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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Question & Answer Time

There are a wide range of opinions circulating in the jblogosphere on the current crisis that has developed over the Hevron building that Defense Minister Amir Peretz has ordered to be evacuated of its Jewish residents. 

What is conspicuously absent from these rants for and against the original real estate transaction and the subsequent governmental intervention is anything approaching an honest analysis of the facts.  Instead what I've seen has mostly been emotional stuff aligned along party lines:

Therefore I have compiled a list of questions I'd like to ask that deserve consideration in any discussion of this building and its current legal status.  I will provide my answers, but they are just that; mine.  Feel free to offer your own.  All I ask is that you try to stick to facts and check your emotions at the door:

Q: Was the building legally purchased for the stated price of $700,000. USD?

A:  Yes.  Well, sort of... probably... um, maybe.  My inclusion of the word 'legally' in the question was deliberate and is responsible for my vague answer.  Legally even if money changed hands, contracts were signed and title changed hands, the transaction lacks full legal status without the Defense Minister's signature.  But we'll look at that next.

Q: Is the legal requirement for the Defense Minister's signature on all real estate transactions in the 'occupied territories' enforced most of the time... or even a significant portion of the time? 

A:  No.  This rule is enforced sporadically and along political lines when it is enforced at all.  Any rule/law that is not uniformly applied or which is enforced only when it suits a politicians political whims is neither just nor legal (IMHO).

Q:  Has even a shred of evidence been offered by any parties that might indicate that the Jews who paid for the building, and those who currently live in it, acted in bad faith towards the previous owners/occupants during any part of the transaction?

A:  No.  This is an extremely important point since Israeli history is full of land sales that have been complicated by the illegality (according to the Arabs) of selling land to Jews.  Today, as in Ottoman times, it could cost an Arab his life to sell land to Jews.  Therefore even when multiple intermediaries were used to acquire property, as soon as Jewish owners took possession of the property, loud protestations of fraud and theft were arguably the former owner's last resort against an official death sentence or an unofficial lynching.

Q:  Was the location of this building in Hevron meant as a provocation by the Jewish purchasers?

A:  No.  This is not my opinion... it is demonstrable fact.  Unlike many outpost settlements that are intended as deliberate provocations (and even as a passive/aggressive sort of vengeance) in the wake of Arab terrorist attacks, one need only look at a map to understand the logic behind this property acquisition.  In the heart of Hevron is the Ma'arat HaMachpela (the Cave of the Patriarchs) where the traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam agree four Biblical couple are buried: (1) Adam and Eve; (2) Abraham and Sarah; (3) Isaac and Rebekah; (4) Jacob and Leah. According to Midrashic sources it also contains the head of Esau, and to Islamic sources, is also the tomb of Joseph.  The Jewish and Christian Bibles contain what is likely the most widely acknowledged legally binding real estate transaction in history; the purchase of this cave and the surrounding land by Abraham in order to bury his wife Sarah.  Jews were forbidden from worshiping by Muslim decree until after the Six Day War and since that time both Muslims and Jews have worshiped there.  The problem is that in order to reach the Ma'arat HaMachpelah, Jews have to travel a narrow corridor from neighboring Kiryat Arbah that has been the site of frequent unprovoked terrorist attacks.  I've given you this short history lesson because the building in question today lies along the route between Kiryat Arbah and the Ma'arat HaMachpelah in Hevron and is intended to help create one part of a safe passage for Jewish worshipers along this historically dangerous route. 

Q:  Is there any likelihood that the Defense Minister would have signed off on the sale of this building had it been presented to him for consideration?

A:  No.  Peretz, one of the early leaders of 'Peace Now', has never made a secret of his total opposition to any and all settlement activity over the green line.  In fact, in his campaign for leadership of the Labor Party he promised to evacuate all outposts and reiterated this promise when he was given the Defense portfolio.  That he has not done so is mostly because he has been viewed by most as a 'lame duck' in his position in Defense, and would likely not get cabinet approval to make any moves that might have any lasting affect beyond his limited tenure.  However denying approval of real estate transactions in the territories costs nothing and requires no Cabinet approval/oversight.  This is one of the reason that almost no real estate transaction in Judea and Samaria have been handed to his office for approval.

