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January 21, 2017 / 23 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘settlement’

How the EU’s Settlement Policy Legitimizes Mass Dispossession

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

{Written by Lyn Julius and originally posted to The Jerusalem Post}
Cairo”s Tahrir Square is once more in the news: revolution and counter-revolution, protest and put-down. But some issues never capture the headlines: for instance, did you know that at least 13 villas and public buildings around the square (including the present Swiss, German, Canadian, Russian, US, Korean, Bahraini and Algerian embassies) were once the residences of wealthy Jews – properties seized by the Egyptian state?

Together with humbler properties owned by Egypt”s 80,000-strong Jewish community – itself now on the verge of extinction – these grand residences stand as silent witnesses to mass dispossession. The Jewish owners never received compensation and were summarily expelled in the 1950s.

A feature about the Tahrir Square embassies appeared in the Hebrew press on the day that, in order to force Israel to make concessions for peace, the EU announced it was banning co-operation with Israeli institutions that operate beyond the ”pre-1967 borders” – the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The EU regards these territories as ‘Arab land’.

With its anti-settlement policy, the EU is sending a clear signal that it is acceptable for the Arab states, goaded by the Palestinian leadership, to ”ethnically cleanse” the Jewish population of the so-called Palestinian territories, the Middle East and North Africa, but that Jews living a few meters beyond the 1948 armistice lines are obstacles to peace.

The idea that the territories beyond the Green Line should be Jew-free received a ringing endorsement from Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas just as US secretary of state John Kerry sat Israelis and Palestinians down to peace talks in Washington DC. Not a single Israeli would be allowed in a Palestinian state, Abbas announced.

Like the Palestinians, the EU assumes that the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are ‘Arab land.’ But nothing is ever that simple in the Middle East. Land ownership is a tangled web, although that”s a point not often made by the Israeli government.

The Golan Heights are almost universally considered ”Syrian” territory and yet the Jewish National Fund lays claim to 73.974 dunams in southern Syria. The earliest purchase was made in the 1880s.

Similarly, land ownership in Jerusalem and the ”West Bank” is far more complex than the EU thinks. The ”Jewish settlements” north of Jerusalem, Atarot and Neve Yaakov, were evacuated in 1948. Mount Scopus – technically in ”Arab” East Jerusalem – remained a Jewish enclave in Jordanian-controlled territory.

It is also little known that hundreds of thousands of Arab squatters in ”Arab East Jerusalem” live on land still owned by the Jewish National Fund. The JNF purchased hundreds of individual parcels of land in and around Jerusalem during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. In 1948, on one of these parcels the UN built the Kalandia refugee camp. The Deheishe refugee camp south of Bethlehem was also built on JNF land.

In the 1920s and 30s Iraqi and Iranian Jews queued up to buy parcels of JNF land; after the 1948 war, they were cut off from their purchases when these came under Jordanian rule, as Gil Zohar explained in his 2007 Jerusalem Post piece. In total 145.976 dunams (I dunam = 1,000 sq. m) of Jewish land is said to have come under Jordanian control. (Jewish property claims against Arab countries by Michael Fischbach, p 85).

In Abu Dis, the site of the putative Palestinian parliament, some 598 dunams of land are actually Jewish-owned as even Palestinian organisations acknowledge.
During the 1920s and 30s the ‘Agudat HaDayarim’ Jewish Cooperative Society was established in Jerusalem in order to create Jewish neighbourhoods outside the Old City. The Society had over 210 members, from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds – including Persian, Iraqi and Yemenite Jews. In 1928 the Aguda purchased 598 dunams of land on the city outskirts in Abu Dis in order to build a ‘Garden Community’ (homes with agricultural plots). Although it acquired a legal title to the area, the Arab revolts of 1929 and 1936-9 prevented the Aguda from establishing the new community. The War of Independence resulted in the Jewish-owned lands in Abu Dis coming under the control of the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property.
Another 16.684.421 dunams of Jewish land in the rural West Bank – including the Gush Etzion settlements, land between Nablus, Jenin and Tulkarm, and in Bethlehem and Hebron – were seized by the Jordanians after 1948.

