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Settlements – Making Sense of the Planning Process

Almost every other week do we hear about another approval of plans, and not always can we understand the real political (and practical) meaning of those approvals.

[For the planning process in East Jerusalem – See Terrestrial Jerusalem’s Presentation]

Download the chart of the planning and construction process in the West Bank – click here

Here we make some sense and order of the planning process:

1. Tenders:

A Tender is one of the last procedures before a construction can get started. The tender, which comes only after the approval and validation of a plan, is actually the governmental publication of a call for proposals to buy the rights to build the project. After the bidding process is completed and the contractor is elected, then he or she would apply for a construction permit from the municipality and after getting the permit, they can start the works. A tender will only take place in large scale governmentally initiated projects. In cases of private initiators – they can go straight from the validation of the plan to apply for a construction permit and start the works.

2. Plans:

Plans are harder to track as there are so many stages of promotion of plans, and so many plans all at the same time.

The main planning stages that can cause public attention are:

In West Bank settlements, almost every stage of the approval by the Civil Administration Planning Council must be approved by the Minister of Defense. There is no need for any Ministerial approval for plans in Israel or in East Jerusalem.

1) Approval at the local municipality committee – this stage is significant only in Israel and East Jerusalem. After this approval the plan is sent to the Regional Committee for Planning and Construction of the Ministry of Interior in Israel and in East Jerusalem or, in West Bank settlements, to the Settlement Subcommittee of the Higher Council for Planning in the Civil Administration.

2) Approval for “depositing” – the decision of the Regional Committee (in East Jerusalem) or of the Higher Council for Planning of the Civil Administration (in West Bank Settlements) to allow the publication of the plan for public objections. Takes few months until the plan is ready to be published – usually the committee will ask to make some changes before the publication. The Minister of Defense  must approve that the plan will be discussed by the Higher Council for Planning of the Civil Administration.

3) Depositing – Publication an ad in three newspapers (two in Hebrew and one in Arabic) announcing that the plan is subject to public objections for 60 days. The Minister of Defense must approve the publication of plans that are deposited for West Bank settlements.

4) Discussion of the Objections – the Regional Committee (in Israel and in East Jerusalem) or the Settlement Subcommittee of the Higher Council for Planning in the Civil Administeration (in West Bank settlements) hears the objections and recommends whether to make changes in the plan or to reject it or not. Here too, the Minister of Defense must approve the Higher Council to convene.

5) Approval for validation – after all the changes are made, the Regional Committee (in Israel and in East Jerusalem) or the Settlement Subcommittee of the Higher Council for Planning in the Civil Administration (in West Bank settlements) again discusses the plan to allow its validation. The Minister of Defense approve the Higher Council to convene.

6) Publication of validation – a publication of an ad in three newspapers (two in Hebrew, one in Arabic) that the plan is valid. The Minister of Defense must approve the publication. 15 days following the final publication the plan is valid. Only after these publications can the plan be implemented.

Practically, in many cases the Minister of Defense grants the approval for all of the stages at once, so there is no need to seek the Minister’s signature many times.

3. Construction Permits:

When a plan is valid, any initiator who got the rights to build (either by winning a tender or by a private purchase), can apply for a construction permit from the Local Municipality. This is mainly a bureaucratical procedure – to make sure that the construction is according to the approved plan and that all safety, environment, infrastructure etc. requirements are met. Obtaining a construction permit might take a few months, and then the construction may begin.

In the media discourse almost all of the above stages can be described as: “the plan was approved” – sometimes it’s approved to be deposited, sometimes approved to be validated or approved at the local committee. Although the practical meaning of each stage is different, the political significance of each stage is the same: the plan is promoted, and that demonstrates an intention to move forward.

Download a chart of the planning process – click here

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