U.N.: Zoning Laws Driving Palestinians Out

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RAMALLAH, West Bank, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Restrictive zoning and planning rules by Israel are forcing Palestinians out of an area in the West Bank, a U.N. report released Monday indicated.

The report said factors forcing Palestinians from “Area C” include difficulty in obtaining building permits, construction of a barrier, home demolitions and difficulty in accessing services such as schools and water, among other things, the United Nations said in a release.

Area C represents more than 60 percent of the West Bank where Israel retains control over security, planning and building, said the report, “Displacement and Insecurity in Area C of the West Bank,” prepared by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“Irrespective of the motivation behind the various policies applied by Israel to Area C, their effect is to make development impossible for many Palestinian communities,” said Ramesh Rajasingham, acting U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the territory.

“This pattern of displacement, along with ongoing Israeli settlement activity, undermines the ability of Palestinian communities to maintain their presence in Area C and raises concerns about demographic shifts and changes to the ethnic make-up of Area C,” Rajasingham said.

He said an estimated 150,000 Palestinians live in Area C, which includes significant land reserves available for Palestinian development and most of Palestinian agricultural and grazing land. An estimated 300,000 Israeli settlers live in Area C.

The U.N. agency urged the Israeli government to end the displacement and dispossession of Palestinians in the West Bank, including ending demolition of Palestinian-owned structures, until Palestinians can access a fair, non-discriminatory zoning and planning scheme, among other things.

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