ILLEGAL CONSTRUCTION IN JERUSALEM: A Variation on an Alarming Global Phenomenon (IMRA-INDEPENDENT MEDIA REVIEW ANALYSIS) 12/18/02)
IMRA} INDEPENDENT MEDIA REVIEW ANALYSIS
IMRA} INDEPENDENT MEDIA REVIEW ANALYSIS Articles-Index-Top
by Justus Reid Weiner, Adv. * [New book released by Jerusalem Center
NGOs assert that Arab Jerusalemites have no choice but to build their
illegally since the municipality systematically rejects their
for building permits. They must then contend with municipal
send bulldozers to demolish their homes.
Human rights lawyer Justus Reid Weiner, a scholar-in-residence at the
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs - an independent, non-partisan
studies center, has just completed the first systematic study of
construction in Jerusalem. Weiner´s book breaks new ground in
how the political struggle for Jerusalem has obscured an urban
dilemma of enormous and enduring significance - indeed, one with
global implications. As in various cities abroad, illegal building
to become the norm. That is, in recent years Jerusalem´s building
have reported thousands of violations of the Building and Planning Law
(1965) in all parts of the city.
Conventional wisdom, now widely accepted, posits certain causes and
to explain the situation and to narrate what is at stake. Based on
interviews, original documents, and on-site inspections, Weiner´s
illustrated new book discredits the conventional wisdom about the
effects of illegal building, and documents a pattern of
politically-motivated behavior and criminal profiteering that
much of the construction in the Arab sector of the Holy City:
+ Illegal construction has reached epidemic proportions. A senior
Palestinian official boasted that they have built 6,000 homes without
permits during the last 4 years, of which less than 200 were
+ This frantic pace of illegal construction continues despite the
the city has authorized more than 33,000 permits for new housing
the Arab sector, more than enough to meet the needs of Arab residents
through legal construction until 2020.
+ Arab residents who wish to build legally may consult urban plans
translated into Arabic for their convenience and receive individual
assistance from Arabic-speaking city employees.
+ Both Arabs and Jews wait 4-6 weeks for permit approval, enjoy a
rate of application approvals, and pay an identical fee ($3,600 U.S.)
water and sewage hook-ups and a building fee on the same size living
+ The same procedures for administrative demolition orders apply to
Jews and Arabs in all parts of the city, as a final backstop to remove
structures built illegally on roadbeds or land designated for
roads, highways, health clinics, and the like.
+ The Palestinian Authority and Arab governments have spent hundreds
millions of dollars in an intentional campaign to subsidize and
massive illegal construction in the Arab sector, seeing this as part
their "demographic war" against Israel.
+ Many large, multi-story, luxury structures have been built by
land they do not own, frequently land belonging to Christians living
+ More than any single factor, the 35-year-long boycott of municipal
politics by the Palestinian leadership has resulted in the continued
imbalance in municipal services in Arab neighborhoods.
+ Despite accusations that the city´s planning policy seeks
Jerusalem, the Arab population of the city has increased since 1967
to nearly 32%. Moreover, since 1967 new Arab construction has outpaced
Who will ultimately bear the burden of chaotic development,
degradation, and an eroded quality of life in the Arab neighborhoods?
the Palestinian Authority´s "demographic war" or the profiteering of
thieves serve their long-term interests? How does the epidemic of
construction in the Arab neighborhoods compare with similar problems
elsewhere in the world?
* Justus Reid Weiner teaches courses on international and comparative
and business in the Rothberg International School of Hebrew
previously taught as a Visiting Associate Professor at Boston
School and has lectured widely in Israel and abroad. His publications
appeared in leading law journals and magazines. Weiner received his
from Colgate University and his J.D. from the University of
Berkeley School of Law. He has been a scholar-in-residence at the JCPA
since 1994. (IMRA.ORG.IL 12/18/02)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY