Illegal construction by Arabs in Judea and Samaria is accelerating, thanks in part to European financial support.
Unauthorized building has long been a problem in Arab communities on both sides of the Green Line. Historically, however, most illegal Arab construction was uncoordinated and internally funded.
This new wave of illegal land grabs, however, enjoys backing from European countries looking to create irrevocable facts on the ground, making the massive thefts of territory an irreversible fait accompli by building entire villages, often with well-developed infrastructures, on state land in areas under Israeli control.
Illegal Arab construction has grown dramatically not only qualitatively but also quantitatively. In response to questions posed by MK Betzalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) revealed that approximately 1,000 illegal structures have been built by Arabs in Judea and Samaria using European funds.
If correct, this would indicate a massive increase in the rate of European-backed illegal construction. From 2012 to 2014, Europe aided in the construction of about 400 structures without permits, averaging just over 130 per year. The 600 other illegal structures built during 2015 represents a 450% increase in the pace of construction.
Smotrich had earlier pressed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the issue of European funding for illegal building activities following the decision to resume cooperation with the European Union.
Hotovely responded that the government is working to enforce the law, but that the Supreme Court was holding up pending demolitions of illegal structures.