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January 21, 2017 / 23 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘settlements’

The REAL Illegal Settlements

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Gatestone Institute website}

As the international community continues to slam Israel for construction in Jewish settlement communities, Palestinians are quietly engaging in massive construction of entire neighborhoods in many parts of the West Bank and Jerusalem. In addition to overlooking the Palestinian building project, the West has clearly been neglecting a crucial difference between the two efforts: while the construction in the Jewish settlements of the West Bank and neighborhoods of Jerusalem has long been carried out within the frame of the law and in accordance with proper licenses issued by the relevant authorities, the Palestinian construction is illegal in every respect.

In this behind-the-scenes endeavor, which does not meet even the most minimum standards required by engineers, architects and housing planners, the Palestinian goal is to create irreversible facts on the ground.

A quick tour of the areas surrounding Jerusalem from the north, east and south easily exposes the colossal construction that is taking place there. In most cases, these high-rise buildings are slapped together without licenses or any adequate planning or safety concerns.

The Jewish outpost of Amona in the central West Bank, home to 42 families, is currently the subject of fiery controversy both in Israel and in the international arena. In 2006, the High Court of Israel ruled that the outpost is illegal under Israeli law because it lies on private Palestinian land. In 2014, the High Court ordered the government to evacuate and demolish the entire outpost within two years.

In Israel, as Amona demonstrates, no one is above the law. Israel boasts an independent judiciary system that is second to none.

Yet as the debate in Israel intensifies over the fate of Amona, the Palestinians are making a mockery of laws and building regulations by embarking on massive construction of illegal neighborhoods and buildings. Apparently, settlements are only a “major obstacle to peace” when they are constructed by Jews.

In recent years and continuing to the present, the Palestinians, with the aid of Western donors for whom only Jewish construction is anathema, are working night and day to create irreversible facts in the form of not just single-family houses, but masses of giant high-rise buildings. The sheer enormity of the project raises the question: Who has been funding these massive cities-within-cities? And why? There is good reason to believe that the PLO and some Arabs and Muslims, and especially the European Union are behind the Palestinian initiative.

Ironically, this has been taking place even when it means that the Palestinians have been stealing land from our own people.

The Palestinian building is taking place mostly in what is called Area C of the West Bank, which, under the terms of the Oslo Accords, is supposed to be under exclusive Israeli control. The building has also been mushrooming in many neighborhoods — even in entire villages — surrounding Jerusalem from the north, east and south, leaving the city with only one option: to expand towards the west, thereby building a giant collar of cement effectively to surround and choke off Jerusalem from the Jews.

Recently, entire Arab neighborhoods with crowded high-rises have shot up around Jerusalem. Only a handful of steps separate some of the buildings, and most lack proper sewage systems. Apartment prices range from $25,000 to $50,000 USD. These are ridiculous prices compared with the real costs of apartments in both Arab and Jewish (legal) neighborhoods in Jerusalem. Today, it is almost impossible to purchase a three-room apartment in the city for less than $250,000 USD.

The new neighborhoods are located in Kufr Akab, Samiramis, Kalandya, Beit Hanina, Shufat, Ras Khamis and Anata in the north of Jerusalem.

In the southern and eastern parts of the city, new neighborhoods have emerged with noticeable suddenness in Ras Al-Amoud, A-Tur, Al-Zaim, Jabal Mukaber, Um Tuba and Jabal Mukaber. These areas fall within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. However, failing to halt the illegal construction and leaving the city besieged from north, east and south, Jerusalem Municipality officials admit that Israel will have lost the war against illegal Palestinian construction unless immediate action is taken.

Alarmed by the ongoing illegal construction, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat recently took the unprecedented measure of petitioning the High Court to allow the city to demolish 14 illegally built structures in east Jerusalem.

Most importantly, there is no housing crisis for the Arab population; it is not an Arab housing crisis that is prompting this spree of illegal Palestinian construction. Rather, the goal is political: to show the world that Jerusalem is an Arab, and not a Jewish, city. By and large, the apartments remain empty: there is simply no real demand.

Who is behind the unprecedented wave of illegal construction? According to Arab residents of Jerusalem, many of the “contractors” are actually land-thieves and thugs who lay their hands on private Palestinian-owned land or on lands whose owners are living abroad. But they also point out that the EU, the PLO and some Arab and Islamic governments are funding the project.

