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Government to fund settler efforts to monitor illegal Palestinian construction

Settlement Affairs Ministry says it will devote $6 million for new program in Area C, including for patrolmen, vehicles and drones

An Israeli bulldozer demolishes a Palestinian farm shed in the West Bank village of Masafer in Area C, in February 2020 (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
An Israeli bulldozer demolishes a Palestinian farm shed in the West Bank village of Masafer in Area C, in February 2020 (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The government has announced it will fund settlements’ efforts to monitor illegal Palestinian construction in Area C — regions controlled by Israel under the Oslo Accards — using patrols and drones.

The Settlement Affairs Ministry announced Thursday that it was devoting NIS 20 million ($6 million) to build the new program.

“With Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s approval, we are going in with full momentum to the campaign against the hostile takeover of Area C,” Settlement Affairs Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said.

Local councils in the West Bank will be able to apply to receive funding for patrolmen, vehicles, drones, fencing and electronic measures to monitor Palestinian construction. Councils will also be able to hire outside advisers on patrols and data collection.

Minister Tzachi Hanegbi at the Knesset on July 9, 2017 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The councils will not be allowed to take action against any illegal construction, but rather can inform Israeli authorities who are in charge of enforcement.

Haaretz said the Civil Administration, which oversees such matters, was not consulted on the move.

Haaretz said several local councils already operate such teams independently.

The majority of settlements and outposts are located on land defined by the 1995 Oslo II Accord as Area C, meaning Israel is responsible for both civil and security matters in the zone. Area C constitutes around 60 percent of the West Bank.

Between 200,000-300,000 Palestinians are estimated to live in Area C, although a definitive census has not been conducted. While some Palestinian communities in Area C are recognized by the state, most are not, as the Israeli military government rarely approves plans for them or issues construction permits. According to the human rights group Bimkom, 98.6% of requests by West Bank Palestinians for construction permits between 2016 and 2018 were rejected.

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