Naveh Gets Tough on Settlements

GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh signed a series of orders last week meant to clamp down on illegal settlements. The orders were signed at the instruction of Defense Minister Amir Peretz, after a number of requests by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.

The orders include amendment of Jordanian law, forbidding construction without permit in the West Bank and will be considered a criminal offense, similar to the law prevailing in Israel. An additional amendment provides a procedure for judicial demolition orders, which will facilitate demolition of illegal structures in settlements.

Additional orders include an amendment forbidding the occupation of a structure in the West Bank without obtaining permits from all of the authorities concerned, including the Electricity Company, fire department, etc. Other orders will help prevent transporting mobile homes and their occupation without a permit. The final order provides that the civil administration will supervise invasion of private land and will report on such invasions.

In a letter sent to MK Yossi Beilin, Mazuz wrote that the signing of the orders, in accordance with recommendations of the Sasson committee, had been delayed because of the position taken by the defense forces, who claimed that substantial resources, as of yet not allocated, would be required to implement the steps.

Mazuz also noted that the Justice Ministry had prepared a draft decision for government approval of various issues related to the enforcement of construction laws in the West Bank, but emphasized that the committee had not been authorized to discuss the evacuation of existing settlements.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is responsible for implementing the recommendations of the Sasson report, has refrained from addressing the matter since she intends to step down from her post shortly.

Appointment of a new minister is likely to result in further delay until the issue has been studied. Her predecessor, Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit, also refrained from dealing with the illegal settlements.