalem are largely excluded from decision-making, and their needs are
largely ignored or neglected by elected officials.
The phenomenon of illegal construction is widespread in Jerusalem. However, contrary to the
statements of settler organizations (many of whom are dedicated to efforts to take over all of East
Jerusalem), most of this illegal construction is in the Jewish sector. A 2004 report prepared by
"Bimkom" (a highly-respected Israeli non-governmental organization which focuses on planning
rights) in collaboration with the "Ir Shalem" (a highly respected Israeli non-governmental
organization, no longer in operation, that dealt with issues related to Jerusalem) detailed
official data from the Municipality of Jerusalem. This data showed that 82% of the construction
registered between 1996 and 2001 was in Jewish neighborhoods of the city, compared to only 18% in
the Arab neighborhoods. Regarding the issue of land and construction in Jerusalem, the Bimkom/Ir
Shalem report noted:
"In June 1967, following the annexation of the eastern portion of the city to the
jurisdiction limits of Jerusalem, approx. 69,000 Palestinian residents were added to the city.
The result was that the relative percentage of Jewish population in the city dropped from 97%
to 74%. In 1973, the Israeli government adopted the inter-ministerial committee's
recommendation to examine the rate of development in Jerusalem (the Gafni Committee) in order
to maintain 'the relative ratio of Jews and Arabs to the levels of late 1972', that is, 73.5%
Jews and 25.5 Palestinians. Over the years, the Ministerial Committee for Jerusalem Affairs
repeatedly approved this objective as the guiding principle for determining planning policy in
Jerusalem...This principle is called the 'demographic balance' by policy makers and
".The attempt to maintain the 'demographic balance' has been expressed throughout the
years, not only through development and accelerated construction in the Jewish neighborhoods in
order to increase the number of Jewish residents in the city, but also an attempt to limit - in
fact or by omission - development and construction for the Palestinian population. The attempt
to maintain a 'demographic balance' in face of the more rapid natural growth among the
Palestinian population strikes at the accepted planning considerations and distorts them. In
fact, the 'demographic balance' has been the cause for the limits placed upon construction by
the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem."
(For the full report available in Hebrew only, see: http://www.bimkom.org/dynContent/articles/Deadlock%202.1.pdf)
What is the political and/or legal context in Arab communities inside pre-1967 Israel?
There is a great deal of illegal construction taking place inside Israel, both in the Jewish
and Arab sectors. According to Israel's Ministry of Interior there are presently 16,000-17,000
illegal houses in the Jewish sector, and around 30,000 in the Arab/Bedouin sector. The majority of
the latter are in the Bedouin sector, which is dealt with in detail below.
Today, there are over one million Arab citizens of Israel, constituting about 20% of Israel's
citizens. They live primarily in three main regions: the Lower and Upper Galilee, the "Triangle"
(stretching from Wadi 'Ara to Kafr Kassem), and the Negev. Human rights and civil rights
organizations inside Israel - as well as official Israeli government commissions and studies - have
documented the systematic neglect and discrimination these communities have faced since 1948. Such
neglect and discrimination has extended to land use, construction permits, and zoning regulations.
Following the October 2000 confrontations between Israeli security forces and Arab citizens of
Israel in some of these communities (which resulted in the deaths of 12 Arab citizens of Israel and
one Gaza resident), the government of Israel established the Orr Commission - a high-level
commission of inquiry charged with examining the events and their causes. The Commission's report,
released in September 2003, included extensive discussion of the issues of land and land use,
"...During the first years of its existence, the State appropriated extensive areas of
Arab lands. ...The lands were transferred to the possession of groups, such as the Jewish
National Fund and by definition, were earmarked to serve the Jewish settlement, or to the
Israel Lands Administration, which, by virtue of definition, served the same purposes. Hundreds
of Jewish settlements arose on confiscated land, including new cities such as Upper Nazareth
and Karmiel...One of the results of these actions was a drastic reduction in the amount of land
belonging to the Arab settlements. For example, during the Mandate period and until the end of
the 1970's, there were approx. 70,000 dunams of 'village lands' in [the Israeli Arab town of]
Sakhnin. By the end of the last century, the jurisdiction extended to 9,700 dunams, and the
area of the urban master plan was only 4,450 dunams. As a result, and part of the urban master
plan, there remained only 191 sq.m. per person in Sakhnin, while in Karmiel, the ratio was 524
sq.m. per person."
