Monday, March 23, 2009

Illeagal Construction in Israel

I opened a Twitter account for use at work. Last week, I had some Palestinian News account following me. I decided to post a whole bunch of articles about what things are really like in Israel. I also sent them a note asking how they found my account and why they were interested in following it. Just as quickly as they appeared on my account they disappeared. Today's post is dedicated to them.

I checked out their website. Their main story was about the horrors of the IDF bulldozing a Bedouin home. Taking into account some the realities around the issue of illegal construction I will try to figure out the most likely scenario in the story they reported.

The first thing is it was amazing the lack of detail in the story. They put in some geographical markers at the very end, which could have easily been made up. The family didn't have a name. There was a picture of the alleged bulldozed home. It could have been very easily any one of the many construction sights around the country. There was a pile of rubble with a clean bright pink phone on the top. Did the family remove all of their possessions ahead of time and forgot their phone, which miraculously survived the bulldozing to fly through the air and land in a pile completely unscathed? This technique of adding props to sell the story has been well publicized since the 2006 Lebanon War.

I found more interesting the claims of the family. They said that they had received all of their building permits from the Palestinian Authority, while the Israeli authorities said that it was completely illegal construction. Israel stays out of the day to day operations of territory controlled by the PA. It is possible that the PA did authorize the building permits in an area, where they have no jurisdiction. Israel is then faced with the problem of allowing illegal buildings to stand or look like the bad guys for undoing illegal construction.

Over the weekend Jerusalem Mayor Barkat spoke about the problem of Palestinians building on public land that the city had intended to use for other purposes. Aside from causing massive infrastructure problems, such as sewage they block the government from appropriating land as they originally intended.

In Toronto a tent city was set up as a place to protest homelessness and provide a place to live. The problem was that the land was owned by Home Depot who wanted to exercises their rights to their land. Despite protests from homeless advocacy group Home Depot eventually evicted the people and took possession of their land.

Israel is in their full rights to crack down on illegal construction by both Jews and Arabs alike. If Arabs are going to ignore Israeli authority and build on land that they do not own, how is Israel supposed to respond?

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