Q:  Are there any legally compelling reasons for the sale of the building to have been approved?

A:  Yes. Aside from the strong emotional and ethical arguments against weighing real estate transactions strictly along religious/ethnic lines, there is ample legal precedent for approving this particular sale.  That reason can be summed up in one word: Security.  As noted above, it is in the interest of all parties to reduce the the amount of exposure that Jews and Arabs have to one another.  Several entire neighborhoods were created around Jerusalem in order to create and preserve contiguity for the movement of the Jewish population so that they would not have to pass through Arab areas.  In many cases land was appropriated by the state to accomplish this goal without any of the niceties of the present real estate transaction.  It stands to reason that if the goal of avoiding friction between Jewish and Arab populations is still paramount in the minds of Jewish and Arab leaders, that a 'kosher' real estate transaction that would help accomplish this goal without resorting to the appropriation of land or property would be welcomed.

Q:  Does Defense Minister Peretz have the support of his military advisers, the State Attorney, his fellow cabinet members and the Prime Minister to carry out the evacuation of this building?

A:  Sadly, the Defense Minister doesn't legally require any of these people's approval or support to carry out the evacuation orders.  This is just one of countless places where proper checks and balances are lacking or inadequate in the Israeli political and legal process.  Here's how the opinions line up:

  • The State Attorney has approved the legality of the evacuation order but has said that it should not be carried out immediately.  This indicates to most that he expects legal or political challenges to the order and wants to allow time for them to be presented.   
  • Peretz's military advisers have advised against the evacuation order, but it is not clear if they have done so only because they are in favor of creating this safe corridor from Kiryat Arba or if they are also weighing the cost and potential political consequences of carrying out a contentious evacuation. 
  • The cabinet has not spoken (or even met) as a body on this particular issue, but the individual statements of the members to the press indicates that support for the evacuation is by no means assured.  If the cabinet does nothing the order to evacuate can go forward.  However if they meet and reach a consensus to over-ride the order they have the legal power to do so.  This is one small legal check that I wish were expanded to work both ways.  One news report indicated that a cabinet member has asked to convene a meeting to discuss the evacuation but it is too early to tell if such a meeting will actually take place or what the outcome might be.
  • The Prime Minister has not made a statement for or against the evacuation order, but has reportedly echoed the State Attorney in advising a delay of any evacuation order.  I honestly doubt that Olmert is opposed to the evacuation, but I think he sees Peretz's move for what it is; an attempt to bolster his ratings among Labor voters in advance of the upcoming elections for party leadership.  Anything Olmert can do to prevent any clear front-runner from emerging in the Labor elections will likely keep the Laborites too busy campaigning to interfere with coalition politics.  Once a clear front runner emerges, you can bet that that person will almost certainly pull Labor out of the government and force early elections.

One last note: I'm sure many of you have different answers to these questions... and perhaps even new questions of your own.  That's fine.  Fire away.  But I have tried very hard to avoid allowing my emotional views to eclipse the solid legal arguments surrounding this issue, and I would encourage any commenters to do the same.  If you aren't sure of whether you are being fair in your comment, please change the word 'Jew/settler' for 'Arab' and substitute 'Tel Aviv' for 'Hevron'.  If your position can stand that test then comment away.

218

Posted by David Bogner on April 12, 2007 | Permalink

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Thank you David for that analysis. I try to avoid politics (to the point that is possible in Israel), but this situation is killing me! How dare Peretz do this act of stupidity...

This whole thing has me so angry, the only "bright side" is to note that anyone who has acted against the good of the Jewish People has been "taken care of" by external sources (meaning the One Above) and hopefully he will either get tossed out of politics by elections or a nice little scandal......

Posted by: Safranit | Apr 12, 2007 1:50:43 PM

I hope you had a stiff drink after writing that!

(I'm sure there will be other commenters with more time to say what I might have responded)

Posted by: PP | Apr 12, 2007 2:37:24 PM

A good job at trying to calmly present the information, David. I think the issue really boils down to this: You discussed enforcement of the requirement for Defense Ministry approval of sales to Jews, and suggested it rarely occurs and then only for political purposes.

