The Israel army almost automatically rejects building permits for Palestinians in 60 percent of the West Bank. One of the least sexy aspects of the conflict, a new court case aims to challenge the discriminatory regime of building permits and planning.
The Israeli High Court of Justice on Monday will hear a petition asking to restore planning rights in Area C of the West Bank to Palestinian local and district planning committees, which were abolished by the Israeli military in 1971.
The petitioners, local Palestinian leaders and Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations, hope to give Palestinians a say in the use of land and resources, redress discrimination compared to Israeli settlers, and scale back military control over their lives. They seek to turn residential planning over to civil bodies, instead of the IDF which administers the land today.
If that sounds boring, it is. Terrorism, stone throwing, tear gas, juvenile detention, weapons smuggling, hilltop youth and even the peace process are the sexy topics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Planning rights in Area C are bureaucratic and impenetrable.
The sexy parts of the conflict easily distract from the daily lives of 150,000 Palestinians (the UN says it may be double that, Naftali Bennett thinks it’s less) who live under military rule and under the shadow of IDF bulldozers. Their requests for building permits from the military planning authority are almost automatically denied – 94 percent, say the petitioners. Hence they live in permanent fear of demolition orders, have no water lines, electricity grids or roads to their villages. They are hard to visit, hard to count, and when driving through the desert, they can even be hard to see.
Where the sovereign reigns
Area C is not some tiny, faraway patch of land: it is fully 60 percent of the West Bank, which was carved up by the Oslo accords: Areas A and B are regions of partial or near-total Palestinian civil control, both formally under Israeli military sovereignty....Read More