They are stealing our land and we are helping them
Ted Belman. Forget about deligitimation and deamonization, floatillas and flytillas, charges of racism, genocide, war crimes and being apartheid, terrorism and rockets, threats of annihilation. They are all just a distraction.
The only battle that matters is the battle for the land in which we and the Arabs are putting facts on the ground. Unfortunately they are winning. Due in part to the massive financial, diplomatic and moral support they are receiving from the U.S., the countries of Europe and from our own government. For the Right to turn this around it must win the hearts and minds of the Israeli centre. Israel must bite the bullet and take charge. This means abrogating Oslo and extending Israel sovereignty.
The Tower and Stockade Plan of Salam Fayyad to control Area C
From The “Justice” Supplement Of Makor Rishon by Gil Bringer (14 March 2012 )
Whilst Israel talks about renewing negotiations, the Palestinian Authority discusses creating a fait accompli in the territories. The purpose, which has been openly declared for some time, talks about taking control of Area C and the creation of territorial contiguity. The method: establishment and development of Bedouin settlements through financial and legal aid to the residents, who thus identify with the idea of a Palestinian state. The state attorney’s office turns a blind eye to this, and the civil administration ignores it and essentially conducts two policies – one for Jews and one for Arabs. As the Palestinians say: “Jerusalem is the gate to the heavens and the Jordan Valley is the gate to Palestine.” .
They come from somewhere in the distance with a vehicle and a water trailer, they slow down near the Rimonim checkpoint, turn onto a side road and park some meters further down the road next to the Israel’s Water Authority pumping station. High up in the lookout point, a soldier on duty will watch them filling the water trailer with a pipe that waits for them there. No one on the base will stop them. This is the custom and this is the order. From there they continue in their vehicle. They will return to their small outpost that sits next to one of the turns in the road. During the trip on the Vered Road, that stretches between Rimonim Junction and Jericho they will wave hello to a family member coming the other way. He also is making his way with an empty water trailer attached to the back of his vehicle. He is also on the way to the pumping station. He will also return to an illegal outpost where he lives, with a water container filled with the generosity of the State of Israel. This is the routine in the Jordan Valley.
The Bedouin outposts are quickly spreading into areas, which have no water. Without which normally they could not survive. Until secently, the clans used to drill a hole in the Water Authority pipes and steal water. Now they do not bother connecting the hole they drilled to a new pipe that will transport water to the outpost, now they don’t need too. The result is a non stop flow of water that leaks without interference. Israel, for her own reasons, chose not to fight the situation and instead decided to supply the illegal Bedouin residents with the water required for their development. The pumping stations spread out in various places in Judea and Samaria provide the Bedouin with all the water they need, and everything is known and legal. But this new way of obtaining water, while simpler and more orderly, enables the Bedouin territorial expansion that takes lands that are further away and never contained a Water Authority water pipe. It also requires that the Bedouin have equipment they traditionally do not have – a large container, large water storage and water trailers. But someone is interested in the spread of the Bedouin and capturing of new territories. This figure understands the demand for water equipment and therefore provides them wholesale, whatever is necessary. Tracing the source of these water trailers is the start of a journey between stations, to search for a method, means and a purpose. Who stands behind the new expansive settlement of the Bedouin in the Jordan Valley?
Bedouin outposts on Hwy 1. The city of Maaleh Adumim
First Stop – An Address On A Trailer
A quick journey on the roads of the Jordan Valley and a quick glance to the sides in the direction of the many outposts by the side of the road, is enough to paint the whole picture. Hundreds of identical water containers were recently spread throughout the area. Same color, same size, same shape. It is clear that they came from the same factory and also clear that one directing hand managed their distribution. Going off the road and looking closely makes it possible to identify clearly the address in Arabic printed on every one of the containers: the Bedouin support plan. Financing: Palestinian Authority. Execution: Ministry of Local Government.
