Saturday, December 29, 2007

MKs to Prime Minister: Keep Jews in Hevron's Peace House


I am convinced that the only answer to terror is to build and build and build. For every person killed by a terrorist, we must establish a new community. They want to destroy, we want to create. This is the message.

If we back down to terror (which is what the US wants Israel to do), we lose and terror wins. We must not let them have our land, our places of worship, our heritage, and our souls.

Evacuating Jews from Jewish land is always a mistake--doubly so in the shadow of a terror attack.

by Hillel Fendel

( Knesset Members of both the coalition and opposition have signed on a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, asking him to halt proceedings to evict Jews from their Hevron home.

The MKs, fresh off a Wednesday session of the Knesset State Audit Committee on the topic of Beit HaShalom (Peace House) in Hevron, sent the letter on Thursday night. They wrote that in light of what they had learned from government representatives, the State Comptroller must be allowed to investigate the matter before legal proceedings are taken to evict the Jewish residents.

In March of this year, it was announced that the structure - an impressive 3,500 square-meter (roughly 3.5 million square feet), four-story building along the route between Kiryat Arba and the Jewish neighborhoods of Hevron - had been purchased for the Jewish Community of Hevron for about $700,000. Though the purchase papers have been meticulously reviewed and searched for any errors or forgeries, nothing has been found to invalidate the sale.

Despite this, the government is interested in throwing the residents out - based on an order given months ago by former Defense Minister Amir Peretz. A brake was put on these efforts on Thursday when a military committee turned down a Civil Administration request to throw them out.

The State Control Committee meeting was held at the request of another Knesset committee, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which dealt with this issue behind closed doors two weeks ago. In light of what the committee members felt were problematic details revealed at that meeting, they asked the State Control Committee to use its authority to request that the State Comptroller investigate the governmental administrative processes concerning Beit HaShalom.

Representatives of the police and State Prosecutor's office stated that the building was indeed purchased as the Jewish Community of Hevron maintained, and that the Arab who claims otherwise lied to the police and court. Asked why, then, the Prosecutor's office is demanding that the Jewish owners be thrown out, the MKs were told by the Civil Administration director and a Defense Ministry representative that they are simply following the orders of a "State Directive" issued by former Defense Minister Amir Peretz.

Illegitimate Political Behavior
The MKs therefore concluded that a political agenda is being implemented on an "operational level" and not on a "state level," rendering it illegitimate.

The MKs' letter to Olmert states, "During the committee session, we learned that the authorities have acted unfairly and inappropriately responding Peace House. Representatives of these authorities told us that their actions were the result of a political decision made by former Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and that in essence his orders continue even now to be the basis of very strange government behavior."

Signatories to the letter are coalition party MKs David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), Otniel Shneller (Kadima), and Nissim Ze'ev (Shas), as well as opposition MKs Michael Eitan and Limor Livnat (Likud), and Yitzchak Levy, Aryeh Eldad and Uri Ariel (National Union). Two participating committee members, MK Avshalom Vilan (Meretz) and Arab MK Taleb A-Sana, did not sign the letter.

Comptroller Must Review
The committee also voted, 6-2, to use its authority to ask State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to prepare a report detailing the decision-making process regarding Peace House in Hevron.

"Those who object to a review by the Comptroller," said Committee Chairman Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party), "raise the suspicion that they have something to hide. It appears that government authorities yield to various pressures and violate codes of conduct simply to promote a left-wing political agenda. A report by the Comptroller can clear the air and erase suspicions."

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