Even before 1948, riots and massacres caused Jews of the centuries-old Yishuv to evacuate their homes in Hebron and parts of Jerusalem.

Before it fell to the Arab Legion in 1948, Jerusalem had a Jewish majority. The first refugees from eastern Jerusalem were Jews from the Shimon Hatzaddik quarter – the site of the tomb of Simon the High Priest. The Old City of Jerusalem became ”judenrein” as thousands of Jews were expelled, leaving their property behind. The Old City was ransacked and some 58 synagogues were destroyed during the 19-year Jordanian occupation. Jews were banned from their holiest places.

There is a respectable body of opinion which argues that most Israeli settlements are legal. Even if Israel were to agree that the Jewish settlements stigmatized by the EU are illegal under international law, the proportion of land ”built on Arab land” in the West Bank represents a tiny fraction of the Jewish-owned land abandoned or seized as a matter of deliberate policy in Arab countries.

The issue of Jewish settlements has to be seen in the context of the mass exchange of land and population between Jews and Arabs across the entire region.

The status quo represents an exchange far more favorable to Arabs than to Jews. According to economist Sidney Zabludoff, the Jewish refugees – 75 percent of whom resettled in Israel – lost assets worth twice as much as those abandoned by Palestinian refugees.

On the macro-level, the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries estimates that Jews living in Arab countries owned some 100,000 sq km of deeded property, equivalent to four or five times the size of Israel itself.

Many cities in the ”Arab” Middle East and North Africa had large Jewish populations. Baghdad was a quarter Jewish. Within a generation, the Jewish population of the Arab world will have been ‘cleansed’ out of existence.

Evidently, private ownership of property does not equate to sovereignty. But many people – the EU included – assume that areas inhabited in Jerusalem and the ‘West Bank’ by a majority of Arabs – regardless of whether they established that majority at the expense of Jews – should naturally come under Arab sovereignty. Organizations like J-Street and Yachad are willing to fight for Arab squatters’ rights; you would be hard-pressed to find any human rights group or NGO prepared to campaign for Jewish property rights.

The suggestion is never considered that the attacking parties in the 1967 war – Syria and Jordan – should be made to forfeit territory as the price for their aggression. No Arab state has been held to account for ‘ethnically cleansing’ their innocent Jewish citizens whom they branded, from 1948 onwards, as ‘members of the minority of Palestine’. Instead, the Arab states have pocketed the spoils. It goes without saying that no Arab government has paid out any compensation for lost Jewish property.

Israel is expected to make all the concessions.

East Jerusalem was annexed to Israel; some Jews have recovered their properties, and settlements predating 1948 have been re-established since the ‘West Bank’ came under Israeli control. But those Jews who purchased parcels of land in East Jerusalem and its periphery have not been allowed to recover lands purchased from the JNF.

The reason is that these come under the jurisdiction of the ”Jordanian Custodian for Enemy Property” .

The irony is that the Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews among them are screwed twice over: by the Arab states, who forced them to become refugees and dispossessed them of their original dwellings in Arab countries – be these mansions in Tahrir Square or rather more modest abodes ; and by Israel, which, in compliance with international law, will not, as a general rule, allow Jewish-owned lands beyond the Green Line to revert to their original owners until a final peace settlement is signed.

In all the discussion of ‘Jewish settlements’ the international community has a decontextualised and distorted idea of just who has dispossessed whom – and the Israeli government is not exactly helping to enlighten them.

Point of No Return

Justice Minister Shaked: Our Father Abraham Purchased This Place With A Valid Legal Document

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked visited the Jewish community in Hebron on Tuesday (Jan. 10) for a tour of the ancient Jewish holy sites in the city.

The Justice Minister told reporters she was pleased to be “at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron where our father’s fathers walked and were even buried.

