The 300 page, Oslo II accords signed on September of 1995 in Taba between PM Rabin and PLO Chairman Arafat, divide the West Bank (and GAZA) into 3 areas: 1. Area A: Under full Palestinian Jurisdiction with civil and security control 2. Area B: Mixed Israeli and Palestinian security with full Palestinian civil control 3: Area C: Full Israeli security and civil control. This past week, many of us have found ourselves wading through the murky waters of ignorance and contradictory claims wondering what the history and TRUTH behind the recent Israeli ‘State Land Appropriation’ of ‘Gevaot’ is..
1. ‘ Gevaot ‘ —the 998 acre piece of land that Israel recently appropriated as ’State Land’ is in area C where there is full Israeli civil and military jurisdiction, NOT in areas A or B. It was not an ‘annexation’ of ‘occupied lands’ nor is it MASSIVE as some as some in the media claim. Gevaot, is a modestly sized piece of land that is actually smaller than some Texan farms, located in the westernmost area of the Gush Etzion Block.
2. Israel APPROPRIATED Gevaot . It DID NOT EXPROPRIATE it, as some in the media would have us believe. ‘Expropriation’ is the act of taking of privately owned property by a government to be used for the benefit of the public. (Eminent Domain in the U.S..) APPROPRIATION is act of ‘selecting, or setting apart land for a particular purpose, as where land is appropriated for public buildings, or other uses.’ Often , just by reading the headline “Israel Exproriates Palestinian Land” you may know where that article is heading .
3. Most of the 360,000-376,000 Jewish community members living in the West Bank —live on ONLY 2% of the land of the ENTIRE West Bank. The way the media rants about the ‘settlements’ you might think they are lavishly sprawled all across Palestinian lands. In fact some of the more densely populated areas are Jewish, as three of the top 10 most populated cities in the West Bank are Jewish.!! –All in Area C. According to Oslo, this legal land ‘appropriation’, in area C, is a process with specific rules in place. Since according to Oslo area C is under Israeli Jurisdiction– any additional building (other than those already agreed upon—with some expansion around existing towns,) is under Israeli administration which includes zoning and planning. Anyone wanting to build, NEEDS to go through this LEGAL process, through the Israeli Civil administration in area C. The process gives extra protection of private property rights. In the case where the sovereign power wants to advance building plans in an area where the land registry record is not complete, it has to do an in-depth survey of the land by law, to ensure that the land is not privately owned. Israel has done this with Gevaot. The Palestinians on the other hand, have blatantly built illegally all these years , totally circumventing this process, in up to several thousand cases. Israel lamely issued about 300 eviction notices that were basically NOT enforced. There were instances where Israel did appropriate land, taking years to check that there was no private ownership. Amongst the far fewer instances where Israel legally announced their intention of appropriating land , there was always a major ruckus. There were also a few cases where Palestinians did contest within the given 45 days that the law dictates, and the Israeli Supreme court DID actually order Israelis to turn over the land to Palestinians. Note that in Kerry’s condemnation of Israel’s ‘appropriation though severe, there was no mention of illegality. Because there is nothing illegal about it. Who should know better than the U.S. who brokered these accords?
4. The Oslo agreement , like in any legal contract,also had stipulations where Israel was to meet six tangible principle “offers” and the PA was to meet four steps of “acceptances”. The Israelis fully complied by giving all six ‘objects’ to the PA within the 2nd year, while the PA has yet to fulfill even one of its four actions in over 18 years later. According the Oslo agreements if these obligations are fulfilled, at the end of a period of FIVE YEARS, there will be further PEACEFUL talks to determine if the sides fulfilled their obligations and the final status of the area. Not only did the Palestinians not fulfill ANY OF their obligation , they violated the basic terms, by initiating incitement of hate in classrooms and Mosques, violence and suicide bombing. THEY BROKE the contract. When you get a mortgage and don’t make payments, you LOSE the house.. Here they kept everything, plus the world’s sympathy… Notice the grievous mistake of allowing Hamas to contend in PA elections to begin with, and how VERY FAR REMOVED from these agreements are OBAMA’s and Kerry’s acceptance of Hamas, allowing a terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction to be part of a coalition!!! IT is the total antithesis of the Oslo agreements .
