Diakonia - People change the world

The Planning Regime

The planning regime in operation in Area C of the West Bank has led to several concerns been raised by numerous actors. The limited, if not almost complete denial of Palestinian permits for building, the association with illegal policies such as settlements, the wall and demolitions of private property, as well as it being the tool which often impedes humanitarian and development assistance, has led to Diakonia undertaking a detailed legal analysis of the planning regime.

Planning Regime

An assessment of the planning regime imposed by Israel from the persepctive of international law, leads to a clear conclusion: it is contrary to international law and obligations as it does not respect the local laws, manners and customs of the protected population. Additionally, the planning process fails to ensure the basic needs and public order, safety and civil life of the Palestinian population, particularly in Area C. Instead, the Israeli planning system undermines Palestinians rights and safeguards under both IHL and IHRL. Moreover, it facilitates unlawful acts, including destruction of property and forcible population transfer, expropriation of land, establishment of settlement and their associated regime, and economic exploitation of occupied territory, including wide-spread pillage of natural resources -  as well as the further entrenchment of the Wall and the annexation of East Jerusalem.

The permit and planning process is further unreasonably lengthy, highly ineffective, discriminatory and detrimental to both Palestinian civilians and international tax payers whose money is invested in an unlawful mechanism. Moreover, the planning regime disenfranchises Palestinian ownership of appropriate planning institutions, denies the effective administration of justice and exercise by the Palestinian People of their right to self-determination. 

Under Israeli zoning policy, Palestinians can build in just 13% East Jerusalem and in just 1% of Area C. In both cases these areas are already heavily built up and highly urbanized areas. Consequently, over 94% of Palestinian applications for building permits in Area C have been rejected in recent years.[1] In East Jerusalem, Palestinians are also at risk of displacement due to housing shortages, residency-related issues, and complex and discriminatory planning schemes.

This type of demolition accounts for approximately 23% of all demolitions between 1967-2012, and has continued in 2012, following a significant increase between 2009 and 2011 when there was a 130% increase in the number of structures demolished and a 175% increase in the number of people displaced in Area C of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.[2] In 2012, a total of 613Palestinian-owned structures were demolished, resulting in the forcible transfer of 879 individuals.[3] Another 4,102 people were otherwise affected, due to demolitions of animal shelters, water cisterns and other structures related to their livelihood or by the destruction of infrastructure, including roads. Between January and May 2013, 253 structures were demolished, and 459 people were forcibly transferred.[4]

Thousands of Palestinians remain at risk of demolitions and displacement in Area C and East Jerusalem, most notably in areas of strategic prominence such as communities in the Jerusalem periphery and in the Jordan Valley. Demolitions target vulnerable communities including Bedouin and herder communities, who have often been displaced several times since 1948. In 2011, 60% of the total structures demolished were in pastoral communities; these residents represent more than 80% of the total people displaced.[5]

Legal Analysis of Planning Regime

A assessment of the planning regime by Diakonia led to the conclusion that the planning regime violates international law due to the fact that:

Illegal changes to domestic legislation in contravention of international law: Military Order 418 removed Palestinian participation in the planning process (Read about when the occupying power can change local law);

Facilitates unlawful policies such as illegal settlements, the Wall, and the annexation of East Jerusalem;

Fails to meet Israel’s obligation to ensure public order, safety and civil life;

Fails to meet Israel’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of the protected population;

Fails to meet Israel’s obligation to protect private property and puts protected persons at risk of being forcibly transferred;

Systematically impedes the delivery of humanitarian and development aid to Area C; and

Infringes upon the Palestinians right to self-determination.

The overall consequence is a restrictive, discriminatory and unlawful planning regime that obstructs Palestinian development in Area C, and that prevents the maintenance of order and safety. 

Read the full report: Planning to Fail


[1] Occupied Palestinian Territory Consolidated Appeal, United Nations, 2013.

[2] Humanitarian Monitor Monthly Report, UNOCHA, April 2013.

[1] Restricting Space: The Planning Regime applied by Israel in Area C of the West Bank, UNOCHA, December 2009.

[2] Occupied Palestinian Territory Consolidated Appeal, United Nations, 2013.

[3] Humanitarian Monitor Monthly Report, UNOCHA, April 2013.

[4] Protection of Civilians, UNOCHA, 27 May 2013.

[5] The Judaization of Palestine: 2011 Displacement Trends, Israeli Committee Against House Demolition (ICAHD), January 2012.