Reno Tzror began his program on Army Radio this week with a Bible lesson. The journalist read every verse of the story of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite in the Book of Kings, and for those who didn’t get the message, he took the trouble to spell it out: The government and the settlers are the equivalent of Ahab and Jezebel, and the Palestinians are the hapless Naboth. “Will you murder and also inherit?” roared Tzror as he assailed the Regulation Law. Echoing his sentiments, Benny Begin said that while he indeed supports the settlement endeavor, it cannot be based on exploitation of the Palestinians.
Leftists don’t like to let the facts rain on their parade, and that’s why our task here is to remind everyone of the forgotten details of the case of Amona in order to understand what it’s really all about. To that end, I will put aside the question of motivation: Officials in the Attorney General’s office have already admitted that the petitions submitted by the leftist organizations Yesh Din and Peace Now were not motivated by a desire to protect the property rights of the oppressed Palestinians, but were rather submitted in the context of “lawfare” – legal warfare aimed at promoting the interests of Palestinians, the purpose which is to force Israel to unilaterally withdraw from Israel’s heartland without an agreement. However, for now, that’s not the discussion, so let’s focus on the case itself.
When the Amona case reached the High Court of Justice, the Land Registrar of the Civil Administration maintained that although Amona was a bare, rocky, abandoned hilltop, its land was registered as private land, meaning that the Jordanian government had registered the land in the name of local sheikhs and clans. Amona initially argued that the Jordanian registration was not legally binding because the Jordanian occupation had never been recognized by any country other than the United Kingdom and Pakistan (and Aharon Barak), further adding that the land records did not provide evidence of actual ownership, which would be reflected in agricultural cultivation of the land, but that the land was registered as a form of bribery to serve the political interests of the Jordanian government. However, these claims were not relevant because the court took no interest in them, but only wanted to know what the state’s position was. And the state, i.e. the department in charge of responding to petitions to the High Court of Justice on behalf of the state and the Attorney General at the time, “admitted” that private lands were involved and that the state planned to have them evacuated.
The interesting twist in the plot occurred when Yesh Din, elated at its success, filed a civil suit on behalf of the plaintiffs against the state, demanding compensation for the years they had been denied the right to access and cultivate their lands.
However, unlike the Supreme Court, lower courts do not make decisions without any evidentiary foundation. The suit arrived in the …read more