Do you have numbers on this? I am not sure exactly what jurisdiction the law has (all of the West Bank/east Jerusalem? Just certain military jurisdictions?), and more importantly, I haven't seen anywhere - right wing or left - quantification of just how much the law is enforced. If one can show convincingly that this is motivated by political and not security/etc. concerns, and that as a rule, enforcement does not occur in less volatile situations... well, then I rather think the issue would be solved. Until now, though, all I've seen are unsourced claims about enforcement and anecdotal evidence. I don't doubt that you're probably right, but I'd like something more quantitative to really assess the situation.

One last issue: You make a compelling point that the Jews who bought the house undoubtedly did not mean it as a provocation. Unfortunately, that is not the real concern. Regardless of the intentions of the buyers, the Defense Minister must also look to the way in which it is received by the surrounding population... and they undoubtedly see it as a provocation.

I would not go so far as to say that every time an Arab gets upset we should invalidate land sales, but the fact its being felt as a provocation is important information that affects the security situation in the region. If the Defense Minister could offer reasonable proof that the security issues raised by such an action are significant, he would be justified in signing an evacuation order.

Ender

Posted by: matlabfreak | Apr 12, 2007 4:57:27 PM

David, you've provided a concise explanation of why the legality of the transaction is not the issue.

Posted by: JJ | Apr 12, 2007 5:16:35 PM

Trep,

My answer to every question would be "I don't know". But it seems to me that the real problem is that our current political leadership is so weak that they will do anything to take political heat off of themselves.

What did a wise man from Indiana once say: "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for everything." Okay, maybe not a wise man, but a good singer nonetheless.

Posted by: dfb1968 | Apr 12, 2007 6:08:02 PM

Politics and security considerations aside, from a strickly legal perspective (based on US Jurisprudence) there are a number of elements that constitute a binding contract. The primary is consideration and accord. Here, it appears, this key element was met. There was a seller who was wanted to sell and buyers who wanted to buy. Money was exchanged and title was conveyed. The deal must stand. But then again, this is Israel and every transaction is subject to political scrutiny especially when it involves Jews and Arabs.

Posted by: Allan | Apr 12, 2007 6:35:11 PM

David, the only disagreement I have is with your statement "the traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam agree four Biblical couple are buried [at the Cave of the Patriarchs]: (1) Adam and Eve; (2) Abraham and Sarah; (3) Isaac and Rebekah; (4) Jacob and Leah." The burial place of Adam and Eve is not a Christian tradition I'm aware of (though no doubt there's some Christian sect that's claims to know that location).

Also, I would point out (to those who think it important that Israel not do anthing to provoke Arab resentment) that the very existence of Jews anywhere is offensive to the Arabs. Israel's rewarding those who behave like unruly children only encourages them to behave worse. You would do well (and do the Arabs good) to expect them to live by the rules of civilized society. It's time they learned that real estate transactions are binding on both parties.

Posted by: Bob | Apr 13, 2007 4:03:41 AM

"as soon as Jewish owners took possession of the property, loud protestations of fraud and theft were arguably the former owner's last resort against an official death sentence or an unofficial lynching."

i just read recently that often this is an understanding that is agreed upon by jewish purchasers in these types of transactions.

"I hope you had a stiff drink after writing that!"

i think he had a stiff drink before writing it to clear his mind

Posted by: ari kinsberg | Apr 13, 2007 5:27:51 AM

Someone who argues for defending a site by military force based on its being the burial place of Adam and Eve has not "checked his emotions at the door." I would suggest the following analysis as being a more impartial view of the debate. Settlers made it clear during the Gaza expulsion of 2005 that they would resort to violent, lawless actions to oppose the government's efforts (legal by definition) to reduce Jewish presence in the West Bank. Arguments like the legality of the Hebron house purchase help to fortify the settlers' resolve to take violent actions, because these arguments support their view that they are an oppressed, besieged minority. The slogan, "Jews don't evict Jews" was similar propaganda. For the Jews sitting in Tel Aviv who don't want their children to fight in the defense of Adam and Eve's graves, the arguments are seen as the propaganda they are.

The argument is not over the legality of the house purchase. It's over the ideology of whether Jews should fight for Hebron.

