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The right to own property — for Jews alone

The government never authorized the wholesale annexation of the West Bank. That’s why it’s doing it behind everyone’s backs.

By Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz

Illustrative photo of Israeli settlement outpost. (photo: Keren Manor/Activestills.org)

Illustrative photo of Israeli settlement outpost. (photo: Keren Manor/Activestills.org)

Our previous post on Yesh Din’s new position paper, “From Occupation to Annexation,” explored the various ways the Israeli government implements the Levy Report. This post will focus on another critical point: the erasure of the Palestinians’ right to property.

Prior to the Levy Report, the Israeli government was careful to avoid legalizing the seizure of private Palestinian property, except when it could argue it was done due to pressing military needs (“military seizure”) or by declaring it state land and claiming that it was never, in fact, private property at all. This took place, in part, because the laws of occupation demand that the occupier protect the private property of protected persons in occupied territory. The legal appeals against the illegal outposts, about 80% of which are at least partially built on private Palestinian land, challenged this way of thinking.

And then came the Levy Report, which claimed the government has the right to build settlements and outposts in the West Bank. On paper this claim may have been harmless, had its implementation not directly threatened the property of private persons.

Let’s look at some examples. The future of the Adei Ad outpost – which was at the heart of another one of our reports, “The Road to Dispossession” – is being debated by the High Court of Justice. The report detailed how Israeli civilians took over private Palestinian land while using violence against Palestinian residents who tried to hold on to their land, all while the Israeli authorities stood aside. Although the report was published in 2013, the reality it describes continues even today.

Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian journalist during clashes near the illegal West Bank outpost of Adei Ad. (Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian journalist during clashes near the illegal West Bank outpost of Adei Ad. (Activestills.org)

As our position paper shows, the Israeli government relies on Levy’s exceedingly broad legal interpretation to legalize a series of illegal outposts, under the pretense they are in fact neighborhoods of already existing settlements – even when they are outside the jurisdiction of their “mother settlement.” Justice Minister Ayelet Shakedeven boasted that “anyone who knows the Adei Ad [appeal], knows that the state responds differently these days.”

Therefore the state informed the High Court that although the outpost was illegal, it does not intend to remove it. On the contrary, it announced that it would try and legalize it. In practice, then, what Shaked meant to say was that “we decided to give criminals a prize.”

If the state told the court in 2008 that it – some day — intends to enforce the law and evacuate the outposts, its position had radically changed by 2011. Now, said the state, it will enforce the law only vis-a-vis structures built on private land, while legalizing structures built on state land. The Levy Report came out in 2012; by 2013, the state was telling the courts that in some cases “state reasons” may supersede the need to enforce the law. By 2015, the state spoke expressly about retroactive legalization.

Another case that represents the erasure of Palestinian property rights is that of Amona. Amona is the largest illegal settlement outpost in the West Bank – a significant part of the land on which it stands belong to Palestinian residents, whose theft was followed by violence against the Palestinians. In court, the state opposed the evacuation of Amona time after time. At the end of 2014, the High Court of Justice ruled that Amona was to be evacuated by the end of this 2016. So what did the government do? Did it accept the ruling and follow the instructions of the court? Of course not. It tried to bypass the court through a new bill titled the “re-ordering bill.”

Amona outpost, West Bank. (photo: יעקב / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Amona outpost, West Bank. (photo: יעקב / CC BY-SA 3.0)

This law follows one of the comments made in the Levy Report, according to which compensation for Palestinians whose land has been taken from them is preferable to evacuating the invaders. Once it can be proven that an outpost was illegally built on Palestinian land, the Palestinian owners would be forced to accept compensation and give up their rights to their own property.

According to the Levy Report, therefore, all people are equal before the law, but some are more equal. You own land? Jewish invaders took it with government aid? We won’t evacuate them, we simply legalize the invasion. Here are your 30 pieces of silver. Oh, you don’t want to take them because you’re afraid of living next to Israelis who have already proven their affinity for violence? You won’t take the silver because you don’t want to take part in Jewish expansion over parts of Palestine?  Tough. Your property rights are secondary to our historical rights. Do yourself and us a favor and take the money, because, you see, this outpost won’t be removed. It will remain here whether you like it or not. The court ruled otherwise? We’ll try and change the law. What about your rights? What rights?

