Friday, February 22, 2008

If the land isn't private?, Feb. 21, 2008-02-22

By Amira Haas

Not long ago the greengrocer in Ramallah recalled - between weighing locally grown zucchini and stripped hyssop leaves - that his family owns the land on which the gas station at the old entrance to the Jewish settlement of Beit El in the West Bank is located. He would not be surprised by the figure that the Peace Now movement has succeeded in officially extracting from the defense establishment, after more than a year of fighting for the freedom of information: About one-third of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank (44 out of 120) were built on privately owned Palestinian land that was seized, by means of confiscation orders, for "security needs."

From the data it emerges that at least 19 of the 44 settlements were built on private land, even after prime minister Menachem Begin decided in 1979 that the construction and expansion of settlements would take place only on state-owned land.

Peace Now has revealed here another act of hypocrisy, even though the Supreme Court is no longer impressed even by this: It did, after all, legitimize the construction of the settlement of Matityahu on land owned by inhabitants of Bil'in.

Continued . . .
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