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"Jewish Terrorism" pays - illegal outpost evacuation postponed

Haaretz reports today that the state will postpone the dismantling of the West Bank settlement outpost known as Givat Assaf, close to Beit El – never mind that the government has yet to bother cooking up any new excuses for doing so. Haaretz explains that following a 2007 petition to the High Court of Justice by Peace Now against six settlements in the area, the state has been evading dismantling the outposts with various claims (‘wait! we’re negotiating with them’). After a Court injunction, the outposts were supposed to have been either legalized or evacuated by the end of the year. Failing to do the former, Givat Assaf was to have been dismantled.

But, Haaretz reports:

Over the past two months, enormous political pressure was put on Netanyahu to prevent the demolition…On Monday, some 150 pro-settler activists, including several MKs, marched from the Supreme Court to the Knesset to demand that Netanyahu hold a cabinet vote on the planned evacuation of illegal West Bank outposts….[then] a decision was made to postpone the evacuations by six months.

It seems very clear what kind pressure moves Mr. Netanyahu, although Haaretz forgot to mention it. It’s the kind of pressure that Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin called “Jewish Terrorism,” aka – “Price Tag.”  Jewish terrorism apparently pays – because while pro-settler activists were marching in true democratic fashion, others were busy vandalizing the home of Hagit Ofran from Peace Now, with the words “The revenge of Givat Assaf,” scrawled among the death threats. It is naive to think that 150 marchers swayed the Prime Minister. Force works better.

Finally, it seems, the government of Israel does know how to read the writing on the wall. Netanyahu is demonstrating that once again his government symbolizes the erosion of democracy by letting its limp rubber arm be twisted by twisted extremists in Israeli society.

This next observation may seem like a picky point. But it is extremely irritating that the English Haaretz refers to “destruction” of the outpost twice in the opening paragraph, as a direct translation from the Hebrew version, which used the word “pinui” – which means “evacuation.” If I was an English reader who didn’t know better, I’d say that sounds just horrible.

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    1. Ben Israel

      “Jewish terrorism”?
      (1) Are you saying that spray painting epithets on the wall of a mosque is the same as a suicide bomber blowing up a bus full of people? That they are both “terrorism”?
      (2) Are you saying that the fact that these lawbreaker “price tag” people have the same political goals as the law abiding citizens of YESHA (Judea/Samaria) who use democratic procedures to influence governemnt decision making , then that automatically means that these law abiding citizens are no different the law breaker “price tag” people?
      (3) If the answer to (2) is yes, then it is legitimate to say that there is no difference between peaceful Palestinians who want an Israeli withdrawal from Judea/Samaria and the creation of a Palestinian state are no different than the HAMAS terrorists who have committed suicide bombings are fired rockets indiscriminately into Israeli populated areas?
      (4) Why is it okay to whitewash the language the Left uses to describe what it does , i.e. “evacuation” is a nicer word to use to describe the police dragging someone out of the house he built with his own funds and bulldozing than “destruction”, but when the Left is describing what the Right does, it is then permissible to use linguistic inflation and to call spraypainting epithets “terrorism” and a shoving match between Jews and Arabs an “anti-Arab pogrom”. Sounds simply like propaganda to me…pushing a political agenda and using whatever Orwellian verbal tricks work on someones emotions.

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    2. BI – ask your speaker of the Knesset why he called them Jewish terrorists. Although you do seem to have missed the torching/destruction of mosques, desecration of graves, and death threats in your description. I am saying that it was not the peaceful demonstrators who influenced the PM, IMHO, but rather the price tag criminals. but BTW, law abiding citizens of the west bank depends (depending on your politics) on where they live. Illegal outposts are illegal even in israeli legal establishment, so most would agree – even many settlers – that those folks are not law abiding. although it gets very murky as everyone is trying to redefine what is ‘legal,’ and according to international law, israeli settlement on occupied territory is illegal, period.

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    3. Moshe

      Actually its not occupied but rather disputed! Seeing as no formal agreement is in place the only country that ever occupied the Yehuda and Shomron was Jordan who never even had a claim to the land when they occupied and annexed “the west bank” in the 1948 war. These “price tag terrorists” are hardly the image that the word terrorist brings to mind. They are hooligans, criminal thugs and vandals and they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, but still the use of the word terrorist or “michabel” in Hebrew is hardly correct.

