Ha’aretz Tales on Building Permits Grow Taller

With each telling, Ha’aretz‘s falsehood on building permits for east Jerusalem Arabs becomes further inflated, despite the fact that editors were provided with corrective information. Thus, on May 17, 2006 Jonathan Lis falsely claimed: “Since 1967, almost no building permits have been issued for the eastern part of the capital” (“More demolitions carried out in East Jerusalem than in west,” emphasis added).

Today, Lis revisits the issue of building permits, this time stating: “the Interior Ministry and the Jerusalem municipality have not issued building permits in East Jerusalem since 1967.”

This is patently false. As CAMERA earlier reported in response to Lis’ 2006 falsehood:

A 2003 study by Justus Reid Weiner of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs notes that “the average number of permits issued to Arabs annually during the past five years is 183 ….” In other words, 915 permits were issued between 1997 and 2001. Based on a graph by the same source, about 3000 permits were issued between 1976 and 2001.

Graph from “Illegal Construction in Jerusalem: A Variation on an Alarming Global Phenomenon,” Justus Reid Weiner

After 2001, permits continued to be freely issued in eastern Jerusalem, with over 100 permits per year issued from 2002 through 2005.

A separate study by Israel Kimhi, former Municipal City Planner for Jerusalem, resulted in similar findings. Kimhi writes that between 1971 and 1994 “the Jerusalem Municipality granted permits for 9 million square meters of built area for residential purposes, 12% (1.1 million sq.m.) to the Arab sector” (“Arab Building in Jerusalem: 1967-1997,” pg. 37). Since the density of apartments in the Arab sector, excluding the old city’s Muslim Quarter, is 1.9 units per dunam, one can extrapolate that permits granted in those years covered roughly 2090 units.

Not only are permits issued to eastern Jerusalem, but, as Weiner’s study notes, “the percentage of applications that result in the issuance of a building permit is virtually identical in Arab and Jewish neighborhoods” of Jerusalem. Furthermore, the study shows, the city has “authorize[d] the issuance of in excess of 33,000 permits for new housing units in the Arab sector,” suggesting that the number of permits issued to the Arab sector could be much higher if only more individuals from that sector would apply for permits. (Or as Weiner puts it: “based on the limited number of application for building permits in the recent years, the Arab residents of the City have not taken full advantage of the potential that exists.”)

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