About a year ago, the all-important Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (known as the “Cabinet”) approved the promotion of 700 housing units for Palestinians after severe international criticism over the demolition of dozens of housing units in Wadi Hummus east of Jerusalem and the Supreme Court’s review of Palestinian petitions against demolition orders, which had asked the state to show whether building permits were granted.
On 24 June 2020, the Times of Israel reported that in the year since the Cabinet decision, only one Palestinian building permit has been approved for the Palestinians in Area C – for the erection of one building with six housing units. A Peace Now examination of the protocols of the Civil Administration Licensing Subcommittee meetings (the body that is supposed to approve plans and permit applications for Palestinians in Area C) has revealed that in nine meetings since the 30 July 2019 Cabinet resolution, one building permit was approved with six housing units and 4 building plans have been approved for 20 additional housing units. Dozens of other Palestinian requests for permits were rejected.
It should be noted that alongside the Licensing Subcommittee, there is also a subcommittee for supervision that deals with demolition orders and has the authority to approve building permits, as well. The protocols of this subcommittee are not made public, so Peace Now was not able to verify if there were permits, but experience shows that the subcommittee almost never approves such building permits, and at most, the treatment is transferred to the Licensing Subcommittee. The Supervisory Subcommittee deals with tens or even hundreds of permit applications per year, and generally rejects all of them.
Peace Now: “Netanyahu’s declarations of intent to allow minimal development for millions of Palestinians in the West Bank have emerged as empty speech. There is no justification for Israeli policy that does not allow any Palestinian development in 60% of the West Bank, that which is considered Area C and under direct Israeli control. This policy serves no Israeli interest except that of a small group of settlers who do not want their neighbors to live well and develop. If anyone has doubts about what is expected with the potential annexation of the West Bank, the current policy of the government suggests that the state of discrimination and apartheid that is already evident on the ground will become institutionalized policy.”
List of plans and permits approved for Palestinians since 30 July 2020 to date (24 June 2020):