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    4. AYLA

      Thanks for all this, Dahlia. Can’t read the handwriting on the wall, indeed. Indeed to everything: the question (or answer) regarding who influences this administration is the core of so many moral and legal issues. I also really look forward to the day that I can cross-check Hebrew-English translation, and appreciate very much when people do so; language matters.

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    5. Actually Moshe, Rivlin said “terror yehudi” so maybe he agrees with you! as for your first point, I don’t think it makes much of a difference if you call it ‘disputed territory.’ first, the outposts are constructed without anything resembling authorization from anyone. When arabs in israel do that, they are likely to face their houses being razed, very simply and dispassionately bulldozed. So there’s a major double standard going on. But regarding ‘dispute’ vs. ‘occupied’ – Israel itself calls this territory occupied and has not declared sovereignty over it. And settlement construction in occupied territory is illegal. but if you (or our government) claim sovereignty, then surely you do not deny giving full and equal rights and votes to all current residents of J/S/ west bank? we can’t have it both ways.

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    6. aristeides

      It isn’t that Jewish terrorism pays, but that Jewish terrorists don’t have to pay for their crimes. If Israel regards those who support a criminal as equally criminal, then obviously Israel’s government and courts are just as guilty. It is a criminal state and its laws are criminal laws. So to speak of “law abiding citizens of YESHA” is to say criminals. Each and every one. There’s your equivalence, Criminal Ben Israel.

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    7. Aristeides, please make a distinction – Ben is allowed to have his opinion without being called a criminal.

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    8. aristeides

      Dahlia – if the settlements are illegal in international law, then the settlements are a criminal enterprise and thus settlers are all criminals. That is my point, not gratuitous namecalling.

      Ben Israel places a lot of emphasis on the fact that the settlements are legal – according to some twist of Israeli law. If the Knesset declared that owning slaves was legal, would Ben Israel insist that slaveowners are faultless, law-abiding innocents, just because of this? Or would we call up the Hague?

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    9. RichardNYC

      It seems likely that Rivlin’s statement was hyperbolic and meant to convey a sense of urgency to Israelis – I don’t think he intended to draw an equivalency between “price-tag” attacks and mass casualty suicide bombings – because to Israelis, its obvious there is none. However, I think that writing “Jewish terrorism” in English, on a Western-focused blog like +972 does convey a sense of moral equivalency that Rivlin probably didn’t intend. And this is significant, since Joseph Dana et al made it clear in DC that +972 was interested in damaging Israel’s reputation for the sake of ending the occupation.
      PS: Under international law, the land that settlements are on can be ceded (Geneva Convention art. 47) by a future Palestinian state – this is an important provision that was intended to resolve situations like the one before us. Repeating the idea that the settlements are illegal without including this bit makes it seem as though international law requires total undoing of the settlement enterprise (a thought that emboldens hardliners and entrenches Israelis against international opinion). Since the Security Council has many times expressed its view that the conflict should be resolved through negotiations, to achieve secure borders (PLO affirmed these resolutions), don’t you think the question of legality should be discussed with more nuance? Otherwise, the legal discourse prevents compromise and impedes progress.

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    10. Richard, you’re making a very nuanced argument for a very blunt issue: Price Tag is about destruction and intimidation and that’s probably why Rivlin (compared? implied? nicknamed? declared?) them as terror. Instead of psychoanalyzing him, probly more useful to deal with the reality so that we can change things before there is a disaster – that is, if you really care about israel. Re settlements – there isn’t much nuance when we’re talking about outposts. They are not large, veteran communities w generations of children born there – a thorny legal and moral problem indeed. Outposts represent the ongoing, current perpetration of purposeful land theft by conscious choice of consenting adults. They are about the policy of vigilante land grabs, as much as they are about the hilltop itself.

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    11. aristeides

      Dahlia – I think Gideon Levy said it: “No one is guilty in Israel.” No Israelis are ever criminals. Katsav the rapist “feels no sense of guilt.” Of course he doesn’t, he’s an Israeli, he’s spent his life knowing he can take whatever he wants with impunity.

      Those grinning flagwavers in the photo certainly feel no guilt. The law-abiding Ben Israel feels no guilt as he dwells in his settlement on land to which he has no right. Are there dead Palestinians? Israel is only defending itself and certainly couldn’t be guilty of anything. If you point out the evidence of Israel’s crimes to its apologists, rather than admitting guilt, they will tell you that you shouldn’t be picking on Israel, because, after all, Genghis Khan did worse. Genghis Khan at least knew he was a mass murderer and was proud of it.