Posted by: Mike | Apr 13, 2007 10:09:42 AM

Safranit... My anger is what made me take a few days to collect my thoughts and focus on the facts of the case. I wish others would do the same rather than spewing their hatred and emotional rants.

PP... Not sure if your comment indicated agreement of displeasure with the post. Wish you would elaborate.

Matlabfreak... Trying to quantify that would be like trying to quantify how often speed limits are enforced and how equally they are enforced across the entire population. I know that I didn't seek Ministry of Defense approval when I bought my house and so far nobody has planned my eviction.

JJ... I respectfully disagree. In this case the security of worshipers who want to visit one of the holiest sites in Judaism becomes a valid legal argument. Also, deciding the validity of land/property sales based on religion or ethnicity is patently illegal.

dfb1968... I wish we could throw the whole bunch of them out and start from scratch.

Allan... Sadly, Israel's laws are such a hopeless mishmash of Ottoman, British Mandate and modern laws that the government can pick and choose what they want to enforce. Add to that the lack of a constitution and a Supreme court with nearly limitless arbitrary powers... well, it isn't pretty being on the right.

Bob... In this case you'll have to take up your argument with Wikipedia (the link I provided) since I know very little of Christian theology. That aside, one can't reasonably make the argument that legal decisions should be made according to what might be seen by the Arabs as a provocation. EVERYTHING we do is seen as a provocation! Our very existence as a sovereign nation is their stated reason for their open belligerence... so what do you suggest, that we pack up and close the country because it might offend Muslim sensibilities? Where does that stop?

ari kinsberg... I do my writing early in the morning and my drinking late at night. I find that this clear separation of pleasures ensures that neither suffers.

Mike... You have built a classic straw-man argument: You've stated (incorrectly) that my statements about religious beliefs are in any way connected to the legality of the land sale... and then you proceed to tear down that premise. I mentioned in passing the religious significance of the Cave of the Patriarchs only to explain why Jewish worshipers would find it necessary to pass by this particular property. I did this to make sure that everyone understood that the choice of this location for a property purchase was neither random nor provocative. If Christians were regularly attacked on their way to worship at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and Christians decided to create a safe corridor for pilgrims by buying up houses along the route to the Church, I think most of the world would be far more understanding. Please reread the post and stop making deliberately disingenuous arguments.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Apr 13, 2007 11:28:11 AM

Question
No offense but does Mr. Peretz need a pair of binoculars to see anything? I get this feeling he has X-Ray vision and can see what most of us can’t :-)

Posted by: Rami | Apr 13, 2007 12:50:45 PM

David,

I take your accusation that I was disingenuous as a sign that I was unintentionally abstruse. I will try to clarify myself.

First, I didn't set up a straw man argument regarding the legality of the sale, as I did not argue against that legality. What I intended to do was to explain why arguments that seem so convincing to you receive no sympathy from leftists.

I contended that you brought your own emotional stance into your explanation, but that was merely an aside. My main contention was that the settlers are passionate about arguments like the legality of the sale because it fortifies their view that they are a beseiged minority. You support my contention further when you note that Arabs in Tel Aviv, or Christians attacked in Bethlehem for that matter, would be treated differently. Please understand that I am not arguing against the position that settlers are a beseiged minority. Yes, Arabs would be treated differently.

However, the very arguments that seem the most compelling to settlers, like the legality of the sale, or the precept, "Jews don't expel Jews," or the general prejudice that Jews not be allowed to live among Arabs, cannot move leftists to sympathize. Leftists see such arguments as rallying settlers to fight (sometimes violently) for their cause. Regardless of the underlying truth, the arguments are therefore viewed as being propaganda for uncondonable actions. Leftist react not with sympathy but with scorn, and moreover with ridicule, to the extent that arguments about legality are used to justify lawlessness.

The point I was trying to make was summarized in my last sentence, which I will reword, as follows: If you are a leftist who doesn't believe that Hebron is worth fighting for (or dying for), the legality of the transaction will not sway you to support Jewish occupation of the Hebron house. The issue is ideology, not legality. (By the way, "leftists" won by a landslide in the last elections because of the settlers' lawlessness displayed during the Gaza pull-out. If there is more violence by settlers in Hebron, it will only serve the Labor Party.)

