With funding from multiple sources UN-Habitat Palestine is providing technical advice and support for community-led local planning for Palestinian communities in Israeli occupied and controlled Area C, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Area C is where Israel remains with full authority for planning issues, whereas the Palestinian Authority is authorized for planning in Area A and B. According to a recent survey conducted by UNOCHA, more than 300.000 Palestinians live partially or totally in land designated as Area C of which development is tightly restricted by the Israeli authorities through limiting the number and scope of land use plans prepared for new development rights, blocking the number of permits issued for construction and issuing demolition orders for buildings that are constructed without permission. The Spatial Planning Support Programme for Palestinian Communities in Area C of the West Bank assists Palestinians in Area C to plan according to their real needs and resist displacement through the use of outline and other plans to prevent demolition of property. In contrast, the Israeli population living in settlements and outposts in Area C has substantially expanded over the last 20 years, with now an estimated 325,000 Israelis living in some 135 settlements and outposts. Many of the Palestinian communities are severely restricted if not threatened by displacement because of proximity to these settlements.
The planning support by UN-Habitat, in partnership with the Palestinian Authority (Ministry of Local Government) and local NGO’s, has three strategic objectives: (1) planning in Area C is made more effective by ensuring that the planning systems applied is technically coherent and in line with Palestinian needs, (2) Palestinian capacity for planning and local governance is enhanced in Area C, and (3) coordinated advocacy for changes in the restrictive planning system of Area C is strengthened and based on a comprehensive information and monitoring system.
While the basic strategy is centred around using statutory local outline planning as a tool for both the recognition of the affected communities and for adding or restoring planning and building rights, a complementary strategy of deploying non-statutory tools (such as place-making and city-region plans) is added to address the right to development and implement the local plans for a well-planned improvement of the living conditions in these communities, often remote or deprived. Underpinning these initiatives is the utilization of spatial planning as a tool to improve participatory local governance.