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Posts Tagged ‘Ulpana’

How the Right Snatched Defeat from the Jaws of Victory on Ulpana

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Watching the Givat Ulpana fiasco was like watching a train wreck about to happen. While the defeat in the Knesset today might still have happened in an alternate history, it definitely did not need to be the crushing defeat that we witnessed today.

On Wednesday, ahead of the Knesset vote, I visited the Ulpana Hunger Strikers outside the Knesset.

When Palestinians go on hunger strikes, you will never see bottles of drinks around them, not water, not juice, even if many of them are actually eating on the sly.

Sometimes, for the camera, you’ll see someone handing a Palestinian a small cup of water with a straw to sip from as he’s lying down in exhaustion.

You know these hunger strikers are serious because that’s what you see on TV.

But in the Ulpana tent, I saw something else entirely.

Large bottles of juice were sitting next to each striker while they were industriously typing away on their laptops as reporters filmed them. No one looked exhausted, no one looked tired, and, certainly, no one looked hungry.

One reporter even asked them to take the drinks off the table while she took some photos. They actually argued with her about it.

One can only hope they’ll be able to take off the weight they’ve gained from all that sugar water.

Can you be any less media savvy than that?

Unfortunately, you can, as the National Union party proved in their press conference just hours later.

In the Knesset conference room sat some of the National Union MKs (rumor has it that two of them haven’t talked to one another in months), along with some Likud MKs who defied their party head, the Prime Minister, to be there.

My jaw dropped when some of the National Union MKs began disparaging the entire Likud – as their Likud allies were sitting right next to them.

And that’s when the fighting began – while the cameras were rolling.

MK Michael Ben-Ari and MK Tzipi Hotoveli began to fight, Ben-Ari attacking the Likud and Hotoveli defending her party. And it’s not that Ben-Ari said anything technically incorrect, or that Hoteveli’s arguments held water (audience members even corrected some of her more obvious mistakes).

The whole thing was just terribly inappropriate.

It finally reached a point where Hotoveli got up and walked out, right in the middle of the press conference – but, to her credit, announced that she would still vote for the bill – despite what had just ensued.

Is this how the Right expects to win and keep allies? By spitting in their faces? By acting like children in front of reporters? By not showing even a little savvy?

If only it were just a matter of being unschooled in media issues. Unfortunately, it’s worse.

Two weeks ago, the National Union was prepared to bring their bill to save the Ulpana neighborhood to a vote. Back then, with most Right wing MKs making statements about saving the houses, it had a chance of passing.

But Netanyahu fooled them. He asked them to hold off for two weeks, to give him a chance to find a solution to the problem that would not catch the High Court’s ire. If he failed, they could go ahead with their bill.

Except Netanyahu wasn’t looking for a solution to save Givat Ulpana during those two weeks. He needed time to find a way to defeat the bill.

But the National Union, in their honesty and good faith, and naivete, if you ask me, gave Netanyahu the two weeks he needed to line up his troops and kill their bill.

Time and again, we see Israeli Right-wing politicians and activists playing touch football in a tackle game, and time and again they walk away with bloody noses, if not worse.

To save Givat Ulpana we need a quarterback and receivers and tackles willing to do whatever it takes to get the ball into the other team’s end zone.

The majority of the Jews in Israel are behind us, the majority of the Knesset members essentially agree with us — it’s our game to lose.

So stop playing like you’re still in Little League!

Rabbis to PM Netanyahu: The Beginning of Downfall is Flight

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

In a last-ditch effort to prevent the demolition of the Ulpana neighborhood in Bet El, The Rabbinical Congress for Peace (RCP) sent an urgent message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking him not to do it. The rabbis quoted the Talmudic adage that the beginning of a downfall is flight and warned that such a move will have a domino effect and will weaken Israel’s security.

