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Israel approves controversial home demolition law Open in fullscreen

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Israel approves controversial home demolition law

97 percent of demolition orders between 2012 and 2014 targeted Palestinian families [AFP]

Date of publication: 6 April, 2017

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Israel's parliament on Wednesday voted in favour of a controversial law against illegal constructions that detractors say will mostly target Palestinian homes built without required, but hard-to-get, permits.

Israel's parliament on Wednesday voted in favour of a controversial law against illegal constructions that detractors say will mostly target Palestinian homes built without required, but hard-to-get, permits.

The law, which has the backing of Prime Minister's Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government, was passed with 43 votes for the bill and 33 against.

Palestinian citizens of Israel, descendants of the Palestinians who remained on their land after the 1948 creation of Israel, were quick to denounce the law.

The bill provides punishment of up to three years in jail, increases fines and reduces the powers of courts to postpone the date of demolition orders.

Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up around 17 percent of the population, say discrimination by authorities makes it impossible for them to obtain planning permission to expand their communities.

The result is that many families resort to building homes without permission, leaving them liable to demolition.

The new law will also concern around 300,000 Palestinians living in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Druze lawmaker Abdullah Abu Maaruf accused the Israeli premier of wanting to "please the (political) right at whatever cost and at the expense of the Arabs".

The law threatens "50,000 Arab homes in which hundreds of thousands of people live", he told AFP.

Leaders of the Druze community, a minority among the Palestinian citizens of Israel, called on their members of parliament to vote against the bill.

Israeli daily Haaretz says that 97 percent of demolition orders between 2012 and 2014 targeted Palestinian families.

Ir Amin, an Israeli anti-settlement non-governmental organisation, has reported a record 203 demolitions in east Jerusalem last year.

Palestinians make up 37 percent of the city's population, but only 15 percent of the area of east Jerusalem is considered suitable for Palestinian construction, it said.

In January, demolitions in a Palestinian village sparked violence in which a protester and a policeman were killed.

Earlier the same month, Palestinians across Israel closed businesses and schools in a one-day strike to protest the demolitions.

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