This study examined methods of law enforcement in Judea and Samaria in three case studies: enforcement of building laws, enforcement of water laws, and enforcement of traffic laws. The study’s objective is to present the reality on the ground, primarily according to findings in relevant State Comptroller reports, and to explain the problems involved in these issues and their broader context. The main findings are presented below:
- In the field of building it seems that there is significant under-enforcement, leading to many illegally constructed buildings not being demolished. This state of affairs stems from coordination and policy failures at different stages of the demolition process. Furthermore, no criminal enforcement exists against those violating the building laws.
- In the water field, the lack of coordination between all the relevant bodies results in almost unhindered water theft in Judea and Samaria. The authorities fail to efficiently seal the illegal boreholes and sever the pirate connections. Here too, the authorities fail to conduct criminal proceedings against violators of the law.
- In the field of traffic, there are two legal systems in Judea and Samaria. The Palestinians are tried before a military court while Israelis are tried by an Israeli court. A dispute regarding jurisdiction between the military prosecution and the Judea and Samaria Police has led to a situation whereby Palestinian drivers suspected of traffic offences are almost never brought to trial in the military courts.
In light of these findings, it would appear that the situation in Judea and Samaria is indeed one of complete lawlessness with frequent violations of the law and a lack of efficient enforcement against criminals. This state of affairs seriously impinges upon the quality of life of all the region’s residents – Jews and Arabs alike – as all are victims of the dangerous driving culture stemming directly from the lack of adherence to traffic laws, of a shortage in water caused, among others, by the water thefts and lack of infrastructure, and of the dangerous construction resulting from illegal and unsupervised building.
This study also examined the broad context of manifold violations of the law and found that additional underlying factors also contribute to the current state of affairs:
- A lack of infrastructures in the three fields examined; in authorization for legal building (for both populations), a water shortage (among the Palestinian population), and in suitable traffic infrastructures. We believe that these infrastructure issues are an underlying problem which, left unsolved, will prevent any enforcement, however efficient, from successfully eradicating the current state of lawlessness.
- In the area of water, it is clear that the Palestinian Authority plays a not insignificant role in contributing to the Palestinian population’s water shortage.
- In the traffic field we found that Area C is characterized by an especially unrestrained driving culture. This problem can only be fundamentally solved by investing additional resources in areas other than enforcement.
Because this region is under political dispute, it is our opinion that the only long-term solution for these underlying problems is imposition of Israeli sovereignty over the region. Imposition of sovereignty will enable an orderly allocation of resources in accordance with the needs of the population, will transfer exclusive and efficient management of the water field to Israeli hands, and will facilitate long-term eradication of the widespread dangerous driving habits.