The past few years have seen a house by house, neighborhood by neighborhood attack on the settlements, by small but well funded organizations such as Peace Now and Yesh Din. They advance their cause of targeting and bringing down the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria through a staggering onslaught of belated, often dubious lawsuits.
Typically, those suits are filed years after Jewish residents had paid in full for their property, or were given the land and financial support by the Ministry of Housing and government agencies. Suddenly, an allegedly rightful, Palestinian owner of a plot of land or a house appears, with a document from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah which confirms his claim.
MK Zeev Elkin, who is Chairman of the subcommittee for Judea and Samaria, put it bluntly when he spoke to the Likud Central Committee assembly in Ulpana Hill, just as a graceful April sun was setting over Tel Aviv in the distance.
“After many years in which people have been living in their homes, comes a Palestinian with a note from the Palestinian Authority, and says, It’s mine. Whoever sold you this land – it wasn’t theirs to sell. No one checked the note, the court deliberation isn’t over yet, but the AG already was rushing back to the Supreme Court saying, yes, this is private land, it must be evacuated.”
“Imagine what would happen here, if the AG wins this fight,” Elkin continued. “If a note from the PA suffices to declare a land privately owned, tomorrow this will take place everywhere else in JS. In Bet El, in Ma’ale Edumim, in Ariel – and it won’t stop in JS. Because in the eyes of the PA, Jerusalem, too, and Be’er Sheva, Jaffa and Haifa – they’ll give a note to cover them as well.”
“But even this is not the most crucial point of this debate,” Elkin emphasized. “Do the people rule this country, or is it ruled by a few clerks in the Ministry of the Judiciary. Can it be imagined that millions of Israeli citizens go to the polls to change directions, and they elect a nationalist government. Then the Knesset and the government ministers express clearly their will, making it inconceivable that this neighborhood be evacuated. And then the Prime Minister directs his clerks in the Ministry of the Judiciary to prevent the evacuation – and they still persist” in advancing the same evacuation. “The question is, who governs this country? Who is the premier and who is the adviser? Did the AG appoint himself Prime Minister? Is this the situation?”
“We’ve gathered here,” Elkin concluded, “to answer very clearly – no.”
“Today the process is that they don’t go to a court, but instead they begin with filing an appeal with the Supreme Court,” MK Danon told me.
According to Danon, as many as 9,000 Jewish homes are currently under attack, and to date the Right has been unable to generate an emphatic legal means of protecting future, gradual Gush Katif tragedies.
In civil court, most of those claims would have been thrown out because they were filed too late, or the veracity of the documents would be challenged. But Israel’s Supreme Court has been accepting such lawsuits by the cartload recently, and employing a significantly less rigorous examination of the facts of each case.
Add to that an AG’s office with deep cultural roots in Israel’s secularist, largely anti-settlement Left, and you’ll end up with a serious threat to continued Jewish life in Judea and Samaria.
This is how a Knesset with a significant right-wing, pro-settlement majority, and a government coalition whose majority also supports the settlements, and some even the outright annexation of Judea and Samaria, ends up capitulating to a kind of permanent, left-wing, anti-settlement rule.
Those issues of a miniscule, left-wing, secularist elite ruling over a vast majority of Jews who are traditional-to-religious, permeate in many other aspects of Israel’s society, but they find their most poignant expression in the debate over the future of the disputed territories.