“Dealing with registration of ownership and legal debates over Israeli land is dangerous and superfluous. What is actually happening is an attempt by Israel’s enemies with the help of leftist elements to force Israel to withdraw from Judea and Samaria and any minor concession only encourages them to continue with their plot. This can ultimately happen in Jaffa and Haifa just the same,” the rabbis wrote to PM Netanyahu.

The rabbis alluded to the Halacha in Shulchan Oruch 329 that when dealing with a border town it is forbidden to enter any negotiations of withdrawal. It makes no difference whether it’s one house or an entire neighborhood. Any concession and negotiation only inspires and emboldens Israel’s enemies and leads to violence and instability. The Prime Minister must state in no uncertain terms that this neighborhood is vital for Israel’s security and to remove the issue from the agenda. Instead he should expand and continue building more homes there, the RCP wrote.

The rabbis also cited the words of Nobel laureate Professor Israel Aumann who said that that evicting the families “would endanger not only the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria but also all of Israel.” He said it is a “humanitarian and moral issue to keep the families in their homes. This [expulsion] endangers all of us even if the danger does not occur in our generation. The expulsion will influence our grandchildren,” he said.

The message sent to PM Netanyahu in the name of 350 rabbis of the organization was signed by Rabbi Joseph Gerlitzky, Chairman, Rabbi Moshe Havlin, Vice-Chairman and Rabbi Avrohom S. Lewin, Director.

For more information call Rabbi Lewin: 0508-563-992

Observations on the Proposed Law on Compensating Palestinian Land Owners

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=56960

Let’s walk through this:

#1. The proposed law to compensate Palestinian land owners is the fairest arrangement for them.

Today if a Palestinian decides to file in court to have part of a Jewish neighborhood torn down because, he claims, it turns out he owns the land it was built on, the most he can expect to gain from the effort is the satisfaction of seeing the homes bulldozed. After all, since the land is in the middle of a Jewish community, beyond the Green Line, there is no way that the authorities are going to permit him to build a home there. And if he sells the land to the Jews, our “peace partner” Palestinian Authority will sentence him to death.

In sharp contrast, under the proposed law, the same Palestinian land owner would get fair financial compensation for the ex-poste confiscated land. And since this is a kind of “force majeure” from the standpoint of the Palestinians, the Palestinian landowner can get fair compensation for his land and stay alive.

#2. If the Supreme Court is going to void the law then why is this argument used by opponents of the law?

Minister Begin and others who oppose the law argue that it will be voided by the Supreme Court and that the law will damage Israel on the international front.

If the Supreme Court voids the law this will no doubt bring praise for Israel from the international community – not condemnation. And rest assured the court will rule on the law in lightning speed.

So if one is certain that the Supreme Court will void the law you cannot at the same time argue that the law will hurt the Jewish State.

#3. There isn’t a square inch of Jewish construction beyond the Green Line – including in eastern Jerusalem – that the international community has welcomed.

The argument that passage of the law will bring international opposition to Jewish construction beyond the Green Line implies that not passing the law will somehow keep the Palestinians from playing the settlement card to the hilt.

There are a myriad of reasons why the Palestinians will or will not choose to step up their anti-settlement campaign. If PM Netanyahu is serious about implementing a “ten new Jewish homes for every Jewish home demolished” policy, this could arguably have a greater impact on the anti-settlement campaign than the implementation of the law would.

Ninety Year Old Man Joins Hunger-Strike Against Ulpana Neighborhood Relocation

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has reportedly decided to remove five buildings from the Uplana neighborhood in Beit El. He intends to completely uproot the buildings and resituate them on nearby land owned by the military. As a form of compensation, he plans to build tens of new homes in Beit El, ten for each one removed.

Several people have decided to go on a hunger-strike to protest the decision and demand that Ministers vote for the “Regulation Law”, which will set a statute of limitation for claims against existing communities in Judea and Samaria that are allegedly constructed on privately owned land. According to the suggested law, should the claims be proven in court, the buildings would remain in place, and the claimant would receive monetary compensation or land of equal value. The strikers are rejecting Netanyahu’s seemingly generous offer.