“They spot an empty plot of land and quickly move in to seize control over it,” said a resident whose land was “confiscated” by the illegal contractors.

“They tell you if you don’t like it, go to court, knowing that by the time the legal procedures are over they would have succeeded in building another tall building and even selling some of the apartments.

“Many Arab land owners feel helpless. They tell us that it is their national duty to build as much as they can on any empty land, otherwise the Jews would be building there.”

Palestinians estimate that in the past few years they have managed to build more than 15,000 illegal housing units in areas surrounding Jerusalem as part of a plan to encircle the city. The construction continues to this moment, unabated. Partial funding comes from the Palestinian Authority (PA) and some Arab and Islamic countries These countries include Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and other oil-rich countries in the Gulf. However, the Palestinians continue to complain that the Arab and Islamic funding is below expectations.

In Area C, a stretch of land accounting for 60% of the West Bank, the European Union, which bitterly condemns construction in Jewish settlements as illegal, openly funds illegal construction carried out by Palestinians. The EU argues that its support for Palestinian construction falls under the category of “humanitarian relief” and is permissible under international law.

The EU’s real goal is to help the Palestinians create these irreversible facts on the ground ahead of any possible future peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel. It is aimed at facilitating the mission of the Palestinians to seize as much land as possible, even if that means funding illegal construction or providing mobile homes to Palestinian communities in this area.

In short, it is the EU and some Arabs and Muslims who are paying for the construction of illegal Palestinian settlements, while demanding that Israel halt building new homes for Jewish families in Jerusalem neighborhoods or existing settlements in the West Bank.

The hypocrisy and raw malice of the EU and the rest of the international community toward the issue of Israeli settlements is blindingly transparent. Yet we are also witnessing the hypocrisy of many in the Western mainstream media — those dozens of correspondents who see with their own eyes the Palestinian settlements rising on every side of Jerusalem, but choose to report only about Jewish building.

Forty-two Jewish families in Amona have the world riveted, but what does the world think about the Palestinian land-grab? It is time to call out this treachery, this illegality and this double-standard, and demand that the Palestinians also cease the construction of illegal settlements, which are designed with one aim in mind: to pre-determine the outcome of any future peace deal.

Bassam Tawil

An Open Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

I’m going to address this status to John Kerry directly, in the hopes he’ll somehow read it.

Mr. Secretary, you were recently videotaped saying, “I have this map that shows all the sectors where the violence has been in-in Israel…in-in-in…and in the territories, and you will see that it’s where the settlements are.”

Let’s examine this sentence, shall we? There’s a lot to unpack, so please bear with me.

First of all, it’s good you have maps, Mr. Kerry. As Secretary of State, I’d say ‘having maps’ is much better than ‘not having maps.’ You clearly do not fall into Ms. North Carolina’s category of people who can’t find the Iraq, and, such as.

Hey, if you’ve got those maps you just said you do, could you specify where it is you’re referencing? I was under the impression that the United States State Department (your department, if I’m not mistaken) is of the opinion that Judea and Samaria, or “the territories,” are not part of Israel. Your stammering in this sentence leads me to believe that it’s difficult for you to distinguish between the two. Why do think that would be? Why would it be difficult to intellectually separate Israel with areas it acquired legitimately in a defensive war? Why would it be hard to differentiate between the Jewish State and areas which contain within them the bulk of Jewish history in the area? Maybe you just needed a drink, I don’t know.

You know, I have maps myself, and if you take a look, you’ll see that the areas hit by rockets fired by Hamas are nowhere near any settlements. I mean, they’re closer to settlements than, say, Las Vegas or Tokyo, but in terms of their relative proximity within Israel itself, they’re not even close. Rocket fire still counts as “violence,” right? So, are you NOT talking about Israel? Just the territories, then? Help me out, I’m confused here.

