|illegal settlement / Credit: Vos Iz Neias)|
Madison Ruppert, Contributing Writer
One of the West Bank’s largest illegal Israeli settlements, Ofra, is now going to be legitimized and upheld by the state of Israel regardless of the fact that much of it was built on privately owned Palestinian land.
Does this represent the state of Israel spitting in the face of the Palestinian people in preparation for their bid for UN statehood? Is this a warning of what is to come if the Palestinians will not back down and kowtow to their Israeli occupiers?
We can’t be sure, but we do know that this is yet another instance of Israel flouting international law without hesitation.
Only the state of Israel seems to be able to get away with these egregious violations of international law and humanitarian law, as even totally unconfirmed reports can lead to NATO interventions in other nations, as we have seen in Libya.
This announcement from the Israeli government was interestingly timed, as it came directly after individuals living in nearby Palestinian villages protested against any new construction on the lands which had originally been appropriated by Jordan.
The Israeli government said that the buildings, 58% of which were built on private Palestinian land, would be approved but until the jurisdiction plan which would retroactively strip the land from the Palestinians is drawn up the construction will be postponed.
The municipal plan would change the jurisdiction of the Palestinian land in Ofra in accordance with a 2005 report which said that construction plans would only be approved if “they possess a defined jurisdiction” according to Israeli news agency Haaretz.
Some are seeing this move as a success for the Palestinians, something which I would never have seen myself.
One of these individuals is Dror Etkes who has been attempting to support the Palestinians who are trying to fight back against the occupying forces of Israel who have been stealing private Palestinian land for Israeli settlements regardless of the fact that it is completely illegal under international law.
Etkes told Haaretz that this most recent move by the state of Israel has, “at once cleared the smoke screen that the settlers and the state have been trying to keep for years in regards to the land on which Ofra was founded.”
Indeed, this is a small, but major victory in the sense that it shows that Israeli settlers, and the state of Israel, are not only stealing private Palestinian land for their illegal settlements but are actually doing everything possible to keep these illegal settlements going.
Etkes also added that, “It’s clear that out of the thousands of dunams the settlers took control of, only a few dozen were actually purchased. The rest was just looted from their owners”. [Note: a dunam is now defined as exactly equal to a decare, which is 1000 square meters. In the days of the Ottoman Empire the value ranged from 900-2500 square meters.]
This is a triumph for truth but will it be a triumph for justice in the occupied territories?
In early August of this year, the Israeli Supreme Court determined that one of the many illegal West Bank settlements was indeed illegal and it was to be disbanded.
Unfortunately, the government at the local level has shown little to no interest in following the orders of the Supreme Court and regularly ignores the orders to vacate illegal settlements.
Based on these facts, I think it would be a bit unrealistic to think that justice will be had in this case.
That being said, it is undoubtedly an important milestone and a great opportunity to show that the Israeli settlers have no interest in following international law and even when it is clear that the majority of the land they occupy was literally stolen, they will do everything in their power to legitimize it.
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