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Monday, June 11, 2012

Beit El, Samaria's Neighborhood: Ulpana, and Supreme Court Decision

Nadene Goldfoot
Remember Jacob in the Bible?  Beit El was in the place where he was sleeping and had a dream about the angels coming up and down a ladder (Genesis 28:19).  It lies in Samaria, which is also  part of what is referred to as the West Bank, the place where Hamas and Fatah want to call "Palestine" and kick out all Jews living there.  This is one reason why religious Jews have moved in there when they were able to, to protect sites that are part of our history.

1967's Six Day War was  when 5 surrounding Arab nations attacked Israel and lost.  The result was that Jews went into Samaria and Judea building homes, villages, towns and cities.  They were reclaiming the land that meant so much to them.  Beit El was established in 1977, ten years after the war.  In September 1997, Beit El was awarded local council status with a population of 1,200 Jewish families, most a part of the Religious Zionist Movement.  It is made up of people that are immigrants from other countries and of the community of Bnei Menashe from Manipur and Mizoram.  It has a small number of factories like the tefillin factory, a winery, metalworks, carpentry shops, a bakery and others as well.

In 1999 it's Ulpana neighbourhood was established.  That was followed up with a stop-work order from an Israeli court as early as September but the construction continued.  In 2008 a demolition order was issued by the High Court after Palestinians from Dura al-Qar, a village, appealed to the High Court of Israel.  Yaakov Katz, member of the Knesset is a resident from Beit El and has been a defender of the bill and against removing the homes.

The international community has been disagreeing with Israel over the standing of this neighborhood.  This is over the 4th Geneva Convention's prohibition on the transfer of an occupying power's civilian population into occupied territory and they consider Israelis illegal under the international humanitarian law.

Israel disagrees saying that the 4th Geneva Convention doesn't apply to the Palestinian territories  as they had not been legal held by a a sovereign power prior to Israel taking control of them through a defensive war.  Of course Israel's view is not listened to by the International Court of Justice and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Israeli Supreme Court has ordered the neighborhood Ulpana, consisting  of 5 homes to be dismantled by July 1st.  The attorney for the Beit El company has presented documentation showing that the land which the buildings are on was legally purchased from the previous Arab owner.  They are located on the lower heights of Pisgat Yaakov, known also as Jabal Artis and overlook Beit El to the southwest.

Peace Now says that private Palestinian property makes up 96.85% of the land that Beit El and the nearby Israeli outposts of Beit El East and Jabel Artis is built on.  In a suit before the High Court of Israel, the state notified the court that the company, Gush Emunim's Amana ,  building the Ulpana neighborhood ,  was aware that the seller of the land, a 7 year old Palestinian child, was not its legal owner at the time.  

This puts the Israeli government in a bad place.  They had a debate  on the 6th of June in the Knesset following Netanyahu's declaration on June 3rd saying that dismantling would happen. The Knesset,  which is the Israeli parliament, is divided over the passage of the bill that the proponents say will strengthen Jewish settlement in Samaria and Judea.   In the wide  world, people have become prejudiced and call Judea and Samaria "Israeli occupied Arab lands" as they favor the Arab claim to the land.   They are in fact "disputed territories under international law with both Israel and Arabs claiming historic rights.  Israel has been the administrator since 1967's war.  Palestinian Arabs have never had national rights here or anywhere else.  Netanyahu does not want to go against the Hague, where the International Court of Justice lies.  Leiberman, Rivlin and Yshai said they would vote for the bill.  Rivlin said they must make sure the bill serves the interests of justice.  They don't want to create a new wrong.

Reference: Israeli government at odds over battle for the land
Book, In Defense of Israel by John Hagee p. 182-183

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