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Knesset to vote on making demolishing Palestinian homes easier Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Knesset to vote on making demolishing Palestinian homes easier

Israeli forces policing a protest against illegal Israeli settlements [AFP]

Date of publication: 3 April, 2017

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The Knesset's Interior and Environment Committee approved the controversial Planning and Building Law - which will expedite demolition of Palestinian homes built without a permit - for a Wednesday vote.

The Israeli Knesset will vote on a law on Wednesday that will enable Israeli forces to demolish Palestinian homes with greater ease, after an Israeli parliamentary committee passed the bill on Sunday.

The Planning and Building Law, which will speed up the demolition and removal of homes built without permits or licenses, was passed by the Interior and Environment Committee.

MK Abdullah Abu Maaruf told Haaretz the bill was "yet another law that expresses the continued policy of the Netanyahu government of discrimination against Israel's Arab citizens.

"The law will impose heavy and cruel fines and expedite the demolition of unregulated houses."

Israel's Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, praised the committee for approving of the bill, which was proposed by the Justice Department itself, calling it a "significant step" toward changing the "enforcement of planning and construction laws".

The bill reportedly aims to tackle the issue of illegal construction in Arab communities in Palestine.

Critics in the Palestinian media say the law does not address the issue of illegal settlement construction in occupied territories however.

One report by the news website, Arab48, called the law "racist", saying it "completely ignored the political harassment" visited upon Palestinian communities.

According to a report by Deputy Attorney General Erez Kamitz, Israeli planning officials claim there are 50,000 buildings built without permits in Arab communities.

Yet Palestinian NGOs regularly report that it is almost impossible to receive a building permit for Palestinians to build houses.

Only 188 of the 3,238 building permits issued in Jerusalem in 2015 were given to Palestinian residents.

Israeli enforcement forces reportedly deal with more than 700 stop-work and demolition orders every year, and successfully demolish 160 buildings each year, according to Haaretz.

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