Saudi Arabia Financing Illegal Construction Of Empty Arab Homes In Jerusalem To Take Over City
January 29, 2002

NEW YORK – An Israeli cabinet minister has revealed that Saudi Arabia is secretly financing a campaign by Yasir Arafat’s Palestinian Authority to illegally build thousands of homes in various parts of Jerusalem, is order to strengthen the Arab claim to the city.

Israeli cabinet minister Natan Sharansky said at a meeting of Jewish leaders in New York City on January 29, 2002, that in recent years, Arabs have illegally built at least 40,000 homes in Jerusalem, many of which are empty. When Sharanaksy, as Minister of Housing, ordered the dismantling of five of the empty houses, “CNN and everybody accused Israel of throwing people out of the houses, which is a lie.” Minister Sharansky said that the homes are “built for political reasons, in strategic areas of the city, along side roads and in areas where they can help split Jerusalem apart.” He said that the homes are “built by wealthy Arab contractors, paid for by Saudi Arabia.” When Israel dismantles any of them, “Arafat sends women and children to lay in the streets and cry hysterically that they have been thrown out of their homes. These people never lived in those homes, nobody did. They are simply Palestinian Arabs whom Arafat sent to act as if they were thrown out of their homes, for blatant propaganda purposes.”

Morton A. Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), said: “We urge the Bush administration to use its influence with Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority to halt this illegal construction activity. Everyone who has complained about Jewish construction in the territories—which is legal, peaceful, and permitted by the Oslo accords—should speak out against this Arab construction, which is illegal and proceeding at ten times the rate of Jewish construction.”

Other recent developments on this issue:

“Expansion of Illegal Arab Construction”: An investigative report by the Israeli daily Ha’aretz (June 5, 2000) found: “Illegal Arab construction has expanded to a magnitude hitherto unknown, with the backing of the Palestinian Authority … The Palestinians are building at a dizzying rate … In East Jerusalem and particularly the northern part of the city, apartment buildings are going up that are uninhabited.”

20,000 Illegal Arab Buildings in Jerusalem: “The Interior Ministry has counted 20,000 illegally built structures standing today in [Arab neighborhoods of] East Jerusalem. The number of illegal buildings swelled in 1999, with a new trend of multi-story structures going up with the encouragement of the Palestinian Authority.” (Ha’aretz, March 1, 2000)

“Uncontrolled Growth of Arab Settlements”: “Five Members of Knesset spoke out against uncontrolled growth of Arab settlements in northern Jerusalem .. ‘There is indiscriminate building by Arabs. The situation is bad and it’s worsening,’ said MK Eliezer Cohen.” (Jerusalem Post, February 23, 2000)

PA Encouraging Illegal Arab Construction in Jerusalem: “Israeli officials said the Palestinian Authority is encouraging illegal construction in Jerusalem as part of a struggle over the control of the city.” (Middle East Newsline, Nov. 16, 1999)

Building Boom in Ramallah: In the city of Ramallah, which is the PA’s administrative center, there is a “building boom” that has “accelerated helter-skelter … concrete commercial blocks and characterless apartment buildings have sprung up mushroom fashion…” (Jerusalem Report, April 26, 1999)

Arabs Are Building Ten Times as Much as the Israelis: According to the spokesman for the Prime Minister of Israel, the Palestinian Arabs in Judea-Samaria-Gaza “have more than 10 times the number of buildings under construction at the moment than those approved for the [Jewish] settlers.” (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 21, 1996)

Surge of Arab Housing Construction in Jerusalem: In a report broadcast on September 10, 1998, Israel Television’s Channel One revealed:

A Palestinian construction surge can be seen in Jerusalem’s Old City. During the last year, thousands of houses have been expanded in the Old City without licenses, with Palestinian Authority financing.

A year ago, Channel One uncovered the PA’s plan for wide scale construction within the Old City to the tune of millions of dollars. Today, we visited the area to whether this plan is being implemented. The picture emerging is that the Old City is being rebuilt. We were informed that with the help of mysterious funds, the PA is financing the construction of thousands of housing units. Most of the new housing units have been built without building licenses. According to law, it is absolutely forbidden to build on top of existing houses inside the Old City…Some houses have been built within one month.

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