Struggle for Amona – the struggle for national sovereignty

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Amona is an Israeli outpost village founded in 1997 in central Samaria (Benyamin region). Amona lies on a steep ridge, 70 meters above the closest neighboring village of Ofra, which is one kilometer to the west. Benyamin Region (where the Tribe of Benjamin originate from) is a mountainous area, 850–900 meters above sea level and has relatively dry and mild summers and cold winters — even seeing snow for several days each year.

Amona has a current population of 42 families, with a total of several hundred residents — most of whom farm the land.

Sheep and lamb farm in Amona (photo by Brian John Thomas)
Sheep and lamb farm in Amona (photo by Brian John Thomas)

Some in Amona  raise sheep and lamb…

 

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baby lamb under heat lamp (photo by Brian John Thomas)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Amona Vineyard (photo by Joshua Wander)

…while others farm for fruit, including grapes and olives.

Amona is known for producing award-winning wine.

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Award winning wine (photo by Joshua Wander)

In August 2016, the High Court of Israel ruled that the houses and vineyards of Amona had been mistakenly built on ‘private land’ and the ruling has slated Amona for evacuation by December 24 2016 – a little more than a week and a half away followed by bulldozing of the entire community — ending the livelihoods of the 42 families and their employees that live in Amona.

To understand the struggle for Amona requires understanding of the modern history of Judea and Samaria and whether it is even possible that Amona is built on ‘private Arab land’ 

We’ll touch on that history here.

Please see Judea and Samaria - the West Bank of the Jordan, our next article for more detail. http://www.morehasbara.com/2016/12/13/judea-samaria-west-bank-jordan/

The land on which Amona is built was gifted by King Hussein of Jordan to a close associate of his during the period in which Jordan illegally occupied Judea and Samaria (1948-1967). That period began on May 15, 1948, when the surrounding Arab nations of Jordan, Syria and Egypt attacked the one-day old State of Israel in an attempt to destroy it — beginning the 10-month-long War of Independence. 

At the end of that war (March 1949), Egypt occupied Gaza and Jordan occupied Judea and Samaria as well as East Jerusalem — having seized them from Israel, by military force. On April 24, 1950, Jordan annexed  both East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria which was considered illegal by most of the international community, including all of the Arab states.  At no point from 1948 until 1967 was Judea and Samaria ever considered by the international community as being “Jordan”.  This area on the west bank of the Jordan River was referred to as “the west bank” so as to distinguish it from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which lay on “the east bank” of the Jordan River.

In 1923, when Britain created Jordan (then called Transjordan) giving 75% of the land that had been set aside by the Balfour Declaration for a “national Jewish homeland” to this first Arab-Palestinian state — it left only 25% of the land on the “west bank of the Jordan” for the Jewish state. That is, the tiny remaining piece of land included Judea and Samaria something Jordan knew since 1923.

In 1948, when Jordan illegally seized Judea and Samaria, it had known for the previous 25 years (1923-1948), that it belonged to the future Jewish state and it knew that Judea and Samaria belonged to Israel when the State of Israel was created on May 14, 1948.

It was only after the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel reclaimed its own land that had been illegally annexed by Jordan from Israel, that Judea and Samaria (“West Bank”) and East Jerusalem became “disputed territory” to the international community — and Israel came to be called “occupiers” and “settlers” of their own land.

Judea and Samaria has been part of Israel since biblical times and even in modern history, it was included in the land earmarked for the Jewish national homeland since the 1917 Balfour Declaration. Even after the first Arab-Palestinian state of TransJordan was created in 1923, Judea and Samaria was included in the remaining 25% of the the land that was for the establishment of the Jewish state.

partition-plan-jewish-virtual-libraryThat said, the Jewish people were willing as part of the 1947 Partition Plan to retain the small region of Galilee in the north and the large Negev desert area in the south, with the remainder going to a second Palestinian Arab-state — something the Jews accepted and the Arabs rejected.

The Arabs refused the 4,500 square miles that was offered to them, including Judea and Samaria and Gaza because the 5,500 square miles that would remain for the Jewish state was considered “too much”.

Even as recently as the year 2000, when Israel proposed trading land for peace by agreeing to give the Arabs of the region a sovereign state in more than 95% Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza —the Palestinian leadership responded by sending waves of suicide terrorists into Israel.  

Any amount of Israel remaining in Jewish hands is still “too much”.

The international community believes that Israeli towns and villages in Judea and Samaria  fall under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 — which outlines the obligations of an “occupying power” in times of war. Israel maintains that the Geneva Convention cannot possibly be applied to Israel with respect to Judea and Samaria, as it can’t be an occupying powerin its own land — land reclaimed from illegal annexation during the Six-Day War which Egypt, Syria and Jordan, started.

Struggle for Amona – Struggle for National Sovereignty

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For the last 19 years, whoever has held “deed” to this land has been absent —expressing no interest in the land whatsoever, while these Jewish families have tilled it and caused it to become productive.

The struggle for Amona is a struggle for the rights of these 42 Jewish families who have built their lives and earn their livelihood (and the livelihoods of those they employee) from their labour.

The struggle for Amona is also the struggle for national sovereignty of Israel over her own land.

That land in Judea and Samaria was gifted by the King of Jordan to colleagues during the period that Jordan illegally occupied it, does not make the land the possession of those to whom he gave it. It was not the King of Jordan’s to give!

In almost any civilized nation, the recipient of stolen property does not become the “owner” of it — it remains the possession of its rightful owner.

Likewise, if stolen property is later sold, those who purchase it do not become the “owner of it” — it continues to remain the possession of its rightful owner. A person or people who buy stolen property anticipate that when it is returned to its rightful owner, that they will lose the money they paid for it, as well as lose the property itself.

The Jordanian king having given parcels of land in Judea and Samaria to Arab Hashemites colleagues that his Kingdom had illegally occupied and annexed from Israel does not make that land the possession of (1) these families (2) their descendants nor (3) anyone that may have subsequently purchased it from them.

While local Arabs may hold a “deed” to this, is about as significant as a having a “receipt” for purchase of a stolen car.

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ruins of Amona (photo by Joshua Wander)

It expected that when stolen property is returned to its rightful owner, that the purchaser lose the money paid for it, as well as lose the property itself. While Israel owes them nothing, how would it be anything other generous for the Israeli government to pay fair market value to those hold “deed” to a land they have been absent from for almost 20 years, and on which the Jewish residents of Amona live?

 

UPDATE: Please see Ultimatum in Amona – rejected by residents! http://www.morehasbara.com/2016/12/15/ultimatum-in-amona-update-dec-15-2016/

 

 


Here is a short video created by Joshua Wander on Amona: