Why isnt there a freeze on Arab construction?
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is opposed to the policy announced today in Jerusalem by the Israeli government to institute a freeze on all Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria for a ten month period. This freeze, which applies only to Jews, sends the erroneous message that the on-going Arab war against Israel is due to Jews living and building in Judea, Samaria and about borders and land. In fact, the Arab war against Israel stems from the Arabs refusal to accept Jewish sovereignty in any part of the Middle East no matter how small that part would be. Remember, from 1948 to 1967, there was no a single Jew or Jewish community in Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem, Gaza or the Golan Heights, yet the Arabs launched three wars and perpetrated continuous terrorism against Israeli Jews during that period.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, We would oppose freezing Jewish construction in any event, as Jews have a right to live in their religious and historic homeland. It would be wrong to deny Jews the right to live and build in these territories, simply because they are Jews. But we particularly oppose a freeze on Jewish construction in this instance as it is unilateral. Israel has not received any comparable, reciprocal concessions from either the Palestinians or the Arab states.
At a minimum, Palestinian Arabs should also freeze Arab construction in Judea and Samaria so as not to permit Palestinian Arabs to prejudice a final settlement. As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu himself said in April to former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, If Israelis cant build homes on the West Bank, Palestinians shouldnt be allowed to either If someone wishes to build a home in an existing settlement, I dont think this is a problem (Haaretz, April 24, 2009).
“Even President Barack Obama opposed unilateral concessions last April by Israel when he said, My hope is that we are going to see not just movement from the Israelis, but also from the Palestinians around issues of incitement and security, from Arab States that show their willingness to engage Israel all sides [must be] willing to move off the rut that were in currently.
It is not that we are talking of Jews building in territory belonging to another sovereign state. The Palestinians never had sovereignty over the West Bank or eastern Jerusalem. Former International Court of Justice chief judge Stephen Schwebel concluded that since Jordan, the prior holder of these territories, had seized them unlawfully in 1948, Israel, which subsequently took that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense in 1967, has better title to it. Jordans illegal annexation of these territories in 1948 was recognized only by Britain and Pakistan, and Jordan now makes no claim to it. In terms of international law, between 1948 and 1967 this territory was terra nullius, or land belonging to no one. It is highly relevant that the Oslo Accords do not require any freeze of building activity.
It is interesting to note that President Obama, several weeks ago, urged Israelis to pursue Prime Minister Rabins legacy. It is therefore relevant to recall that Yitzhak Rabin had no intention of returning to the 1967 lines. In his last speech to the Knesset on October 5, 1995, Rabin said, The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines … First and foremost, united Jerusalem which will include both Maaleh Adumim and Givat Zeev as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.
Since the Oslo Accords in 1993, Israel has created no new Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. All Jewish construction since that date has proceeded within the existing boundaries of these communities. Israel construction therefore does not involve the use of further disputed territories and such Jewish communities in total occupy no more than 2% of the land mass of Judea and Samaria.
There is a deeply practical, human element to this. As Nadav Shragai reported in Haaretz last May, There has been a de facto freeze in Judea and Samaria since last spring and points out that out of 2,100 couples who marry in the West Bank, 1,600 couples have been forced to move to a community far from their parents and far from the towns in which they grew up.
We hoped and believed that Israel had made it clear, following the 2005 unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and its terrible aftermath of increased insecurity for Israel, that there would be no further unilateral Israeli concessions. Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon personally told me and other American Jewish leaders in 2005 that no further Israelis concessions would be forthcoming after Gaza until and unless the Palestinians fulfilled their signed Oslo obligations to arrest terrorists and end the incitement to hatred and murder in their media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feed terror.
Lastly, this decision conveys the message that Israel concedes the validity of the Arab claim that Jews have no right to live in these territories.
We believe this decision to be unfair, unwise and prejudicial against Jews.
ZOA is also concerned that the Obama Administration may have pressured Israel by linking the U.S. helping Israel on the Iranian nuclear issue to Israel making this major concession. This is not an unwarranted speculation, given that months ago several top officials in the Obama administration publicly talked about the linkage of the Iran nuclear issue to the Palestinian issue.