Posted by: mike | Apr 13, 2007 6:10:13 PM

David, I think you somehow misread the second paragraph of my comment (perhaps thinking I was being sarcastic?).

I was merely saying:
(1) Israel has nothing to gain by appeasement (since it isn't Israel's actions but its existence that the Arabs find so offensive); and
(2) Israel has a moral obligation to uphold all legally binding contracts (since doing so ultimately benefits even the Arabs).

Explanation of that second point: The worst thing you can do to a child is let him always have his own way (Proverbs 13:24). The government of Israel does the Arabs no good by acquiescing to their demands whenever they don't get their own way.

Posted by: Bob | Apr 15, 2007 2:26:01 AM

Oh yes, and I must bow to the wisdom of Wikipedia in all matters religious. I repent!

(In this case you would be right to assume sarcasm.)

Posted by: Bob | Apr 15, 2007 2:29:52 AM

David,

"If Christians were regularly attacked on their way to worship at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and Christians decided to create a safe corridor for pilgrims by buying up houses along the route to the Church, I think most of the world would be far more understanding."

I'm not so sure about that. The Western Left is overwhelmingly anti-Christian (too many restrictions on their pagan ways) and is a constant target for them. That, plus the Pals are the darlings of the Left, any Christian group that tried to build a safety corridor would end up being branded the same way as Israel.

BTW, I was in Bethlehem last May. There aren't many Christians left there. The Christians that live in the city are mostly Eastern Orthodox Arabs that are being driven out by the Muslims. For now, the Pals are making too much money off of Christian tourists to mess with them, but we'll see how much longer that lasts.

The difference between Bethlehem and the surrounding Israeli controlled areas is like night and day. I imagine Hebron is the same way. I was glad to get back on the other side of the security wall and have no plans to go back.

Posted by: K Newman | Apr 15, 2007 6:52:38 AM

Excellent post, Mr.B!

Posted by: tnspr569 | Apr 15, 2007 9:53:35 AM

David: I have spent a large number of hours scouring various places for sources, so please forgive the relative paucity of them; there's not much of substance to work with.

Regarding the legality of the transaction:

The Defense Minister's grounds for the planned eviction are based upon a 1967 IDF military order: "Order Concerning Land Transactions (Judea & Samaria) (No. 25)" (Some translations instead use "Injuction" instead of "Order" and/or "Regarding" instead of "Concerning", if you try Googling.) Despite my best efforts, I have not been able to find a complete text of the order in either Hebrew or English; I suspect it's out there somewhere, but I am by no means a legal expert with such resources at my fingertips.

The best I've been able to see is the description given by the Shalom Achshav letter the day after people moved into the house (yes, I know, Shalom Achshav isn't the best source, but no one else has information on it). I quote:

"4.
As well you know, real estate sales transactions to Israelis and Israeli corporations on the West Bank in crowded Palestinian urban areas require the approval of the Minister of Defense and the Civil Administration, and without such approval, no transaction can be valid.

5.
Para. 2 of the Injunction regarding land transactions (Judea and Samaria) (no. 25) 5727-1976 states as follows:
“No person, whether himself or through someone else, whether directly or indirectly, shall carry out a transaction regarding land unless it is authorized by the competent authorities.”

6.
Para. 3 of the abovementioned Injunction states that any transaction carried out without the approval of the competent authorities shall be considered invalid.

7.
Israeli Cabinet Ruling no. 1077 authorized the Ministers’ Defense Committee to adopt resolutions regarding the above paragraphs and in the matter of this issue, Ministers’ Committee Resolution 9/b of 1979 (6.11.79) states, that the competent authority for approving a purchase in a local population center is the Minister of Defense."

For one, this explains why most transactions in the territories don't need direct approval from the MoD (including your home), as they are not in 'crowded Palestinian urban areas'. For another, it suggests that the number of relevant cases - which one might claim are too numerous to track - is actually quite manageable, as it does not apply to every land transaction in the territories.

(Note: I understand the substance of your other claim - how can one track laws that AREN'T enforced - but I respectfully disagree in this case. Legal transactions all have paper trails, as opposed to speeding drivers. It should not be terribly difficult to assemble a representative sampling of relevant cases that fall under this law and see whether the MoD has been enforcing them. One needn't even give me statistics - if you could find the number of times it HAS been enforced, and even find me a comparable number of exceptions, I would gladly concede the point. I have little doubt you're right on the enforcement issue; I just would like hard data rather than speculation.)