The bill currently names three outposts and a part of a settlement – three outposts that the court had already ordered be removed, and one whose case is still debated. Amona is mentioned specifically as an outpost covered by the bill. Politicians are not even trying to conceal the fact the point of the bill is to prevent the High Court from slowing down the violation of Palestinian rights. Just in case, the bill – which has been frozen for the time being – allows other outposts to be added to it even after it passes.

The state’s responses to the court and the “re-ordering bill” deal outposts whose fate were either ruled on by the High Court or are still being debated. But the government ministers, being people of vision, take care not only of the past and present but also of the future. The “re-ordering committee,” created by Prime Minister Netanyahu, is supposed to provide other solutions, as it has a mandate to “examine the current process of evidence needed for proof of land ownership.” To put it more bluntly: its purpose is to make it even more difficult for to prove they are landowners. The purpose of the committee is to create “an outline for the legalizing of structures and neighborhoods in Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria that were built with the support of the authorities.”

Israeli right wing activists are seen at the outpost they built in the E1 area outside the settlement of Maale Adumim in response to the murder of the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers on July 1, 2014 in the West-bank. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli right wing activists are seen at the outpost they built in the E1 area outside the settlement of Maale Adumim in response to the murder of the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers on July 1, 2014 in the West-bank. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The Israeli government never authorized the Levy Report’s recommendations while effectively endorsing and carrying them out in secret. The government implements an unofficial policy of annexation – one that does not grant equal rights to those being annexed, while at the same time depriving them of the legal defenses they are entitled to as protected persons, since, allegedly, there is no occupation.

As for the people who live there? It’s their own problem. They should have lived someplace else. Didn’t they get the hint already?

Written by Yossi Gurvitz in his capacity as a blogger for Yesh Din, Volunteers for Human Rights. A version of this post was first published on Yesh Din’s blog.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Ben

      This is simply the behavior of mobsters. Organized crime. Nothing Israel does in the territories is done above board and honestly. It’s all done by trickery, underhandedly, sneaking around in the middle of the night like a thief. And with astonishing cruelty. People who know they are stealing behave like this. People who know they are right do not behave like this. All you have to do is look at the behavior.

      Reply to Comment
      • Samson

        Achmed, you are full of anger and hate and your words are those of a hyperventilating jihadi fool. The land is the land of Israel; it is JEWISH land! That land is only 0.1% of 1% of the total landmass of the Middle East. The rest of the land is in the hand of your Muslim (Arab) people. But even that LEES than 0.1% you fight to have for yourself. Your jihadi greed wants it all. But I got news for you Achmed, Israel will build on that land as it sees fit and there is nothing you can do about it – except perhaps put on your suicide vest and blow up yourself. Is that what ya wanna do, Achmed?

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          All you have to do is look at *your* behavior. Enough said.

          Reply to Comment
          • Samson

            Right! My posts terrify the disingenuous, hypocritical racist minds of you and your fellow jihadis. BTW, by behavior you mean like posting SIMULTANEOUSLY as “Ben”, “Brian”, “Bryan” etc. on this very site? You have admitted that at least those screen-names are YOURS, haven you?

            By behavior you mean like YOU who bulge in here using words like “mobsters”, “thieves”, “organized crimes”, “trickery”, “sneakingly”, “underhandedly” etc. and other racist, anti-Semitic code-words to describe Israel and Israelis? Those are the same racist behavior you exhibit when you pose as “Bryan”/”Bryan”.

            And by behavior you mean the fact that you spend 24/7 in the comment sections of Jewish websites using multiple Jewish sounding names (e.g. Weiss, BruceCould, GioraMeir, etc.) to hide you jihadi background, while ranting and raging against Jews and Israel EVERY SINGLE DAY and having no job to independently support yourself?

