Akiva Eldar: Palestinian disinheritance sponsored by Oslo

By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz – 25 June 2012
www.haaretz.com/opinion/palestinian-disinheritance-sponsored-by-oslo.premium-1.443671

It’s a shame the police don’t show the same determination treating the settlers who invade private Palestinian land as they do evicting the temporary settlers on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard

Akiva Eldar

Akiva Eldar

It’s a shame the police don’t show the same determination treating the settlers who invade private Palestinian land as they do evicting the temporary settlers on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard. It’s a shame the social justice activists ignore the creeping eviction by the Israeli government in the occupied territories.

It’s a shame Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman doesn’t show a little sensitivity about Israel’s image around the world – that same sensitivity seen in his (justified ) attack on the expulsion of African migrants – when it comes to the disinheritance of thousands of Palestinians from their land, which also (justifiably ) damages Israel’s image.

Actually, it was the right-wing group Regavim that revealed the despicable act. The orders to destroy 52 buildings at the Palestinian village of Susya, issued by the Civil Administration following a petition by Regavim, are yet another dark chapter in the “legal disinheritance” story: the expulsion of Palestinians under the aegis of the Oslo Accords. This affair has broken the record for misuse of civilian and security authority granted Israel in the interim Oslo 2 agreement over Area C, which is under exclusive Israeli control.

This authority was designed to let Israel conduct settlement affairs until a final-status solution was ripe. But it has turned into a cruel mechanism of de facto annexation of “state lands” and of taking over private lands belonging to tens of thousands of Palestinians living in this area.

There is documentation on Susya in its present location as early as 1830, and it is marked on British Mandate maps from 1917. Official government papers confirm that the village’s land is privately owned, which made it a bit difficult to hand the land over to the settlers. Thus, on the way to being annexed to the settlement of Susya, it was expropriated “for public purposes” and declared an archaeological site.

On the face of it, the settlers, too, are forbidden to build on that site. Actually, the outposts flourish there almost without disturbance. “Almost”, because “the organizations that support terror” as Lieberman calls them, headed by Ta’ayush and Rabbis for Human Rights, document the settlers’ violent acts of theft – the vandalizing of fields and trees, the poisoning of grazing grounds and drinking wells, the setting fire to tents and the attacks on families inside their homes.

By dint of its authority, the Israeli government is responsible for supplying the needs of, and enforcing the law on, all the residents of Area C, without reference to religion or nationality. But we don’t need international organizations’ reports to see that the authorities employ a policy of discrimination.

It’s enough to visit one of the settlers’ new swimming pools and to look in the wells at Susya. Not only do the authorities not care that the improvised school for the village’s children will be connected to the electricity grid, they seek to destroy the solar facility that was set up there with the help of the German government. Meanwhile, the bus that brings the children to the makeshift school has been confiscated.

The war of attrition against Susya’s residents and their cohorts who live in Area C is being waged with wicked sophistication. The planning authorities have held up the master plans for Palestinian villages for years. If there is no plan, there are no building permits, and if there are no building permits, people build without permits. If there is construction without permission, there are orders to tear down the buildings.

If in 1972 some 97 percent of the Palestinian requests were approved (2,134 ), in 2005 only 13 permits were issued – around 6 percent of 189. In recent years, Palestinians no longer bother to request building permits.

When enforcing planning and building laws, the Israeli authorities show a great deal of diligence when it comes to the Palestinians. According to Civil Administration figures, from 2000 to 2007, about one-third of the orders were put into effect (with about 1,100 buildings destroyed ) in Palestinian villages, as opposed to less than 7 percent in the settlements. Even though the Palestinian population in Area C is less than half the population in the settlements, three out of every four files on illegal construction are opened against these Palestinians.

It’s a shame only a handful of Israelis have protested the systematic eviction of people who want nothing more than to live on their land and raise their children in their own country. It’s a shame that this reality – a true story that has been taking place over the years right next door – doesn’t get more publicity. One day, we will have to pay dearly for this evil.

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