5. Gevaot is located in the Westernmost area of the Gush Etzion Block. (area C) In all the various negotiations throughout the years, it was always agreed that ALL of this Block would eventually belong to or rather return to Israel. The history of this area has very emotional and profound meanings for Israelis. Had Kerry taken a bit of time to find out about this area and its history before his strong condemnation—he would have learned that in the 1920’s, (BEFORE any of the present nation states existed in the area and before a Palestinian State was conceived) Jews bought this parcel of land with their hard earned money, building four communities. He would have learned about the Kfar Etzion Massacre. On May 13, 1948, ONE DAY BEFORE ISRAEL declared INDEPENDENCE..How the Arabs from the neighboring villages,(it is disputed whether the Arab League helped them or not) surrounded these communities starting with, Kfar Etzion isolating them from the rest of Israel. The Hagana sent 35 men (NETIV HA”LAMED HEY—there is a Kibbutz in the area today in their memory by that name) to try and save them but they were massacred. Their Arab neighbors in the adjacent villages, who apparently had good relations with them it is told, then massacred ALL of Kfar Etzion, except for four survivors of the town. Some say they gunned them down as they surrendered– others not. The numbers murdered vary from 150 to over 200..(since most of the children were previously evacuated) . The other three Jewish towns were forcefully evacuated, razed to the ground and the Jews taken as prisoners to Jordan. It was almost two decades later, in the ’67 war, that Israel regained this area, and the four settlements were rebuilt. They were resettled by some of the orphaned children of those who were massacred who were now adults ,and others who joined them. . No Arab has EVER made a claim to this area and Israel had finally decided to declare it as state land as an answer to the three Israeli youth who were abducted and murdered, right near this area. Any villager who would make a claim, would probably be the descendant of the murderers who lived in the adjacent villages of the Etzion Block (Jews who missed their life long dream of becoming Israelis by ONE DAY). As Rabbi Domb of the area declares “ Do they deserve to cultivate this land? Or as the Bible states: “Have you murdered and then inherited?”
6. Did the story of Gevaot JUST pop up now, out of nowhere? Due to the lack of defined boundaries, it took Israel years, to take the first required step to officially recognize Geva’ot after finding no ownership of Private land ..With all this activity around this piece of land, DO YOU think the Palestinians didn’t notice anything? They notice every little move, with the help of Israeli and foreign ‘humanitarian’ groups.? AS of August 2014, there were already 10 families living in temporary housing in Gevaot . It is very difficult to believe that Palestinians in the area didn’t notice any of this activity. After making SURE there was no private land, Israel parceled the land out into housing units, and then presented them to prospective buyers. OF COURSE THEY KNEW about GEVAOT..!! THEY also knew that Gvaot was considered part of the Etzion block that would eventually belong to Israel. How could they not know about the Etzion Massacre perpetrated by their family members more than sixty five years earlier!!It is part of their glorious history and folklore. The fact that the world’s knee jerk response to the appropriation , condemned and vilified Israel yet again must have been very gratifying for the PA and Hamas.. Kerry was angrier than they were!
Once again we are left with this nagging, eternal question: HOW in this world can this tiny State of Israel having 8,000 sq. miles– about the size of Rhode Island, and just over eight million citizens, one fifth of them Arab, be condemned yet again? WHEN 5.25 million square miles of territory belongs to Arabs in this region and is home to over 330 million people– 650 times their size in territory and sixty times their population? How can Israel be called, EXPANTIONIST/ Colonialist /IMPERIALIST/ OCCUPATIONIST as we are hearing again now? Is any of this rational? It is simply incomprehensible!!
7. There are those who claim that announcing new land appropriations at this delicate time, even if these areas will eventually remain part of Israel and even if legal, is wrong just now. Just a short time ago during Operation Desert Edge the world’s magnifying glass was brutally focused upon Israel, accusing Israel of untold atrocities and depravities above all nations.. Momentarily now they are busy with ISIS and have taken their gaze elsewhere…
The wrong time?
I ask when will it EVER be the right time???
Will their savage reactions cease?
Can we really control their reactions?
There is no ‘wrong time’ to do the right thing!
The words of Hillel our sage come to mind.
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
And once I am for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?”