The work of Israeli group Women in Green, which lobbies for the rights of Jews in Judea and Samaria, has apparently upset several top officials in the Palestinian Authority. Abdul Fatah Amayel, governor of Bethlehem, launched an extremely harsh verbal attack against the activities of the Women in Green movement, while focusing personally on Nadia Matar. Amayel defines the movement’s tree-planting operations as “aggressive and racist,” changing “policy and facts on the ground.”
With that, Amayel said, the group provides a good model of how to set policy, and called on PA Arabs to act as Women in Green does.
In an interview from February 4th, 2013, given on “Good Morning Palestine”, a PA radio show, Amayel said that “one settler called Nadia Matar accomplished that which, unfortunately, groups and countries failed to. With plans of theft and robbery, she steals more and more land, day by day, and cultivates it. I say that this woman, despite her unmatched aggressive and racist spirit, serves as an example to us, the owners of the land. I ask, why does this settler woman do all that while we, individuals, groups, villages, political and communal organizations, an authority, have reached a point where she is able to impose a de-facto policy and we stand by and watch?
“I believe this is part of a great tragedy,” Amayel added. “That is why we say today - No! We can do everything Nadia Matar does and more, with the only difference being the fact that we are the true owners of the land. I believe that this idea and this event are the tidings of the beginning of a series of events, during which we will reclaim all of the land that you see here, to be green and return it once again to its Palestinian owner, the Palestinian farmer.”
Amayel was apparently referring to a planting operation carried out in Gush Etzion by PA Arabs, following the planting operation that was held by Women in Green this past Tu B’Shvat on the lands of Netzer. During this event the Women in Green activists met Amayel himself when he arrived with a Beit Sahour municipal vehicle, accompanied by several of his men, attempting to prevent the Jewish group from planting trees. The operation held in response to the Jewish plantings was named “Tree Day” by the local Arabs, during which they arrived at the location with the assistance of international parties and planted hundreds of trees on the lands between the Alon Shvut and Elazar communities.
Women in Green pointed out that it alerted the authorities to the massive Arab plantings, but were told that the Civil Administration had approved the Arabs’ move. It should be noted that although local Arabs claim ownership of the land there is no proof that they indeed do own it. The planting operation was designed to reinforce their claim, Women in Green said. The group has been demanding for some time that the Arab plantings be stopped and that a thorough investigation be conducted in order to determine the true ownership of these lands, the group said.
In response to Amayel's comments, Nadia Matar, one of the heads of Women in Green, said that “first of all, we must correct the man’s statements and clarify that I do not work alone, but rather I have the privilege of working with Yehudit Katsover. Together we have the privilege of working with many lovers of the Land of Israel who join forces for the successful redemption of the land and the protection of state lands from Arab takeovers.
“The fact that the governor spoke of us on the radio, and the fact that the Palestinian Authority chooses to plant specifically in Netzer, show how much the consistent Jewish activities in the area have bothered them, proving how important our activities are,” Matar and Katsover said. “The Arabs thought they would be able to take over the entire area uninterrupted, as they do on other hills throughout Judea and Samaria, in order to suffocate the Jewish communities, as part of their plan to take control of area C; yet along come Jews who interrupt their conquest attempts.
“Unfortunately the power balance is surreal,” they added. “The PA is funded with millions of dollars by the European Union and other anti-Semitic organizations, and this is evident on the ground; they take over area ‘C’ Territories with illegal Arab construction and an illegal agricultural Jihad; they come equipped with modern tractors, thousands of trees and infinite manpower. We, on the other hand, have no government support, only the personal donations given by lovers of the Land, donations that as important as they are, are still very small compared to the Arabs'.”
And, they added, “as if it wasn’t bad enough that our actions are not being sanctioned by the authorities, we have received uprooting orders against our plantings.” A hearing on uprooting the plantings the group made in Netzer is set for March 17.
Nevertheless, the two said, “the attention we’ve been given by the Arabs serves as further incentive for us to carry on our activities in full force, but we must remember that ultimately the power balance teaches us that plantings aren’t enough. We must act on a national level to completely stop the Arab takeover of our lands and our country. Such a move will only be possible if we apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. That is why we at Women in Green continue with ground operations, parallel to the public activities calling for the application of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.”