Dvir Raz, 31, a father of 3, has been on a hunger strike for five consecutive days, since Wednesday morning. He intends to continue his strike at least until this coming Wednesday, when the vote for the “Regulation Law” will take place. He lives in Amona, a community with similar legal issues. He explained that he is striking with a demand that the Prime Minister find a proper legislative solution to all the lands in legal dispute and which may encounter similar difficulties to those which have arisen at the Ulpana neighborhood.

“The Prime Minister is currently offering a specific solution to this current crisis. We demand that he offer an all encompassing solution to all lands which may be in dispute. We demand that the Prime Minister offer a comprehensive resolution in order to stop the flood of court claims against Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. The organizations submitting these court petitions are doing so not out of care for the alleged Palestinian owners who have never lived on these lands, but because they are bent on the destruction of as many Jewish settlements as possible. The Ministry of Defense has already announced that they will not enable the alleged owners of the Beit El land to live on it because it is within the limits of Beit El. What we have here is an absurd situation in which everyone loses. This is destruction for the sake of destruction”, Raz stated.

Four more strikers joined the protesters this morning, including a ninety year old man, Avraham Nocham, of Anatot. Nocham, an artist, explained that he has decided to join the strike out of empathy and identification with the strikers’ objectives. “I am very sensitive to these issues,” he told Tazpit News Agency. “Many times the development of these incidents is frightening. I have come to join the struggle and strike in hope of a positive outcome.”

Netanyahu Planning Ulpana Hill Relocation, Residents Urge New Legislation

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

Despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s commitment not to seek the evacuation of five homes in Beit El’s Ulpana Hill neighborhood, as required by a Supreme Court ruling, It appears that the premier has now come up with a creative solution, to evacuate and reconstruct the buildings on a nearby lot. Netanyahu stressed that “The element which strengthens the settlements is construction,” and so “for every house we will be forced to evacuate we will build ten others.”

The Prime Minister held talks this weekend on the issue of evacuating Ulpana Hill and forging a plan of action for the five houses which were allegedly built on privately owned Palestinian land to be relocated a few hundred yards from their current position, with the proviso that for each evacuated house there an alternative ten new houses will be built.

For the time being, Netanyahu is waiting for confirmation from Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein of this solution. He is also awaiting Weinstein’s reply on whether a solution can be found so that future claims in similar cases will not result in more evacuations.

If the AG’s response would be that under current law there is no way to prevent future evacuations, Netanyahu would have to permit the Likud faction to support pending legislation which will regulate these law suits. The “regulation law” will set a statute of limitation for claims against existing settlements in Judea and Samaria, after which, should the claims be proven in court, the settlements would remain in place, but the claimant would receive monetary compensation or land of equal value.

Harel Cohen, spokesman for the Ulpana Hill residents, issued the following statement in response to Netanyahu’s plan:

“It was Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s government which settled us in the Ulpana neighborhood 12 years ago, providing incentives, grants, and mortgages, constructing roads and sidewalks, as well as connection to the infrastructure.

“Just as in the entire free world no one destroys a neighborhood if there turns out to be a bureaucratic problem with the status of the land, so will there be no destruction of Ulpana, nor thousands of other homes in Judea and Samaria which share an identical status.

“The Ulpana neighborhood will not be ‘copied’ even if it were made of Lego blocks, just as the Akirov Towers and Assuta will not be copied.

“The neighborhood residents bless the ministers and Knesset members who will pass by a large majority on Wednesday the Regulation Law and thus will prevent the fulfillment of a decree the Israeli public cannot sustain, as the Prime Minister himself has declared.”