Beside the yellow trailers that serve for collecting water, in many Bedouin outposts in the Jordan Valley there are water trailers of another kind – silver trailers on wheels. And again the phenomenon repeats itself – the same exact trailers in each of the outposts that was checked. On each of the trailers is printed clearly the telephone number of the manufacturer 04-2468473.
In a phone call we make to the number, one of the workers answers and upon our request, transfers the call to Mr. Rushdie Rafat who presents himself as the owner of the Barziliat Haj Rafat workshop from Araba in the Galilee. I present myself as someone who is interested in buying a water trailer and ask Rushdie for references on his previous jobs in the Jordan Valley area. He says that he produced water trailers for tractors on a number of occasions in the last years and they were provided in the area of Jericho, Tekoa, Ramallah, Mishor Adumim, the quarry en route to Anatot and others. He has a number of styles and colors. Some galvanized, and some not. “Everything depends on how much you pay,” he explains. A small number of the trailers are ordered by the Red Cross but most of the trailers he produced were ordered by the Palestinian Authority. Rafat invites us to speak with them about his good work. He distributed the trailers of the second type at the request of the PA in the area of Jericho and Mishor Adumim, the area in which the Bedouin outposts are concentrated.
The camaraderie that has been created between the Bedouin and the Palestinian Authority sounds very strange to everyone who hears about it. Many in the Bedouin leadership have detested the PA and claim for years to be neglected. A senior figure in the Bedouin sector who spoke with us, accuses the PA of corruption in everything tied to dealing with money it receives from foreigners seeking to invest in Bedouin welfare.
The southern brothers of the Bedouin from the Jordan Valley who are settled in the Negev have never heard about support from the PA. There are no water trailers of any kind there, not yellow or silver. What is the purpose of the PA to establish a support plan for Bedouin in the Jordan Valley?
Second Stop – Operation Passover
Last Passover eve the staff of the civil administration left, like most of the country’s citizens, for their Passover holiday. The Bedouin of the Jehalin tribe who live in Wadi Abu Hindi under the Kedar community, waited for some time for this moment. With a technique reminiscent of the tower and stockade operations, the Bedouin set up a new settlement meters from the eastern border of Kedar. The first structures came up right across the fence. In the seven days between the first and last days of the holiday, trucks came from the Palestinian Authority from the south of Mt. Hebron. The trucks unloaded equipment and from nowhere popped up eighty dwellings on a sizeable territory. Here three, there seven, on that side fifteen and in another corner ten. Later they built around twenty additional units and in the next stage the number of constructions came to one hundred twenty. The new city “Abu Hindi” was a fait accompli.
Aerial Photo of the area from 1999 and 2011, immediately after the Passover operation. A senior figure who took part in the last tour of the defense and foreign affairs committee in the area, relates to the newspaper Makor Rishon that the head of the monitoring unit of the civil administration, Marco Ben Shabat, confirmed that the buildings were brought to the place by the Palestinian Authority. One look at the buildings that sprouted overnight under Kedar is enough to see it is not a matter of a local initiative. Everyone who chose to erect a house in Abu Hindi in the days of Passover received a dweller’s package including a double caravan, beside which is an outhouse connected to the water pipe and beside it a large water boiler. Not exactly the normal standards for traditional Bedouin dwellings.
The civil administration staff who try hard to reach understandings with the Palestinian Authority and operate in complete coordination saw this action as a slap in the face and immediately issued an order to destroy the buildings. The Bedouin were ready well in advance with a request for an interim order preventing the destruction. It is only possible to guess that the figure that supplied the water, the trucks, the buildings and the equipment also dealt with legal assistance. What is motivating the PA?
Third Stop – Taking Control Of The Jordan Valley
In August 2009, Palestinian prime minister Salem Fayyad declared a program for establishing a state from the bottom up. The Fayyad program included a number of principles -Including development of infrastructure, separation of authorities, a free economy and more. The declared purpose was to establish a de facto Palestinian state, on the assumption that the peace talks were limping along and leading nowhere.
