ELDAR: Israel’s right of return and the right to rob 28May12 May 28, 2012

by Akiva Eldar   -    Haaretz   -  21 May 2012

A week ago the earth trembled because a handful of leftists, Jews and Arabs, wanted to commemorate Nakba Day in Ramat Aviv, the Hebrew name of Sheikh Munis. They said that the ceremony expresses support for the Palestinians’ right of return, on the way to the destruction of the Jewish state. On Sunday, masses of Jews marched proudly in the Shimon Hatzadik (Simon the Just) neighborhood in East Jerusalem – the Hebrew name of Sheikh Jarrah.

The grandson of a Jewish woman, a man who arrived on Sunday from Kiev, can receive a key to his new house in the heart of Hebron, proof of the fact that we are lovers of peace and moreover, that we are lovers of negotiations. On the other hand, the key around the neck of the elderly refugee from the Talbieh neighborhood in Jerusalem, whose name we changed to Kommemiut, attests to the Palestinian plot to destroy the Jewish state. Fact: They asked the United Nations to recognize the state of Palestine within the 1967 borders, which would live in peace alongside the State of Israel.

The Palestinians can only dream of realizing the right of return to Jaffa. The Israelis are not satisfied with realizing the right of return to Beit El; they are implementing the right of robbery granted to them by our governments. In a speech to settlers, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz recently said that if a situation similar to that discovered in the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El had been discovered in Ramat Aviv, the government would not have cooperated in destroying the structures.

“There are no boundaries to logic and morality,” asserted the philosopher. Nobody asked him how long it would have taken the police to evacuate and arrest homeless people had they set up a protest tent on the lot of the Steinitz family.

Not only did the heroes of Steinitz and his friends in the government and the Knesset build one house after another without interference on the land of the residents of Dura al-Kara. The CEO of the company that built the neighborhood testified to the police that since the Housing Ministry had participated in funding the infrastructure, “I naively thought that there was no obstacle to building the houses.” And despite that, in June 2010 the Judea and Samaria District police decided to close the investigation for lack of guilt. Would it happen in Tel Aviv too, Dr. Steinitz, that they would close the file of a person who admitted in his police interrogation that he knew that he was building a neighborhood on land belonging to others?

Beit El is not alone. Three years ago the attorney general ordered the police to investigate construction in the settlement of Ofra, on land belonging to the residents of the village of Ein Yabrud. Two weeks ago the Justice Ministry spokesman told me that in May 2010 it was decided to close the file for lack of evidence. The police spokesman said that in the National Fraud Investigation Unit they know nothing about such an investigation.

Six years ago the State Prosecutor’s Office informed the High Court of Justice that the police had opened a criminal investigation in the affair of the illegal construction of hundreds of homes in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Modi’in Ilit. In this instance too they discovered purchasing contracts that are suspected of being forged and were used as a method of “laundering” land. The investigation has yet to be concluded, and the head of the regional council, Yaakov Gutterman, who is suspected of abetting the entrepreneurs, has meanwhile been upgraded to mayor.

In his last report the state comptroller investigated the phenomenon of robbing Palestinian land in order to annex it to industrial zones. The comptroller leveled criticism at the Civil Administration that does not enforce demolition orders against the squatters, and maintained that this points to the impotence of the administration and of the Israel Defense Forces’ Central Command.

Criminologists have a name for collaboration between criminals and the establishment, through action or inaction. It’s called organized crime. That is the only way that dozens of settlements, including Ofra, Beit El and Nokdim (where Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman resides ) could be built. Even public institutions and police stations have been built on private Palestinian land.

In 1948 the residents of Sheikh Munis lost their homes after the Arabs rejected UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (the Partition Plan ), which offered them about half the area of Mandatory Palestine. Today the Palestinians and all the Arab countries accept the principles of that resolution, which recognized a Jewish state. The United Nations and the Israeli government have before them their proposal for peace and normalization within borders that leave less than a quarter of that area in Palestinian hands. Today it is Israel that is insisting on the right of return to Sheikh Jarrah and the right to rob the land of Dura Al-Kara.

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