            By behavior you mean like each time you are defeated in arguments, you just chicken-out, melt away and start sending emails to the moderator/Lisa Goldman et al. weeping and moaning and begging them to ban me so that you can have the freedom to spread your propaganda? Don’t you get me started, racist moron.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            All one has to do is stand back and look at your behavior. You embody the spirit and practice of the occupation. As I told Gustav, you guys think you have so shifted the debate that simply telling the plain truth is “venomous” and “anti-Jewish.” I’m not cooperating. Look at Gustav’s post below. It’s aaaall about Jews and Arabs, Arabs and Jews. Instead of Israelis and Palestinians. You guys want to make this about Arabs and Jews because it is you guys who have the racist frame of mind and it is you guys who want to distract everybody from the actual problems with human rights. I don’t want to do that. Then you scream and rant and yell assaultively and generally abuse people all over the place, like the thug you are, and you tell *me* that *I* am “angry” and “full of hate”? Hello? Have you always lacked insight about yourself to this appalling degree?

            Reply to Comment
          • Samson

            Your comment is the first comment on this thread. Those words you wrote are the summary of YOUR “debate”! Those words mirror the anger and the hate in your heart. Those words are what are found in White supremacist websites, jihadi websites, David Duke’s Youtube videos and the websites of other hate groups when it comes to Israel and Jews. Your racist anti-Semitic dog-whistle were heard loud and clear. Your words of hate speak for themselves and it doesn’t matter whether you pose as “Brian”/”Bryan” (the aliases you have admitted are yours) you spew the same crude and raw anti-Semitism. The leopard never changes its spots.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            I’m sorry. I misspoke. Let me correct that: Have you ever written a single sentence in your life that did not have *multiple* lies in it? Blah blah blah. We’ve heard it all before. It’s no more coherent or substantive than the first time you said it. We wouldn’t be trying to distract now from the substance of Yossi’s article would we? I mean that would never be your real aim would it? But just to remind you:

            “Therefore the state informed the High Court that although the outpost was illegal, it does not intend to remove it. On the contrary, it announced that it would try and legalize it. In practice, then, what Shaked meant to say was that “we decided to give criminals a prize.”…. The Israeli government never authorized the Levy Report’s recommendations while effectively endorsing and carrying them out in secret. The government implements an unofficial policy of annexation – one that does not grant equal rights to those being annexed, while at the same time depriving them of the legal defenses they are entitled to as protected persons, since, allegedly, there is no occupation.”

            Reply to Comment
          • Samson

            “I’m sorry. I misspoke” ….

            LoL… you always misspeak, distort, lie and spew raw racist hate. Your first comment and the comments you have posted elsewhwere incl. when you pose as “Brian”/”Brayan” are right out of the websites of the ilk of David Duke and other anti-Semitic hate groups. Those hate groups also use the words of Jewish critics of Israel to justify their hate – EXACTLY as you are doing now! You can run, Ben, but you cant hide!

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            One simply has to quote Yossi to refute your charges (made laughably hypocritical by you, the ‘Achmed’-caller, who spews nonstop hatred against Arabs, but hey, you’re Israeli, right, “what’s the problem? Next”):

            “Therefore the state informed the High Court that although the outpost was illegal, it does not intend to remove it. On the contrary, it announced that it would try and legalize it. In practice, then, what Shaked meant to say was that “we decided to give criminals a prize.”…. The Israeli government never authorized the Levy Report’s recommendations while effectively endorsing and carrying them out in secret. The government implements an unofficial policy of annexation – one that does not grant equal rights to those being annexed, while at the same time depriving them of the legal defenses they are entitled to as protected persons, since, allegedly, there is no occupation.”

            I’m with Yossi!

            Reply to Comment
          • Samson

            “One simply has to quote Yossi to refute your charges…”

