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Haris: Planning Regime in the Westbank

The entrance to the village of Haris is frequently closed by the long yellow gate
and Israeli army jeeps. Many homes are under order of demolition.

Some of the most serious effects of the Israeli Occupation are the demolition orders by the Israeli government. Planning and construction in area C is governed by the 1966 Jordanian Planning Law, amended by an Israeli military order in 1971. The Jordanian law stated that almost all constructions need a permit, but the planning process is entirely in the hands of the Israeli settlements. The Israeli Civil Administration does not allow any Palestinian community to participate in the planning process, and it is staffed only by Israeli staff members. The military order established Special Local Planning Committees-SLPCs-only for Israeli settlements, which can obtain permits for their constructions.

The consequence of this military order is tragic for the Palestinian towns and villages, because almost 70 % of the West Bank is considered area C, where no Palestinian family or individual can obtain building permits. According to the official statistics, 95% of the demolition orders in the Jordan Valley and the rest of West Bank are issued in cases of constructing without legal approval.

MPT visited one family in Haris village, who received a demolition order a few days previous. The head of the family has been wheelchair bound for nine years. He was shot while trying to protect his children from the tear-gas thrown by Israeli Occupation Forces from a nearby street. His home, together with the homes of his brothers and other village inhabitants, are located in area C, and do not have building permits. Before they started to build their homes, they sought permission, but they were refused. Their choices were: to build without permission on their own land or to buy a piece of land in another location. They opted for the first solution and now they are starting to receive demolition orders.

The procedure is usually the same. An order is delivered. The family has three days to hire a lawyer and to submit the documentation proving the ownership of the land to a court. The court can decide to delay the demolition for one or two years , or an indefinite time or to start the demolition process.

This family were lucky, their protest was accepted and they can live in their home for an uncertain period, because they never know when another demolition order will be issued against them. [MPT was present April 2010 in Haris immediately following a demolition of a newly constructed home. See http://mptinpalestine.blogspot.com/2010/04/haris-home-demolition.html]

The head of the family considers this decision of the Israeli Occupation Forces as a defensive measure against the international criticism Israel has faced after the attack of the Freedom Flotilla. According to his views, if the international community increases the pressure on Israel, more houses will be demolished in the future in the West Bank. Or because Israel feels the pressure of the international community, it then applies pressure on the Palestinians.

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