Israel approves bill to facilitate home demolitions

Published 07.04.2017 00:00

The Israeli parliament approved the second and third readings of a bill that would facilitate the demolition of Palestinian homes, if ratified. The readings were approved by a vote of 43 to 33.

The law amends Israel's Planning and Building Law by limiting the authority of Israeli courts to freeze demolition orders once they are issued.

It also transfers enforcement of the law to a network of "regional committees," which are granted the right to impose fines on Palestinian homeowners.

Arab Knesset member Yousef Jabareen condemned the move, saying the amendments revealed the "extremist" nature of Israel's government.

"This authoritarian law represents a continuation of Israel's policy of adopting racist and non-democratic legislation," he said.

Hamas condemned the latest Israeli move, describing the Knesset's regulation aimed at speeding up the demolition of Palestinian houses as "the continuation of the ethnic cleansing policy imposed by occupiers."

Hamas also urged the international community to step up its efforts to push Israeli authorities to end their "racist" policies.

Israeli authorities have recently stepped up the policy of demolishing Palestinian homes on the pretext they were built without permits. Israeli security cabinet approved late March the first West Bank settlement in two decades as compensation for a settler outpost demolished in February.

The international community regards all Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as illegal and a major obstacle to Middle East peace.

The area, captured by Israel in 1967, is not sovereign Israeli territory and Palestinians there are not Israeli citizens and do not have the right to vote.

Since Donald Trump took office in the U.S. last month, Israel has announced plans to build over 6,000 settler homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, occupied territories claimed by the Palestinians.

The former U.S. administration of Barack Obama was deeply opposed to Israel's expansion of the settlements and in December withheld its veto from a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the policy.

The Palestinians want the West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, areas captured by Israel in the 1967 war, as part of their hoped-for state.

The Palestinians want these areas along with the Gaza Strip for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

International law views the West Bank and east Jerusalem as "occupied territories" and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity on the land as illegal.

Roughly 500,000 Israelis now live in more than 100 Jewish-only settlements built since Israel occupied the Palestinian West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967.

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