International Zionist groups back petition against settler actions in Hebron

Katie Miranda
Coming on the heels of the recent controversy surrounding settler incitement against Palestinians in Hebron, the Alternative Information Center (an independent Israeli-Palestinian news agency) reports,

On the evening of Monday, March 19, 2007 around 200 settlers from Kiryat Arba’ and other small outposts and settlements in Hebron city, occupied a building belonging to Fayez Rajabi and Mohammed Baradi’ee.
The building is located to the west the Kiryat Arba’ settlement, on the main road that leads to the center of the city, in an area called al-Ras. The large building, measuring 300 sq. meters in total, is three floors; it holds six individual apartments and 16 shops on the ground level, in addition to an empty hall on the second floor.
The settlers acted under the protection of Israeli soldiers and the police. During the occupation of the building, the settlers threw stones at other houses and the main road was closed off for Palestinians.
The settlers claim they bought the land on which the building is built on. The owner of the house said he purchased this land 16 years ago from the original owner and has all the documentation to prove it.

The ISM is providing live updates from Hebron as events transpire.
Last Tuesday, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres denounced the settlers as having created an “unbearable situation” for Palestinians in Hebron. Nonetheless, upon visiting the occupied building, MK Otniel Schneller, a member of Peres’ own Kadima party, said that “the takeover of the house was consistent with Kadima’s policy, and that the party viewed a Hebron settlement bloc as part of a future peace agreement.” On Sunday, dozens of Israeli activists gathered near the house in protest. No action has yet been taken by the government against the settlers.
The incident has caused great upheaval not just in Israel, but internationally as well. Today, the Union of Progressive Zionists, with the support of Ameinu’s American and Australian branches, Meretz USA, and Habonim Dror South Africa, launched an online petition calling on Defense Minister Amir Peretz to “act immediately and decisively to remove the settlers.”

As Zionists, we believe the occupation of this building and the continued presence of extremist Jewish settlers in Hebron presents one of the greatest obstacles to peace and to the state of Israel. If these new settlers are permitted to remain, the government will be forced to redirect scarce resources towards their protection. Their presence will also decrease the stability of the city: the history of settler behavior in Hebron demonstrates that the more property they obtain, the greater the harassment and violence they perpetrate. We additionally understand that due to the unbearable living conditions likely to be created by this new settlement, many Palestinian families will unwillingly be forced to leave their homes. The implications of the situation are harmful to Israel, her neighbors and all those who sincerely seek peace.

Some see the settlers as taking advantage of the current weakness of and confusion within the Israeli government — currently preoccupied with endless corruption scandals — to advance their goal of territorial conquest. Today police forcefully removed 300 settler youth attempting to resettle Homesh, an illegal outpost that had been evacuated during the 2005 disengagement. The youth had been led to the site by a procession of 3,500 settler activists (by Arutz Sheva’s count).
A staff editorial printed in Haaretz on Monday concluded:

The march on Homesh and Sa-Nur is not a demonstration. It is a feeler. If the IDF exhibits weakness, the country will find itself in a long confrontation with tent encampments of the right-wing youth, circa Gush Katif. The fact the IDF is in the environs of Homesh encourages the settlement’s former residents to return there, assuming that there will be someone to serve them as a shield. The question whether the state has decided otherwise does not interest them. Hopefully, the lessons of the past have been studied and Homesh will not become another Sebastia.

Luckily, the worst case scenario in Homesh was evaded. If the government, however, fails to swiftly and forcefully defuse the situation in Hebron as it did today in Homesh, they are going to have much rougher go of it later, as the settler population reaches towards even greater extremes.
Please sign the petition and insist the government act now to prevent this situation from getting any further out of hand.

6 thoughts on “International Zionist groups back petition against settler actions in Hebron

