We light our candles in commemoration of the miracle of the oil – the cruse of oil that was only sufficient for one day but lasted for eight days when the Temple was rededicated. For this reason, we call this holiday the Festival of Light. Badly needed right now. Miracles, that is. As well as light!
The other part of the celebration has to do with the historical victory (also a miracle of a more profound but less obvious sort). It should remind us of what we are capable of when we understand that the Almighty is with us – and we hold fast to who we are. Huge lessons for today (and I will get to this).
We are grateful that this Chanukah, in the end, is unlikely to be marred by the expulsion from their homes of the residents of Amona, an expulsion that had been set – coincidentally but horrendously – to take place on the first day of Chanukah.
The residents, as I wrote in my last posting, rejected the offer that had been proffered by the government. One factor in this rejection – which was at some point mentioned by the residents in their press conference, but which received scant media attention – was the fact that the offer involved relocating only 11 families to another place on the same mountain.
But now we have moved past this, for a new offer has been accepted. The government seemed genuinely eager to avoid the crisis of a forced expulsion from Amona and to find a resolution. Undoubtedly Netanyahu was also eager to avoid a coalition crisis as well. Meeting through the night, Saturday night, with Amona community residents were Prime Minister Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi). Agreement came at 3 AM Sunday morning. It’s my understanding that MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) and former Bayit Yehudi MK Orit Strook encouraged the residents to take the offer.
Bennett hailed this as the end of the era of expulsions. We must fervently hope so, but this remains to be seen.
There were several reasons why this was considered by the residents to be a better offer. First, 24 resident families would remain on the mountain, rather than 11. They also felt that the government showed more commitment to the execution of this plan, with a clearer time frame, and a readiness to nominate someone responsible for overseeing the process.
The plan involves six dunams of land, called plot 38, near the residents current location. This is land that is considered abandoned property and is under the control of the Civil Administration (that is, State property); it has been leased to the Binyamin Regional Council.
The government committed to seeking from the Court an extension in the expulsion order of 45 days, and this was speedily done. In that appeal to the Court, it was noted that this would be for only one and a half months, and not the six months previously rejected, and that this would be the last appeal for an extension.
The approval of the Court is essential for this plan to move forward, for nothing is in place. The time would be utilized for setting up temporary housing for the 24 families on plot 38 (actually 12 temporary buildings divided into two). And temporary housing would, as well, be set in place for the remaining families (I believe 18 in number) in nearby Ofra.
The agreement of the residents was contingent on all of this taking place.
According to the plan, there would then, subsequently, be an interval of time in which the area for a new Amona would be expanded beyond plot 38, utilizing adjacent abandoned property. Over the period of a couple of years, 52 permanent buildings would be constructed – homes for everyone now in Amona plus public buildings.
As I write, the final word from the Court on the 45 day extension has not come through. The Court came back to the residents and asked them to pledge that if the extension is granted, then they will leave quietly at the end of that time. Late this morning, the residents filed their positive response to the Court. That the Court made this request certainly seems to indicate that the extension will be granted, although until we know it is not a certainty.
But there is another fly in the ointment: For the subversive Yesh Din has been hard at work. Again. I have been advised by a spokesperson from Amona that they went to Jordan this time, and sought Jordanian citizens who, they maintain, have a claim on plot 38 from the time of the (illegal) Jordanian occupation.
Illegal is my word, of course, not theirs. Very much to the point, the actions of the Yesh Din should be rendered illegal. Their meddling – which, transparently now, has nothing to do with securing rights for local Arab residents and everything to do with their agenda of driving Jews out of Judea and Samaria – should be forbidden. There are several issues underlying this situation.
Paramount is the entire question of how land allocated by a Jordanian sovereign during an illegal occupation of the area, acquired in an offensive war, should carry sway in our courts now. This is what I meant by knowing who we are. It’s time we held up our heads, collectively, and declared our rights.
My information is that Yesh Din did not go to the High Court, but to the Civil Administration, with their new claim on plot 38. They are saying that the Civil Administration has no right to lease the land to the Binyamin Regional Council. There is particular unease over this, because as soon as the agreement was reached, the Binyamin Regional Council brought heavy equipment onto plot 38 to start preparing the land for the temporary houses – there is no time to be lost. But after Yesh Din made its latest claim, the machinery disappeared.
Even if the Yesh Din claim is accepted, which would be a travesty of justice, this would not kill the agreement nor require the residents to leave on Sunday. Rather, this is something that would play out over time: it would then fall to the Civil Administration to determine which other plot on the mountain might be utilized for relocating the residents. There is considerable land there and arrangements would have to be made to accommodate them legally. An onerous task in a tight time frame, but we must hope that the government would move with all due speed on this.
