US AID funded settler road. (Photo: Innovative Minds)
The Israeli military is pushing legislation allowing settlers to bypass the state’s convoluted building permit system in the occupied West Bank. The new law would allow settlers to create unpaved roads without a permit. If the law passes, these settlers would be the only Israeli citizens able to build roads in this manner. Currently, only the military is able to build roads without a permit.
Under the proposed legislation, Israeli-only roads in the West Bank will begin to take on a different function. This network of roadways currently exists to speed travel between the settlements and create physical barriers between Palestinian villages. The new law would treat roads as something similar to the caravans in illegal settler outposts – a means of pushing Palestinians off their land. The Civil Administration confirms the land grabbing function of the bill, stating: “the request did not deal with the paving of roads for vehicular traffic to preserve this land.”
Chiam Levinson explains in Haaretz, “as a practical matter it would significantly expand the amount of land around West Bank settlements that is off-limits to Palestinians.”
(Image: Jan de Jong/Passia)
Currently, the permitting process for settler roads requires both local and national approval. Individual settlers are limited to building only on approved government “owned” land. In this system, building in a settlement is carried out under the same “legal” process as building in Tel Aviv. Under this system of state planning, roads on both sides of the Green Line serve a cohesive “greater Israel.”
Levinson concludes the new law will give “access to security vehicles from the settlements, in an effort to keep the West Bank’s Arab residents from encroaching on the land.”
In other words, settlers would be given a quick and cheap holding tactic, to confiscate Palestinian land.