“Lately, much has been said regarding our rights to this land, and many legal issues as well,” she said.

“Let us teach those who do not know: Abraham our father bought this place paying full price and a written deed — maybe the first of its kind in the world — and therefore it is obvious the Jewish community has every right to be here, including by right of purchase.

“It is specifically at this time, when the UN condemns Israel’s right to build in Judea and Samaria, [that] it is important to come here, to strengthen the Jewish community in Hebron and to proclaim that we will indeed hold the right to keep building in Judea and Samaria.”

Just the night before, Israeli Border Guard Police officers had prevented a major terrorist attack when they stopped a suspicious-looking vehicle traveling in the Hebron area.

A search of the vehicle, which bore license plates from a stolen Israeli vehicle, turned up a hatchet, a rifle, a sizable quantity of ammunition and weapons parts. A body search of the driver also revealed he was carrying a commando knife, but was without identity papers of any kind. Nor was he willing to answer questions or cooperate with police.

Hana Levi Julian

Guess When The Last New Settlement Was Created

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

From John Kerry’s speech and similar remarks made by other Obama administration officials in recent years, you would think Israel has been building new settlements day and night.

Yet the fact is that no Israeli government has established a single new settlement in more than twenty years.

When Labor opposition leader Yitzhak Rabin was campaigning for prime minister in 1992, he strongly criticized the Likud government for establishing new Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Rabin argued that if Israel would stop creating settlements, the Palestinians would make peace and the world would stop being so hostile toward the Jewish state.

Rabin’s thesis was based on hope and speculation, not historical experience. But he won that election, so he had the opportunity to test his thesis. And he did. Reviewing Rabin’s first several years in power, The New York Times noted on January 20, 1995 that Rabin entered office “promising to rein in the aggressive settlement-building of his predecessor” and he proceeded to implement a policy in which “no new settlements are authorized.”

When Benjamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister for the first time, in 1996, he continued that policy: no new settlements were established. Of course, construction within existing settlements continued. As Yitzhak Rabin had said in his famous last speech to the Knesset, on October 5, 1995: “We committed ourselves…not to hinder building for natural growth.”

How could Rabin have done otherwise? People had children, children needed schools, and when they grew up into young adults, they needed apartments. That’s called life. Nobody could expect the Israeli government – whether Likud or Labor – to choke off people’s lives.

Both Likud and Labor did, of course, continue to develop new neighborhoods in Jerusalem. The notion that parts of Israel’s capital are “settlements” is an absurdity that is rejected among Israelis from right to left.

There are some scattered little “outposts” in Judea-Samaria, but the government has not sanctioned them. Some of those outposts, in fact, have been torn down by the government. A few that were built on the land of existing settlements have been permitted to remain. Others are in legal limbo. But only a tiny number of Israelis reside in the outposts; the idea that they constitute obstacles to peace is laughable.

Not only has the government not authorized any new settlements since 1992, but Prime Minister Netanyahu, whom Kerry smeared as an “extremist,” even froze all construction in existing settlements for 10 months, because the Obama administration insisted that would bring the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table. The Obama theory was quickly exposed as a fantasy.

That’s not all. Israel has already torn down existing authorized settlements. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dismantled 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza region and expelled their thousands of residents. Israel was hit by tens of thousands of rockets in return.

So there you have it. No new settlements in 24 years. An unprecedented 10-month freeze on construction in existing settlements. Twenty-one settlements torn down. Only a tiny handful of Israelis living in shacks in some inconsequential hilltop outposts.

According to the anti-settlement crowd, Israel by now should have peace with the Palestinians and should be loved by the world.

Instead, we see exactly the opposite.

The Palestinians are even more violent today. The world hates Israel even more. And the Obama administration is obsessed with picking fights with Israel – over, of all things, the settlements.

How can this paradox be explained?

The answer may have more to do with psychology than anything else. The psychology of bullies, to be precise.