In this period, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to be perceived as someone who is advancing a peace initiative. Without being perceived as someone who is prepared to concede on territories in Judea and Samaria. This combination brought Netanyahu to advance the “economic peace” program based on the idea that improving the economy of the PA is in Israel’s interest. A flourishing economy in the Palestinian camp is a pre-condition which will bring the sides together for negotiations, claimed Netanyahu.
At first it seemed that Netanyahu’s idea came together well with the Palestinian Fayyadism – concentration on building the economy and abandoning the peace initiative. But the idea of Netanyahu’s plan ends in a meeting at the negotiating table and the Fayyad idea expresses itself in the unilateral establishment of a Palestinian state.
In 2010 there was a twist in the Fayyad program and the Palestinian side began a new initiative. The new Palestinian idea was to dissolve the tradition of territory that was established by the Oslo Accords into Area A, B and C and to do this by creating territorial continuity of settlement and infrastructure.
The large Palestinian cities are located in Area A. The territory is under security control of the PA, which also administers civil affairs there. In Area B, the PA is responsible for civil matters and Israel is in charge of security. Area C is under the security and civil control of Israel. Area C represents 60 percent of the territory of Judea and Samaria and around 300,000 Jews live there. In addition some tens of thousands of Palestinians live in the area, representing about 5 percent of the PA population. The significance of Area C is very large not only because of its size, but also because of the barrier it creates between the major cities of the Palestinian Arabs.
In the beginning of 2010, Fayyad started to make declarations that he cannot read the letter C and that all the areas in the West Bank are areas in which the PA is building. In February that year, the PA opened a branch of its agriculture ministry in the village of Jiftalik in the northern Jordan Valley, Area C, an area in which according to the Oslo Accords the PA is forbidden from operating. This move, which closely resembles the strategic role of opening the Orient House in Jerusalem in its day, was accepted with deafening silence.
Naturally, the agriculture ministry is the first and most important government body with an interest in the sixty percent of Judea and Samaria that makes up Area C. “All our agricultural territory is there,” said Ismail Daik, the Palestinian agriculture minister in an interview with Haaretz when the branch opened. He also commented on the governments established before the period of Fayyad. “They believed that through negotiation it will be possible to return, and this will be easy. Reality proves otherwise, and in Israel they relate to Area C as Israeli territory,” Daik stated in the interview.
Naturally, the pressure has moved to the Jordan Valley – because it represents almost a third of the territory of Judea and Samaria and also because around 90 percent of it is defined as Area C. The signs hanging at the entry to the building of the agriculture ministry in Jiftalik state that “Jerusalem is the gate of the heavens, and the Jordan Valley is the gate of Palestine.” On another sigh hanging nearby it states – “The Jordan Valley is the border of Palestine with its sister Jordan.”
The new strategy of the Palestinian agriculture ministry, which serves as a guiding light for other ministries, is to support in various ways agricultural families in Area C, mainly those living in the Jordan Valley. Grabbing the territory is done most effectively based on local agricultural settlement. The Bedouin are perfectly suited for this according to the needs of the PA.
Over time, Bedouin society has gone through a process of Islamification and Palestinization, and the differences between the Palestinian Arabs and Bedouin clans has diminished. From the PA’s perspective, the Bedouin population creates for it, the contiquity that it needs so much between Ramallah and Jericho and provides for it, facts on the ground. The Bedouin for their part know how to repay the debt with growing identification with the PA. Palestinian flags are hanging in more and more Bedouin outposts that in fact substantiate Fayyad’s policy.
Fourth Stop – Representative Of The Fund
The helplessness of the Israeli Authorities regarding the Palestinian move, which does not conceal itself any longer and whose purpose is to grab everything that remains of Area C, has become a fact. Even though it is a matter of a declared Palestinian strategy opposed to Israeli policy, the law enforcement figures are dragging their feet.