Jewish Press Radio with Yishai Fleisher: Changing Diaspora Thinking

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Changing Diaspora thinking

The Jewish Press’ Yishai Fleisher is joined in a crowded square in the Old City of Jerusalem by alternative peace activist Yehuda HaKohen. They discuss the upcoming holiday of Yom Yerushalayim and how it, along with other holidays that have been added to the Jewish calendar since the founding of Israel in 1948, are affecting and changing the entire Jewish world. The two move on to talk about the American commitment to reverse Israel’s achievements during the Six Day War.   Yishai then interviews Alex Traiman about how Traiman’s home in the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El is scheduled to be destroyed by the Israeli government.

Fear of War Crimes Indictment Could Spur Demolition

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that any expropriation of Palestinian owned land to be developed by Jews in Judea and Samaria could lead to the transfer of the entire settlements matter to the International Court in The Hague.

According to Ha’aretz, Weinstein told Netanyahu the Court in the Hague was liable to indict senior Israeli government officials for war crimes.

Apparently, Weinstein’s warning was the reason behind Netanyahu’s approval for Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s request to evacuate the Machpelah Building in Hebron, about a hundred yards from the Cave of the Patriarchs, on the eve of Passover last month, despite heavy pressure exerted by many Likud ministers.

Security forces evacuated Machpelah House, which had been purchased and settled legally by several Jewish families a week earlier.

According to Ha’aretz, on the morning of the evacuation there was a three-way meeting between Weinstein, Barak and Netanyahu, during which the AG told the PM that failure to keep the law zealously would get Israel in trouble in the international arena and could lead to the indictment of senior Israeli officials on war crimes. This is why Netanyahu finally approved the evacuation.

Weinstein has repeated his warnings regarding the pending legislation which is intended to prevent the demolition of the Ulapana Hill neighborhood, according to Ha’aretz. The proposed new bill states that if the government had mistakenly built a Jewish settlement on privately owned Palestinian land, the owners would be compensated with money or with land of comparable value.

The new bill also introduces a statute of limitation that sets a time period after which the Jewish tenants would be protected from evacuation.

Israel’s Justice Ministry is concerned that seniorl officials could be prosecuted in the criminal courts in The Hague, which have been in operation since 2002. Israel initially supported the establishment of the court, but later withdrew its support. One of the major reasons for that change in policy has been the issue of the settlements, or, rather, the court’s questionable interpretation of the Fourth Geneva Convention which defines as a war crime the transferring of an occupying population into an occupied territory.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice declared the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria were illegal because they constitute an occupying population moving into an occupied territory.

But several legal experts over the years have pointed to the lack of international recognition of Jordan’s 1949 occupation of those same areas, which, essentially, meant that when those territories fell into Israeli hands in 1967, they had not been taken from their legitimate owner and therefore should not be considered occupied.

Harel Cohen, a representative of the residents of the Ulpana Hill neighborhood, who is also a spokesman for National Union MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh), told the Jewish Press he didn’t think Netanyahu and his ministers should fear the international court, saying that “the Jewish nation has been plagued by fears for 1900 years. In 1948 the nation has begun to be liberated from those fears.”

On the other hand, Cohen continued, “the demolition of 9000 populated housing units is, itself, a crime against Humanity—even if they’re ‘merely’ homes belonging to Jews—which is why the prime minister declared this is a decree that the public cannot sustain, and it will not come to be.”

Cohen, who has been assisting MK Katz during the time the latter was working for Ariel Sharon when Sharon was Housing and Development Minister—a period of enormous growth of the Jewish settlements—disagreed with Ha’aretz’ assertion that Netanyahu had capitulated to the AG’s argument regarding the threat of a war crimes indictment.

“If he (Netanyahu) had given in, he would have handed Machpelah House back to the Arabs,” Cohen said. “I’m not defending his move to evacuate the Jewish residents, but as the case stands, once their ownership of the house is clarified in a court of law, the Jews will be permitted to resettle there.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ag-warns-saving-ulpana-opens-door-to-pms-war-crimes-indictment-residents-say-destroying-thousands-of-homes-is-the-real-crime/2012/05/14/

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