Bedouin women react following the demolition of their homes by Israeli forces in the village of Umm al-Hiran on January 18, 2017. (Photos by AFP)
The Israeli parliament, known as the Knesset, has approved a controversial law targeting what are said to be illegal constructions amid criticisms that the legislation will disproportionately affect Palestinians and Arab communities.
The legislation, dubbed the “Kaminitz Law,” was passed on Wednesday with 43 votes for and 33 against.
It increases the maximum imprisonment for those convicted of building without permits to three years from the current two-year term.
The legislation, which further hikes fines and reduces the powers of courts to postpone the date of demolition orders, will also target 300,000 Palestinians living in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.
The law, backed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government, has sparked widespread criticisms.
Israeli Druze lawmaker Abdullah Abu Ma’aruf accused Netanyahu of attempting to “please the (political) right at whatever cost and at the expense of the Arabs.”
He further said the law threatens “50,000 Arab homes in which hundreds of thousands of people live.”
Bedouins cry following the destruction of their houses in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran on January 18, 2017.
Several Israeli human rights NGOs warned in January that the legislation would lead to a “dramatic rise” in home demolitions in Arab towns.
“Reducing court involvement and taking administrative measures will lead to a situation in which residents have no means of appealing for legal assistance. And even if they do, the court’s consideration is limited and has no place in considering the circumstances of planning, the personalities or the type of building,” said Moran Aviv, a city planner for Sikkuy civil society organization.
Tel Aviv has accelerated its land grab and settlement construction activities in the occupied Palestinian lands after pro-Israel US President Donald Trump took office earlier this year. Human rights groups say Israel’s sustained demolitions of Palestinian homes are aimed at uprooting Palestinians from their native territories and expropriating more land for the expansion of settlements.
Israeli forces have demolished over 48,000 Palestinian homes and buildings since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian lands, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
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