This is an issue not only of rights for the citizens of Amona, but for government policy on expulsions. It should be a turning point.
To be continued…
A couple of days ago, Saeb Erekat, PLO Secretary-General and a key PLO purveyor of empty words, made a number of threats: If the embassy is moved, the PLO will “revoke all its previously signed agreements with Israel” as well as its 1993 “recognition of Israel.”
If all agreements were off, the Palestinian Authority, which was founded as part of Oslo, would cease to exist.But the real kicker is this statement by Erekat, made at a Washington DC conference, that:
“such a move would indicate the U.S.’s acceptance of ‘Israel’s illegal annexation of eastern Jerusalem.’”
Got him here! Because the American Embassy will be located in western Jerusalem. And that’s the whole point: the PLO claims that it wants eastern Jerusalem for its capital. Ostensibly, within the “two-state solution” Israel would retain western Jerusalem. But what becomes transparent here, which most of us knew already anyway, is that the PLO wants all of Jerusalem.
It is regrettable that State Department chose to refer to Israeli “settlements” as “illegal” following the announcement by president-elect Trump that David Friedman – who supports Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria – would be the next US Ambassador to Israel. Until now, the term of choice for Obama has been “illegitimate,” which skirts the issue of legality.
See the comment by State spokesman John Kirby here:
The Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are most certainly not illegal. At most, Judea and Samaria might be referred to as “contested,” but I would not say even this: According to international law – via the Mandate for Palestine – the land belongs to Israel.
I understand that in a subsequent tweet, Kirby walked back his statement.
Potentially far more serious than the empty words of Erekat regarding repercussions for moving the Embassy is the action of the Palestinian Authority in bringing a draft resolution to the UN Security Council that calls for for an immediate and full halt to the “settlement building in the occupied territories.”
It states that “Israeli settlements built on Palestinian lands occupied in 1967 are illegal.” and that “settlements are a major obstacle to the realization of the two-state solution.”
It also demands that Israel, as an “occupying power” immediately cease all “settlement activity”, including in eastern Jerusalem, and to respect its legal obligations in this regard.
The draft was circulated last night by Egypt (a disappointment for us). Vote is due shortly, but will come after this post has gone out.
THE question here is whether Obama will maintain the long-standing US position that the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict must be resolved via direct negotiations, and veto this. There has been concern that this lame duck president, who has express antipathy to Israel, will have his revenge with this vote.
Earlier this week, a bi-partisan group of 88 Senators signed a letter, initiated by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mike Rounds (R-SD), to President Obama. It urged him to veto such resolutions, citing his 2011 General Assembly address in which he said, “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations.”
A PA delegation has visited the president, and urged just the reverse.
I have checked with one of the Legal Grounds legal advisors, who tells me that the resolution would not be under Chapter 7 (which would render it enforceable), and thus not “not binding in the strict sense.”
Unfortunately, Palestinian Arabs of the PLO/PA are not the only ones who give Israel a headache. As I’ve indicated several times over the years, we’ve got our problems with some Israeli Arabs who sit in our Knesset. There are at least a couple who, in my opinion, not only do not belong in the Knesset, but who should be branded as traitors – supporters of Hamas. To date, I would have said Haneen Zoabi is the most prominent and offensive of these, but now I would say Basel Ghattas rivals her for this dubious distinction.
Last week, MK Ghattas (of the Balad faction of the Joint List) was questioned by police because there was solid evidence that he had smuggled cell phones to security prisoners (read terrorists) in Israeli prison.
He readily admitted to having done so, claiming that this was “humanitarian activism,” because the lives of the prisoners is difficult. This guy is a piece of work. The phones were used to plan terror attacks.
A blanket ban has now been placed on visitations by MK to security prisoners. Ghattas is being faced with a host of charges: complicity in committing a felony, deceptive practices, breach of trust and violation of the Prison Service code. His parliamentary immunity will be lifted and it is unlikely that he will ever show his face in the Knesset again. There are those who suspect he will flee, rather than face possible prison time.
And imagine, there are those who accuse us of “apartheid.”
IDF forces from the Judaea and Samaria Brigade, working with Shin Bet and Border Police, mounted a raid on a home in south Hevron Sunday night that uncovered the “largest weapons factory ever discovered” in Judea and Samaria. Hundreds of soldiers were involved.
There has been an intensified search for weapons manufactured and stored in Judea and Samaria because it is believed that those committing recent terror attacks were supplied by local sources.