The Knesset passed in its second and third readings, on Wednesday, April 5, a bill that will ease the way to imposing large fines and executing home demolitions for construction violations and illegal building.
A member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Israel, MK Abdallah Abu Ma’arouf (Hadash – Joint List) told The Jerusalem Post that the government coalition has imposed this legislation on the Arab-Palestinian population in Israel, without attempting to find a middle ground. Since the beginning of the legislative process, the proposed bill sparked widespread anger in the Arab sector, where it is perceived as being designed to target them. “This comes at a bad time,” said Abu Ma’arouf. “For a long time we have tried to reach an agreement and to settle this issue of illegal construction, but it seems that the government has purposely chosen this uncompromising path.”
The proposed amendment to the Planning and Building Law calls to restrict the discretion of courts regarding the enforcement of construction violations, and to expand the powers of administrative entities, especially national planning bodies and planning enforcement entities, dealing with construction performed without a permit. It would also increase fines and prison terms for building offenses.
MK Abu Ma’arouf claims that the situation has been created due to lack of master plans in Arab villages and cities. “The authorities consistently refuse to confirm these plans,” he said. “This is why the bill addresses mainly the Arab population – most of the violations are in those villages.” He said it seems that the government wants this disorder in the building sphere. “We are reasonable – we have asked for two more years of discussions in order to settle this matter, a period during which we know that some of our buildings will be demolished. But instead they have brought this bill.”