Why not legislate to help Palestinians, asks settler
IF ISRAEL PASSES the bill next Monday to prevent another evacuation like that seen at Amona, there will be celebrations in the West Bank’s Jewish communities. But one settler leader, Eliaz Cohen, will be dismayed.
He has condemned the bill as “racist” in an article on the religious Hebrew-language website Kipa. Asked about his view on Wednesday, as TV screens across Israel were showing scenes from the Amona evacuation, he said that the mainstream settler leadership had forgotten about Jewish ethics in a scramble to control the maximum possible land.
“For the mitzvah of settling in the land of Israel they forgot the moral basics,” said Mr Cohen, a well-known poet and member of the management committee at the West Bank kibbutz Kfar Etzion.
He called the legislation “awful”. It will force Palestinians who own plots built on by settlers to accept compensation and give up their claims to the land.
For Mr Cohen, this amounted to “blindness” . He said: “When you check how the state of Israel deals with Palestinians who build without permission [even] on their own property, we don’t make arrangements for this with a law.” He noted that homes at a Bedouin village in Israel, Umm alHiran, were demolished last month, and that legislation was not passed to help residents avoid that outcome.
To him, the fact the bill focuses on keeping Jewish settlers in their homes without addressing other groups makes it discriminatory.
Mr Cohen said nobody should have to leave their homes, and that whenever it is discovered that building has taken place without permission — Jewish, Palestinian or Israeli-Arab — efforts should be made to forge deals with landowners or authorities. But people should be prepared to leave if a solution cannot be found.
Would he be prepared to leave his home if — as some settlers have — he discovered it was constructed on privately-owned Palestinian land? He said yes. It is a simple matter of applying biblical ideals of justice, he said.