KHIRBET ZAKARIA, WEST BANK – A group of Jews from the Gush Etzion settlement bloc worked for more than half a year to get building permits for their neighbors in the Palestinian village of Khirbet Zakaria. Recently, they learned they had succeeded.
Israeli authorities announced they will issue new permits for the village, the first time since the 1967 occupation began. (A village school and a few others had been retro-actively authorized, though they are the exception rather than the rule.) The effort was led by Eliraz Cohen, a poet and peace activist from the Gush Etzion, who has come out in the past against the two-state solution and in favor of a single state for Israelis and Palestinians with an equal federal system.
Construction in the West Bank areas that are controlled by the Israelis is restricted in quantity, both to Jews and Palestinians, but while the Israeli Jews living in settlements often get permits to build, the Palestinians living in neighboring villages outside of the settlement almost never get the proper documentation. Their challenges to denied permits go through the Israeli court system, and after months or years (and expensive legal fees) they are almost always unsuccessful.
All of which makes this story more unique.
A settler’s argument for the right of return