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In the West Bank, a new settlement is born

Settlers are celebrating ‘the first official settlement in 20 years.’ Housing Minister: ‘There are no two states, and there won’t be two states.’

Construction in Aley Zahav settlement, the West Bank, 2012 (photo: Flyingman / CC-BY 3.0)

The regional council for Jewish settlements in the northern part of the West Bank (Samaria) celebrated on Sunday the construction of a new settlement called Leshem, located in the western part of the occupied Palestinian territories.

According to a report in Maariv, 72 families have moved into their homes in Leshem, and 70 more are expected to do so in the coming year. The plan is to build around 400 more housing units.

Israel has committed – both in the Oslo Accords and to the Bush administration – not to construct new settlements, so Leshem is considered by the state a neighborhood of the nearby Alei Zahav settlement; however, Leshem is expected to manage its affairs as an independent municipality.

Army Radio has called Leshem “the first official settlement in 20 years.”

Location of the new settlement Leshem (Marked on a map by B’Tselem)

The marketing site for Leshem also states that this is a new settlement, and not an extension of Alei Zahav. “Leshem, a new vibrant young settlement in the West of Shomron, is located between new Alei Zahav and Peduel, and a few kilometers from [the settlements of] Beit Arye, Ofarim and Bruchin,” states the site, although the closest community to Leshem is actually the Palestinian village Kufr a-Dik. Visitors are encouraged to choose their lot from an updated zoning plan for the settlement.

The regional council has taken steps to make it clear that Leshem is indeed a new settlement, including the publication of separate contracts and the appointment of a separate settlement secretary.

According to a report on Ynet, the land on which Leshem was constructed was bought, through Israeli middlemen, by a Russian oligarch whose identity remains unknown.

Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) was the guest of honor at the ceremony marking the birth of the new settlement. “There are no two states west of the Jordan River, and there won’t be two states,” said Ariel. “Even if there are negotiations taking place – this is not on the agenda.”

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    1. Vadim

      Oh no! Homes on privately owned land! With Jews! How shall the great Arab honour stand this? I think the most reasonable cause of action would be to abandon the negotiations and start a new Intifada… This has worked so well in the past…

      Reply to Comment
      • Haifawi

        Land doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Who is the sovereign who guarantees the property rights of the owner? International Law forbids Israel from being that sovereign.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          International law forbids Jews from buying land or from building a house on legally bought land? Those devious Jews, thinking they can buy land and build houses. Time to send in Interpol to throw them out.

          Reply to Comment
          • Haifawi

            Come on. ISRAELIS (be they any ‘sector’) cannot legally buy land in territory belligerently occupied by their government.

            Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            Can RUSSIANS buy that land and allow Jewish people to live there? Can ISRAELI ARABS buy such land?

            If this piece of land of was bought bought by a rich Israeli Beduin family for their use, nobody would have blogged about it and nobody would have commented about international law. Ah, but these are Jews we are talking about. Can’t have them living in Judea or Samaria.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Come on indeed. Point me to the place in international law that prohibits a Jew or an Israeli for that matter from buying land in the West Bank. Good luck.

            Reply to Comment
        • jgarbuz

          The creator of International law, the League of Nations, back in 1922 ruled that Palestine belongs to the Jews, and that the Arabs were just living on Jewish soil. So it is the Jewish government that determines what can be built where. Just as the Irish government determines what can be built on Irish soil.

          Reply to Comment
    2. In Israel, one cannot alienate land from the State without State approval; here, on the evidence presented of this site, private enterprise can, So, perhaps, it is all legal, although illegal in Israel.

      Uri Ariel is just being honest. The social political network from which he comes will have nothing less than One State. Livelihood is itself a commodity. Unfortunately, absent economic development, land livelihood is zero sum. The stakes on the West Bank are not the same as those in Israel proper. Since Israelis do not live the former, they do not know what State policy is really doing–to their State as well as prior residents.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        There is no State to alienate the land from. That is the whole point. There is no sovereign in the West Bank and the endless arguments about whether there is an occupation or not ignore this simple fact.

        Israelis don’t live in the West Bank?

        Reply to Comment
    3. XYZ

      Thank you for posting this good news. Zionism has always found the establishment of new communities a source of joy.

      Ariel is right there won’t be two states, but this is not because Israel doesn’t want it….it is because the Palestinians reject it. The “agreement that everyone knows the terms of” is 1967 in return for 1948. The Palestinians can get rid of all the West Bank settlements simply by saying they accept this….complete withdrawal of Israel to the pre-67 lines in return for the Palestinians giving up the demand for the “right of return” of the refugees and acceptance of monetary compensation instead. However, this would be a betrayal of the historic Arab struggle against the creation of the state of Israel, and Abbas or anyone else who agrees to this would be condemned for betraying of this historic Arab trust. Thus, there is no chance of an agreement along this line for “2-states” to ever be accepted.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Twyne

      This is really good news. I was unaware that there was a new housing development in this area. I will definitely go by and check it out. i am thinking of relocating. maybe a good deal to be had here.

      Reply to Comment