Next, I’d like to talk about your intent. It seems clear that your intent was to lay the blame of Israel/Arab violence on the settlements. But there’s a problem with that. The overwhelming majority of terrorist attacks in the territories has been agains Jews. I don’t have the statistics in front of me, but I would feel comfortable saying over 95% of all the violence in the territories is aimed against Jews. Do you know where those Jews live? You guessed it: in the settlements. Saying that the majority of violence is where the settlements are is like saying most traffic accidents take place on roads. Sure, every now and then a car will smash into a house or something, but usually traffic accidents happen on roads because that’s where the cars are. An Arab looking to kill a Jew isn’t going to try to find one in Wadi Nis or Abdallah Ibrahim; there aren’t any Jews there. He’s going to go to a settlement, what Maverick and Goose would refer to as “a target-rich environment.”

Which brings me to my final point. Since the Jews in settlements being attacked is the reason your map shows that’s where the violence is, this does not mean the settlements are the reason for the violence. That’s called ‘victim-blaming.’ Change the words “violence,” “Israel and territories,” and “settlements” with the words “rape,” “America,” and “women” respectively. Would you be comfortable making that statement? I sure as hell wouldn’t. The victim cannot, as a matter of definition, be the cause of the violence in any situation.

So, Mr. Kerry: thank you for reading this. I hope you now know how to interpret your map correctly. Now be quiet.

Yoni Berg

US Secy Kerry Asks Saban Forum: What’s Your Vision of a Unitary State?

Monday, December 5th, 2016

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry looked tired Sunday afternoon (Dec. 4) as he sat down with lead columnist Jeff Goldberg of The Atlantic to address an Israeli-American audience at The Saban Forum in Washington, D.C.

Israel, he said, “is moving in the wrong direction.”

The United States, meanwhile, has “never ever shied away from vetoing a resolution or standing up against an unfair and biased resolution at the UN, at the Human Rights Council, at UNESCO, you name it!” Ever a loyal ally, America stands strong for Israel — but there is “no status quo” and as a friend who feels “genuinely passionate about Israel,” John Kerry felt duty bound to try to help Israelis correct course if possible.

The Secretary begin speaking at the time stamp 44:08.

“I have to share with you facts,” Kerry told the participants, after running down the list of benefits Israel had enjoyed under the administration of President Barack Obama. “I come to you as somebody who is concerned for the safety and the security of the State of Israel, for the long-term ability of the State of Israel to be able to be what it has dreamt of being, and what the people of Israel, I believe, want it to be.”

Apparently, Israel’s electoral process, its legislative branch via the Knesset, its parliament, and its judiciary via the High Court of Justice and its Supreme Court, apparently aren’t relevant as a reflection of that desire.

“I’m here as someone defending Israel’s need for security,” Kerry went on, adding, “The questions I raise about Israel are not because I don’t care about Israel, but because we do care,” suddenly switching to the magisterial “we” form.

“It’s because we want to be able to see this thing develop into the full-blossomed beacon that Israel has the potential of being,” he continued, listing the numerous fields in which Israel is leading the way, such as agriculture, technology and finance, pointing out how Israel could be “sharing with Egypt, with Jordan… (could it be that Mr. Secretary has forgotten Israel has peace treaties and natural resource agreements with both of these nations?) … with the Emirates, with Saudi Arabia, with all of these countries.”

But, he said, the issue is: “Where are we going?

“Let me tell you,” he warned, “There.will.be.no.separate.peace.between.Israel.and.the.Arab.world.

“I want to make that very clear to all of you,” he emphasized. “The Arab world is in a very different place now. There will be no advance and separate peace with the Arab world without the Palestinian process and without the Palestinian peace. Everybody needs to understand that. That is a hard reality.

“There is a basic choice that has to be made by Israel. Are there going to be continued settlements.. or is there going to be separate and the creation of two states?”

Kerry began a long discussion about the Oslo Accords, explaining their origin and sketching out a quick review of their progress and what he believes was the outcome. But the Secretary skipped over some parts, mixed up the timeline and didn’t mention all the terror attacks and violations by the Palestinian Authority that led to the Oslo Accords never quite being carried out the way the script was originally written.

“Now, when Oslo was signed in 1993, … there were 110,000 settlers in the West Bank. Today there are 385,000 settlers… about 90,000 settlers living outside of the barrier, and the barrier, I want to remind everyone here, was established by Israel. It’s a line — not a border, but still a line, established by Israel. There are 129 settlements, and there are about 100 outposts, and outposts, as you all know, are illegal,” Kerry said, his voice beginning to rise with outrage.

