DAILY BASKET OF COMMENTARIES
TO BE OR NOT TO BE – THE PALESTINIAN LAND CONFISCATION SAGA
Israel reminds me of Sylvester the pussy cat (Puddy Tat) cartoon. He can’t make up his mind whether to gobble up and eat Tweety, the bird, and get whacked on the head by the Little Old Lady’s broom, or wait until a more opportune time appears. In all events, he is set on eating Tweety, but the question is when? Answer: When he can get away with it!
Similarly, Israel, which is built on Palestinian land, keeps expanding by gobbling up and confiscating additional Palestinian properties. The rate of confiscation increases and decreases according to the mood of international public opinion, but more importantly, according to US political pressure. If it can get away with it, Israel will gobble up Palestinian land quite happily. But if US pressure bears upon it, it ceases in appearance, while in reality delaying until an appropriate window pops up.
The latest act of the sixty eight year saga is the Israeli government’s recent decision to confiscate Palestinian land in an area named, Amona. They had built an outpost and plan to expand it to merge with a settlement named, Ofra.
The Higher Israeli courts had ruled that such blatant confiscation is illegal. However, the law is so contorted that it is never clear what is permitted and what is not. Hence, many other similar lands have been absorbed under various clauses. In fact, the Jerusalem Post article on the subject is so confusing (rather than poorly written) that a reader can’t really make heads or tails of the issue in question.
Nevertheless, we summarize the issue as follows:
– this particular land is owned by Palestinians who are not present, and hence, considered as unknown (A total disregard of the land registry records).
– This classifies it as “abandoned land”. As though land is a child or a pet that can be abandoned.
– Israeli courts have ruled that abandoned land may not be confiscated. Unless it is next to a government land that is turned into a settlement.
– In fact, the Israeli court had ruled that there is no adjacent Government land, the built outpost is illegal and must be demolished.
– Some 32 similar outposts have been built in the past few years on Palestinian private land. While technically illegal and are condemned by the US and EU, they remain a de-facto slap in the face to everybody.
– Additionally, Israel continues to state that it has the right to build settlements in Area “C” of the West Bank.
– Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, the Hawk, insists that he should be able to build and proposes a fair and equitable solution:
(a) Fair in proposing to let the “unknown” Palestinians register their objection within 30 days and he will desist. If they were available or aware, they would have certainly stepped forward.
(b) Equitable in proposing to pay rent to those “unknown” Palestinian land owners. Presumably at market rates? Will they be ready to evict in the event the owners request it back? Anyway, the rent money will be held by the Israeli Government in escrow until the “unknown” Palestinian owners appear – how sweet.
– The Israeli Attorney General is further considering the issue, but the has announced that Liberman’s project can continue until he issues a ruling. That can’t be a very promising prospect for the Palestinians, especially as it is coming from the Attorney General himself!
– The US head of Press Relations at the State Dept criticized Israeli and stated that such actions are inconsistent with Israeli legal opinions and counters previous Israeli policy not cease Palestinian land. I am sure you agree that such a reprimand is as harsh and as stern as a whacking on the head with the little old lady’s broom.
– Additionally, the US State Dept spokesperson dangled a carrot to the Palestinians and stated that such negative Israeli actions reflect a trend that threatens the Two-State Palestinian solution. As though anybody still believes in the Two-State Solution.
– As for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he seems to be playing the “good cop” versus Liberman’s “bad cop” charade. Deflecting the broom and biding time. Israel has to appear obedient and lenient especially as it has just received the biggest ever US military aid package but is still asking for Oliver Twist’s famous: “More”!
This sad saga has been transformed into a Tragedy play with 68 acts. The main problem with this play is that it is boring as every 6 acts are repeated over and over again. The real tragedy is that audience continues to sit in a lethargic stupor without a peep.