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    12. RichardNYC

      Respectfully, you didn’t really address my first point, which was that citing Rivlin to explain your use of the phrase “Jewish terrorism” is flawed. I guess now you’re making a ‘greater good’ argument to defend usage of this term. I agree that Israelis need to act firmly against the “price tag” phenomenon, but I don’t think that is is pragmatic to hyperbolize events for a Western audience. I don’t see any evidence that outside pressure will have an effect on this problem; seems more likely to me that, like many recent criticisms if Israeli policies, this issue is becoming another talking point for anti-Zionist hardliners. I’m not against criticism that has the potential to “delegitimize” per se, if that criticism concerns something that Westerners can do something about, but that’s not the case here. This is an internal security problem, and talking about “Jewish terrorism” feeds a hardline Palestinian narrative more than it puts pressure on the Shin Bet or anyone else in Israel to act. Of course, ultimately its an empirical question. I believe we agree in principle.
      I am totally with you about the outposts. Being somewhat familiar with what international law says about this, and how the legal debate has played a relatively insignificant role in what’s taken place on the ground, I’m of the opinion that arguing about whether the outposts are legal “under international law” is a red herring. Even if they WERE legal, they would still be a bad idea. I.E., they are much stronger arguments to make (one-state, demographics, etc…). Playing the Geneva Convention game works to the advantage of settlers because it makes it easy to get bogged down in hairsplitting, historical disagreements, and the metaphysics of sovereignty. So, yes, I care about Israel; and that’s precisely why I think talking about “international law” to Israelis or anyone else is counterproductive. I know its been an anti-occupation talking point for a long time, but what has that achieved?

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    13. @richard, i feel like we’re splitting hairs a bit here, although i appreciate your thorough persistence. You’ll noticed I used quotation marks around the term “jewish terror.” My aim in the article was not to create this hyperbole myself, but to give an analytic report on some newsworthy things. these include: 1. a mainstream, right-wing senior political figure called price tag “Jewish terror” (ruby rivlin) 2. the outpost evacuation was postponed 3. my analysis – the fear and intimidation factor worked – not on the left, but on the government. maybe, now that i think about it, the gov’t was the real target! The international law issue was definitely not part of my article, i only raised it in the context of my response to a specific comment. in fact, you’ll notice that I did not call the outpost illegal at all in my article – only quoted haaretz. that’s b/c the illegality really is too dependent on whose perspective: israel, int’l community, etc. I basically agree with your point that int’l law and legal arguments in general are really not the root of this (nor the solution). again – that only came up following a specific comment.

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    14. DAVID44

      RICHARDNYC said:

      “Under international law, the land that settlements are on can be ceded (Geneva Convention art. 47) by a future Palestinian state.”

      I think you are making this up. Article 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention reads as follows:

      “Protected persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present Convention by any change introduced, as the result of the occupation of a territory, into the institutions or government of the said territory, nor by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territories and the Occupying Power, nor by any annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied territory.”

      In other words, the object of this clause is to tell the occupying power that they can’t avoid applying the provisions of the Geneva Convention (such as the provision banning settlements) by trying to change the status of the territory, whether unilaterally or in agreement with the locals. As such, it says exactly the opposite of what you are implying: the bans on things like settlements are absolute, and not affected by changes in the status of the territories.

      The official commentary on the Convention is moreover clear that the references to “annexation” and the like are not meant to imply that such annexations would be legal. Nothing in either the text or the commentary on this clause suggests that illegal settlements on the territory can be retroactively legalized in the way you suggest.

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    15. Henry Weinstein

      So, Haaretz reports, Netanyahu wanted first to establish another committtee of legal experts to legalize the illegal outposts, but meeting steadfast opposition from Attorney General Weinstein (God bless his name) he decided to get out of this legal annoyance with one of his magic “creative solutions” which delight so much Obama and Sarkozy: postpone the enforcement of the law.
      Therefore, as injonctions of the High Court of Justice (next target, after Peace Now?) to evacuate illegal outposts are regularly postponed by the Israeli government, we can assume postponing is the usual way to deal with the rule of law when the law is annoying (“Freeze” being the usual way to postpone legal settlements building on annexed land, by diplomatic courtesy). And, when the law is not enforced, what happens in a human society: postponed Law becomes the Law of the Jungle (i.e the law of the Occupation).
      Thus, Netanyahu is entitled (by himself) to say, like he did to his supporters during a recent Likud meeting (Haarezt Staff, 8 November 2011), “We will continue preserving the settlements as well as the law, and there is no contradiction between the two”. Certainly, there is no contradiction possible with the law when the postponed law is The Sleeping Beauty. As a consequence, when sometimes Israeli soldiers and police officers attempt to evacuate an illegal outpost, they are met by rocks thrown at them, insults, curses, roads blocked and even nowadays Price Tag Delicatessen. “Highly logical”, would say Mister Spock (on the contrary, Boycott Law is enforced; “Highly illogical”, would say Mister Spock).
      True, Netanyahu also said to his supporters during this meeting, “Our efforts must focus on strengthening our existing settlements”, asking radical settlers to stop erecting illegal outposts, that is to say NEW illegal outposts considering he refuses to evacuate the present ones. No lies here, no bullshit, but no rule of law either.

