Home razed in east Jerusalem (Archives)
Photo: AP

Removal of illegal structures in east Jerusalem declines

Jerusalem Municipality has been decreasingly addressing illegal construction east of capital, internal document shows; City Hall says government blocking enforcement efforts

The Jerusalem Municipality has been decreasingly addressing illegal construction in east Jerusalem, an internal document obtained by Ynet reveals.


According to the data, only 10 illegal structures have been razed over the course of 2011, a drastic decline from 23 in 2010 and 65 in 2009.


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An opposite trend has been registered in the capital's western region, where the incidence of illegal construction is much lower compared to its eastern counterpart. In 2011, 67 illegal buildings were demolished there, compared to 58 in 2010 and 57 in 2009.


As per the document, the reason behind the changes is unrelated to the municipality's licensing and inspection department, which conducts 3,000 inspections in east Jerusalem and files 1,200 indictments on average each year.


"The decline in the execution of the demolition warrants (in east Jerusalem) was instigated by the lack of State and security authorization," the document said.


European and US leaders have leveled harsh criticism at Israel over the destruction of homes in east Jerusalem in recent months.


Wild west in east Jerusalem?

Deputy Mayor David Harari has sent a letter to Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch recently, demanding him to order the police to assign the resources necessary to "restore the rule of law in east Jerusalem." The missive is yet to receive a response.


Sources in the municipality said that they have received an annual average of 500 complaints about illegal construction over the course of 2009-2011.


"East of the city, it's the wild west," one source said. "It has been going on for years; large parts of the existing structures and the ones that are currently being built are illegal, and the residents couldn't care less about the law, especially because they know that the enforcement is faulty.


"The police refuse to give the municipality the required back up due to the lack of manpower, but the real reason is political," he added. "Without getting into an argument over who should be the sovereign authority in the territory… the law must apply equally to all of the city's residents."


The Jerusalem Municipality blamed the delay in enforcement on the government, saying that "the political echelon does not authorize the police to carry out the demolitions."


It also stressed that due to the municipality's efforts, the number of construction violations east of the capital have declined.


A comment from Internal Defense Ministry could not be obtained.




פרסום ראשון: 03.07.12, 16:05
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