            Indeed, Achmed. You know who else does that? David Duke, jihadi- and White supremacists groups. They all quote almost exclusively the Jewish critics of Israel to support their hate campaign. Their favorite Jews are Noam Chomsky, Gideon Levy, Norman G. Finkelstein, Ilan Pappe, Noam Sheizaf, Amira Haas and the ilks of Yossi. They also treacherously declare the equivalent of “I’m with Yossi!” when called out for their hate and anti-Semitism. But Yossi’s and his ilk’s motives are not your motives. You aren’t extremely clever, Achmed, are you?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            That’s rich coming from a Trump kinda guy like yourself. Your routinely hateful words about Arabs would fit right in in a Trump or a KKK rally. Actually your words about Arabs are far coarser and more hateful than Trump’s. And Trump is a fascist. And you’re as sneaky and dishonest as Trump. Everyone has seen it so don’t try to deny it. It is you who are racial obsessed with Jews and Arabs, who lies constantly, who constantly tries to poison these forums with raw hate speech and charges of anti-Semitism, to make debates about human rights degenerate into racial matters and distracting nonsense. Everyone has seen it so you can’t deny it. The Jews you mention? Sound like good company to me. My own people. You are of course utterly unable to deal with that for which Yossi builds a compelling case. Hence all this BS. My feeling is that we’ve explored this fully, and as usual you’re completely FOS. Here’s another level of your BS: the time you posted this is consistent with your being in the US not Israel. You are a reactionary right wing Jewish American pretending to be an Israeli. This has been clear for some time. You’re just a tourist. What a joke.

            Reply to Comment
          • Samson

            Achmed, tell us why you changed from “Brian” to “Ben”

            Answer the question. Lets’ start from there to expose you once again for the fraud you are.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            You radiate callow American teenage punk, not Israeli. I bet my bottom dollar you have not served in the IDF and have never served in the territories and have no actual real life first hand experience of war and of the brutalities of the occupation, and so you rail against the soldiers of Breaking the Silence from a comfortable suburban American armchair with your chilled coke in one hand and your popcorn in the other and your “Go IDF!” and “Am Yisrael Chai!” banners and Birthright souvenirs tacked to your basement wall next to your Dallas Cowboy pennants or whatever. And your voodoo doll of Benny you stick pins in sitting in the corner on the weird shrine you’ve built to me to manage your obsession. That’s my image of you. The ultimate chickenhawk BtS criticizer and internet troll. What a loser.

            Reply to Comment
          • Samson

            Achmed! I ask you AGAIN: tell us why you changed from “Brian” to “Ben”

            Answer the question, Achmed. Later we get to the question Gustav asked you on the other thread you ran away from. Lets’ start from there to expose you once again for the fraud you are.

            Btw Achmed, how many emails have you sent already to +972 weeping, moaning and begging them to ban me, because I expose you as a fraud and full of hot air? Don’t lie Achmed, because if you lie, the moderator will know. LoL …

            Reply to Comment
    2. Ben

      A short history of organized terror and ethnic cleansing in 47-48. Even if it is charged that this is one sided it puts paid to all efforts to simply say “we accepted the partition plan and they attacked us.” Not nearly so simple was it or is it. Not nearly. What is going on now in the West Bank is the same essential set of aims being carried out using slower, subtler means. But I think the hard right is just biding it’s time until such time as they can redeploy Ben Gurion’s original strategy: “The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.” I don’t see any other way to explain the hard right’s seeming complacency in the face of the de facto one state reality on the ground. ==>

      Organized Terror and Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine
      http://www.hamptoninstitution.org/20130424Palestine.html#.VttDtYY76nN

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Ben Gurion was an avowed leftist. He was an atheist. A Kibutznick. And the allegations against him are just lies. Whatever was done under his leadership happens in all wars. Refugees, deaths and yes some atrocities. Atrocities were committed by Arabs too and it wasn’t an isolated case either (Arab atrocities).

        The fact is that the Arabs started the war and as in all wars there was a lot of tit for tat from both sides. We lost 1% of our population and the Arabs suffered a catastrophe (from their point of view) but they brought it on their own heads by starting and waging an unrestrained no holds barred war against us which they continued and which they refuse to end even today.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          The actual history is far more complicated than that. The ethnic cleansing was planned. I invite anyone to compare the Hampton Institute history linked to with Gustav’s mythologizing. Mythologizing and idealizing will do no good in advancing a sober, realistic and fair solution. It only serves to allow oneself to absolve oneself of the need to truly reconcile and cut a fair and decent deal and build the future of both peoples on that basis, instead of an undying maximalist grasping for every single inch because “they started it” which just isn’t true. “It” did not start in May, 1948.
          “Leftist, atheist, kibbutznik.” A total non sequitur. I bet he was kind to children and dogs too. The Labor Party built the occupation. Shimon Peres built the settlements. Bougie Herzog sustains them and recently proposed an apartheid separation plan.