On the other hand, the same order is mentioned twice in the Sasson report recommendations in 2005:
"Acquisition of Land by Israelis in Judea, Samaria and Gaza requires the written approval of the Minister of Defense. The Minister of Defense may delegate this authority only to his Deputy.

The Order Concerning Land Transactions (Judea & Samaria) (No. 25), 1967 shall be amended so that the government resolution is implemented in security legislation.
...
I. The Order Concerning Land Transactions (Judea & Samaria) (No. 25), 1967 shall be amended. Acquisition of land by Israelis in Judea, Samaria and Gaza territories shall require the written consent of the Head of the Civil Administration."

This obviously raises some questions: How exactly in the original order phrased? Does it apply to all transactions as implied by Sasson, or is the Shalom Achshav interpretation accurate? Why is it being said that the laws should be 'amended' for enforcement? It seems from the Shalom Achshav claims that they were enforceable by 1979 at the latest. The Sasson report was 26 years later.

I don't have an answer for these questions - if you have any information, I would be deeply indebted. It seems like the law could be as far reaching as you imply, and yet was either not enforced or not able to be enforced legally as of 2005... or it's a much more specific law (at least as defined by later legislation) that may have been enforceable since 1967 or 1979.

This B'tselem report, thereabouts of page 60-65 claims that the election of Likud in 1982 significantly relaxed the originally broad restrictions of Order No. 25 to allow private individuals to carry out transactions and the like. This likely explains some of the seeming contradictions I've seen. I don't know how this was legally enacted, though. It seems like a good book to read on this subject would be Major Aharon Mishnayot's work (translated as "Planning, Building, and Land Laws in Judea and Samaria", but I haven't a clue what the official Hebrew title is), but I'm afraid I haven't been able to see any information of it - I suspect it's in Israeli law libraries, which I'm thousands of miles away from. *smiles*

An interesting side note: most of the sources I've seen online are leftists who are highly critical of M.O. 25, arguing that though it may have originally existed to curtail Jewish settlement, has worked to stifle Palestinian transactions/activity in the territories - and they claim that the order was later modified to allow settlement activity. These modifications have not been explained anywhere I can see, so it is difficult to ascertain whether or not Peretz's arguments hold water.

I think it really boils down to the text of the original law, and any amendments that have been made since then. Unfortunately, the papers (both right and left wing) have just been parroting the words of the MoD press release, which is less than helpful.

Hope this makes sense; it's awfully late here, and I've spent far too long reading legal jargon which I barely understand in English, let alone Hebrew.

Ender

Posted by: matlabfreak | Apr 15, 2007 12:31:41 PM

Sure.

I thought you did a good job at explaining an extremely complicated and multi-layered situation. Hence the directive for a scotch.

I personally have longstanding, and mixed opinions and experiences when it comes to Hevron and the community there and fully appreciate the complexities. Therefore the only one of your answers I would outright disagree with you on would be regarding the issue of provocation: The very nature of Hevron settlement has become more "provocative" than almost anywhere else in the country- and there are many conscious and unconscious recipients of this provocation, not just Hevron's Arabs, but the Israeli Govt, the wider public and our patrolling forces. And to entirely dismiss the provocation argument with (fair) points such as "the Arabs take everything we do as provocation" or "the Government hate the settlers" nevertheless absolves the more extreme elements of the Hevron community in a manner that frankly, they are not entitled to be absolved.


If anything, as you illustrate, this case in point could have provided our government with the opportunity to finally form a coherent policy vis a vis Hevron. But they haven't, and they won't, because they are pathetic cowards who aren't brave enough to start clearing up the messes and mistakes of the past and provide a safe future for the country. And as long as the Hevron issues remain murky, similar cases will clearly continue to arise until the formation of the People's Front of Judaea, etc: I sense that day isn't far off

Posted by: PP | Apr 15, 2007 7:02:29 PM

Rami... You would be hard pressed to find a more unqualified individual.

