Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has rejected a proposal to temporarily freeze all demolition orders in Arab towns in exchange for quicker planning approvals and a commitment by local councils to prevent further illegal building.
The proposal was made at a meeting Sunday attended by Mendelblit and top deputies, Knesset members from the Joint List of Arab parties, and the chairman of the committee of Arab council heads, Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ghnaim.
Mendelblit said he couldn’t agree to a general freeze because it would be illegal. But he said he would give enforcement priority to illegal construction that undermined national projects or infrastructure, while a lesser priority would be the targeting of illegal construction in towns.
According to political sources, at the meeting Mendelblit mentioned the unrecognized village of Dahamesh near Lod. He said he was working with the Prime Minister’s Office to find a way to legalize its homes before a High Court hearing in the coming months on demolitions there.
“This was an important and professional meeting that got down to details about planning and construction, home demolitions, crime, weapons, the relationship between the police and Arab citizens, racist legislation, anti-Arab incitement, the secret Jewish National Fund report on preventing the expansion of Arab towns, and Dahamesh,” said MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) after the meeting.
“We asked for a total freeze on all demolition orders in Arab towns and more serious police work regarding crime and weapons seizures. We also brought up the discriminatory way the police dealt with the evacuation of Amona and th demolition in Umm al-Hiran.”
Tibi was referring to the evacuation of an illegal settler outpost in the West Bank and last month’s demolition of an illegal Bedouin community in the Negev, which ended in the deaths of a policeman and a local resident.
He added that there would be follow-up meetings on these issues with Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich.
Mendelblit noted that the police’s department for investigating police officers was investigating the Umm al-Hiran incident. “We want to know the truth about what happened there, exactly,” he said.
The Justice Ministry declined to comment further on the meeting.
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