MUNICIPALITY OF EFRAT, ISRAEL, P.O.B. 1022, EFRAT, ISRAEL 9043500
Letters to the EditorNew York Times
In response to your article "Israel Claims Nearly 1000 Acres of West Bank Land Near Bethlehem" Aug. 31, 2014, and the allegation that the land is privately owned by Arabs, I would like to clarify the matter with the following factual information:
In 1967, Israel became the sovereign authority in Judea and Samaria. Preceding Israel was Jordan, who replaced the British in 1947. Before the British, the Turks ruled over the land of Israel and controlled the land that over time had passed from one nation to the next.
Today Judea and Samaria is being held by the Israeli government which has inherited all the legal property rights. (Jordan occupied Judea and Samaria between 1948 till 1967, but their occupation was only recognized by Britain and Pakistan).
According to the Turkish land registration, there are essentially two types of land – private land and State-owned land. The government of Israel is very careful not to make any use of private land, and as for State land, there is a long and complex public procedure that the government undertakes before making use of State lands, and this is to make sure not to harm any private person by depriving him of his rights.
The declaration publicized in the New York Times is proof of this very public procedure and allows for anyone who feels himself harmed to come forth and prove his rights to the land.
I would like to use this opportunity to make an additional comment. In English it is customary to term the areas of Judea and Samaria as "occupied territories". To those using this term, I would like to ask, occupied from whom?
If we go back to the registration of rights from the time that the Turks ruled, it is clear that there are private lands that were registered as such and which the State of Israel does not dispute and does not touch. On the other hand, to who do the State lands belong to? The Turkish government does not claim their ownership and neither do the British. The Jordanians, in their peace treaty with Israel, declared that they are relinquishing any claim of ownership to the lands of Judea and Samaria.
If we examine the declarations and decisions of the United Nations and other bodies that preceded the UN, it can be proven that these lands were designated for the State of Israel and as such, the State of Israel is permitted to make use of these lands.
As pointed out above, the State of Israel exercises extreme caution before making use of these lands (even though these lands have been part of the historical Jewish State from Biblical times), and it would be proper if those that attack and criticize her would have knowledge of the legal foundations of the issue before voicing condemnations.
Sincerely, Oded Revivi, Esq., Mayor of Efrat, Israel e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org