About Us

Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
UK architects, planners and other construction industry professionals campaigning for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.


Israel's new land grab is clearly illegal

 The Defense Minister’s green light to appropriate land in the West Bank places him in the extreme right and shatters Israelis’ hopes for resolving the conflict with the Palestinians.

 Haaretz Editorial             15 April 2014                  

nse Minister Ya'alon and the chief of staff address IDF soldiers  
Photo  by Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry
With the stroke of a pen, Israel seized control of 984 dunams of territory in the Gush Etzion bloc,Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared the area “state land.” The terrain would be more aptly described as contested territory since it surrounds private Palestinian lands which will become enclaves that are inaccessible to the owners.

The area also includes the illegal outpost Netiv Ha’avot, home to Ze’ev Hever, secretary of Amana, an organization that primarily builds illegal outposts in the West Bank. It’s likely that this outpost will be “laundered” as well, and along with the settlements Neve Daniel, Elazar and Alon Shvut, Netiv Ha’avot will see significant expansion.

Ya’alon’s outstretched arm did not stop in Gush Etzion. On the eve of Passover, he allowed Hebron settlers to inhabit the so-called “House of Contention,” in the wake of the High Court of Justice’s rejection of the petition by the home’s former owners and ruling that the sale of the building to a Jewish investor was legal.

Although the defense minister is acting in accordance with his authority his powers are based on a warped legal system. That system was developed over decades as a means to chip away at international law and provide a cover of legality for illegal occupation policies. Otherwise, how could it be that expanding settlements or populating a West Bank Arab city with Jews could be legal, while settlement itself is illegal?

Even the argument that settlement blocs will remain under Israeli sovereignty in any case, so they’re allowed to be expanded, is invalid. As long as there is no agreement on the borders of Israel and Palestine and the status of the settlements, then the status of these blocs is also disputed.

Besides these legal aspects, one cannot ignore the timing of these decisions. It seems that following the declaration that 700 new housing units would be built in Jerusalem – which directly contributed to the breakdown of the talks with the Palestinians – the government has decided to show that it is staunchly opposed to continuing the talks, by taking steps which have already proven effective at blowing up the negotiations.

Ya’alon, who never hid his view that the talks were pointless, is the quintessential representative of this policy. He doesn’t represent the law, but rather the extreme right, which is dragging Israel down a path of conflict with the United States and Europe, and sabotaging Israelis’ hopes for resolving the conflict with the Palestinians. It raises the question of how Ya’alon’s political agenda can possibly be compatible with his responsibility for Israel’s security


Getting rid of Israel's Arabs

The goal of Lieberman's transfer plan cannot be described as anything other than ethnic cleansing – even if not by force of arms
Haaretz Editorial     | Mar. 26, 2014 | 6:00 AM |   15

Israeli Arabs waving Palestinian flags during a rally in the northern Arab-Israeli town of Sakhnin on March 30, 2013 commemorating the 37th anniversary of 'Land Day.' Photo by AFP
The Foreign Ministry has prepared a legal opinion authorizing the transfer of the Triangle and the Wadi Ara regions from Israel to a Palestinian state, if and when one arises. In his opinion, which was reported yesterday by Barak Ravid in Haaretz, ministry legal advisor Ehud Keinan wrote that this would be legal according to international law, under certain conditions.

There’s no point getting into a discussion about whether the conditions laid down in the opinion are in fact sufficient to legalize such a move or not. The very fact that the Foreign Ministry is discussing transferring part of the population outside the borders of the State of Israel for ethnic and nationalist reasons is unacceptable in principle. The ministry’s legal advisor was drafted to create a legal basis for Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s diplomatic plan, which he has touted repeatedly on numerous different occasions. But the plan itself is unacceptable in principle.

The fact that a government ministry is engaged in promoting a plan for population exchanges, which means transferring hundreds of thousands of citizens from sovereign Israeli territory to the sovereignty of another country because of their ethnic affiliation, sends an extremely grave message to Israel’s Arab population – about a fifth of the country’s total population. The foreign minister, and now his ministry as well, are effectively telling the state’s Arab citizens that they aren’t wanted in the State of Israel, and their citizenship is temporary and conditional.

At a time when Israeli Arabs are gradually turning into Israelis, integrating into Israel’s culture and economy despite all the difficulties and discrimination they are forced to cope with, along comes their country and shows them the door. At a time when the government’s efforts ought to be focused on reducing discrimination and increasing equality – on the full integration of Israeli Arabs as citizens of the state with equal rights and opportunities – along come Lieberman and his aides, taking steps to exclude Israeli Arabs, increase their alienation from their country and ultimately banish them from it.

Lieberman’s plan, like the opinion issued by his ministry’s legal advisor, has a single overarching goal: turning Israel into a pure ethnic and religious state. Therefore, the goal of this plan cannot be described as anything other than ethnic cleansing – even if not by force of arms.

Both the plan and the legal opinion that authorizes it must be shelved immediately. The Arab minority will continue to be part of Israel, and the state must do everything in its power to integrate it, instead of trying to push it out.