Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Arlene Kushner On Legalizing Unauthorized Settlements And A Landmark Bill In The Works


October 11, 2011

"No Time to Stop!"

Word has come out that Prime Minister Netanyahu has instructed Justice Minister Ya'akov Ne'eman to explore ways to legalize Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria that are now considered "unauthorized" and at imminent risk for dismantlement. I believe Ne'eman will be putting together a committee for this purpose.

But please, do not confuse an order to explore with an order to implement.  Some newspaper reports have already projected this confusion.  Nothing has been decided yet, and at the end of the day the prime minister could still reject what Ne'eman recommends. 

Thus it continues to be our job to let Netanyahu know, in strong and unambiguous terms, that we expect alternative measures to be implemented so that the communities will not be dismantled.

What is clear is that his readiness to consider alternatives is a bow to the protests he is receiving with regard to possible dismantlement.  In other words, protest by numbers of people does make a difference.


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On the other side of the equation, there is solid information that the army will be practicing maneuvers for dismantlement in the coming week.  Similarly, this does not mean that it's a sure thing, and that the army will be commanded to move on this.  What it means is that the army will be ready if the political decision to dismantle is made.

This is not something we want to leave to chance.  

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What particularly rankles is that this should even be considered in the face of the PA's intransigence and overt hostility to Israel.  Now is surely the time to stand strong and stay put.  

But of course, the powers on the left perceive this exactly in reverse, arguing that we must show "flexibility" to encourage moderation in the PA. 

Today it made the news that Yesh Din -- "there's justice," one of the Israeli organizations far to the left -- has just released a report charging that government delays in dismantling "unauthorized" settlements encourage construction of additional "unauthorized" settlements.  What this tells us -- in addition to the fact that there is pressure from the left -- is that the government is a bit schizoid on the issue, and will delay in acting if that's what is mandated by the political situation.

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But, as I speak of the political situation, there is another factor that works against our concerns for a Jewish Judea and Samaria:  That is our prime minister's practice of playing along with international elements, notably the US, to some degree, to mollify.  He doesn't cave completely -- he hasn't frozen construction again, for example. Yet, as that international community views our presence in Judea and Samaria as "illegitimate," a few well-timed demolitions can serve to indicate that Netanyahu is a "team player."   Not too many demolitions, as that would rock his coalition. 


The bottom line is that we are facing an exceedingly volatile situation that requires our constant vigilance.

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I am reproducing here the information on making contact with the Israeli government that I provided yesterday.

If you are an Israeli citizen, contact PM Netanyahu. 


Fax: 02-670-5369.

E-mailMemshala@pmo.gov.il 

If you have not yet communicated your concerns about this issue, please! do so now. 

Speaking as a citizen of Israel, convey a sense of great urgency.  But I implore you to keep your message short, direct, clear and polite.  No speeches, no history lessons. 

Tell him that if he allows communities in Judea and Samaria to be dismantled, he is betraying all he has stood for.  Insist that he over-rule the civil administration in Judea and Samaria, and the position of Defense Minister Barak, and that he stop all orders for dismantling of any Jewish communities.

Indicate that you expect that a way to retain the communities -- by legalizing them -- will be worked out, hopefully via the exploration of Justice Minister Ne'eman.

If you have already written to Netanyahu, write again.  Tell him it's a good first step, to ask Justice Minister Ne'eman to explore ways to legalize "unauthorized" communities.  Let him know that you are watching and that you expect that a solution will be found -- for anything less would be unacceptable.

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If you are in the US or elsewhere, utilize the lists for the Embassies and Consulates below.  Make sure there is an outcry where you are, and Jerusalem will know about it. 

If you have not yet communicated your concerns, do so now.  Keep your message short, direct, clear and polite. No speeches, no history lessons. 

Say that you are protesting as a supporter of Israel (and, if it is the case, as a Jew).  Indicate that you are deeply disturbed by reports that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria might be dismantled.  This would be a betrayal of what the prime minister stands for.  Say that you know the Justice Minister will be investigating ways to legalize the communities, and that you trust that a solution will be found -- for anything less would be unacceptable.

If you have already written, write again.  Say it's a good first step, that Prime Minister Netanyahu has asked Justice Minister Ne'eman to explore ways to legalize "unauthorized" communities.  Indicate that you are watching and that you expect that a solution will be found -- for anything less would be unacceptable.

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In the US:
Israel Embassy, Washington DC  

Telephone: 202.364.5500
Fax: 202.364.5423
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Atlanta Consulate General of Israel  
http://atlanta.mfa.gov.il/
404.487.6500
Region: Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina


Boston Consulate General of Israel  

http://boston.mfa.gov.il/
617.535.0200
Region: 
Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont


Chicago Consulate General of Israel  

http://chicago.mfa.gov.il/
312.297.4800
Region: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Wisconsin


Houston Consulate General of Israel  

http://houston.mfa.gov.il/
713.627.3780

Region: Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma

Los Angeles Consulate General of Israel   

http://www.israella.org/
323.852.5500
Region: 
Arizona, California (Southern), Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming


Miami Consulate General of Israel   

http://miami.mfa.gov.il/
305.925.9400
Region: 
Florida, Puerto Rico


New York Consulate General of Israel  

http://www.israelfm.org/
212.499.5400
Region: Connecticut, New Jersey (Northern), New York


Philadelphia Consulate General of Israel 

http://philadelphia.mfa.gov.il/
215.546.5556
Region: 
Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio, New Jersey (Southern), West Virginia, Kentucky


San Francisco Consulate General of Israel  

http://www.israeliconsulate.org/
415.844.7510
Region: 
Alaska, California (Northern), Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington


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If you live elsewhere, you can locate your appropriate Israeli Embassy or Consulate here:


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Sukkot is coming. Please act before the holiday begins. And please share this as broadly as you can.


