Photo Credit: Gershon Elinson/Flash90
View of vineyards outside the Jewish settlement of Alon Shvut, in Gush Etzion, November 24, 2020.

According to Kan 11 reporter Carmel Dangor’s tweets late Tuesday night, building permits for more than 800 housing units for Arabs in Area C (under full Israeli control – DI) have not been issued, contrary to the plan. The reason: the Civil Administration Employees Committee decided not to convene the approval committee. A new date has not yet been set for approving the construction plans for the Arabs.

Meanwhile, according to Dangor, the building permits for 2,223 housing units in the settlements, which were scheduled to be issued on Wednesday will also be postponed to an unknown date, also by order of the Civil Administration Workers’ Committee.

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You pick up on an emerging theme, right?

On Wednesday morning, Kan 11 political reporter Zeev Kam tweeted that following Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s decision to approve 1,000 housing units for Arabs in Area C, he received urgent calls from the Yamina party, including from Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, to re-evaluate one of the places where construction had been approved – Khirbet Zakaria in Gush Etzion. Shaked noted that this is a sensitive location that breaks the continuity of Israeli settlements in Judea. Gantz agreed to re-examine the approval.

Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah is a small Arab village in Area C, perched on a hill that rises about 995 metres above sea level. It is located in between the larger Israeli settlements of Alon Shevut and Rosh Tzurim in the Gush Etzion region.

So this could explain why the permits for Arab settlements in Area C have been postponed. But why the Jews? It probably has to do with resistance within the left-leaning Civil Administration – note that it was the employees who put the temporary calabash on the Jewish permits, not the Defense Ministry.

The new Arab neighborhood Gantz approved would cut off Rosh Tzurim from Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion. The PA has been trying for years to build there, precisely in order to stick a wedge in the heart of the largest settlement bloc in Judea and Samaria. To date, there are only a few Arab buildings and some tended fields in Khirbet Zakaria, which should not be expanded, they should be demolished and their few current residents evicted to a less sinister location.

The Israeli Civil Administration is the governing body that operates in Judea and Samaria, which a succession of Israeli governments since June 1967, both left and right, have been too timid to annex. The Civil Administration was established in 1981, to carry out practical bureaucratic functions within the captured territories. It was subordinate to the IDF and the Shin Bet. It is also subordinate to a larger entity known as Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which is part of the Defense Ministry.

It has been argued that the Civil Administration discriminates against the Jewish sector in Judea and Samaria. For example, in 2008 the administration located 646 illegal structures in the Arab sector and destroyed 111 of them (17%), while in the same year, it located 293 illegal structures in the Jewish sector and destroyed 105 (36%).

In June 2011, Amram Kabilo, a former head of the employment branch of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, was convicted of accepting bribes and benefits from various sources in exchange for issuing permits to PA Arabs to move to Israel.

In January 2016, Major Yosef Yazid of the Civil Administration was sent to five years in prison for accepting a quarter of a million shekels in bribes from PA Arabs in exchange for entry permits into Israel.

In March 2017, an officer in the Civil Administration was convicted of serious sexual offenses, accepting bribes, and exceeding authority to the point of endangering state security. A military tribunal in Jaffa sentenced him to 11 years in prison.

In July 2017, as part of a plea bargain, a coordinator in the Civil Administration’s inspection unit, Zvi Avnon, was convicted of committing fraud and breach of trust for taking bribes in exchange for information he leaked on Civil Administration inspections of illegal quarrying sites.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.