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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Are Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria built on Arab land?

One of the many claims in the mainstream media that is taken for granted is that Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria are built on Arab land. That claim, write Rachel Neuwirth and John Landau, is patently false (Hat Tip: Sunlight).
Not even the so-called “unauthorized” or “illegal” Jewish settlements, those that the Israeli government has not fully and expressly authorized, are built on Arab-owned land. Both the authorized and unauthorized Jewish communities were all built on what had been completely unoccupied, uncultivated and uninhabited “waste land.” No Arab homes were destroyed, no Arab residents were expelled, and no Arab farmland was seized in creating any of these Jewish communities—whether their construction was fully authorized by the Israeli government or not. And under the land ownership laws of Judea and Samaria — which date to when these territories were under Turkish rule, and which have been respected by all subsequent governments, including the Israeli administration — nearly all uninhabited and completely undeveloped “waste land” belongs to the state, not to any private owner. While such land could legally be purchased from the state, there were almost no instances in which Arabs actually did purchase such “waste land,” because they would have had to pay taxes on it while deriving no benefit for the foreseeable future. Whatever few purchases of such land were made, were made by Jewish philanthropists hoping to provide land for future Jewish refugees or immigrants.
Why, then, have the notions that all of the Jewish “settlements” are “illegal” and, what is more, built on Arab-owned land taken such a firm hold on the belief-systems of the world’s governments and news media? One major reason has been the activities of Israel-based “Human rights” NGOs (“non-governmental organizations”) such as Peace Now, B’tselem, Yesh Din, Yesh Gvul and many others. These soi-disant human rights organizations, which are committed to ending the Israeli “occupation” of all land outside the country’s June 3, 1967 cease-fire lines, and to forcing the expulsion of the 600,000 Israelis who live outside those cease-fire lines (which were never legal borders), have published a series “reports” claiming that up to 30 percent of the land on which Israeli-Jewish “settlements” on the “West Bank” are built exist on what these groups describe as “privately owned Arab land” (or is it 38%? Or 32%? or 24% ? or 16%? Each “report” gives a different percentage figure, and sometimes there are even two contradictory figures within one “report”). These figures, as well as many other claims by the soi-disant human rights groups, are then immediately published as facts—first by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which despite being published in Israel is actually a mouthpiece for the Palestinian Authority and its network of affiliated organizations—and then by The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the The Washington TimesNPR, the BBC and a thousand other newspapers and electronic media services throughout the Western world.
However, when one actually reads in detail the lengthy reports on the web sites of these “human rights” groups that purport to document the supposed settler “land grabs,” one finds no credible evidence for these percentage claims, despite many footnotes and long statistical tables, charts, etc. Either these “reports” a) fail to give any original source at all for the statistics, or b) they claim that they are supported by thousands of Israeli government documents that these groups have received under Israel’s Freedom of Information law—but without quoting from a single specific document that supports their claims about Jewish settlements on “privately owned Arab land.”
Sunlight asked me - and I'm sure others are wondering - whether there is written documentation of this land belonging to Jews. I'm not sure that there is any written documentation, or that if there is such documentation that the Israeli government can get its hands on it except maybe, possibly, through the auspices of the Jewish Agency (which is not a government agency). I also suspect that there are a lot of forces among Israel's elites who do not want such documentation to be available.

On the other hand,  although it's been a lot of years since my first-year law school property course, my recollection is that possession is 90% of the law, and that the burden of proving otherwise is on the side that would seek to expel someone in possession of land. Clearly, that burden has not been met.

Read the whole thing.



At 2:16 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

COUNTY CLERK! COUNTY CLERK! We want a County Clerk website with the land ownership data and GIS layers with historical documentation scans/links that I keep clamoring for! It will help Israel and the Israel advocacy team soooooo much! Put pseudonyms or some numbering system for the names, if necessary for securtiy. Make it boring, dull, and mundane. Emotionless.

The number one utterance that shuts down the un-dogmatic Palestine supporters is the hesitation to strip Jews of their property yet again, under the auspices of the United States of America in order to create from whole cloth a Judenrein country that shoots rockets into Israeli civilian areas or otherwise wants all Jews dead. And then Christians.

This is a separate but overlapping issue re the IDF wanting to establish an outer wire that will be the most defensible with the fewest casualties. The County Clerk registry could give people more confidence in cooperating to move their household inside the wire without giving up legal title to parcels.

I'm trying to fathom why "a lot of forces among Israel's elites who do not want such documentation to be available." ??

At 2:32 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Also, I think you posted this before, but it shows another reason to regularize the County Clerk title system...

MEMRI should take a huge bow for capturing this statement and putting it on youtube.

(2:19) Hamas Interior Minister says:

"Brother, half of the Palestinians are Egyptians and the other half are Saudie."

At 7:56 PM, Blogger Captain.H said...

"I also suspect that there are a lot of forces among Israel's elites who do not want such documentation to be available." This isn't by far the first time I'm left scratching my head, too ignorant of Israeli domestic politics to really grasp the significance of that statement.

My question is to Carl or fellow readers: Are there any linked articles and/or websites that you'd recommend where a curious (and very pro-Israel) goy like myself can read to get a sound basic understanding of Israeli domestic politics?


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