  1. the family alleged to have sold the house claims they did not do so because it would have been illegal and, as stated, it would have extreme consequences. last year, a palestinian man who sold his home to settlers in east jerusalem was murdered shortly after being publicly admonished by — not palestinians — but by shalom achshav, the israeli peace movement.
    you’d pretty much have to be stupid or desperate to conduct such business, though, considering the state of the palestinian economy, i do not doubt the potential of such desperation and thus believe, nonetheless, that the settler’s story is feasible, even if, based on their history of behavior, i consider it doubtful.
    furthermore, by israeli law, it is illegal to sell land to arabs. clearly, the consequence for violating that law, unlike within the p.a., is not so harsh as execution; however it is no less racist and discriminatory in application than that which david wilder accuses the p.a. of being.
    i am also curious why haaretz provides no source for its claims of the arrests — neither government officials nor arabic newspapers. it seems that the source of these claims are the settler’s governmental supporters themselves. however they have provided no evidence — no names, no sources, nothing. just this claim that two people have been arrested for selling the house and affirmative quotations that, “clearly these arrests mean the sale was legit.”
    when i see evidence that these individuals have been arrested, charged, and convicted for selling the property, i will accept the purported factuality of this statement. until then, i consider the settlers’ claim of ownership as suspect as every other instance in which they have used the courts and the military to enforce their disputed claims of ownership over property in the west bank and east jerusalem, such as in ras alamud, matityahu east, and the hebron casbah.

  2. Any REAL Zionist knows for a certainty…that Jewish Settlers are not settlers…
    They are Liberators.
    Every Jew should be supporting the notion that we should keep ALL the Land HaShem has given us.

  3. any “real” zionist would know that zionism is a secular movement and that religious claims such as yours are spurious and defeat the purpose of zionism, which is the assertion that, under humanitarian and international law, jews are entitled to self-determination vis a vis statehood in their ancient homeland, a claim that has little to do with g-d, torah, or theology beyond being a cultural reference point. any “real” zionist would also know that the occupation and the ongoing expansion of settlements are the #1 issues jeopardizing any potential of a stable peace in the region and a secure future for the nation of israel. any “real” zionist would seek out rational policy decisions that are in the best interest of the entire jewish community, rather than the perceived best interest of a small group of radical ideologues.

  4. Mobius makes a couple of incorrect assertions which should be corrected.
    1. He states that “by Israel law it’s illegal to sell land to Arabs”, but that’s not true.
    Rather, it is prohibited — as a matter of assertion of ownership rights, and not as a matter of law — to sell certain land to Arabs. Such land consists of: JNF property, state land, and land under the control of the Custodian of Absentee.
    The land in question does not appear to fall into any of those categories.
    2. He states that self-determination, which is a technical term of international law as opposed to a romantic vocabulary word which sounds real nice, is linked to humanitarian law.
    It is not. Self-determination is, in fact, a matter of general international law, but not of humanitarian law. Humanitarian law, as a domain of international law, addresses the laws of war. War is a conflict between two states, as distinct from conflicts involving at least one non-state party as a major protagonist. A good example of humanitarian law is the assessment of which situations allow and/or require states to intervene within another recognised state’s sovereign territory, without the permission of the latter state. It’s therefore a separate matter. The International Committee for the Red Cross, which pioneered much of that particular body of law, has a Web page with good basic explanation.

  5. “Such land consists of: JNF property, state land, and land under the control of the Custodian of Absentee.”
    From CAMERA’s website:
    “In 1960 under Basic Law: Israel Lands, JNF-owned land and government-owned land were together defined as “Israel lands,” and the principle was laid down that such land would be leased rather than sold. The JNF retained ownership of its land, but administrative responsibility for the JNF land, and also for government-owned land, passed to a newly created agency called the Israel Land Administration or ILA. (Encyclopaedia Judaica, V 10, p. 77)
    Today, of the total land in Israel, 79.5% is owned by the government, 14% is privately owned by the JNF, and the rest, around 6.5%, is evenly divided between private Arab and Jewish owners. Thus, the ILA administers 93.5% of the land in Israel (Government Press Office, Israel, 22 May 1997).”
    Thus, it is really a question not of who is allowed to own or buy land (almost no one) but of who is allowed to build on it. Who is given building permits? Who decides where new communities will be built? Who decides where new Russiam immigrants will settle? Who is allowed to lease a house? etc.
    Almost all Arab village expansions and building in the WB are illegal b/c Arabs are not given permits to build. Most Jewish building and settlements in the WB are legal under Israeli law and were/are done with the approval of the Israeli government.
    This means that the Israeli government can also close Jewish settlements, as was done in Gaza.
    The current Hebron settlers requested permission to hold a Passover seder there in 1968 and then stayed. However, their settlement received recognition and protection from the Israeli government in 1970.
    If it were up to me they would reestablish this settlement in Brooklyn, but no one has yet asked me for my policy decisions.
    I think the following discussion from the English website of the Hebron Jews lays out the WB situation rather clearly.
    It’s convenient to blame “the settlers”, but they are there because the Israeli government allowed them to come and because the Israeli government protects them.

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