Over and over we hear that the Israelis have built their settlements on stolen Arab land. Often the charge has been lead by a rather prominent Israeli left-wing extremist group called Peace Now. One of the major refrains Peace Now sings concerns the documentation of the alleged Israeli land thefts. Apparently, Peace Now, has been singing out of tune lately according to this Arutz Sheva article:
The Peace Now report received lavished praise from Palestinian Authority Arabs. The PA news agency Ma'an recently wrote that it "shows part of the true face of the Hebrew State... It shows that private Arab-owned lands were simply stolen by the Hebrew state to build settlements - disproving the claim of four decades... The report was not publicized by me or by a Palestinian organization, but by an Israeli organization - and Israel cannot deny it... Where are all the Israeli mottos about justice, democracy and civil rights?... This is now a 'ready-to-go' case for the International Court... Now that Peace Now has given this gift to the land-owners, we must thank this organization, and see what the land-owners and the PA will do; for this is much to do..."
"The Peace Now members are running around the world with this report," a Yesha Council source said, "in order to malign the State of Israel - but it is filled with distorted data and lies. All is apparently fair and acceptable in their war against the Jewish communities."
Peace Now members are currently lobbying U.S. Congressmen against Israel based on their report. Nationalist camp activists say that Peace Now's objective is to make the approval of U.S. aid to Israel contingent upon the withdrawal of Israeli financial support for all Yesha communities allegedly on private Arab land, as well as the destruction of all hilltop outposts.
The point of departure of the Peace Now report, the Yesha Council says, is that "all of Judea and Samaria is private Arab-owned land unless proven otherwise." The entire concept of state-owned lands essentially does not exist for Peace Now, says Council leader Pinchas Wallerstein.
Only a small percentage of Judea and Samaria is actually privately-owned, however. A legal expert familiar with the area told Arutz-7 that "perhaps 5%" of the uninhabited land there is privately-owned. "Vast areas in Judea and Samaria lay totally desolate in 1967 when Israel liberated them in the Six Day War," he said. Most of these areas were then designated as state-owned, in the absence of other documentation.
For instance, most of Maaleh Adumim - one of the largest cities in Judea and Samaria, just east of Jerusalem - appears on the Peace Now report as if built on private land, when in fact it was built on state-owned lands.
The Yesha report also shows that Peace Now falsely "expanded" the borders of Jewish communities into Arab-owned land. "Additional area around the communities was simply added to the Jewish towns," a Yesha source said, "as if to prove that the Jews had stolen the land - when in fact the communities don't claim these areas at all."
Peace Now even ignores a ruling by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak, Wallerstein states. Barak ruled in the past that the community of Etz Ephraim, near Elkanah, is built on Jewish-owned land - yet Peace Now has it on Arab land.
Neither does Peace Now recognize the sale of land, apparently. The Modiin-area community of Kfar Oranim, for instance, whose land was duly purchased from Arabs, appears in the Peace Now report as "mostly Arab-owned."
It’s always nice to hear a little from the other side for a change. By the way, did I mention that a number of EU countries, (who just happened to hold a higher than level of hostility towards the Israeli state) are among the primary financial backers of Peace NOW?