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WATCH: Settler helps Palestinians acquire building permits

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.

Read Also:
A settler’s argument for the right of return

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    1. You have been doing some really great coverage of areas often left uncovered, Roee. Thanks.

      Reply to Comment
    2. AYLA

      the translation voiceover is really funny :). Thanks for the story–these stories do exist and they give us hope, and we need hope to envision our way out of this mess. Between people like this man in Gush Etzion and the people in settlements who are committing acts of violence and destruction lie the majority of people there; people who honestly just want to be living on land that’s important to them for religious reasons, or people who moved there for economic reasons. I personally believe that they, too, should not be able to sleep at night, because of the occupation, but that said, many of them would be happy to live side by side with Palestinians who are also thriving, but/and have seemingly cut themselves off from their part in the web, probably to make it possible to live their lives and sleep at night. We all do this. Not just those of us living in Israel. Also those of us eating meat with the industry treating animals as it does, or etc. In the case of Israel/Palestine, the more people have hope that things can change to be good for everyone, without becoming bad for themselves, the more people will feel free to awaken, even if that means some sleepless nights in the interim.

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    3. ish yehudi

      theres actually a lot more of this kind of stuff- that doesn’t make the news- which loves to cover why we can’t ever get along… on both sides.
      last winter we held a joint planting event and were told by news editors that that is not event. when we told them we knew that there would be conflicts with protesting palestinians and hilltop youth they were all over it… but that was just to expose them and their agenda.

      Reply to Comment
      • ish: “theres actually a lot more of this kind of stuff- that doesn’t make the news- which loves to cover why we can’t ever get along.” : a crack in the wall; there will be more. It would be nice if 972ers would take up your challenge, spy out more cracks, and report them. It is easier to do something when you know it has been done elsewhere.

        Roee, inovative video reporting. Gotta know there is a hand out there sometimes.

        Reply to Comment
    4. sh

      Really pleased you reported this, Roee Ruttenberg. There are more pockets of humanity like this. Eliaz (not Eliraz) Cohen is part of a group that is drawing people who cannot reconcile the wanton violence they see around them with Jewish teaching. I’m not sure of the size of it now or of its name – Yerushalom I think it was called at one stage – but it gives me hope too.

      Ish Yehudi, do the Jewish participants in the unreported cases you speak of feel, as I’ve heard Eliaz Cohen say, that if their areas became part of a Palestinian state, they would be ok with that as long as they could continue to live there as Palestinian nationals?

      Reply to Comment
      • ish yehudi

        In Eretzshalom (an evolution of Yerushalom) there are plenty of different opinions in terms of political solutions. Some are willing to remain and be the Jewish minority, others would leave, others oppose Palestinian statehood at all… a wealth of opinions. But I can point out that some of the most clearest opponents (that I’ve met in the group) to a Palestinian state are also some of the most bold in taking steps for Palestinian rights and making positive change. But Eretzshalom.org tries to stay as non-political as possible and focus on people to people actions, places for co-operation and decreasing fear/ hatred. Projects for economic co-operation are also growing.

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