          Reply to Comment
          • Samson

            You talk about “history”, Achmed? Well, this “history” of “organized ethnic cleansing” is NOT “complicated” at all.

            “A major obstacle to peace in the Middle East is the Palestinian refugee problem. Yet, a key component to understanding this problem has been overlooked and obscured in the current dialogue. Without understanding this element, a truthful discussion aimed at creating a lasting and cohesive peace in the region is impossible. This elusive component is the history of human rights violations, including ethnic cleansing,’ of the Jews from Arab countries. These Arab Jews and their descendents compose roughly 50% of the population of Israel”

            Read more here: http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1881&context=ilj

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            The problem with the Bens of this world is that they are fixated entirely on what Jews supposedly did and do wrong. Their eyes simply glaze over or they go into deliberate denial mode (lying) when they are reminded of the entire context and history of this mess and the Arabs role in ate least contributing, heavily contributing to this mess.

            Benny lives in a simple black and white world in which his Arabs are innocent goody goodies and Israeli Jews are evil monsters who devour children on a daily basis. We all know what that sort of imagery led to in the past. But it won’t happen again because we are wise to these haters now and we know what to do to make it too expensive for them to try again. But they do try… they keep on trying… they say the pen is mightier than the sword… so they keep on trying with their little pens too, er um I mean their little keyboards… they try to feed people with wall to wall anti Israel propaganda!

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “Their eyes simply glaze over or they go into deliberate denial mode (lying) when they are reminded of the entire context and history of this mess and the Arabs role in ate least contributing”

            No, not at all. But all of this is accounted for, built into a fair two state settlement. Israel is trying tooth and nail to deny this accounting, insisting on having it all. This is what the world does not accept because it is unjust to anyone who is fair minded. This is why Israel at this point sadly comes off as a cruel, unyielding colonialist state.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            As I said on the other thread, according to Benny, the earth is flat, night is day, black is white, up is down…

            The people who want it all are your Arabs. Most of us Israelis have been willing to share this land. Back in 1947, we were the only ones who accepted the two state solution, your Arabs rejected it. After the 1967 war we offered land for peace but your Arabs didn’t even want to negotiate. Then came Oslo which was supposed to lead to peace but terrorism actually escalated. Then came Ehud Barak in 2000 but we got an Intifada in exchange for the land that he offered. Then came Olmert who got ignored.

            All of the above we got just from the PLO (the so called peace makers). But what about Hamas? They have consistently been saying that all the land is Arab land and Jews in here live on borrowed time…

            But what does Benny do? He focuses on Netanyahu. Even if for the sake of the argument, Netanyahu is a war monger (which he isn’t), even then, Netanyahu is not the issue. He is just our response to Arab intransigence and war mongering but Benny wants the world to ignore the obvious fact that his Arabs still did not give up their zero sum game but by being so intransigent, they are in effect enabling our rejectionists. If they keep this up, they will end up with nil, zip, nada, nothing and they will have only themselves to blame for it.

            Reply to Comment
          • Alex

            “A major obstacle to peace in the Middle East is the Palestinian refugee problem. Yet, a key component to understanding this problem has been overlooked and obscured in the current dialogue….This elusive component is the history of human rights violations, including ethnic cleansing,’ of the Jews from Arab countries.”

            Jews making Aliyah to Israel is ethnic cleansing? How so?

            “These Arab Jews and their descendents compose roughly 50% of the population of Israel”

            Why doesn’t Israel apply to join the Arab League? Israel joining the Arab League as the 23rd Arab-majority state can only help bring a more comprehensive peace to the region.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            “Why doesn’t Israel apply to join the Arab League? Israel joining the Arab League as the 23rd Arab-majority state can only help bring a more comprehensive peace to the region.”

            Yea why didn’t we think of dat? LOL.

            Reply to Comment
    3. Pál Prónay

      Your so called Treblinka would make an excellent place for Jewish settlements

      Reply to Comment
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