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MK Yariv Levin (Likud) is working on a bill that would compensate Palestinian Arab owners of land in Judea and Samaria on which Jewish housing has been built.


I have no knowledge of how this bill would spell out the means for verifying determining land ownership -- but this seems to me an issue of some significance, as simply "claiming" ownership should not be sufficient.  The claimant would receive funds or alternate land, but would not be able to demand a demolition of homes on "his" property.


Said Levin in a statement to the JPost :


"The current situation in Judea and Samaria is intolerable.  The judiciary is being used as a tool to promote the extreme Left's political goals, such as harming settlers.


"We cannot accept a policy in which we don't build, illegal Arab construction is not dealt with, and Jewish homes are destroyed.  The prime minister does not have a mandate from the public or Likud MKs for this behavior.


"There is plenty of illegal Arab construction, but in those cases the courts do not enforce the law, because they say it's not a priority, or that it's a political and diplomatic matter.  Yet,  when it comes to settlers, the courts are very involved.  This is a cynical use of the judicial system.


Levin wants to "break the cycle of housing destruction.  This removes the government's excuse by solving the problems of court destruction orders.


"The government must stop hiding behind court rulings as if they were inarguable, given by God at Mount Sinai.  There should be preference for Jewish settlement, or at least equality."


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Whether it succeeds or not, Levin's bill is a landmark effort as it would represent the first time the Knesset was involved via legislation in what goes on in Judea and Samaria, which is under military law.
Some of the objections to the bill coming from the left may seem fairly far-fetched to many of us.  But as the Court tilts left, it might entertain some of them, and invalidate the bill, should it pass.  (Rest assured, if it does pass, there will be attorneys challenging it in the Court.)


According to Attorney Michael Sfard, who works with both Yesh Din and Peace Now, the proposed bill would constitute a violation of property rights and the right to freedom of expression -- both enshrined in the legal system's Basic Law.  What I ponder here, but have no answer to, is whether Israel's Basic Law (which serves as Israel's constitution) applies to Palestinian Arabs who are not Israeli citizens and live in Judea and Samaria, which is not governed according to Israeli civil law in any event.  But one can readily see the potentially problematic nature of this bill.


Additionally, Attorney Limor Yehuda, director of the Association for Civil Rights in the Occupied Territories, claims that this amounts to confiscation of lands in "occupied territory," which is illegal under international law.  Israel's position, however, is that the Fourth Geneva Convention is not applicable to Judea and Samaria.


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Thirty-eight MKs have now sent a letter -- drafted by the Land of Israel lobby in the Knesset -- to the prime minister appealing to him not to demolish any further homes in Judea and Samaria. 


Fifteen of 27 members of the Likud faction signed, as well as eight MKs from Shas; six from Yisrael Beiteinu; four from National Union; and the three members of HaBayit HaYehudi. Additionally, one MK from Kadima and one from United Torah Judaism signed.  Five of the signatories were ministers: Eli Yishai (Shas --Interior); Daniel Hershkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi -- Science and Technology); Uzi Landau (Israel Beiteinu -- National Infrastructure) and Likud ministers Yuli Edelstein (Public Diplomacy) and Yossi Peled.
Said the letter: "We urge you to protect the settlements in Judea and Samaria from those who use the pretense of law and order to persecute them."


Concern is highest for further demolitions in Migron, as well as in Givat Assaf and the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El.  The prime minister is asked in this letter to use every possible legal means to assure that no further demolitions will be undertaken.


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I wrote the other day that the inmates are running the asylum. True enough. But what it also turns out is that the Palestinian Arab prison inmates are attempting to run Israeli prisons.  The whole story is enough to make your jaw drop:


Fairly recently, finally, there was a decision to cut back on some of their incredible perks -- including the right to matriculate for university degrees! -- because Gilad Shalit is kept in horrendous conditions.  So what's happening now is that more than 230 inmates have gone on a hunger strike until their demands are met.  Are you ready?  Whole chickens, the return of satellite channels and the Palestinian TV channel, a right to receive visitors while not handcuffed and permission to walk between the cells.  And, would you believe, negotiations on these items on going on with the Prison Service.  Negotiations?  Let them starve.  They are not in prison because they are nice guys.  And I do not believe the Geneva Conventions cover satellite channels.


Oh, what Gilad would give to have visitors, even if handcuffed!


So far, the Prison Service has conceded only whole chickens, which have to be cut up by guards.
The Service has instituted sanctions on these prisoners and says it is prepared for anything.


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I thought I had posted the last yesterday, but found it necessary to write again today -- for obvious reasons.  Now, finally, I hope I am done and can turn my focus to family and holiday.


There are many other subjects that might be explored, but they will have to wait for another time.  As I will be focused elsewhere over the next few days, I implore my readers to cut back on the number of e-mails they send me.  I will not be checking my computer daily.


Sukkot is called the Season of Our Joy -- Z'man Simchateinu -- with good reason.  It is a quintessentially happy time.  And a time of faith.  As of tomorrow night observant Jews will eat and sleep in their sukkot -- their temporary booths -- for a period of a week.  Their protection comes from the Almighty.  Or let me put it another way: Our protection always comes from the Almighty, but for this week we are especially reminded of this fact.


To all who are celebrating, I wish a Chag Sukkot Sameach!



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© Arlene KushnerThis material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

See my website at Arlene from Israel   Contact Arlene at akushner@netvision.net.il

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