Jewish activists with the Women in Green movement have slammed a recent article in the Haaretz newspaper as “full of lies and propaganda.” Members of the group spoke out this week about the real story behind the battle for control of land in Netzer, in Gush Etzion.
Women in Green has been working to plant trees in Netzer for some time, and has successfully cultivated swaths of land despite repeated attacks by local Palestinian Authority Arabs, who often uproot saplings and damage equipment.
Haaretz author Amira Hass wrote a story last week in which she claimed that the land cultivated by Women in Green is owned by Arab landowners. “Every Palestinian landowner has a thick file full of documents attesting that he and his family owned the land many years before Women in Green founder Nadia Matar was born in Antwerp, Belgium,” she declared.
Hass’s statement is blatantly false, say Women in Green organizers. “We do not plant on privately-owned lands,” they said, explaining that they use the most up-to-date maps to ensure that they plant only on state land.
“Not surprisingly, Amira Hass did not bother to check any facts,” Women in Green said.
Hass was right about one thing, they said. “Yes, there is a battle for every dunam of land in Gush Etzion, and throughout the rest of Judea and Samaria.” On the PA side, the battle is well-funded and coordinated at the highest levels, they said, noting that PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad openly stated “The greatest challenge against the occupation and the settlements is to increase the investment and agriculture on the lands in Area C [Israeli state land – ed.].”
The PA seeks control of state lands “both by massive illegal construction of thousands of houses… and by an ‘agricultural jihad’ in which Arabs, backed by almost unlimited international financing, steal state lands by cultivating them.”
“Their goal is clear: an Arab takeover of all the areas between the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, in order to choke them and prevent their expansion,” Women in Green warned.
The group concluded by calling for the Israeli government to implement the organization's platform – full Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. “We should not be deterred by the consequences of such a move, including the possibility of granting citizenship to the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, who will pledge loyalty to the state and its laws,” they declared, adding, “Sovereignty throughout all of Eretz Yisrael [the land of Israel] is the one and only Israeli alternative.”