Mike... You are still fixated on a tangential issue and using it to justify your position. Look, I think we can agree that you wouldn't ask a lapsed Catholic to make decisions about the value of Catholic holy places. I think we can also agree that a non-practicing Muslim's opinion should not carry the same weight as a practici9ng one when it comes to the value and access to their holy places. SO why is it you feel it is a valid argument to point to the secular left of Israel's opinion that Hevron is not worth holding onto or protecting access to when almost half the country (meaning the religious) feel exactly the opposite. My kids will have to serve in the army to protect ALL Israeli lifestyles and viewpoints. They can't say that they will not patrol Israeli beaches or stand guard outside discos/clubs because they are mostly for the secular. This idea that you can pick and chose what is worth protecting based on your personal ideology is total crap! Until such time as this stops being a Jewish State, Jews should have safe access to their holy places. That it offends Muslim sensibilities that we want to pray In Hevron at the Maarat HaMachpelah and in Bethlehem at Rachel's Tomb and many other sites that are now in largely Arab-controlled areas is really the problem... not our desire to do so. The Temple mount is in the midst of a Jewish area (it lies sandwiched between Mount Scopus, Mount of Olives, The Jewish Quarter, etc. What would happen if we suggested that they should 'Just give up on praying at the Al Aksa Mosque because it offends us that they are doing so? Please stick to the issues I raised and leave your ideology at home.

Bob... Yes, I misread you. Thanks for clarifying.

K Newman... You might be right. I just get so tired of the Arabs always getting a pass on bad behavior. At what point do we get to say "If this bothers you we're sorry but your lifestyle is just not compatible with the rest of the world. If this is a deal breaker you'll have to just go elsewhere".

tnspr569... Thanks.

matlabfreak... While I appreciate your effort and the time it must have taken you to compile your comment, I can't really take most of it seriously because of the sources. Peace Now and B'Tzelem have been discredited for publishing deliberately inaccurate/fraudulent information that anything coming from them is a non-starter. Also, I share your frustration that more balanced and/or official sources are much more difficult to locate. This is one of the reasons the defense establishment can operate selectively. You can't very well challenge something if you can't find ample legal backing for your position in the public domain or through 'Freedom of Information' type sources.

PP... Please see my comment to Mark. The only way one can see a Jew's wanting access to Hevron as a provocation is if one does not see Jewish access to holy sites as a legitimate right. this may be a position you can defend in a discussion of what should be done in the future. But right now while this is a Jewish State and these sites are nominally in our control, a real estate transaction that could help safeguard Jews who want to travel to a holy site cannot be seen as a provocation.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Apr 18, 2007 11:45:02 AM

Trep: I was willing to give some leftist sources the benefit of the doubt because sometimes their inclinations actually are in line with yours on this issue, but for different reasons:

The sources NOT related to the Hebron house were all talking about how IDF military orders have been used to keep a chokehold on the Palestinian economy, and promote settler land ownership. Thus, they have focused on how the laws affect Palestinians, and not settlers, and lament on the lack of government enforcement on settlers.

As I was looking for evidence of enforcement - and what is legally sanctioned - it seemed reasonable to give them at least a little credence.

*shrugs* Either way, it's a tough problem. It seems (based on some legal source) that the IDF has not made their military orders available in any collated form, so others have begun to do so (they are public domain, but just aren't put together anywhere). I agree wholeheartedly that some transparency on the part of the IDF, the MoD, and the government would go a long ways to improving our understanding of these issues.

If you know any lawyers in Israel who specialize in this kind of issue, it may be illuminating to look at Maj. Mishnayot's book (as mentioned above, although he's not a Lt-Col.), as he's a judge in the IDF and probably has both the most information and relatively little overt bias on the issue.

I guess my only point in that long post is that no one seems to have hard information on the complex web of laws affecting land transactions in the shtachim, let alone data on how they are enforced.

*bows*

Ender

Posted by: matlabfreak | Apr 18, 2007 7:32:16 PM

David,

I'm tired of them getting a pass, too. Their radicals murdered almost 3,000 people in cold blood on 9/11, the Muslims here in the US rarely speak out against them, CAIR is in full swing and yet the PC Police continue to rush to their aid when someone points out the obvious.

Posted by: K Newman | Apr 18, 2007 8:19:01 PM

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