“Many of these outposts are built on what is considered to be private Palestinian land,” he stated, without offering a shred of proof, documentation, or even one source for the claim.

“Since Obama became president, the population outside of the barrier in the West Bank has increased by 20,000 people,” he said.

“Leaders, again, in Israel — certain leaders — are fond of saying, “well, the settlements aren’t the reason and the cause for the crisis. No, they’re not. I’m not pretending they are. I’m not here to tell you that the settlements are the reason for the conflict. No, they’re not. But I also cannot accept the notion that they do not affect the peace process. That they aren’t a barrier to the capacity to have peace.

“And I’ll tell you why I know that. Because the Left in Israel is telling everybody they are a barrier to peace and the Right that supports it, openly supports it, because they don’t want peace.

“They believe it’s the greater Israel. They are pursuing a policy of Greater Judea – Samaria, building out into the West Bank, because they believe it belongs to them, and they want it to block the peace!

“Because they want those places to belong to Israel. That’s the history of the settler movement, my friends.

“Out of the mouths of ministers in the current government come profoundly disturbing statements publicly, to whit: Naftali Bennett, said a few days ago, weeks ago, This represents the end of the era of the two-state solution. And, more than 50 percent of the ministers in the current government have publicly stated they are opposed to a Palestinian state, and there will be no Palestinian state.

“So this is the predicament. This is where we find ourselves… Let me give you the alternatives here, folks.

“What is your vision of a unitary state?

“Are you going to run the schools? Are you going to continue to have these roads that are completely checkpointed and blocked that lead to this little island all by itself of the settlement? And the Palestinians are going to live over here? (With this, the Secretary swept his hand over to the other side, a gesture to show isolation; a gesture that showed his frustration and angst.)

“Are they going to vote? And if they’re a majority of the population, are they going to have a Palestinian prime minister of Israel?

“Is it going to be a Jewish State?” Kerry asked. He sounded close to despair.

Hana Levi Julian

Report: Trump Circle Furious over Liberman’s Leftward Pull on Settlements

Friday, November 18th, 2016

President Elect Donald Trump’s associates are enraged over a statement Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman made this week, suggesting Israel must cool its heels over Trump’s election and approach him with modest proposals regarding settlement construction. Speaking to political reporters on Wednesday, Liberman said, “If we receive confirmation of the Bush-Sharon understandings, we should grab it with both hands.”

The Bush-Sharon understandings recognized the need for construction to support the growth of the existing population in Judea and Samaria inside the settlement blocks — but no launching of new settlements.

According to Makor Rishon, Trump’s people were aghast at the very fact that Liberman was shooting his mouth off before meeting, never mind coordinating anything with them. And they were even more upset for the fact that the defense minister chose to “pass Trump on the left,” as one Trump aide put it.

Several key Trump officials have said that the Israelis have not yet digested the window of opportunity the last election has opened, adding that, should Israel ask for it, the new administration would even consider supporting annexing those settlement blocks, never mind building there.

Shomron Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, who supported Trump’s election and is in contact with the transition team, warned that Liberman is “drying out 200 thousand residents who live in areas outside the settlement blocks.”

“The message the defense minister has delivered to the new administration is horrendous, especially since any first year Poli-Sci student knows that the Trump people or on the outs with the Bush line of the Republican party,” Dagan added. “The Bush family didn’t vote for Trump, and contrary to them, the Trump people support a united Jerusalem and construction across Judea and Samaria.”

“This is why the president elect’s people pulled their hair out when they heard what Liberman said,” Dagan noted.

David Israel

Finkelstein Loses It in J-TV Debate with Ken Spiro [video]

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

J-TV tried to run an intelligent debate between Norman Finkelstein and Ken Spiro discussing if Israel is held to double standard or not.

It quickly degenerated into Finkelstein quoting out-of-context cherry-picked facts, and then just losing it completely when confronted, until he eventually hung up.

The segment was a short one, and unfortunately was not set up to answer all the claims that Finkelstein made, but we found his mention of Theodor Meron very interesting, such that we wanted to discuss it further.

Theodor Meron was a legal advisor for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1967.

The cover letter version is that Meron, in a top secret document, apparently gave his legal opinion to the government that Israeli settlements on the Golan Heights and the West Bank would be in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention, though the entire issue is complex from a political and legal point of view.

