In a rare move, Israel recently approved a master plan for a Palestinian village in the part of the West Bank where Israeli settlements are located, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported Tuesday.
Ti’anik, population around 1,000, will be able to obtain building permits for existing houses and new ones, and avoid having to face Israeli demolitions for illegal construction.
“The legal recognition of the village will allow for future development,” a statement from the Civil Administration, Israel’s governing body in the West Bank, said.
Ti’anik is located near Jenin in the northern West Bank. The master plan was submitted by the village’s local council and dignitaries, according to Ma’an.
Eight days ago, the Civil Administration issued building permits to retroactively legalize parts of two schools, one in Bethlehem and the other in Hebron, the website reported.
All the permits apply to Area C, a stretch of land accounting for 60 percent of the West Bank over which Israel has control under the terms of the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the Palestinians in September 1995.
In September, Israel’s security cabinet voted to authorize a series of construction plans for Palestinians there, the Haaretz daily newspaper reported.
Haaretz said the decision was the first of its kind in years, and was kept under wraps so as not to provoke Jewish settlers from trying to stop it.
It was put to the vote by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman as part of what he called his carrot and stick approach to the Palestinians.
In August, Liberman proposed allowing additional construction of an industrial park near Nablus, an economic corridor between Jericho and Jordan, and some other general construction in the Palestinian cities that have not been the hometowns of terrorists,
In July, a representative of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights accused Israel of creating miserable humanitarian conditions in Area C.
Speaking at a conference in the Knesset organized by lawmakers on the Israeli Left, Natalie Grove said Israel was making it “virtually impossible” for Palestinians to build homes legally in Area C, forcing them to build illegally and risk having their homes demolished.
EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen told the conference that 70% of Area C had been designated Israeli state land, with 30% left for Palestinians.
He charged that only one building permit was granted to Palestinians in 2014 and none in 2015. Out of 2,000 applications lodged between 2009 to 2013, only 34 building permits were granted, he said.
Furthermore, since 2009, approximately 170 EU-funded structures worth €300,000 (NIS 1.23, or $322,000) have been demolished or confiscated and approximately 600 structures, worth over € 2.3 million (NIS 9.5 million or $2.5 million), have been served with demolition, stop-work or eviction orders and are therefore under threat of demolition.
During the first six months of 2016, Israel razed 91 houses built with “support of the European Union,” up from 70 in all of 2015.
Several powerful ministers in the current right-wing government are pushing for the annexation of Area C, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains formally committed to a diplomatic process that would eventually see the Palestinians take control of most of the territory.