Jewish town won't let Arab build home on his own land

Aadel Suad first came to the planning and construction committee of the Misgav Local Council in 1997. Suad, an educator, was seeking a const...

Aadel Suad first came to the planning and construction committee of the Misgav Local Council in 1997. Suad, an educator, was seeking a construction permit to build a home on a plot of land he owns in the community of Mitzpeh Kamon. The reply he got, from a senior official on the committee, was a memorable one.

"Don't waste your time," he reportedly told Suad. "We'll keep you waiting for 30 years."

For Suad it's now been 12 years of fighting the committee's red tape to build a home on his own land. The reason, as far as he and his family are concerned, is singular: The local council doesn't want Arabs, with or without the legal amendments legalizing such objection that passed preliminary reading in the Knesset this week.

"We didn't invade the plot and we didn't take over the land," Suad says. "My grandfather has been here since the Turks. We have a land registry document proving ownership of three acres."

Suad's plot is on the northern edge of the hilltop community, founded in 1979. In 1984, Suad's land, along with others, was redefined as a development area rather than agricultural land. The land was divided into two plots. Suad and his family, who have been living in shacks on the site, were not informed.

"In 1990 we got a notice to pay capital gains taxes on the land, and they only told us about the changes when we asked for an explanation," he says.

The plots were split between the family and the Israel Land Administration. Only one plot was owned by the family - half an acre, minus half a square meter owned by the ILA.

Having paid the tax, Suad asked for a written confirmation of the change. "This usually takes a couple of days," he says. "They dragged it on for 8 months." While repeatedly refusing to sell the land or swap it for a plot outside Kamon, Suad was told that his plot is jointly owned by the ILA, because of the 50 square centimeters.

"They asked me for a document stating the ILA was giving up their part in the plot," Suad says. "It took the ILA another 4 years."

In 2007, the planning committee finally gave the construction permit, under four conditions: Suad would promise to demolish his shack, the future house would be moved by some 12 meters, Suad would contribute a part of the land to public needs, and he himself would ensure the house is connected to all infrastructure. Suad agreed to everything, but then found that no sewage line extended to his land. His suggestion to install a cesspit was rejected, despite this being a common practice in the community.

"I even offered to pave the 150 meters of the road at my own expense," Suad said. "We were supposed to meet about it on December 8, but then they told me the meeting was off."

"It's clear that the threat I heard in 1997 is coming true. They don't want us here. But I'll keep fighting until my children and I live on our private land," he said.

The Misgav Local Council rejected the accusations. The council said Suad's plot is located far from the other homes of the community and has no roads, sidewalks, lighting, water or sewer. All these would need to be connected through other plots, some of which are privately owned, the council said.

The council also said Suad's construction permit was conditioned on coming up with a plan to connect the plot to infrastructure, which he failed to produce in sufficient detail, or to accompany it with permits.


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