ZOA/Klein Letter in The Jewish Week: "Not a Land Grab"
By: MORT KLEIN
It is mistaken to refer to the Israeli designation of 988 acres of land in the Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem as a "grab," nor does this drive "another nail into the fading prospect of a peace deal with the Palestinians" ("Israel's West Bank Grab, More Than Bad Timing," Sep. 12).
Since the days of the British Palestine Mandate, the land in question has always been classified as public land. Its designation as 'state land' merely reaffirms this, following exhaustive investigation to ascertain that such a designation was not in conflict with any private property rights that might have existed there.
The land in question is situated in the Etzion bloc, which was home to substantial Jewish communities even before Israel was created, a presence that was ended by Jordanian and other Arab militias during the 1948-'49 war, but which was re-established after 1967. It is an area widely accepted to be politically incorporated into Israel in any feasible peace treaty, should one emerge one day.
Even an anti-Israel partisan like former President Jimmy Carter has publicly stated regarding the Jewish communities in the Etzion bloc that, "This particular settlement area is not one I ever envision being abandoned or changed over into Palestinian territory."
This designation is an entirely appropriate act that in no way diminishes the prospects of peace. Peace is presently impossible due to continuing Palestinian Arab refusal to accept the permanence and legitimacy of the Jewish state of Israel and all the acts of terrorism, aggression and incitement to hatred and murder against Jews and Israel that flows from this -- not due to Israel correctly designating state lands.