With respect to land use and construction by Arab citizens of Israel, the Orr Commission's
"Many Arab villages were surrounded by security regions, Jewish Regional Councils,
national parks and nature reserves, highways, etc., which prevented, or at least reduced the
possibility of their expanding in the future. The need for areas dedicated to industry and
businesses, commercial areas and public buildings has increased with the growth of population
in the Arab settlements. Many villages do not have a reserve of land required for this.
"The main obstacle to building residences within the area of Arab settlements was the
lack of outline plans and master plans. The preparations and update of such plans is always
time-consuming, but sometimes, in the Arab sector, there were unreasonable delays. One can also
add the lack of effective Arab representation in the planning and construction committees. Arab
representatives were not allowed to participate in the national and the regional committees, or
they were only allowed symbolic representation. In many cases, local committees were not even
established in Arab settlements and instead, they were attached to district committees that
were run by Jews. The result was that decisions with regard to the development of Arab
settlements were not very sensitive to the needs of the Arab population. Even after plans were
accelerated the 1990's, at the end of the century, approx. half of the Arab settlements did not
have an approved master plan enabling them to expand their built-up area, and most of them did
not have an approved outline plan.
"As a result, in large sections of the jurisdiction, owners of private lands were unable
to build houses legally. The phenomenon of building without a permit spread widely, partly as a
direct result of not being able to receive building permits. This was orderly illegal
construction, usually of two-family houses. Demolition injunctions were issued against Arab
houses in the Galilee, the Negev, in the Triangle and in the mixed cities."
With respect to Arab citizens of Israel who are part of the Bedouin sector, the Orr
Commission's report also touches on the inherent conflict between a centralized, modern state and
those groups who wish to retain a nomadic or semi-nomadic ways of life:
"There has existed a land dispute between the State and the Bedouins since the first days
of the existence of the State. Government policy strived to register most of the land used by
the Bedouins in the Galilee and in the Negev in its [the State's] name, and to concentrate the
Bedouins in a number of designed settlements. The Bedouins opposed this policy, claiming their
right to the land. The State invested efforts in attempts to reach settlements regarding the
disputed land, but until 2000, settlements were only reached regarding 140,000 dunams, only a
small portion of the disputed land."
The Report also drew attention to another largely unknown aspect of the land conflict - the
issue of unrecognized Arab towns:
"Another problem, and one which affects mainly Bedouin citizens, is the problem of Arab
communities that have not been officially recognized by the Ministry of the Interior....Since
the communities are not recognized, they have not been provided with infrastructures or
services, and in many places, there is no running water, electricity, roads or sewage, and
there are no health clinics or schools. A few of these communities in the North have been
recognized retroactively. The great majority of the residents of these unrecognized communities
were required to move to a number of centralized communities that had been planned for them.
The State acted to enforce the law in those communities and in the areas used by their
residents, usually by submitting legal demands to remove them from the area and implementing
demolition injunctions for hundreds of houses."
The following lines, also taken from the Orr Commission Report, are worth reading
"Beyond disputes over specific areas, there are apprehensions within the Arab sector with
regard to the State's intentions in this matter. The voices which are heard from within Jewish
society regarding the need to 'Judaicize' regions which contain large concentrations of Arab
population, and of the 'demographic danger' which exists there, have given rise to a feeling of
insecurity. The removal of Arabs from competent planning institutions has increased the
The Orr Commission's report can be viewed (in Hebrew) at: http://elyon1.court.gov.il/heb/veadot/or/inside_index.htm
A summary of the report in English can be viewed at:
Given all of the above, how can we compare illegal construction?
Illegal construction can be analyzed and compared on the basis of four questions: Why are the
people building illegally? Who is building? Where are they building? And what is the status of law
enforcement efforts in response to this illegal construction?
Why are people building illegally?
Settlers: For decades the settlers have been granted large areas of West
Bank land on which build and expand sprawling settlements (where the ratio of land to people
exceeds that of any Palestinian village) - land designated for their exclusive use. Illegal
construction by the settlers generally reflects not the absence of the opportunity to build
legally, but a deliberate decision to flout Israeli law for political and ideological reasons.
Their goal, in these cases, is to seize, by whatever means necessary, the maximum amount of
land, with the implicit and sometimes explicit collusion of Israeli authorities.
West Bank Palestinians: Illegal Palestinian construction in Area C can
be attributed mainly to the existence of a body of policies that make legal construction, even
to meet the natural growth needs of Palestinian communities, virtually impossible. Despite the
fact that the Palestinian public accounts for over 90% of the West Bank population (approx. 2.5
million inhabitants), they are effectively barred from construction on 60% of the land, due to
Israeli zoning and planning policies. As a result, the Palestinians have very little area on
which they may legally build, and even in these areas, they are generally unable to receive
construction permits from Israel (including permits to build on land they own, and whose
ownership Israel does not dispute). An interesting exception to this rule is the case of the
Palestinian "outpost" near the village of Bil'in - where Palestinians have erected a structure
on privately-owned Palestinian land for the express purpose of demonstrating the double
standards Israel employs with respect to building violations in Area C (i.e., the Palestinian
"outpost" was demolished within hours of being erected, while outposts erected by Jewish
settlers are allowed to remain in place until the High Court of Justice forces the State to
take action). For details of the Palestinian outpost, see Settlements in Focus, Vol. 2, Issue 1.
Palestinians in East Jerusalem: Since 1967, the Government of Israel and
the Jerusalem municipality have imposed policies and practices designed to limit the number of
Palestinians in Jerusalem and block the expansion of their neighborhoods. Indeed, the "natural
growth" needs often cited by the settlers as a pretext for new settlement construction are not
only neglected in urban planning for East Jerusalem Palestinians, but for decades the planning
has expressly worked to thwart such growth. Massive land expropriations for Jewish settlements
in East Jerusalem, withholding of updated neighborhood plans (without which neighborhoods
cannot expand), and rejection of applications for new construction on private land, have left
very little opportunity for legal construction in the Arab neighborhoods of East
Arab citizens of Israel: Illegal construction carried out by Israeli
Arabs is, first and foremost, the result of longstanding discriminatory policies and practices
of the State of Israel, as described by the Orr Commission. These include zoning practices,
land expropriations, and denial of building permits.
Who is doing the building?
Settlers: As documented in the Sasson report - a comprehensive report on
illegal settlement outposts written by Attorney Talia Sasson, from the Attorney General's
office, at the request of Prime Minister Sharon (for more details see: http://www.peacenow.org/hot.asp?cid=390) - most illegal settler
construction is undertaken by settlers, in coordination with their own local authorities (e.g.,
regional councils which are recognized by and receive funding from the Government of Israel),
allies within government ministries, and quasi-governmental agencies like the World Zionist
Organization (WZO). Such construction is sometimes even funded by or through such official
bodies. Moreover, such illegal construction is aided and abetted by Israeli official bodies and
agents, some of whom are the same ones who should be enforcing construction and planning laws.
Such aid includes turning a blind eye to illegal construction, approving illegal construction
after the fact, and supporting and subsidizing the illegal construction through the provision
of security, roads, and other infrastructure.
West Bank Palestinians: Palestinian illegal construction in the West
Bank is private, undertaken generally by the owners of the land for their own use, and
Palestinians in East Jerusalem: Like in the West Bank, Palestinian
illegal construction in East Jerusalem is private - landowners building on their own land and
financing their own construction.
Arab citizens of Israel: Illegal construction in Israel's Arab sector is
private - initiated and financed generally by the owners of the land in question.
Where is the illegal construction occurring?
Settlers: Most of the illegal construction by the settlers is carried
out on State land, survey land (where the question of ownership is still being verified), and
privately-owned Palestinian land. Thus, the crime is not only one of lack of building permits,
but illegal use of lands that do not belong to the settlers, and in the case of privately-owned
Palestinian land, outright land theft.
West Bank Palestinians: Most Palestinian illegal construction in the
West Bank is carried out on land that is Palestinian-owned, the crime being one of a lack of
permits, rather than use of land that does not belong to them.
