They settled there in good faith; there’s a consensus on the settlement blocs; previous governments took care to build only on state land; it’s all the fault of the Palestinian law against selling land to Jews; property rights are sacred. These are few of the positions that have been tossed into the air in recent days, before and after the Knesset vote on the land expropriation law. The internal Israeli dispute created a cacophony of deceptions from both the bill’s supporters and its detractors from the center-right (Zionist Union, Yesh Atid). Both camps seemingly speak in parallel tracks that never meet, but only seemingly.
The law’s supporters speak of good faith and of settlements without malice aforethought. If it was indeed in good faith, then how is it that the builders of the outposts have created rings upon rings of violent harassment around them and, with the aid of their private army (the Israel Defense Forces), prevent Palestinian farmers from reaching the parts of their land on which innocent mobile homes and villas have not yet been erected?
The law’s detractors say that up to now, Israeli governments were careful not to establish settlements on privately owned land. Really? How many times do we have to repeat that this is a fiction? Beit El sits entirely on private land, as does Ofra. There are dozens more thriving settlements and outposts that were built in part or entirely on private Palestinian land that was seized for military needs – even after the Elon Moreh ruling of 1979, in which the High Court of Justice prohibited construction on privately owned land. Fertile agricultural lands were confined within the borders of settlements such as Elkana and Efrat, where they became recreation areas for Israeli walkers and lovers.
The law’s supporters say that nowhere on earth is it impossible to purchase private land. But when British nationals buy homes in France and in Spain, it isn’t for the purpose of imposing British sovereignty.
The law’s detractors make a distinction between state-owned land and privately owned land. A reminder: All seizure of land and construction in occupied territory, against the will of the conquered population, is illegal according to international law. The Jewish mind has come up with innumerable inventions, as the saying goes, in order to declare Palestinian-owned land as state land. Those for whom only private Palestinian ownership is sacred devalue international law and the tradition of sharing public land. They prove that to them, the Palestinians are a random collection of individuals, not a collective with historical, material and cultural rights to the area in which it was born and has lived for centuries, irrespective of any real estate classifications. The distinction between private and public, which the High Court of Justice makes with such joy, portrays the Palestinians as being entitled to live only within the crowded confines that conform to the records of the Land Registry Office. For us Jews, our Land Registry is with God.
The law’s detractors say there’s a consensus on the settlement blocs and the land expropriation law messes things up for us abroad. Consensus? By whom? Not only the settlers but also the law’s detractors fail to count some six and a half million people, Palestinians, on either side of the Green Line (and us, a handful of Jewish Israelis). Both camps, the right and the center-right, simply do not see any problem with the fact that it is only the Jewish consensus that decides what will happen to both Jews and Arabs. After all, it’s been that way for decades, and that is the essence of the celebrated Jewish democracy.
But yes, it is a problem. On the piece of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea live two nations. There is a name for the reality in which a government that sees itself as representing only one nation determines the future of two nations and creates two separate and unequal systems of rights, laws and infrastructure, with the eager support of its people. It’s called apartheid – a crime according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and also according to a global consensus that was created over the years.