Monday, January 14, 2013

In the defense of rights

In the defense of rights

Nadav Shragai

The Palestinian provocation outpost in the E1 corridor, which was evacuated with record speed on Sunday, is only the tip of the iceberg in the efforts to prevent Jewish contiguity between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim. There are hundreds more temporary and permanent structures along the E1 corridor, and in the area between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim, erected by the Palestinian Bedouin without permits and in violation of the law for many years now. These structures are not for show, like the outpost evacuated Sunday. These structures are far more trouble.

The Israeli authorities are having a very hard time combating this Palestinian settlement, which is fully supported by Israeli and international leftist organizations. Anyone traveling along the road between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim can't miss them. These little outposts, some of which are illegally hooked up to Israel's main water pipeline, are faits accomplis. They are much more of a problem than the "tourism project for the dissemination of the Bedouin heritage" as the Palestinians describe the little outpost they built on private and state owned land in the E1 corridor several days ago.

Israel is a twofold loser in this situation: Once when yielding to heavy international pressure and refraining from building Jewish housing in the area, and again when failing to enforce the law against this illegal construction, under a different kind of international pressure, and thus losing essential territories. On Sunday, perhaps due to the timing of the incident, Israel wasted no time and acted immediately to evacuate the Palestinians. May this be a sign of things to come. Also, Israel's plan to build a new Jewish neighborhood in the E1 corridor, which was frozen for years up until very recently, will be put to the test when it is actually built, not just discussed.

Israel can learn a lot from the terminology used by the Palestinians who were evacuated from the showcase encampment on Sunday. Every last one of them spoke of "our territory" and "our homeland" and that they would stay "forever and ever." Not a word about security. Only about their rights. On our side, however, all we ever hear is security and security needs and more security. While security is important, when it comes to Jerusalem and Greater Jerusalem — where Jewish settlement has been under complete consensus since the governments of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, through the Shamir administration and all the way to Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu today — there is no need to downplay our rights.

Next time someone accuses us of preferring Jewish contiguity from west to east — from Jerusalem toward the Dead Sea — over Palestinian contiguity from north to south, we should just admit it with pride. It would be much more dignified than squirming and making other excuses. Because the only two options are either Palestinian housing that would sever Jerusalem from Maaleh Adumim, or Jewish housing that would connect the two cities. Ramallah and Bethlehem can be easily linked through traffic arteries to the east or west of the Jewish bloc.