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Attorney General Rejects Plan to Freeze Demolition Orders in Israeli Arab Towns

Avichai Mendelblit says a general freeze would be illegal, but main target is illegal construction that threatens national infrastructure.

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has rejected a proposal to temporarily freeze all demolition orders in Arab towns in exchange for quicker planning approvals and a commitment by local councils to prevent further illegal building.
The proposal was made at a meeting Sunday attended by Mendelblit and top deputies, Knesset members from the Joint List of Arab parties, and the chairman of the committee of Arab council heads, Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ghnaim.
Mendelblit said he couldn’t agree to a general freeze because it would be illegal. But he said he would give enforcement priority to illegal construction that undermined national projects or infrastructure, while a lesser priority would be the targeting of illegal construction in towns.
According to political sources, at the meeting Mendelblit mentioned the unrecognized village of Dahamesh near Lod. He said he was working with the Prime Minister’s Office to find a way to legalize its homes before a High Court hearing in the coming months on demolitions there.
“This was an important and professional meeting that got down to details about planning and construction, home demolitions, crime, weapons, the relationship between the police and Arab citizens, racist legislation, anti-Arab incitement, the secret Jewish National Fund report on preventing the expansion of Arab towns, and Dahamesh,” said MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) after the meeting.
“We asked for a total freeze on all demolition orders in Arab towns and more serious police work regarding crime and weapons seizures. We also brought up the discriminatory way the police dealt with the evacuation of Amona and th demolition in Umm al-Hiran.”
Tibi was referring to the evacuation of an illegal settler outpost in the West Bank and last month’s demolition of an illegal Bedouin community in the Negev, which ended in the deaths of a policeman and a local resident.
He added that there would be follow-up meetings on these issues with Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich.
Mendelblit noted that the police’s department for investigating police officers was investigating the Umm al-Hiran incident. “We want to know the truth about what happened there, exactly,” he said.
The Justice Ministry declined to comment further on the meeting.

Jack Khoury

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.772699Schermata 2017 02 20 alle 09.38.57

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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