Tuesday, February 26, 2008

MKs Debate Jewish Presence in Yesha


Let's be clear here: Jewish land is what Hashm gave us, and Talia Sasson can't change that. Likewise, if Israel decides not to give up land (and why should they?), then no land will be given up.

Why is this so hard? The Knesset needs to start seeing themselves as leaders and not followers. Why did they have to wait until Olmert was out of town to do these things? Are they all so afraid of him that they can't function when he is around?


by Hillel Fendel

(IsraelNN.com) The Knesset Audit Committee held a session on Monday regarding the unauthorized Jewish neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria, and voted not to request a State Comptroller review of the situation. Meretz MK Avshalom Vilan protested the vote.

MK Vilan, aided by former senior State Prosecution attorney Talia Sasson, demanded to know why the government was not fulfilling its own decisions to evacuate and destroy Jewish outposts (new development communities) on Judea and Samaria hilltops. Vice Prime Minister Chaim Ramon, who heads a ministerial committee on the outposts, said that during the period of the Disengagement, in the years 2004-5, "the government decided not to open up two fronts, and therefore nothing was done to remove the outposts."

Sasson, who authored a detailed anti-outpost report for the Sharon government three years ago, strongly condemned the Justice Ministry's plan to allow some construction in and around some of the outposts.

MK Demands Approval for Jewish Towns
MK Nissan Slomiansky (National Religious Party), however, took the opposite approach, saying the Jews of Yesha should not be discriminated against: "If the Bedouin, who clearly took over lands that were not theirs, and who certainly did not have any government help in doing so, are now about to have their communities regulated and legalized, then all the more so - and the very comparison is demeaning - we should also have a government authority for the purpose of regulating and legalizing the communities in Judea and Samaria."

"Instead of talking about evacuating and destroying these communities," Slomiansky said, " - I don't even want to call them outposts - we should be expanding them."

"The Jews in Judea and Samaria have rights, and these must be respected," Slomiansky said. "Just like all other towns in Israel, they must be recognized and approved, period, so that people can live normal lives. Afterwards, if Olmert want to negotiate with the PA and make agreements and concessions, we can have our big argument [over this] then."

"All Towns in Israel Were Built This Way"
Another participant, Gush Etzion Regional Council Chief Sha'ul Goldstein, told Arutz-7's Hizky Baruch after the session that the Jewish towns in Yesha must be treated no differently than all the others in Israel: "We did a study of 200 towns in Israel, out of 1,000, and we found that every single one of them was first built, and only years later received final approval. Every single one! And this was true for towns built not only before the State was established, but even for towns built in the 1980's."

"To accuse us of building illegally, when a host of government offices helped us, and when this is how the entire State of Israel was built, is simply to lie and deceive," Goldstein said.

Ramon's Position
Ramon, an outspoken proponent of withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, said that not a single unauthorized outpost has been established in Yesha since 2005. "No monies are transferred to the existing outposts without the approval of a committee headed by the Deputy Attorney General," he boasted.

Ramon lamented that caravans had been added to some of the outposts, and claimed as fact that "the construction in Judea and Samaria is not the result of a lack of housing, but from a desire to create political facts on the ground that will make it hard for Israeli governments to [give up the land]."

He admitted that adding a classroom or building another floor onto an existing building in Yesha need not require governmental approval, but "to add 20-30 homes to a community of 100 families has political significance and therefore requires government approval."

A Third Can be Legalized
Ramon said that out of 100 outposts that he checked, "a third of them can be easily legalized, a third cannot, and regarding the rest, there is what to talk about." He said that he would be happy to reach an agreement with "the settlers" on all the outposts in order to avoid violence, but said, "If there is no choice, I believe that in the end, the government must fulfill its legal and political obligation."

Ramon further said that 26 outposts were built after March 2001, when then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised the Americans that he would not allow new Yesha neighborhoods. "This is a promise that will be very hard to violate," Ramon said.

Committee Chairman Zevulun Orlev said that Sharon made this promise without informing his coalition partners - of which he was one at the time.

Migron in Danger
Eitan Baroshi, the Defense Minister's Assistant for Settlement Affairs, said that in any event, "the outposts cannot be removed immediately... We are in contact with the Yesha Council," noting that Migron - 43 families in a strategic spot in Binyamin, north of Jerusalem, is a good example of an outpost whose future fate can be negotiated, "since it is built [partially - ed.] on privately-owned land... No one wants to have another Amona [where heavy violence accompanied an expulsion two years ago - ed.]. In the coming months, we have a Supreme Court decision coming up on this issue, and the Yesha heads know that we have to reach an agreement."

Vilan's Complaint
The session was originally initiated by MK Vilan of Meretz for the purpose of investigating why the government's decisions to remove unauthorized Jewish neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria have not been implemented. His objective was to have the committee vote to have State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss investigate the matter. However, he later withdrew his proposal in order to wait for a report being prepared by the ministerial committee on outposts.

Later in the session, Committee Chairman Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party) submitted an opposite proposal, namely that the committee vote not to ask Lindenstrauss to investigate the matter. The Committee voted to approve this notion - and MK Vilan said he would complain to the Knesset Legal Counsel over Orlev's behavior.

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