© Jordan White Enterprises
March 1, 2000
Should home demolitions continue to be carried out on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip? Absolutely! In fact, for good measure, let’s add the Golan Heights to the list!
Since 1987, more than 2,000 Palestinian houses have been demolished in the Occupied Territories (The West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem). The reasons given by Israeli authorities is that these homes were built without a license, and therefore were illegal and had no right to exist. The demolition of these houses rendered thousands of people homeless, many of whom were children.
Well, there is a certain amount of logic to this approach. Homes and settlements that are built on illegally obtained land, should be torn down. It just isn’t ethical to allow the building of structures on land which really belongs to someone else. And, if the individual involved is so brazen as to ignore the fact that he is building on stolen land, then by all means, the structures built should be summarily destroyed. Unless the individual can produce a document that will hold up in any court of law, stating his unequivocal ownership of that property, he should not be allowed to reside on that property at all, let alone build a new structure or add onto one already standing. In the United States, all property that changes hands, every time it changes hands, whether or not it is improved by a structure, is subjected to an exhaustive “title search”. This is to make absolutely sure there are no prior claims to the real estate. There are no exceptions.
If, in such a case, an individual came forward with a deed that was, say, one hundred years old, duly recorded at the time, and if he was to use that document to lay claim to that land, it would be honored. It would not matter how many time since the deed was issued that the land had “legally” changed hands. All subsequent deeds would be considered null and void. The true owner of the property would be the individual with the oldest legal deed.
What if an individual came forward, at such a time, and claimed ownership of that land because it was given to him “by God”? Suppose he was brazen enough to pursue the matter to court? There is no question in my mind what would happen. The matter would be thrown out of court by any judge, anywhere in the country. A legal document is just that. It settles the matter in a manner acceptable to all involved. For instance, an Ottoman-era deed to property is a legal deed, recorded in Turkey and valid under all legal systems.
Let’s get back to my original statement, supporting the demolition of homes on the West Bank, Gaza Strip and even the Golan Heights. I am not speaking, however, of Palestinian homes, of course. I am speaking of the homes in the illegal Israeli settlements. Since 1967, Israel has built over a hundred and fifty settlments, with a total population in the hundreds of thousands. These settlements are, of course, built illegally on land that was obtained illegally. No nation on earth, not the US or the EU, recognizes Israel’s claim to these lands. In addition, the settlements are considered illegal under international law, including Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Article 46 of the Hague Resolutions.
Yes, illegal structures, unlicensed structures, if you will, should be torn down.
These illegal structures are the Jewish settlements, not Palestinian homes.
The Palestinians comprise the largest group of refugees in the world (3.6 million). These refugees need to be allowed to come home. The Israeli settlements need to be dismantled, the bypass roads torn up, and the land returned to its rightful owners.
The refugees must be allowed to come home.