Dealing with planning commissions is none too easy in any country, but if you’re an Arab citizen of Israel, you’re virtually out of luck. Applications to build are routinely rejected without reason, and as the Arab population has grown, the number of homes they’re even theoretically allowed to occupy has not. 20% of the Israeli population gets only about 4 percent of the permits.
Around 1.3 million Arab citizens in Israel face crowded conditions in Arab-approved villages, and even more crowding in mixed towns, where building permits are all but impossible to get in Arab neighborhoods. This has turned many to building without permits.
With Israel electing a new far-right government this year, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu campaigning overtly against the Arab minority, the expectation that some 25,000 Arab homes, built without permits, could face quick demolition.
Arab rights groups are organizing protests and threatening general strikes in response to the latest round of demolitions, which have begun small but many fear could quickly leave tens of thousands homeless.
Historically, it’s just been accepted that the planning commissions aren’t interested in the Arab neighborhoods, and are focused on approving settlements in the occupied territories. Now the Arab minority may face the worst of both worlds, with commissions not only refusing them permits but cracking down on them for unapproved building.
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