A clear example of this is the petition regarding the settlement Meshoa. In 2002 Bedouin invaded the private territory of the Meshoa community, beneath Mt. Sartaba. The invasion into the communities’ land, which was established as the fourth Nahal outpost in the Jordan Valley in the beginning of the 1970s and at the time of its establishment was defined as part of the “ continuous wall and defense of Hebrew settlement,” represents today another crack in the wall of Israeli sovereignty. Bedouin families are connected to the communities’ hothouses and started working the land in parallel to the line of Israeli hothouses.
At every stage of expansion of the Bedouin invasion in Meshoa, the civil administration issued a new demolition order of the part that was added to the previous illegal building. Every time anew the Bedouin asked for an interim order preventing the demolition via attorney Tewfik Jebarin. Every time they won their desired order.
In contrast to the Bedouin tribe that invaded the land of Meshoa, Jebarin, a graduate of the legal program of the New Israel Fund, did not pop out of nowhere. The newspaper Al Hayat Al Jedidya, published at the end of January an interview with Marwan Tubasi, governor of Tubas, in which he notes that “The Palestinians will continue to be tied to their land and will ensure that every Israeli program to Judaize the Jordan Valley will fail. Since the offices of the PA have started to work vigorously to obtain orders preventing destruction of buildings with action of the district and the ministry for matters of the fence and settlement.” The work is being done, notes Tubasi, “with the cooperation of attorney Tewfik Jebarin responsible on behalf of the PA for following up destruction of houses and representing citizens in Israeli court.”
Later, Tubasi relates proudly that the PA has established a fund with hundreds of thousands of dollars for compensating Bedouin in cases of the demolition of houses. It is not always possible to depend on Jebarin to deliver the goods – but always good to have something set aside. The Palestinian coverage devoted to Bedouin settlement is complete. It includes water equipment, buildings, legal aid and financial compensation.
The Supreme Court accepted Jebarin’s four requests for an interim hold order. On the other hand, the one request that the community of Meshoa filed to unify files to discuss the whole issue all at once was rejected. So the issue has been left hanging for ten years during which the outpost continues to develop before the astonished eyes of the residents of Meshoa while watching painfully the slow work of the state attorney in dealing with these invaders.
The endless extensions of the process gives the PA an inevitable message – Israel does not really intend to struggle against their invasion. The days are gone when they viewed settlement in the Jordan Valley as a “Hebrew Wall”. It is no wonder that recently the PA established on state of Israel land, inside the territory of Meshoa, a sign from the Palestinian agriculture ministry. On the sign is written in English and Arabic – “Successful Rehabilitation”. Another scheme for extolling the up and coming Palestinian State .
By the way, in order to obtain water for agriculture, the Bedouin invaders did not need to steal from the pipes or use water trailers. It is possible to drill in the ground illegally and obtain it on the spot. In the absence of enforcement, the Bedouin established in the outpost that was erected outside the Meshoa settlement an agricultural factory which enjoys the protection of the Palestinian agriculture ministry, and began drilling in the settlement’s territory.
Fifth Stop – The Idle State Attorney
The closing of the eyes of the Israeli Authorities in the face of this well orchestrated Palestinian move repeats itself again and again. Also, when the administration acts and issues demolition orders, it constantly ends up stuck in the State Attorneys office. There is no trace of the determination and efficiency it demonstrates in the face of Jewish settlement in Migron and Amona. Also in isolated cases when it does fulfill its obligations, the courts block the move.
For example, in the city Abu Hindi that was erected in seven days beyond the fence of the Kedar community, the civil administration sought to demolish the buildings and issued demolition orders. The Jehalin tribe, as mentioned, which immediately sought an interim order that was prepared, with the trucks and equipment, long in advance, was supposed to encounter the state attorney in court, struggling to reject the request and push for implementation of the demolition order in the most urgent way.
