Life in the West Bank is something I discuss constantly on this site and I intend to try and increase that coverage. Here’s a good piece in the Guardian today about a settler who says he wants to leave his illegal home and claims many would follow if offered compensation by Israel.
But it’s also vital to understand the mindset of the fundamentalist, Jewish settlers themselves. Who are they and what do they want? It’s actually pretty simple: no Arabs in their lives and more land.
So, in light of today’s absurd Guardian headline, “Barack Obama on brink of deal for Middle East peace talks“, here’s last week’s missive from One Jerusalem, a group dedicated to never dividing the holy city:
Several sources have informed One Jerusalem that the Obama Administration is planning to significantly step up the pressure on Israel by announcing a comprehensive plan for Israel and the Palestinians at the opening of the United Nations General in September.
Picture this: The anti-Israel nations of the world surrounding President Obama as he demands that Israel give up sovereignty over Jerusalem, abandon settlements, and recognize a terrorist state on the West Bank.
If this happens, Israel will be isolated from the rest of world in a very dramatic manner.
And a letter to Benjamin Netanyahu released today by Women in Green, settlers who loathe Arabs and want to expand, expand, expand:
To our Prime Minister,
On the eve of your trip to Europe, we wish to draw your attention to the struggle that is taking place at Shdema, that is very close to Har Homa, a neighborhood that was established in the south of Jerusalem, thanks to you, thanks to your firm stand on the Jewish people’s right to build in Eretz Israel.
The story of Shdema encapsules the problematic Eretz Israel reality. What happens in Shdema is happening in all the areas of Judea and Samaria, and is indicative of a very grave problem: the policy of surrender and concessions conducted by a single individual: Ehud Barak.
Shdema, a hill with a military camp located on the outskirts of Bethlehem, 5 kilometers from Har Homa (Jerusalem), and 8 kilometers from Tekoa, that was abandoned three years ago by the IDF, is in Israeli-controlled Area C.
The Beit Sahur municipality submitted a request to the Minister of Defense to build a park and hospital on the entire area of the camp. The request is on Ehud Barak’s desk; permission has still not been granted. This did not bother the Arabs of Beit Sahur, with the encouragement and funding of European organizations and USAID, to build an entire complex of structures and installations for various activities on the northern area of the camp, at the foot of the hill. In a report that appeared in the Jerusalem Post two weeks ago, USAID admits to have mistakenly contributed to the illegal Arab construction in Shdema. The Arabs are not satisfied with that. They want to erect a hospital on the rest of the area of Shdema.
It is interesting that the Arabs want to build specifically in Shdema, when around Shdema, the Arabs control tens of thousands of dunams in Area A, on which they can establish a hospital and whatever they wish. But no, they insist on taking over our Area C, the minuscule area in the region that belongs to Gush Etzion.
A year and a half ago we established the Committee for Jewish Shdema. Since then, every week, we conduct activities at Shdema (lectures, concerts, exhibitions, classes) to demonstrate a Jewish presence and safeguard the site. If not for the activity by the Committee for Jewish Shdema, in cooperation with the Gush Etzion Regional Council and with the support of Women in Green, the entire area of the camp would already be in the hands of the Arabs. Our natural and simple demand: that the entire Shdema hill (Area C) remain in the hands of the State of Israel and the people of Israel.
Shdema is situated at an extremely strategic location, that enables Jewish continuity between Jerusalem and eastern Gush Etzion, and provides security for those traveling on the eastern Gush Etzion road. The IDF is aware of the strategic need for Shdema, but Ehud Barak’s political considerations apparently overweigh Israel’s national and security considerations, and endanger our continued control of Shdema.
We alerted the IDF that the Arabs are building at the bottom of the hill without permits and are taking control of Area C. The subcommittee of the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, that already visited Shdema twice, specifically ordered not to allow the transfer of Shdema to Arab hands. Coalition chairman and subcommittee chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin demanded that the brigade commander and the Civil Administration not allow the Arabs to continue building and using the structures. But the Arab construction continued, and still continues, despite the cessation of work orders and demolition orders, and ramified Arab activity continues at the site every day, despite the order to cease use of the structures.
In contrast, the enforcement of the “law” against the activities of the members of the Committee for Jewish Shdema continues in full severity. Except for permission to stay at the site for a few hours once or twice a week, we are not permitted to renovate the site in a serious way or to remain there on a permanent basis.
This week we were informed that the building plans that the Arabs submitted for the construction of a hospital on the entire hill were returned to them by the Civil Administration, to amend the plan, to remove from it the top of the hill, for the IDF’s operational needs. The area of the hill is minuscule, and if, Heaven forbid, it will be surrounded by Arab construction, the top, as well, will not remain in our hands…
In light of this, we wish to correct matters.
* It is inconceivable that the policy of a minority party will decide on the transferal of the people of Israel’s possessions to the Arab enemy!
* It is inconceivable that the legality or illegality of an area, activity, outpost, or structure are dependent on Ehud Barak’s signing or not signing his approval!
* It is inconceivable that basic powers pertaining to the existence of the people of Israel and the State of Israel will be exclusively in the hands of Ehud Barak!
Prime Minister, we appeal to you to apply all your national and Zionist influence so that the minority position among the people will not be decisive, but instead, the policy of the majority, whom you represent. The majority of the people voted for a policy of safeguarding Eretz Israel. The majority of the people understands that, without Eretz Israel, without the actual territory, without the earth under our feet, we are in retreat from our spiritual and strategic assets, and we will not be able to survive.
Shdema is a microcosm of what is happening throughout Eretz Israel. Restoring Shdema to Jewish hands and to full Israeli control will deliver a clear message that the people of Israel is safeguarding its homeland.
With the blessing of building, growth, and strengthening throughout Eretz Israel,
The Committee for a Jewish Shdema and Women in Green