Chaim Levinson
May 24, 2010 - 12:00am

The Civil Administration retroactively legalized 1,611 Palestinian structures built without the necessary permits all over the territories in recent years, according to internal documents obtained by Haaretz.

Meanwhile, the High Court of Justice is deliberating over a number of petitions filed by Israeli settlers demanding that the Civil Administration, which deals with non-military issues in the West Bank, retroactively legalize homes built without permits in Jewish towns there.

In its response to the appeals, the state informed the court that it intends to retroactively authorize dozens of buildings in the settlements of Nativ Ha'avot, the Givat Hayovel outpost in Eli, Harsha and Rahelim.

The practice of granting legal status after the fact to illegally built structures is commonly applied in the state's dealings with illegal Palestinian construction. According to internal memos circulated by the office of the Coordinator of Government Activties in the Territories, the state retroactively legalized 956 homes in 14 West Bank towns in 2008 alone.

COGAT is the Defense Ministry unit that supervises the activities of the Civil Administration.

According to the documents, the most extensive legalization of unauthorized Palestinian construction has been in the Hebron region. The facts and figures cited in the COGAT memos deal exclusively with Area C, swaths of West Bank land that are under full Israeli control and in which the Civil Administration has jurisdiction to enforce zoning and planning laws.

Area C encompasses 60 percent of the West Bank, pockets of land home to 130,000 Palestinians and 312,000 settlers.

Regavim, a pro-settler NGO that monitors illegal Palestinian construction in the territories, issued a statement which read: "The policy of massive whitewashing of illegal Palestinian construction, a policy instituted by Defense Minister [Ehud Barak] in recent years, is aimed at providing cover for the negligence of the Civil Administration, which almost never enforces the law as it relates to illegal building by Palestinians."


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