For the state attorney it was a plain and simple mission. However Attorney Shlomo Lacker who represents the Bedouin, claimed that the Bedouin have been in this place forever and that the buildings that were brought a year ago to the wadi only improved the level of dwelling in the area, but aerial photos prove that the claim is totally baseless – the new buildings were brought to the place in 2011 prior to which there was nothing.
But now the Jehalin received the most pleasant surprise. All last year the state attorney requested again and again to postpone presenting response on the matter. The state attorney filed no less than five requests to postpone the time for responding to the request to issue an interim order.
Judge Danziger, who received the file, commented, “one may assume that the buildings won’t be demolished until the discussion on the interim order.” The administration interpreted the statement of the judge, as a necessary determination and therefore does not dare to implement the demolition order in the new town, even though an interim order has not in fact been issued. The state attorney for its part is buying more and more time until recently the court threatened that it is liable not to allow it to respond against the interim order that will prevent demolition of the buildings because it is doing nothing with the file. Until now the state attorney has still not responded to this matter.
The five times the state attorney has requested an extension without doing anything with the file, is not a special case relating to its behavior in the face of the area’s Bedouin. In another file (High Court 1828/06) the administration sought to destroy illegal huts that the Jehalin tribe built. There are no less than 17 decisions in which the court states that the state attorney is behaving frivolously. As of today the state attorney has not yet made clear the state’s position with respect to the matter.
Sixth Stop – Private Initiative
The only ray of light in the whole story is the action of the Regavim Movement, which again and again enters the shoes of the State in places where the State should be managing its affairs. Regavim is currently requesting to join as a friend of the court in the Abu Hindi matter.
“This story is just one example of many of the premeditated, methodical ways, right down to the last detail, the Palestinian schemes in implementing the Fayyad program for establishing infrastructure for the Palestinian state unilaterally and through evading the need for negotiations with Israel,” claims Bezalel Smuteritz, director of Regavim. “The impressive logistical deployment, precisely orchestrated during the interim days of Passover when the monitoring team isn’t working, the perfect execution of the operation for erecting dozens of buildings and finally turning to the court immediately after the holiday – all this shows that we are dealing with a well oiled and well financed machine, that operates on a professional level to establish facts in the area and place Israel before a fait accompli that significantly reduce its maneuverability.
“In the face of all this dangerous activity most of the Israeli authorities still respond amateurishly, and even with criminal negligence. The absence of Israeli action in the face of the Palestinian hyper activity makes the political discussion taking place in Israel on the question of establishing a Palestinian state a farce. The Palestinian state is being established before our eyes and the way back is becoming harder and more complex every day.
“Meanwhile the court is using this whole story, consciously or not, as a tool to implement the Palestinians sovereign ambitions. Under protection of an easy finger on the trigger for interim orders, and under protection of the state attorney’s avoidance of its obligation to defend the demolition orders and to respond to petitions immediately, political facts are being established in the territory and no one makes a peep.
To our question on the matter the Justice Ministry responded, “the state attorney has not yet received the IDF’s comments on the petition. Please speak to the IDF Spokesman.”
Seventh Stop – Foreign Involvement In Area C
Around two years ago, the Palestinian Authority started to visit the countries of the world that donate large sums to the PA. The main accusation that the PA directed at the donor nations was the policy of countries and international development agencies, who direct most of their donations to projects in Areas A and B but not Area C. This stems from a certain respect for Israeli sovereignty in Territory C as agreed to in the Oslo Accords.
In another interview that Daik gave to Haaretz he related that in a meeting with the international development agency, which deals with aid to agriculture, he told them the work with them would not continue if they refused to participate in initiatives in Area C. The world trend of avoiding aid in this “forbidden” region has been broken, according to him.
