MK Raz (Meretz) thinks he knows what occupation looks like.
On 16 Feb, Knesset member Mossi Raz of the leftwing Meretz Party was trying to be provocative. In a Hebrew language press release, his spokesperson’s office gave the following message:
People are losing their homes on a daily basis while they have no possibility to build legally. But, of course, this does not happen to their nearby settler neighbours. This is what occupation looks like.
I do believe Raz knows the true facts. He knows that the Arabs in the Palestinian Authority have plenty of land upon which to legally build their homes but that they choose to build them illegally in Area C, land assigned to Israel exclusively by the Oslo Accords. And they build illegally in order to promote their push to create a “Palestinian” state without negotiations with Israel and without the expense and risk involved in overt war. Raz knows all of this, but his goals dovetail those of the Palestinian Authority so he, effectively, becomes a mouthpiece for Israel haters, something I do not believe he, personally, is.
He based the above statement on the numbers provided him in answer to questions posed to Alon Schuster, Deputy Minister of Defence. He did not, however, relate to even the minimal context provided by Schuster.
Here is a link to the question posed by Raz and the answers provided by Schuster: Knesset question and answer videoclip.
Let me translate this into English and put the figures in table format for easy reference:
In the past five years when comparing Palestinians and Jewish settlers:
- How many times were Palestinian water pipes disconnected versus disconnections for Jewish settlers in that time period?
- How many construction permits were given to each of these two populations?
- How many home demolitions?
Deputy Minister Schuster begins by saying:
First of all, regarding disconnection of water pipes, we must first say that disconnections are done in cases when there is stealing of water from Mekorot by means of illegal connections with Mekorot pipes. And this is without discrimination between Palestinian and Israeli sectors and in this regard, I wish to clarify that local authorities have not identified any instances of water theft from Mekorot on the part of Jewish sector.
Raz tried to use the water issue, commonly used as a club with which to batter Israel, but he fell flat on his face in this one.
|2017 – 1581
2019 – 925
2020 – 512
2021 – 324
|Palestinian building permits
|2017 – 6
2018 – 5
2019 – 2
2020 – 10
2021 – 10
Schuster added that it hould be noted that in 20-21, 15 plans have been approved, 10 are at the “deposits” stage and 5 at the validation stage*
|Schuster: I want to point out that in Israeli sector, within the blue line, building permits are given by the local planning committees in the regional councils and cities and not by the Civil Administration so this question needs to be addressed to the relevant authorities – we do not deal with this
|Demolition of illegal construction
|2017 – 189
2018 – 161
MK Odeh interrupted and I could not make out his comments but Schuster replied that a “People” does not own a house, a person owns a house. Odeh seemed to scoff at this.
2019 – 232
2020 – 290
2021 – 297
|2017 – 171
2018 – 83
2019 – 48
2020 – 97
2021 – 88
*Deposits stage of construction licensing – ads places in local newspapers announcing the plan and inviting objections from the public. Validation stage – final stage before publishing approved construction plans.
It bears repeating that there is plenty of land available in Areas A and B, the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, the address for requesting building permits. They lie when they claim that they MUST build in Area C in order to accommodate their growing population.
Figures for demolition of illegal construction in both the Palestinian and Israeli sectors gives the impression of greater parity than Raz was, perhaps, willing to admit. After all, it was not a huge number of demolitions in the former versus fewer than half in the latter. However, perhaps more important than actual figures is the number of demolitions relative to number of illegal construction. Regavim explained how Schuster’s data misrepresent reality [emphasis added]:
The rate of illegal construction by Arabs in Area C is over 3,000 per year – an average of more than 7 new illegal structures every day, day in and day out, for years on end. There are currently 74,274 illegal Arab-built structures in Area C. In other words, the Civil Administration demolishes less than 10% of the NEW illegal structures, and leaves over 90% standing. The cumulative damage is staggering. The area that is lost to Palestinian annexation continues to grow exponentially, and the figures so blithely presented from the Knesset podium are only a fraction of the larger problem ([Neither] MK Raz [nor Deputy Defence Minister Schuster] . . . mention[ed] the massive swaths of Israeli state land that have already been swallowed up by illegal Arab agricultural projects).
The figures presented by Shuster are an official declaration of the complete dysfunctionality of the Civil Administration, its utter failure to enforce the law, the bankruptcy of its vision and the mind-boggling waste of resources invested by the State of Israel in this entire apparatus, which is [supposed to be] responsible for protecting the land resources in areas under Israeli jurisdiction.
Although the vast majority of the population in Area C is Jewish, from 2008 – 2021, there were a total of 446 illegal structures built in the Jewish sector, and a whopping 4,672 built by Arabs. In other words, more than 92% of the illegal construction in Area C is carried out by Arabs and 8% by Jews, but based on the data provided by Shuster, 77% of the enforcement was carried out against Arab illegal construction and 23% against Jewish Illegal construction. In certain years (2019, for example), the lack of balance of enforcement is even more extreme.
In other words, MK Raz: this is what occupation looks like: the occupation of Israeli land by the Palestinian Authority (with the financial backing of the EU).
This is okay with Raz who wants to see a Palestinian state arise in Judea-Samaria and he does not care who he destroys along the way. What would he say if that Palestinian state ever came into being and then they started their propaganda against Jewish occupation of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beer Sheva, etc?