Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Stealing Their Way to Statehood - Part II

by Gil Bringer

This is Part II of a meticulously researched article that describes in detail how Bedouins of the Jordan Valley are used by the Palestinian Authority to take over territory in Area C surreptitiously.

Read Part I here.

Second Stop: Operation Pesach

On the day before Pesach (Passover) last year the folks of the Civil Administration, like most of the people in Israel, took a vacation for the duration of the seven-day holiday. The Bedouins of the Al-hajaya tribe, who live in the Abu-Hindi wadi below Kedar (a Jewish settlement), were waiting for this opportune time. Using a method that calls to mind almost one-to-one the "wall and tower" operations used by Jewish settlers of pre-state Israel, the Bedouins established a new settlement just a few meters from the Eastern boundary of Kedar. The first houses went up just beyond the fence. During the time between the first day and the last day of the holiday, trucks from Palestinian factories arrived from the area South of Mount Hebron. These trucks unloaded their equipment and from nowhere appeared eighty identical residential buildings spread over a vast area. Three here, seven there, on one side fifteen and in another corner, ten. Later about twenty additional units were built and in the next phase the number of buildings reached one hundred and twenty. The new city "Abu-Hindi", was a fait accompli.

A senior official who participated in the latest tour of the Committee of Foreign Affairs and Security in the area informs "Makor Rishon" that the head of the unit that oversees the civil administration, Marco Ben-Shabbat, confirmed that the buildings were brought to the place by people of the PA (Palestinian Authority). One glance at the buildings that sprouted up overnight below Kedar is enough to see that we're not talking about a local initiative. Anyone who chose to set up a home in Abu-Hindi during the days of Pesach received a housing package that included a double house-trailer that had a bathroom on one side, connected to the plumbing and next to it a large water tank. Not really the usual building standards of a traditional Bedouin settlement.

People of the Civil Administration who strive to come to an agreement with the PA and to act with full cooperation with it saw in this act a ringing slap in the face and immediately came out with an order to destroy the buildings. The Bedouins, for their part, were already prepared with a temporary injunction to prevent the destruction. One can only guess that whoever supplied the water, the trucks the buildings and the equipment also took care of the legal support. What is the PA's motive?

Third Stop: Taking Over the Jordan Valley

In August 2009 the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fiyad, announced the intention to build a state "from the bottom up". Fiyad's plan comprised several principles, among which was the development of infrastructure, separation of administrative authorities, a free economy and more. The goal, declared openly, was to establish a Palestinian state de facto, with the assumption that the peace talks are faltering and will not lead anywhere.

During this period, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was trying to be seen as someone who was promoting a peace initiative, but without giving up territory in Judea and Samaria. This trap ultimately brought Netanyahu to promote the "economic peace" plan, which is based on the idea that economic improvement of the Palestinian Authority is in the interest of Israel. The two sides will come closer to negotiations only when the Palestinians will have a thriving economy, claimed Netanyahu.

At first it seemed as if Netanyahu's idea fit well with the Palestinian "Fiyadism" - concentration on building the economy and abandoning the peace initiative. However, the idea behind Netanyahu's plan ends in negotiations, but the idea behind Fiyad's plan is built upon unilateral building of a Palestinian state.

In 2010, there was a turning point in Fiyad's plan and the Palestinian side started new initiatives. The new Palestinian idea was to dissolve the accepted division of the territories that was determined in the Oslo agreements as areas A, B, and C and to create territorial contiguity of settlements and infrastructure.

The large Palestinian cities are situated in area A. This security of this area is under the control of the PA, which also manages the civil administration of the area. In the B areas, the PA is responsible for civil matters, but security is handled by Israel. The C areas are areas under Israel security control and civil administration.These (C) areas represent 60% of the territory of Judea and Samaria, and approximately three hundred thousand Jews live there. In addition, there are some tens of thousands of Palestinians, who represent about five percent of the population of the PA. The area C territories are very important, not only because of their size, but mainly because of the barrier that they create between the concentrations of Palestinian population.

In the beginning of 2010 Fiyad began to make declarations that he doesn't know how to read the letter 'C' and that all of the territories in the West Bank are territories of the state that the PA is building there. In February of that year the PA opened a branch of the Agricultural office int the village Jiftik, in the Northern Jordan Valley, area C, where, according to the Oslo agreements, the PA is forbidden to operate. From the point of view of strategic significance, this process is very similar to the opening of the Orient house in Jerusalem (in October 1992), and was received by Israel with stony silence.

Naturally, the office of Agriculture is the first and chief government agency that would be interested in the area that represents sixty percent of Judea and Samaria . "All of our agricultural area is there" said Ismail Diak, the Palestinian minister of Agriculture, in an interview with Ha'aretz when the branch office opened. He related to governments prior to the era of Fiyad with these words: "They believed that with negotiations it would be possible to get area C back, and that it would be easy. Reality proved otherwise, and in Israel they relate to area C as Israeli territory", stated Diak in that interview.

Naturally, the emphasis turned to the Jordan Valley - because it represents almost one third of the areas of Judea and Samaria and also because about ninety percent of it is defined as area C. The signs that are hung at the entrance to the building of the office of Agriculture in Jiftik state that "Jerusalem is the gate to heaven and the [Jordan] Valley is the gate to Palestine". On another sign that is hung nearby is written - "The valley is the border of Palestine with its sister Jordan".

The new strategy of the Palestinian Agricultural Office, which serves as the spearhead for the other governmental offices, is to support in various ways the agricultural families in area C, mainly those who live in the Jordan Valley. The best way to make a land-grab is when it is based on local agricultural settlement. The Bedouins answer the needs of the PA well in this respect. They are located in area C in a way that the rest of the Palestinian population cannot fulfill.

With time, Bedouin society is undergoing a process of Islamization and "Palestinization", and the differences between the Palestinian and Bedouin groups is decreasing. From the point of view of the PA, the Bedouin population is creating the contiguity that it so much needs between Ramallah and Jericho and creates facts on the ground. On their part, the Bedouins repay the PA by increasingly identifying with the PA. Palestinian flags are hung on more and more Bedouin outposts, which are implementing the policy of Fiyad.

Read Part III here.
Read Part IV here.

Gil Bringer is an attorney who serves as the legal consultant to the Jewish Home faction in the Knesset and co-editor of the "Tzedek" legal supplement to the Makor Rishon Hebrew weekly newspaper. Among other things, he deals with the areas of overlap between law and politics, Zionism and good governance. He can be contacted at gil.bringer@gmail.com

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav

Source: Source: Makor Rishon weekly Hebrew newspaper; http://myesha.org.il/?CategoryID=335&ArticleID=5365&Page=1

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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