We live in a world full of countries that are bullies. They occupy other people’s land (see: Russia). They sponsor terrorism against people of other faiths (see: Iran). They explode if an American president-elect takes a phone call from a rival (see: China). They swallow each other alive (see: countless warring African countries).

They respect countries that are strong and self-confident. They despise and take advantage of countries that seem timid or hesitant. When they see weakness, they smell blood. Israel’s constant concessions – from halting new settlements to releasing imprisoned terrorists to stopping wars in Lebanon and Gaza short of victory – have been seen as signs of weakness. Israel is seen as stumbling, ineffectual, unworthy of respect, perhaps on the verge of collapse. Israel is seen as a country that everyone naturally gangs up on, because everyone assumes the Israelis will make yet more concessions.

That’s what brings us to today’s peculiar reality, in which Israel makes repeated concessions on settlements, and Obama, Kerry, and the UN become even more obsessed with settlements. Fortunately, there appears to be light at the end of this miserable tunnel, as Israel’s leaders join hands with America’s new leadership to forge a better future for both countries.

Stephen M. Flatow

Mike Huckabee: State for Palestinian Authority a ‘fantasy’

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

by Andrew Friedman

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee planted an olive tree overlooking the Judean Desert on the southeastern edge of Ma’ale Adumim Tuesday, saying the tree would come to provide shade for a park in a planned neighborhood, and slamming last month’s UN Security Resolution condemning Israeli communities as “embarrassing.”

Huckabee added hopes that incoming U.S. President-elect Donald J. Trump moves the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Backed by a red banner reading ‘Build Israel Great Again’ just one day after the Jewish Home Knesset faction held its weekly meeting in Ma’ale Adumim order to launch a campaign to annex the city, Huckabee took a selfie with Ma’ale Adumim mayor Benny Kasriel to show that Israeli “settlements” are not a group of tents on isolated hilltops, but rather established cities.

“Ma’ale Adumim is a remarkable place,” Huckabee said. “It is five times bigger than the town I grew up in, with 41,000 people.

Although Huckabee does not have an official role in the Trump transition team – he turned down a position in the new administration – the former governor’s visit to Israel just two weeks before Inauguration Day is seen as a sign of both the incoming administration’s support for expanding Israeli control in Judea and Samaria, and as a statement of intention that the new president seeks to forge a new relationship after eight rocky years between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and outgoing President Barack Obama.

“I don’t speak for the incoming administration, but I pray that his policies will be radically different than those of President Obama, which have been – to put it mildly – anti-Israel,” Huckabee said.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Bennett Takes Down CNN on Occupation (Again)

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Minister Naftali Bennett explains to the CNN anchor how Israel can not be an occupier in its own land.

 

 

 

Video of the Day

It’s Time to Build in Efrat

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Mayor of Efrat Oded Revivi signed the permits to allow construction of new homes in the Givat Ha’Tamar neighborhood of Efrat, on December 18, 2016.

Sitting with him are members of the Efrat municipality and city council.

Despite the delays, freezes, bureaucracy and problems with the neighbors, hopefully, we’ll soon see many more signed construction permits in Efrat.

Givat Tamar in Efrat Givat Ha’Tamar in Efrat under construction

Photo of the Day

You Can Help Support a Counter-Terrorism Unit in the Jewish State [video]

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Rain or shine, the Efrat counter-terrorism Rapid Response Team goes out when needed. The Kitat Koninut unit is made up of volunteers under the auspices of the IDF, and is on call 24/7 – and they go out 24/7.

On Monday, this special team of people spent the day training in urban warfare and counter-terrorism techniques – in the pouring rain.

If you want to help this special unit and group of people, this is your chance.

You can sponsor a waterproof fleece jacket for the counter-terrorism team via the organization Standing Together.

Each jacket costs $60, and 45 jackets are needed.

Check out that helicopter in the middle of the video below:

You can be part of protecting Israel, click here.

 

Video of the Day

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/multimedia/video-picks/you-can-help-support-a-counter-terrorism-unit-in-israel-video/2016/12/20/

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