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Haaretz: “Routine Anarchy” of the Israeli Colonies

by Akiva Eldar, September 21st

Last Tuesday, the Interior Ministry held another session of the inquiry commission on changing Modi’in Ilit’s status from that of a local council to a city. Ostensibly, this is a routine process of upgrading a community that meets the accepted standards. In effect, we have before us another example of the anarchy prevailing beyond the Green Line.

While the Interior Ministry discussed the proposal to grant Modi’in Ilit local council head Yaakov Guterman the lofty title of “mayor,” the State Prosecutor’s Office central district was discussing the criminal file of that same Guterman, who is suspected of fraud and breach of trust. Guterman is suspected of being selected as council leader (not elected – he was appointed based on rabbinic instructions) even though he was actually a resident of Bnei Brak.

Elsewhere, in the offices of the National Fraud Squad in Bat Yam, there has been an ongoing investigation since this March into the large-scale illegal construction in the Matityahu neighborhood of Modi’in Ilit. The High Court of Justice has already ordered a halt to the construction of 1,500 housing units, which were built contrary to the municipal master plan, and the State Prosecutor’s Office agreed to submit the matter for police investigation.

Among those who appeared before the investigating committee was Shmuel Heisler, the local council’s internal auditor, who exposed the case of the illegal construction. Dror Etkes, head of the Peace Now’s settlement monitoring team, also appeared before the committee. Etkes disclosed that during Guterman’s tenure, a school was built on privately owned Palestinian land. He has current photos of bulldozers preparing the ground for a new park, which is, amazingly enough, also on gentiles’ privately owned lands.