Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Peace Now Takes the Criminalize Route

As I noted previously, construction at Shiloh, the object of a Peace Now High Court appeal which failed, is a simple matter of administration and bureaucracy, of parcelization and zoning (see what is on the books in the UK).  The ownership, as if it is "stolen privately-owned land", is not the issue but if land originally set aside for agriculture can be used for building homes.

Trust me, living here, no real agriculture can be developed there where the building is.  The original designation was simple an off-hand decision at the time.

There is nothing criminal in the procedure but our Peace Now Zionists won't give up.

Read on from a JPost report: Shiloh construction may bring criminal probe

The State Attorney’s office is weighing the possibility of ordering a criminal investigation into illegal construction [it isn't illegal] in the West Bank settlement of Shiloh, even as the Defense Ministry has said it plans to legalize the building.

...The panel of three justices – Miriam Naor, Esther Hayut and Neal Handel – heard a petition filed by Peace Now over alleged illegal construction of residential housing units in Shiloh, northeast of Ramallah.  Peace Now claims the construction, on three areas of designated state land, is unlawful because the Binyamin Regional Council has not received appropriate planning permits from the Defense Ministry.

Monday’s hearing came after the state informed the High Court on Sunday that the Defense Ministry has decided to retroactively approve building plans in Shiloh, a move that will legalize 119 residential units in the settlement. [a move that happens all the time all over Israel as well as in kibbutzim]

...Peace Now had asked the court to order the Defense Ministry to explain why it had not taken all necessary actions to prevent the houses’ construction and to investigate and to prosecute those members of the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council responsible for the building.

...The petition relates to three different areas in Shiloh, one of which was officially zoned as agricultural lands, and which cannot be used for residential building. [well, if you change that status, the land can be used.  is Peace Now asserting that the government can't change its mind?]

In order to legalize building on that land, the state must now undertake a public process, during which members of the public will be allowed 60 days to voice any opposition to the zoning changes.  The other two areas are already zoned as residential, but Peace Now argues that the houses built on that land were constructed without a proper permit. [Peace Now turns here, turns there and wants us to get dizzy]

...Peace Now had contacted the Judea and Samaria regional police and the deputy attorney-general asking for a criminal investigation into alleged illegal construction by the Binyamin Regional Council.  However, the state said in its written response that such an investigation was “not a simple matter.”

In Monday’s High Court hearing, attorney Michal Friedlander, for the state, said that that a decision has not yet been made regarding the criminal investigation...Friedlander said that a decision would be made on the matter within several weeks.

...After the hearing, attorney Akiva Sylzetsky, for the Binyamin Regional Council, told The Jerusalem Post he was optimistic the court would decide not to intervene in the matter of the housing construction.  Regarding the police investigation, Sylzetsky said it would be “difficult to start an investigation in a place where the process of legalization has already started,” and that any investigation would not necessarily result in indictments being filed.

According to Sylzetsky, the state’s move to legalize housing construction in Shiloh is part of a trend that has developed over the past year and-a-half in reaction to petitions like this one, filed against building on state (public) lands in the West Bank.  The petitions have given the state the impetus to legalize settlement construction on state lands, which lacks the necessary permits. The land is considered public and there are no Palestinian private land claims against it, Sylzetsky says, because the High Court has forced the state to give an answer about the land.

“Peace Now’s petitions have been having the opposite affect to that intended,” he added. “In several places, the state has legalized construction because of petitions, whereas if the settlers themselves had asked for legalization it would never have happened.”...The state can legalize the houses because they are built not on private Palestinian land but on so-called “state lands,” land considered public property under Ottoman law. [not only that, sir, but the League of Nagtions Mandate decision specifically charged that state and waste lands were to be used for "close Jewish settlment", Article 6]

According to that law, which was in force when Israel took the area from Jordan in 1967, land in the West Bank is considered state land unless an individual has occupied, cultivated and paid taxes on it for at least 10 years.

Meanwhile, also on Monday, the High Court of Justice decided to postpone a hearing of a petition by civil rights watchdog Yesh Din into alleged illegal construction on private Palestinian land in the Kochav Ya’acov settlement.  The decision came after the state agreed to carry out a land ownership survey. Lawyers Michael Sfard, Shlomy Zecharya and Avissar Lev filed the petition on behalf of Ali Barakat, head of the village council of Akeb, whose constituents allegedly own the land.

One day, the real criminals will get their comeuppance.

That is not a threat but an expectation and observation.

P.S.  What to buy some property?

P.P.S.  Did you know that as of May 1968 a land survey was done by the Israel Lands Administration, the General Staff's Settlement Department and the Department of Agriculture. These were its findings: 50,000 dunums were in private Palestinian lands.
(see: Shlomo Gazit, The Carrot and the Stick: Israel's Policy in Judea and Samaria, 1967-68, B'nai B'rith Books, Washington, D.C., 1995) and that by November 1992, one year after the Madrid Peace Conference and the start of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, land held by Israel potentially for the use of Israeli settlers constituted more than 60 percent of the total area of Judea and Samaria and 35 percent of the total area of the Gaza Strip. Prior to 1948, Jews bought lands in the Judea and Samaria and when the Jordanian government took over, it passed the Custodian of Enemy Property Law and established the office of a Custodian of Enemy Property under whose administration the lands that had been bought by Jews were placed. These amounted to some 30,000 dunums out of the total area of 5.5 million dunums (see: Gazit, op. cit., p. 126).

As this pro-Arab source explains, land ownership is complicated and compounded by refusals to register such.


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