Palestinians in East Jerusalem: In East Jerusalem, the vast majority of
illegal construction by Palestinians is taking place on land privately owned by the
Palestinians. The crime here, again, is the lack of permits, rather than use of land that does
not belong to them.
Arab citizens of Israel: Setting aside the case of the Bedouin (who
dispute land ownership with the State), illegal construction in Israel's Arab sector is nearly
always carried out on privately-owned lands, by the legal owners of those lands. Here again,
the crime is the lack of permits, rather than use of land that does not belong to them.
Is the law enforced equally regarding illegal construction?
Settlers: With the notable exception of the nine structures demolished
in January 2006 at the illegal outpost of Amona, the Civil Administration never carries out
demolition orders against buildings illegally erected by settlers, even while the State admits
that there are thousands of houses in settlements that have been constructed illegally (as
discussed in the Sasson Report).
West Bank Palestinians: There is very active enforcement of law
regarding illegal Palestinian construction in the West Bank. According to the Israeli Committee
Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) http://www.icahd.org/eng/articles.asp?menu=6&submenu=2&article=198,
the Civil Administration reported that in the five years between the beginning of 2000 and the
end of 2004, 1000 civil demolition orders were carried out in the occupied territories. Since
orders sometimes include multiple structures, it is likely that the actual number of buildings
demolished is much higher (this number does not include buildings that were demolished in order
to punish terrorists and their families, or for security reasons).
Palestinians in East Jerusalem: There is very active enforcement of law
against illegal construction in Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. During 2005 alone
(when not a single permanent illegal settler structure was demolished in the West Bank), the
Jerusalem municipality demolished approximately 100 Palestinians homes in East Jerusalem for
the crime of being built without permits. Over the past five years, an estimated 450
Palestinian-owned homes have been demolished in East Jerusalem.
It is instructive, in this case, to also compare the law enforcement practices regarding
illegal construction in the Jerusalem's Palestinian sector versus enforcement in Jerusalem's
Jewish sector. As discussed earlier, official figures provided by the Municipality reveal that
the majority of construction violations in Jerusalem are in the Jewish sector (82% in the
Jewish sector vs. 18% in the Arab sector for 1996-2001). However, Municipality figures also
reveal that this ratio was reversed with respect to enforcement against illegal construction
during the same period - with 80% of the demolitions that are carried out occurring in the
Palestinian sector, versus 20% in the Jewish sector.
Arab citizens of Israel: An expert opinion submitted to the Orr
Commission by the prominent Israeli geographer Professor Oren Yiftahel details some of the
clear evidence of discrimination with respect to land use inside Israel, noting that: Arabs
constitute almost 20% of Israel's citizens, but the jurisdiction of the Arab townships only
covers 2.5% of the country's area; 80% of the State's lands are, in effect, blocked from use by
the Arab population; and since Israel was established in 1948, the State of Israel has not
permitted the establishment of any new Arab townships, with the exception of Bedouin townships
in the Negev (part of the effort to forcefully "settle" the Bedouin population). This is in
contrast to the 700 new Jewish townships Yiftahel reports have been established (for the full
text of Professor Yiftahel's opinion, see: http://www.orwatch.org/deot/expert_opinion_yiftahel.pdf
. This is also clearly in contrast to the easy access settlers have to land, planning,
and construction permits.
In addition, it is estimated that approximately 70,000 Arab citizens of Israel reside in
villages - some of which have been existence since before 1948 - which the State of Israel
refuses to "recognize." As a result, the State considers these villages illegal and refuses to
link them up to infrastructure or provide basic services. On the other hand, the State has
recognized dozens of illegal settlement outposts by them granting them post-facto legality, and
even those outposts that have not been recognized are often linked, with the collusion of some
State authorities, to infrastructure and basic services. As reported in the Sasson Report,
illegal construction by settlers enjoys the help and finance of the very authorities who are
supposed to be enforcing the law.
Index and Link to all issues of APN's "Settlements in Focus"
Produced by Dror Etkes, Settlements Watch Director, Peace Now (Israel),
Lara Friedman, Government Relations Director, Americans for