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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The West Bank distortions industry (Missing Peace)

Yesterday I noted a great article by Yochanan Visser and Sharon Shaked of Missing Peace in the Jerusalem Post debunking the PA's lies about water.

Today there's an even better article by Visser and Shaked in Israel Today that exposes the entire infrastructure of lies in the territories. Read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts:

[One] claim that originated from a Palestinian source involved the alleged destruction of 200 olive trees in the village Al Walaja near Bethlehem.

JAI, the Joint Advocacy Initiative, published a report about Na'el Khalid, a Palestinian farmer who claimed that 200 olive trees were destroyed when Israeli authorities started building the security fence on part of his land.

JAI also reported that Khalid would lose his land to Givat Ya'el - a planned Jewish community adjacent to Al Walaja.

We asked the IDF to comment on this report and received the following answer:

"In accordance with Israeli Supreme Court rulings regarding the rerouting of Israel's security fence, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) transplanted trees from Mr. Na'el Khalil's property to an adjacent plot, ensuring that he was able to continue working his land.

"The Israeli court authorities have previously denied several petitions seeking ownership of the land adjacent to the Palestinian village Al-Walajah by the Givat Ya'el community, a private building project in Judea."

A field investigation in Al Walaja where we visited Na'el Whalid's lands confirmed the IDF account of the situation.

And here is an interesting anecdote where Visser follows up on UNRWA claims:

The most shocking example of the distortions industry came from UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness during an interview with the Bethlehem-based Ma'an News Agency.

Reacting to this interview, and a related UNRWA press release, we asked Gunness for additional data and information on the topic of home demolitions.

UNRWA then sent us a report that only contained locations and dates of the West Bank demolitions.

When asked for additional information about the demolitions, such as court orders, Gunness became extremely agitated, used crude language and demanded immediate publication of "the facts."

Facts? Let’s examine this claim in the Ma'an interview:

"Many displacements are taking place where settlements are expanding and with it we are seeing an upturn in vicious attacks by Jewish settlers. Palestinians are being thrown off their ancestral lands to make way for settlers," Gunness told Ma'an.

This suggests two things: First, that settlements are still expanding outside their municipal boundaries, and second that Jews are supplanting Palestinian Arabs.

As Gunness knows very well, since 2005 settlement expansion has only taken place within the existing zoning lines of the municipal boundaries. No Palestinian Arabs have been kicked off their land to be replaced by Jews.

In fact, Gunness was referring here to Bedouins who are illegally squatting. An official with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told us that the Bedouin increasingly tend to camp in the vicinity of Jewish settlements and are often paid to do so by pro-Palestinian NGO's.

In the same Ma'an interview Gunness claimed the following:

"There is growing evidence that it (demolitions in Area C of the West Bank) is destroying the very fabric of these communities and ultimately contributing to a demographic shift which is changing the ethnic make-up of the West Bank."

This suggests a slow "ethnic cleansing" of the Palestinian population on the West Bank. 
Of course, Gunness is well aware of the fact that only 3% of the Palestinian population lives in Area C – most of them Bedouins, who mostly live in tents and are used to moving from place to place.

UNRWA's own census from 2007 shows an average population growth of the Palestinian population on the West Bank of 2.5 percent per year.

But there was more. In an e-mail to Missing Peace Gunness wrote the following:
"127 people expelled in Ma'aleh Nikhmas [sic] - displaced for settlement in the last few weeks. Is that enough?"

Really?

The 127 Palestinians expelled from Ma'aleh Michmas "for [Jewish] settlement" were in fact Bedouins who decided to leave, as his own UNRWA press release states.

There is no evidence that Ma'aleh Michmas residents took their place.

In fact, according to a report by the pro-Palestinian organization International Solidarity Movement, 16 Bedouin were evicted in the Ma'aleh Michmas area at the end of July.

This happened after they illegally camped within a closed military zone and received eviction orders two years ago.

By the way, for those coming from HuffPo, here's my comment about UNRWA that they didn't let me post.