And Finkelstein ran with that, claiming that Israel knew that settlements were illegal under international law, and purposely ignored international law.

Putting aside for the moment that Meron was only just one legal opinion, and other government legal advisors held different legal opinions, it’s interesting to point out that Finkelstein chose to only wield the part of Meron’s response that he agreed with.

Reading Meron’s complete response we learn that he also advised the government, based on his legal position, how the government could set up settlements legally .

Furthermore, and perhaps more interesting to this discussion, Meron legally opined that Israelis could return to live in Gush Etzion (and Hebron and eastern Jerusalem, by definition) and it would be difficult to claim it was a Geneva Convention violation, and those Israeli settlements would not be illegal — as Jews inhabited those areas before 1948.

“With regard to Gush Etzion, settlement there could to a certain extent be helped by claiming that this is a return to the settlers’ homes.”

Finkelstein was happy to selectively quote Meron’s general opinion to use it against Israel, but ignored the parts of what Meron wrote that he found unacceptable.

If Finkelstein accepts Meron’s opinion, and we have to assume he does as he was using Meron to prove his point, then Finkelstein has to also accept that there are no illegal Jewish settlements in Gush Etzion, Hebron and eastern Jerusalem.

Imagine how apoplectic Finkelstein would have gotten if Spiro had pointed that out.

J-TV is a new, global Jewish YouTube channel featuring weekly segments on Jewish Wisdom, Current Affairs, Movers & Shakers, Jewish Food and more.

Video of the Day

State Dept on ‘Illegal Settlements’: Jews Bad, Arabs Good

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

This will soon change, you know, but for now it was fascinating to watch how State Dept. Press Office Director Elizabeth Trudeau, at a daily press briefing, November 14, 2016, was able to describe the exact same construction issue as against and for peace, depending on the religion of the people involved.

A reporter said: “Yesterday, Israel’s ministerial committee for legislation unanimously approved a law to retroactively legalize the illegal outposts. Do you have any comment on that?”

Trudeau responded: “We’re deeply concerned about the advancement of legislation that would allow for the legalization of illegal Israeli outposts located on private Palestinian land. … If this law were enacted, it could pave the way for the legalization of dozens of illegal outposts deep in the West Bank. … Our policy, as you know, on settlements is clear. We believe they are corrosive to the cause of peace.”

Next question, without an interruption, hardly a break for air:

“Also, a couple of days ago the Israelis made a Palestinian family of 12, or a number of families, demolish their own homes in East Jerusalem. I wonder if you have any comment on that.”

Trudeau: “We’ve spoken before to this practice of demolition. … We believe that any actions like that raise tensions are counterproductive to peace.”

To conclude: building Jewish homes in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem without legal authorization is “corrosive to peace,” while building illegal Arab homes in the same territory is not only a good thing, demolishing them is also corrosive to peace.

Spoken like an honest broker.

David Israel

Amona ‘Regulation Law’ Passed Unanimously by Ministerial Committee for Legislation

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

Despite an effort by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to prevent its passage, members of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation unanimously voted to approve the ‘Regulation Law’ on Sunday evening.

Passage of the bill in committee means the law now goes to the Knesset, where it still must pass three readings in order to make it into law.

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit has said there are legal problems with the law, which may be in conflict with international norms. He has told the committee he is not willing to defend the measure in Supreme Court on behalf of the government, should it be challenged.

The law calls for the government to financially compensate Palestinian Authority Arabs who claim private ownership of land on which Jewish towns have been built.

The law would retroactively legalize the status of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and would prevent the demolition of the town of Amona. It would also stop the destruction of nine homes in the town of Ofra.

The proposed bill was sponsored by Likud Knesset member Yoav Kish, along with two Bayit Yehudi Knesset members, Shuli Muaelem Refaeli and Bezalel Smotrich.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked praised the decision. This government will normalize the settlements in Judea and Samaria, even against efforts by the far-left to engage in ‘lawfare’. The way to influence [policy] on the settlement map of Judea and Samaria is through elections, not through the improper means utilize by these groups today,” she said.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/regulation-law-passed-unanimously-by-ministerial-committee-for-legislation/2016/11/13/

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