UK: Israel planning regime leaves Palestinians ‘little option but to build without permission’

Israeli soldiers demolish a two storey building with bulldozers in East Jerusalem (Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency)

Middle East Monitor  /  January 28, 2020

The UK government has acknowledged that Israel’s planning regime in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem leaves “Palestinians with little option but to build without permission”.

Lord Ahmad, writing on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), was responding yesterday to a question concerning the government’s view of the Israeli government’s recent decision “to allow Israeli citizens to register land deeds in Area C of the West Bank”.

The government replied: “We are very concerned about the granting of further rights and privileges to Israelis living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

“We recognise that Palestinians face severe difficulty in securing building permissions for homes and infrastructure in East Jerusalem and Area C,” the answer continued.

“Practically, this leaves Palestinians with little option but to build without permission, placing their homes at risk of demolition on the grounds they do not have a permit.”

The UK government urged Israel “to develop improved mechanisms for zoning, planning and permitting in Area C for the benefit of the Palestinian population, including by facilitating local Palestinian participation in such processes.”

In a separate answer published yesterday to a question on the demolition of Palestinian-owned structures by Israeli occupation forces during 2019, Lord Ahmad said the UK is “deeply concerned by the continued demolition of Palestinian property by the Israeli authorities”.

“Demolitions and evictions of Palestinians from their homes cause unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians; call into question Israel’s commitment to a viable two-state solution; and, in all but the most exceptional of cases, are contrary to International Humanitarian Law,” the statement added.

“The UK and international partners will continue to call bilaterally, and in international fora, for Israel to abandon demolition plans entirely, and instead provide a transparent route to construction for Palestinians in Area C,” the FCO stated.