Posted by: Lister | May 12, 2007

World Bank report on West Bank

PDF from this page: Middle East and North Africa. I looked it up to check a claim made by Al-Jazeera which I read while making the previous post.

There is evidence that the application of zoning and planning provisions and the enforcement of building regulations is discriminatory in the Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem compared with that in Israeli neighborhoods. This has a negative impact not only on housing availability and costs, but has also constrained business activity in what has been an important business center for the Palestinian economy.

According to a report released by Bimkom, an Israeli organization with expertise in zoning and planning, “planning in East Jerusalem is based on considerations that do not meet accepted legal, administrative and constitutional norms, such as governmental fairness, reasonability, proportionality and protection of human rights”.

The result of these policies is that building and expansion in Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem has been severely constrained by the failure of the Israeli authorities to provide permission for expansion or new construction. Moreover, when construction does take place without permission, the authorities are much more likely to take action against Palestinian violators.

In the period of 1996-2000, for example, the number of recorded building violations was four and a half times higher in Israeli neighborhoods of Jerusalem (17,382 violations) than in Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem (3,846 violations). Nevertheless, during this same period, the number of demolition orders issued in West Jerusalem was four time less (86 orders) than the number in East Jerusalem (348 orders).

In other words, while over 80 percent of building violations were recorded in West Jerusalem, 80 percent of actual demolition orders were issued for buildings in Palestinian East Jerusalem. Between 1999 and 2003, 157 Palestinian-owned buildings were demolished, while only 30 Israeli-owned buildings met the same fate.

These discriminatory practices have led to both a housing shortage as well as limitations on the development of Palestinian businesses and employment opportunities in East Jerusalem. To adjust to this, many Palestinians built second homes or businesses further into the West Bank. However, with the completion of the Separation Barrier and the enforcement of increasingly draconian permit policies, the ability to maintain these businesses will become ever more difficult.

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