Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Palestinians Upset About Rawabi

The new Palestinians city, Rawabi continues to occupy its place its place in the news. First we reported about the mandatory boycott clause requiring all Israeli contractors to not use products and services from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Golan. That upset many Israelis.

Today, we learn that Palestinians are upset with the new city as well.

Palestinian Authority "Maan" news reported today that Palestinians are upset about the acceptance of a donation of thousands of evil Zionist tree saplings from the Jewish National Fund by Rawabi city developers, planted on lands sequestered by the Palestinian Authority from neighboring villages, for a private and commercial venture.

In addition, they are upset that a project designed to create enormous profit for a private corporation qualifies for support as a "Palestinian national project" that appropriates land from private citizens.

Maan quotes "Dr. Uri Davis" who is a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, Observer-Member of the Palestine National Council, and Associate Professor at Al-Quds University.

He states: "As the Convener of the Fatah Revolutionary Council Committee on Resistance to the Settlements, the Apartheid Wall and the Ethnic Cleansing it is my responsibility to ensure that damage already done in the construction of Rawabi city is minimized."

His concern: "My concern hinges on the acceptance of a donation of thousands of tree saplings from the Jewish National Fund by Rawabi city developers, planted on lands sequestered by the Palestinian Authority from neighboring villages, for a private and commercial venture.

The development of Rawabi will be phased in relation to infrastructure provision and market demand, under Developer Bashar Masri, chairman of the board of the Bayti Real Estate Investment Company, jointly owned by Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company and Massar International.

While the project provides an outlet for Palestinians to claim their own lands and will undoubtedly provide significant employment and business opportunities, the drawbacks – in my view – far outweigh the positives.

The bulk of the Rawabi development site was private land purchased by developers from the Bayti Real Estate Investment Company. The remainder, however, was sequestered by Presidential Decree.

On 15 November 2009, Abbas signed the decree, taking approximately 1,537 dunum of lands from the neighboring village of Ajjul, 122 dunum from Attara and 118 dunum from Abwin.

It remains a matter of debate as to whether a project designed to fetch a possible windfall profit for a private corporation should qualify for support as a "national project." [emphasis, The Muqata]

But worse, it seems unless public measures are taken by Masri and Bayti, the continued construction of Rawabi places the PA in a position of complicity with one of World Zionist Organizations and Israel’s ugliest apartheid instruments, the Jewish National Fund, a body that "greenwashed" the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 and 1967.

In 2009, Masri accepted a donation of some 3,000 tree saplings from the JNF, and allowed the organization arrange to plant the trees on Rawabi lands as a "green" contribution. A portion of the trees were planted on the lands sequestered from nearby villages.

The mission of the JNF is the "redemption" of lands in "Eretz Israel," including Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem, Gaza and beyond for Jewish settlement. In the wake of the 1948 Nakba, the JNF planted mainly pine trees and other conifers over some 500 ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages.

To add insult to injury, rather than plant indigenous arboreta, notably olive tree saplings, the tree saplings planted by the JNF in the area designated for the Rawabi projects are typically political-Zionist pinera (conifers), the most common tree planted by the JNF in the forests and recreational centers on the lands and over the ruins of Palestinian-Arab villages ethnically cleansed by the Israeli army.

In its support for the city of Rawabi, designated a Palestinian national project, the PNA has implicated itself in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine alongside the JNF and the Israeli army.

Sometime in January 2010 I met Masri in person at his Ramallah offices, where I expressed my concerns about the project.

Masri claimed that the JNF donation was made through the Rawabi website; that neither himself nor the moderator of the Rawabi website had any inkling as to ulterior motives; and that as standard measure of courtesy the moderator was advised to acknowledge with thanks all tree donations made to Rawabi through the website.

I cautioned Masri that the donation appeared to be a splendid opportunity for the JNF boost its public profile, particularly in the face of legal action in Canada and the UK, where Palestine solidarity groups are attempting to have its status as a charitable organization rescinded.

Assuming Masri adheres to the values of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, I said at the time, he and his business should make public a statement of regret for having carelessly accepted the JNF donation and make their own donation of the equivalent number of 3,000 olive tree saplings to the Association for the Defense of the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons in Israel. Masri chose to ignore the suggestion.

Given that a year has since past, and that I have since become aware of the danger to the integrity of my Fatah Movement, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority – I now additionally ask that Masri and Rawabi as a corporate body uproot the JNF tree saplings and replace them with olive tree saplings, as well as make an additional generous donation of olive tree saplings (say, 3000 olive tree saplings) to the Araqib Defence Committee in the Negev.

Uproot those damn Zionist trees! I'm sure in the next WikiLeaks, we'll see that the PA has actually been buying Israel Bonds as well.

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Vic Rosenthal said...

"political-Zionist pinera (conifers)"?
He's insane, isn't he...

Shmilda said...

Insane seems to be the nicest thing you could say about him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uri_Davis

More troubling is that the JNF is more comfortable planting trees for the Arabs of Ramallah than for the neighboring Jews.

NormanF said...

The JNF won't help Jews but they will help hostile Arabs.

Should it be time to rename them the Arab National Fund?

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