The myth of 'Private Arab Lands' in Judea and Samaria

On the backdrop of the efforts to legalize Jewish towns, one resident explains that King Hussein simply distributed lands.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 08:04

Amona
Amona
Amona PR division

Yoav Elitzur resides in Ofrah, the first Jewish community in the Binyamin area of Judea and Samaria in the modern age (founded in 1975). He has produced a short video, in Hebrew, in which he explains succinctly how the myth of, "privately-owned Arab lands in Judea and Samaria," came to be. His explanation, if disseminated sufficiently far and wide, should take the air out of the sails of the left-wing organizations which are seeking to destroy the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, by claiming that it is founded upon lands that belong to others. In Elitzur's words:

“My name is Yoav Elitzur. I grew up in Ofrah, and my children are now on the verge of raising the fourth generation of Elitzurs in Ofrah. In the heart of my town, at the end of my block, are nine houses that the Supreme Court has ruled must be razed within a few months. In addition, from my window I can see the community of Amona, the entirety of which must be destroyed by the end of the year, by the demand of the High Court. Why? Because, the High Court says, ‘they are located on privately-owned lands.’

“The question that lies at the base of the entire issue seems like an ethical one: How can we allow ourselves to build homes and communities on lands that belong to individuals, whether it be Ahmed, or Sa'id, or another; who bought it with his own hard-earned money, and who uses it to support his family? How can we take lands that belong to someone else?

“To understand this, we must answer a simple question hovering in the air, but which no one in the media is asking: How can it be that a full 90% (!) of the homes that the Supreme Court ruled must be razed have no claimants? Never did that Ahmed, or that Sa'id, come and say, 'This is my land!' No one knows who he is! If he exists, why doesn't he come and claim it? After all, all the work has already been done for him. There has already been a court case, and he has won; now all he has to do and come and say, ‘It's mine!’

“Maybe it's hard to find him? Not quite. The left-wing organizations are investing tremendous efforts to find these 'owners,' but have not succeeded. How can this be?

“The answer is that the subject of, 'private lands,' is, on the whole, a total lie. Most of these lands never actually belonged to any Arab. So how could it be that they are registered in the names of private Arab individuals?

“For this we need a short historical explanation. In 1950, King Hussein of Jordan decided to annex Judea and Samaria to Jordan. No one in the world other than Great Britain recognized this annexation, and certainly none of the Arab states. For some reason, possibly in order to shore up his regime, Hussein decided to organize the lands [over which he had no recognized claim] by simply dividing them up as gifts – no matter if they were rocky hillsides or otherwise unusable – to various individuals. He started the process in the Ramallah area, the area of Binyamin – where Ofrah, Beit El, and many other Jewish towns are now located. Whatever parcels of land were left over, King Hussein gave to the local mukhtars, so that they would register them in the names of their village residents.

“Thus was created a situation in which people had land in their names, but they never saw it, never knew about it, and certainly never invested even one shekel in it [or paid taxes on it.] Precisely because of the rocky, unusable nature of these lands is why Amona and other Jewish towns were built specifically there – so that it would be certain that it is now owned by individuals.

“Thus, 90% of the lands are simply unowned, no matter how many times the falsehood and lie to the contrary is repeated.

“But what about the 10% that truly are privately-owned? In such cases, the policy must be exactly as it is everywhere else in the country: The owners should be compensated. And in fact, this is exactly what we did here in Ofrah. We went to Arabs who owned land encompassing the town, we paid them, and then we built our chicken coops on the land that we had just bought. Not long afterwards, however, the Arab who sold us the land was found dead at the bottom of the well in his village.

“Thus, it was the Arabs who actually set the stage for the continuation of the story. They told their fellow Arabs: ‘You are not allowed to sell your land, for it is actually not really yours. We are in the midst of a national struggle, and you cannot do with this land as you wish. If you do, you will die.’

“In other words, the Arabs changed it from an issue of ‘individual’ ownership to a national issue – and thus there are no more privately-owned lands.

“In this national struggle, then, of the Arabs against the Jewish People and the State of Israel, they'll take their approach [video backdrop shows Muslims beheading their victims], and we will take our approach [backdrop shows irrigated and blossoming fields]. We will try to purchase, or officially annex, lands; and to do what we can to settle the Land of Israel and build our communities.

“Thus it is totally dishonest to relate to these lands as if they are privately owned, when in fact the matter is one of a struggle between peoples over the Land of Israel."

Here is the original Hebrew video:

For the Supreme Court's part in this, click here.








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