Jewish Group Sues U.N. Over Squatting, Illegal Building

YERUSHALAYIM -
General view of Umm Lison village and Armon Hanatziv. (Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)

The Regavim organization has filed a lawsuit against the United Nations for illegal building in Yerushalayim, and against the Yerushalayim Municipality for turning a blind eye to the illegal construction. According to the organization, the U.N. is guilty of “serious violations” of building laws and codes in Armon Hanatziv, on property that belongs to the state.

According to the lawsuit, UNTSO – United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, a U.N. body that since 1948 has been charged with enforcing ceasefires between Israel and its Arab neighbors – has been building new structures in a historic compound that was the home of British Mandate headquarters in the 1930s. The building has been declared a historical site, but that has not stopped UNTSO from building a two story structure on the property. In addition, the lawsuit charges, the organization built an unlicensed gas station on the site.

In addition to UNTSO, the suit names the Yerushalayim Municipality and its building permits committee. The municipality, said the lawsuit, is obligated to remove the illegal structures, and it has so far failed to do so. Also named is the Israel Lands Administration for failing to protest the illegal construction as well.

In research done by Regavim, the organization discovered that the area that the U.N. was to use for its facilities totaled 44.6 dunam. The lease was given by the British government in perpetuity, for free. Since then, however, the area used by UNTSO has expanded to 77.5 dunam, with the extra space illegally taken over.

“Since the liberation of Jerusalem, Armon Hanatziv has been under Israeli control,” Regavim said in a statement. “In recent years the U.N. has acted as if it owns the area. It is conducting illegal work activities and building in an illegal manner on state land, without even the courtesy of asking for permissions. This is an unacceptable situation.”