And this trend has been broken, even along the lines of a revolution. According to a document prepared by the research department of the Judea-Samaria Council, the PA is succeeding today in funneling the donor funds that it receives indeed into Area C, despite most of its population being located in Area A and B. Here also the PA sees the Bedouin and their style of settlement in the district, as a way to grab as many parcels of land as possible.
Eighth Stop – An Outpost As A School
In 2009 the residents of Kfar Adumim filed a petition against construction of the Italian regional school, Khan El Ahmed, that was being built under their settlement and was designated for the children of Bedouin tribes that settled in various outposts in the region. The school, located right on Highway 1, does not only serve the people of the location: the Palestinian Authority subsidizes transportation for pupils from farther away. It seems that here also the PA is seeking to establish facts in the area through Bedouin settlement and is prepared for this purpose to spend money. The school that was built in the location isn’t a goal. It is a purpose in and of itself. It is a declaration of ownership over the area.
The demolition order that was issued for the location years ago was never implemented, and even though the proximity of the school to the main transportation artery and its location in an IDF firing zone, are facts that should cause the issue to leap to the head of the list of priorities in terms of implementing such orders. But of course these are the facts on account of which the PA is seeking to let the school remain where it is.
In 2010 the court received the civil administration’s position whereby the school should not be demolished before the end of the school year. This even though the school is located near another school of Abu Dis, where every day they transport children from that area to the school in Han El Ahmed, and to which it is possible to absorb the children of the whole school. The court stated that it is necessary to wait until the end of June to demolish the illegally built school.
June ended and July came. Also August and September passed. Again and again the state attorney requested more time to obtain more approvals regarding demolition of the school, approvals, which it seems, cannot be obtained in the waiting period that existed until the end of the school year.
In October the state again asked for thirty more days, and in the background the group of pupils started return for the new school year to the school. In November the command center for coordinating activities in the territories announced that the process of approving the demolition is very advanced and has essentially passed all the stages except the defense minister’s signature. The defense minister was supposed to sign the demolition approval by the end of 2011, the state attorney announced to the court.
In February 2012 the state attorney explained that because of a “technical problem” the document was not brought to the defense minister for signing. The state attorney requested another 45 days. Exactly along with the request of the state attorney to postpone again to fix the “technical problem”, Haaretz published that Gen. Dangot who is responsible for coordination of activities in the territories visited the Han El Ahmed outpost and told its residents that he has no intention to demolish the school. These things conform with messages that were relayed from the civil administration to residents of Kfar Adumim who talked with the newspaper Makor Rishon and whereby the administration isn’t interested in demolishing the illegal school building.
In a conversation with the spokesman for the coordinator of activities in the territories we sought to understand how the response of the state attorney whereby only “a technical problem” held up signing by the defense minister on the demolition approval conforms with Dangot’s statements whereby according to published sources he is not interested in demolishing the building at all.
In a conversation the spokesman claimed that the details published in Haaretz are not exactly correct. We requested to know what in any case Dangot said to the people of Han El Ahmed, and here the spokesman asked us to send him an email with specifics. The email was sent to the correct address but was never answered. We surmise this was a “technical problem”, a matter it seems that surrounds the problem of Han El Ahmed. At the spokesman’s request we sent the email again but that got lost too. It isn’t the email or the spokesman. One can only surmise that there is a “technical problem” with the whole matter.
Meanwhile in the PA there are no technical problems. Fayyad decided of course to take full protection over the Bedouin school, and in a ceremony of gratitude that took place last May, Fayyad came to the outpost to congratulate its people.
“You Bedouin protect the land,” Fayyad said to the residents. “Your insistence to teach your children in this modest school, that was built by an Italian organization, is a sign of hope for all of us. In my visit to the village there is a strong message for the freedom of my people and establishment of a Palestinian state where the rights of our people will be protected. In the name of the Palestinian Authority, that tries to be soon the Palestinian State, we call on the international authorities and organizations to protect Palestinian rights.”