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    16. RichardNYC

      “…by trying to change the status of the territory, whether unilaterally or in agreement with the locals.”
      Wow! You just made the same mistake I made when I raised this point in class. I interpreted it just the way you did, as forbidding an agreement that would cede territory. But apparently this is generally interpreted to prevent agreements with puppet governments like the Vichy. The drafters wanted to prevent belligerent occupiers from setting up stooges to make deals with. The PA, as it exists now, is already not in that category. You’re entitled to your opinion – this is what I heard from an expert who is not right wing.

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    17. RichardNYC

      fair enough. I agree with that.

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    18. DAVID44

      I didn’t say that the clause forbade an agreement with a genuinely independent interlocutor that would cede territory – clearly it does not forbid it. I said that the clause does not make any provision for retrospectively legalizing illegal settlements via such an agreement. Since you appear to be incapable of distinguishing those positions, my conclusion is that if your mysterious “expert who is not right wing” genuinely exists and is genuinely an expert, you misunderstood him/her.

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    19. RichardNYC

      “I said that the clause does not make any provision for retrospectively legalizing illegal settlements via such an agreement.”
      –>I never claimed otherwise. I don’t know where you’re getting this idea.
      You said, “the bans on things like settlements are absolute, and not affected by changes in the status of the territories”, which is not true, since, if Gush Etzion became part of Israel, post-agreement, building there would not be illegal.
      –>No need to get personal with me (“Since you appear to be incapable…”). If you get your jollies being hostile to strangers online please don’t bother responding to me.

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    20. DAVID44

      ““I said that the clause does not make any provision for retrospectively legalizing illegal settlements via such an agreement.”
      –>I never claimed otherwise. I don’t know where you’re getting this idea.”
      I got the idea that you were claiming otherwise from your statement that “Repeating the idea that the settlements are illegal without including this bit makes it seem as though international law requires total undoing of the settlement enterprise”. Can you see why I took this statement to be claiming that the settlements could be retroactively legalized via Geneva IV Article 47?
      “You said, “the bans on things like settlements are absolute, and not affected by changes in the status of the territories”, which is not true, since, if Gush Etzion became part of Israel, post-agreement, building there would not be illegal.”
      Of course it wouldn’t be illegal, because post-agreement it would no longer be occupied territory, so could be built on ad lib. But that is hardly much source of comfort to people living there illegally now.

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    21. Mikesailor

      I would think that in any discussion of ‘disputed territories’, the first question must be the legal standing of the parties to the dispute. It is undeniable that Israel is not, and never has been a legitimate party to any dispute concerning the West Bank nor Gaza. The Israeli borders were set in ’48 by the UN. Those borders, and only those borders are legitimate and legal. All other property subsequently ‘annexed’ by Israel violated the Geneva Conventions, although Israelis would like to claim a non-existent ‘right’ by conquest. And therein lies the rub. Israel can never allow the Palestinian state to exist because the question of borders and the Israeli annexations would soon be on the table. Only if they were able to extort an agreement from the Palestinians acceding to the ’67 armistice line (Green Live) could Israel legitimately claim that ‘annexed property’ as Israeli proper. Yet, the Palestinians could still claim such property or compensation therefore by citing the fact that Israel has held them hostage through force and any agreement would be null and void as the result of improper pressure and duress. The probability of a future state of Palestine winning such a case in either the ICC or ICJ is quite good. The only countries with legal standing in the present dispute are Jordan, Which occupied the West Bank prior to ’67, Syria, likewise’ and the Palestinians themselves which, as a prior province of the Ottoman Empire would probably have claims superior to the other two. Israel, on the other hand, has no legitimate claim nor right in these properties and I am fairly confident any impartial tribunal would find it so.

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