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March 04, 2009

The Palestinian Housing Crisis...

By: John Caruso

...has been going on a lot longer than ours. Here's the latest round:

"The owners of 80 houses in the al-Bustan neighbourhood [of annexed East Jerusalem] have received eviction notices saying that the structures will be destroyed because they are illegal," said Hatem Abdel Kader, an official responsible for Jerusalem affairs in the Palestinian government.

He said 1500 people were living in the threatened houses in the neighbourhood abutting the Old City.

He said several of the houses served with demolition orders were built before 1967, when Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan during the Six Day War but numerous extensions have been built since.

"The (Jerusalem) municipality used this as a pretext to issue the demolition orders despite appeals by the residents," he said.

But why didn't these scofflaws just get permits?

From 2000 until September 2007:

• For every construction permit granted to a Palestinian by the Civil Administration, 18 other buildings are destroyed and 55 demolition orders are issued
• More than 94% of requests submitted by Palestinians were denied by the Civil Administration
• 33% of all demolition orders issued against Palestinian structures were carried out as opposed to just 7% against the settlements
Only 91 construction permits were granted to Palestinians, while in the same time period 18,472 housing units were constructed in the settlements (According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, completed construction in the Settlements from 2000 till September 2007)

Excuses, excuses.

So let me see if I've got this straight: Israel is planning to demolish dozens of illegal houses because the people in question had no right whatsoever to build there.  Now, I'm getting the unmistakable sense that there's some sort of subtle irony at work here, but I just can't seem to put my finger on it.  What a puzzle.  Oh, I know, I'll randomly quote from a United Nations Security Council resolution—that always helps to clear my mind when I'm having a mental block.  Let's about resolution 446:

The Security Council, [...]

3. Calls once more upon Israel, as the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to rescind its previous measures and to desist from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographical nature and materially affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and, in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories;

Hmm, it's not working.  Maybe resolution 465 will do the trick:

The Security Council, [...]

5. Determines that all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity...

Nope, still nothing.  If anyone else can find the elusive, deeply buried irony here, let me know, ok?  Otherwise I'll be up all night trying to figure it out.

— John Caruso

Posted at March 4, 2009 09:33 PM

John Caruso: IRONY= U PAY 4 IT & then wonder Y.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 5, 2009 03:48 AM

It is all ok because it is legal, just like the Group Areas Act.

Posted by: pulaski at March 5, 2009 11:09 AM

Man, I like this blog.

Posted by: saurabh at March 5, 2009 04:23 PM

Achmed: Why is my extension illegal?

Schlomo: Did I say your extension is illegal? Sorry, I should have been more specific. I meant the whole house.

Achmed: The house has been here since 1962!

Schlomo: And that's the problem. It's much too close to that settlement, there.(gestures)

Achmed: That one? The one built in 1975?

Schlomo: No, I meant that one.

Achmed: The one build in 1990?

Schlomo: Yes. As you can see, we've been very lenient.

Posted by: Carl at March 5, 2009 07:43 PM

One ironic thing is that if they had doubled up and only lived in half the 80 houses - or roughly 40 people in each one instead of the mere 20 per house as it was - they would have only lost half as much in the demolition, because the other 40 houses would have been empty.

Posted by: roy belmont at March 5, 2009 10:18 PM

and yet mainstream media continues to paint the palestinians as the evil bad guys. just sad.

Posted by: Edward at March 6, 2009 12:32 PM