The new Netanyahu government could not have been elected too soon to thwart the illegal land grab by the Arabs in Judea and Samaria. The new coalition has made this thankfully a priority. It’s about time. The government is to be commended for demolishing illegal Arab outposts in Wadi Rahhal and Irtas in the Gush Etzion area recently. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Illegal Arab construction has been going on for years in Jerusalem and Area C of Judea and Samaria. Area C was designated in the 1993 Oslo Accords as solely the land of Israel. The Arabs have plenty of land to build legal structures in Area A and B. They decided on their own that they wanted to build illegally on Area C. Unfortunately, the previous government, which had the RA’AM/Arab party as part of their coalition, turned a blind eye to the illegal construction. In 2009, the PM of the PA, Salam Fayyad, laid out a plan to create a de facto PA state not through negotiations but through illegal building in area C to create a contiguous terrorist entity.
According to “Regavim,” illegal Arab construction increased by 80% in 2022. Over 5,535 illegal structures were built in 2022 compared to 3,076 structures in 2021. Overall, the Arabs have built 81,317 illegal structures covering 38,000 acres. This is twice the land mass now lived in by Israeli Jews. This is a ticking time bomb, which is about to explode. Using meticulous field work, aerial photography, and GS, mapping these illegal structures are not some makeshift shacks. They are palatial residences, resorts, amusement parks, and high-rise buildings. Some are entire villages. Unless they are demolished, many of the Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria will be strangled.
In Jerusalem, the situation is just as bad. Nature reserves have been taken over and illegal buildings have been built. Over 6000 illegal homes have been built by the Arabs in Jerusalem over a four-year period. Only 200 were demolished. Hundreds of millions of dollars have poured in from the PA and Arab countries to build illegally in Jerusalem and in Area C. Unless Israel wakes up in time, much of Israel will have been snatched from right under their eyes. This is a crying shame that has to be rectified.
Dr. Joe Frager is Chairman of the Israel Advocacy Commission for the Rabbinical Alliance of America; Chairman of the Executive Committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim; Dean at Kollel Ayshel Avraham; Executive Vice President of the Israel Heritage Foundation; and a physician in practice for 41 years.