Sunday, October 14, 2007

 

Apartment Squatters of the Day

Two months ago Heftsiba, an Israeli construction firm, went bust. One reason for its woes was a court order last year to freeze work on a big housing project on an Israeli settlement just inside the West Bank. The land, it turned out, had in effect been stolen from private owners in a neighbouring Palestinian village, Bilin. Yet after the bankruptcy, the same court ruled that the apartment blocks—and their prospective buyers, who had broken in and occupied them at the news of Heftsiba's impending collapse—could stay.

.... The Bilin case was just a variation on a tried and tested method: seize land illegally, establish hard-to-reverse “facts on the ground” and then legalise the claim retroactively through the courts or the government. The result is a West Bank so riddled with settlement that it is hard to see how enough can be removed for a viable Palestinian state to emerge.

—Review "One reason for the absence of peace" in The Economist of a book by Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar, the title of which the unnamed reviewer neglected to name but which in fact is "Lords of the Land"

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