In a new article, Architects Without Borders, a group that focuses on human rights in architecture, explains why building in the West Banks has not been recognized internationally as a human right.
The article, titled “The Architecture of the Land” argues that the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to recognize the right of Palestinians to build in the occupied West Bank is not only a violation of international law, but also a human rights violation.
“This is because the construction of new homes on private Palestinian land is an integral part of the PA’s policy of displacing the Palestinians from their land, as well as the PA government’s policy for displacing Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territories,” the article says.
“While the PA recognizes that there are other legal mechanisms for dealing with such issues, it is also clear that the PA is still not taking these issues seriously.”
The architects say the PA continues to ignore the rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, and continues to impose on them discriminatory building practices.
“It is no coincidence that in the last five years the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip has experienced a steep decline in housing,” the architects write.
“Despite the PA establishing a moratorium on the construction and renovation of new housing in the territories, it has not ceased its systematic demolitions of Palestinian structures.”
The article also explains that the construction process for new housing is discriminatory, with Palestinian residents being forced to live in makeshift buildings without any means of electricity, running water, sewage or sanitation.
In response to the report, the Palestinian Development and Housing Authority (PDAHE) said in a statement:”The report is an affront to our dignity as human beings and an affliction to our culture,” said PDAHE spokesperson Khaled Abu Shuaqa.
“The Palestinian Authority has a responsibility to implement human rights measures that safeguard the dignity of Palestinian citizens and to ensure that Palestinian homes are built according to the highest standards and that Palestinians living in the areas where they are living have adequate access to clean water and safe sanitation.”
“In light of the recent reports and the Palestinian Legislative Council’s decision to take action on human right violations, we ask the government of Palestine to ensure a clear and consistent implementation of human rights policies and measures in the area of construction,” the PDAH statement said.