The Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (PCDCR) organized a seminar about “Legal Study on the Housing Projects as an Equal Exchange for Gaza Government’s Employees”. Different work papers related to the main topic of the seminar had been submitted by significant figures who participated in this seminar such as Secretary General of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mr. Nafith El-Madhoun , Legal Advisor Mr. Abdul Karim Shabbir , head of Land Authority Ibrahim Radwan , vice-president of the Palestinian Bar Association Salama Bseiso ,and vice-president of land authority Hassan Abu Riala”. A group of lawyers, counselors, dignitaries, and mayors had attended the seminar, too.
Yunis Al-Tahrawy, the coordinator of “Toward a More Responsive Justice System in the Gaza Strip (Estijaba)” project which is funded by UNDP, indicated that this event is a part of the project activities. Al-Tahrawy mentioned that the subject of this seminar came up from the proposal which was supposed to be submitted to the Gazan government, about establishing housing projects for government employees as an equal exchange for their dues.
Al- Tahrawy stated that organizing this workshop is one of our responsibilities to find out how far this proposal could be compatible with the provision of law. Additionally, he added that this workshop is held with such specialists to conduct a legal study for the proposal.
Important recommendations were the outcome of this productive seminar; the legal affairs unit in PCDCR will organize another meeting to follow up this matter with both the Land Authority and the concerned authorities in the coming days.
The secretary-general of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Nafith El-Madhoun pointed out that the housing project is under progress since the 90s, stressing that the employees who have been serving out for ten years have the right to have a house as provided in Basic Law, article 26 ” Having an appropriate house is a right to every citizen and the Palestinian Authority seeks to provide a house to those who have not a house to live in. El-Madhoun explained that the project will not target the fixed income employees or private sector employees, but the process is dealing with the lands regarding the price of each meter of land. the owner of the given land has the right to sell his land like any private land, which will be not considered as a waste of the government funds.
For equality insurance between the government employees and the citizens, the secretary -general of the Palestinian Legislative Council declared that land parceling will be under the responsibility of the head of Land Authority, and the Legislative Council’s role is restricted to overseeing the parceling process. The only difference between employees and citizens will be in payment only.
The legal advisor, Abdul Karim Shubir, acknowledged that land parceling is illegal as the only one who can give permission to privatize lands is the President Mahmoud Abbas, and there is a decree provides for that the lands of the government are given away only through a concerned committee. This committee is composed by several ministries, with the authorization of the president himself, explaining that selling the lands to employees for free-market prices will not serve the citizens.
Ibrahim Radwan stated that “there is a misconception about parceling of lands, resenting the way of dealing with the issue”. He added, “we had not any plan regarding land parceling, but we had accredited plans from the legal system regarding the housing project from 1994 till 2011 with the underlie on housing associations“. “In my point of view, the big dilemma of salaries is a crime against humanity, and we are trying with these housing projects to alleviate the problem which could not be solved completely”, Radwan said. Also, he affirmed that he has the ability to manage this process by sealing on the act on behalf of the president, highlighting that the issue will be under study until it can be addressed in front of the court.
The former general deputy of lawyers, and a member of the Arab Lawyers Union ,Mr. Salama Bseiso blamed the political division for all the faced difficulties, and a lot of serious problems will come out after executing the plan of land parceling, like how to deal with the dues of the employees that will come after taking his prior dues which are before 2016. With condemning that the housing units will not be sufficient to the employees’ needs and living expenses. Bseiso said that if these projects will include also citizens as stipulated by the law of 1994, this will be fine.
The vice-president of Land Authority, Hassan Abu Ryala, believed that the project will not reset employees’ dues, and that housing projects are not governed by law but is governed by a verdict. He also mentioned that “there is not any land registered by the name of the president, but by the name of the Palestinian Authority, and that those who are willing to register and have the Palestinian citizenship, they have the right to apply for the project, and there is no one will be rejected even the employees who refrain from work “. Abu Riala said that “the Higher Committee will run the project until the problem is resolved”.
At the end of the meeting, different questions were directed to the head of the Land Authority, his deputy, the representative of the Palestinian Legislative Council, lawyers, and specialists. The answers of the question were that the president approved the housing projects, and the project is not obligatory for all the employees, as it is not an adhesion contract, and it will not substitute the full dues of the employees.