Home > Diplomacy > “A silk purse from a sow’s ear”: Israel finds a creative solution for a West Bank land confiscation problem

“A silk purse from a sow’s ear”: Israel finds a creative solution for a West Bank land confiscation problem

As always happens when the diplomatic process resumes, the air is filled with talk of economic and infrastructure projects. For the principals, the buzz helps in creating an “atmosphere of progress.” The bureaucrats and businessmen behind the leaks are usually angling for a share of the funding that could accompany a breakthrough. The rush for headlines is uncoordinated, and occasionally provides a glimpse of the motivation actually driving policy. From the lead story of this morning’s Israel Hayom [full translation at bottom of post]:

This story is a classic example of making a silk purse from a sow’s ear.  About five years ago, it became apparent that the route planned for the fast railway line between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv passes through two sections that are located over the Green Line, and goes through land belonging to PA residents.  The need to confiscate Palestinian land created a legal problem, and after consulting with the attorney general, Civil Administration Director Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai proposed to the Defense Ministry to confiscate the land — but use it for the benefit of the Palestinian public.

This gave rise to the plan to connect Ramallah with the railway track of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv fast line.  The train from Ramallah will connect with the fast line near Mevasseret Tziyon, and from there it will continue northwest to the Modiin area, pass through Ben-Gurion Airport, and then turn south towards Ashkelon, Netivot and Gaza.

—–

Gaza express

Shlomo Cezana, Israel Hayom, August 27 2010 [front-page; Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]

The direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will be launched in Washington next week, in which all the core issues will be discussed, including the question of the “safe passage route,” which enables free movement of Palestinians from Gaza to Judea and Samaria.  But even the most optimistic of political officials will find it difficult to believe the next story: Israel is quietly planning a railway line from Ramallah to Gaza.

This story is a classic example of making a silk purse from a sow’s ear.  About five years ago, it became apparent that the route planned for the fast railway line between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv passes through two sections that are located over the Green Line, and goes through land belonging to PA residents.  The need to confiscate Palestinian land created a legal problem, and after consulting with the attorney general, Civil Administration Director Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai proposed to the Defense Ministry to confiscate the land — but use it for the benefit of the Palestinian public.

This gave rise to the plan to connect Ramallah with the railway track of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv fast line.  The train from Ramallah will connect with the fast line near Mevasseret Tziyon, and from there it will continue northwest to the Modiin area, pass through Ben-Gurion Airport, and then turn south towards Ashkelon, Netivot and Gaza.

Sources in Israel Railways confirmed the details of the route and added: “Israel Railways is an executive arm of the Transport Ministry and the Finance Ministry.  We have received instructions to plan a line between Ramallah and Gaza, which will connect the parts of the PA and enable its residents a quick and safe passage.”  It was also said that the plan is in advanced stages of planning and submission.

The plan will enable a Palestinian resident of the territories to board the train in Ramallah and reach Gaza quickly and without roadblocks.  In addition, in a future final status agreement the Palestinians will be able to reach Ben-Gurion Airport, and this will enable them to use the services of an international airport.

Due to the mountainous terrain and the necessity for the train to travel without inclines and sharp angles, most of the route passes through tunnels at a total length of about ten kilometers, and on eight bridges that will make it possible to cross riverbeds.  In part of the route, the train will use existing tracks.  As of now, the only stations where the train will stop and enable passengers to board and alight are Ramallah, Ben-Gurion Airport and Gaza.

In the political echelon, there are those who try to present the plan as an initiative of the professional echelon alone.  Transport Minister Yisrael Katz is notable for his silence on the plan, and preferred not to comment on it.

The plan is adamantly opposed by the Environmental Protection Ministry, which is leading the green organizations in its wake, mainly due to the damage to the landscape and creation of huge surpluses of dirt.  Environment Minister Gilad Erdan told Israel Hayom that he was working against the plan.  “Damage to the environment has no territorial borders and areas of control.  Just as we will not waive strict environmental demands in Israeli construction, we will act the same way with Palestinian construction that could damage and destroy natural areas and would have serious environmental consequences,” Erdan said.

The Justice Ministry spokesman said yesterday: “We were told by the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria that as part of the planned railway route between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem there were two sections that pass through Judea and Samaria.  Regarding the two sections, the planning and confiscation processes ended several years ago.  In addition, planning processes have ended for two additional sections that serve for access routes and logistical areas, and for these two, confiscation processes have ended for one section and the second is underway.”  The Civil Administration stated: “We are the body responsible for regional development within Judea and Samaria.  In light of the planning work that the Civil Administration was required to carry out in the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv railway route that passes through Judea and Samaria, the Civil Administration director made the authorization of the plan contingent upon promoting a railway network that will serve the residents of the region in the future.”  A senior Civil Administration source added that the guiding line of the plan was the ability to serve Jews and Palestinians alike in the future.

About these ads
Categories: Diplomacy
  1. dickerson3870
    August 27, 2010 at 22:51

    RE: “Israel Railways is an executive arm of the Transport Ministry and the Finance Ministry…the Civil Administration director made the authorization of the plan contingent…”
    MY COMMENT: Where is Kafka’s “K.” when we need him? Does anyone know a good surveyor who might be available to advise “The Ministries” on this sensitive matter? Will this project finally reveal the ending of “The Castle”? Inquiring minds want to know.

  1. August 27, 2010 at 11:09
  2. August 27, 2010 at 12:07
  3. August 27, 2010 at 17:00
  4. August 27, 2010 at 20:36
  5. August 28, 2010 at 09:13
  6. August 28, 2010 at 11:08

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 367 other followers

%d bloggers like this: