Israel's phony construction permits don't fool anyone
In an extension of its decades-old settler-colonial project, Israel's new government recently announced plans for the construction of 2,200 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank. As part of the same announcement, the Israeli government, in a seemingly rare move, also announced initial approval for the construction of over 800 housing units in Palestinian villages in Area C of the West Bank.
Israel's announcement about the Palestinian construction permits is intended as a sweetener; to stave off opposition from the West, especially the Biden administration, and present the measure as a positive gesture towards the Palestinians.
As soon as it was announced, Israel's mouthpieces in the US rushed to laud Israel for purportedly allowing the Palestinians to build on their own land. But history is witness that these kinds of announcements are nothing but stunts intended for international marketing rather than actual execution.
"These kind of announcements by Israel are nothing but stunts intended for international marketing rather than actual execution"
This is not the first time that Israel has made such announcements about giving Palestinians approval permits for construction on their own land.
In 2017, it announced plans for 5,000 housing unit permits for Palestinians around the city of Qalqilya in the northern part of the West bank. The plan never saw the light of day and was frozen by then Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Similarly, in 2019, the Israeli government announced approval for 700 building permits for Palestinians, in an attempt to quell international criticism and prevent High Court involvement in providing Palestinians with judicial relief against demolitions. Peace Now, an Israeli Anti-Occupation Advocacy Group later reported that only six of the initial 700 units were given final approval.
In-depth: "Under Israeli regulations, the final approval for the project has to come from the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee" - @farahda89 writes https://t.co/DpzANFniBc— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) August 26, 2021
Israel's latest plan is unlikely to be any different. The Israeli Civil Administration meeting that was set to take place last week to finalize the plan has already been postponed to an unknown date.
Nevertheless, the Israeli government is trying to avoid a clash with the Biden administration over its latest aggressive settlements plan and is clearly hoping that this announcement regarding permits for 800 Palestinian housing units will be enough to buy their silence
In reality, these announcements have never been anything but lies with the same outcome; promises that Israel never fulfils and never intended to fulfil in the first place.
"Even if Israel does move to approve the aforementioned 800 Palestinian permits for construction, it will not be deserving of praise. These areas are occupied lands"
Needless to say, all of the West Bank and East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian land under international law, and Palestinian construction there is their right and not a favour to be bestowed upon them by Israel. Settlement construction in these occupied Palestinian territories is nothing short of a war crime.
For decades, successive Israeli governments have demolished Palestinian homes in the occupied Palestinian territories and expanded their settler-colonial enterprise at the expense of Palestinians.
The majority of Israeli demolitions occur in Area C which represents 60 percent of the area in the West Bank and which falls under complete Israeli control. Israel claims that these demolished homes were built without permits, but it also rejects over 98 percent of Palestinian applications for construction in the West Bank's Area C.
In fact, between 2016 and 2018, the Israeli Civil Administration approved just 21 building permits out of 1,485 requested by the Palestinians for construction in Area C. During that same period, 2,147 demolition orders were issued against Palestinian property.
Israel's ultimate goal is for successive governments to cumulatively entrench the Israeli settlement enterprise in the West Bank in a meticulously thought-out manner that cements the occupation and prevents the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The current Israeli government is no different, and the newly-announced settlements are set to be built deep in the northern and central West Bank further fragmenting the area that was intended to be a territorially-contiguous Palestinian state.
Its policies on blockading Gaza also remain unchanged: Daily incursions and arrests in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, killing civilian Palestinians, weakening the Palestinian economy through cutting the Palestinians' tax clearance revenues all continue unabated.
Even if Israel does move to approve the aforementioned 800 Palestinian permits for construction, it will not be deserving of praise. These areas are occupied lands and Palestinians shouldn't need a permit from Israel to begin with.
If, one day, Israel moves to dismantle settlements from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, only then will it deserve some credit.
Ali Adam is a journalist and researcher whose work focuses on issues linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Follow him on Twitter @_Ali_Adam_
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Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.