LETTER : City built on an injustice

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From Mr John Gee

Sir: In criticising your report on the conflict between the Jahalin bedouin and the Israeli settlement of Maale Adummim, Elizabeth Lightstone ignores a couple of important facts (Letters, 24 May).

Maale Adummim is an Israeli settlement built upon land in the West Bank occupied by Israel in 1967. There may be good arguments to be had concerning the competing needs of urban development and rural communities, but in this case, there is another basic issue.

Maale Adummim was established in defiance of the provisions of the IVth Geneva Convention, which forbids an occupying power from transferring parts of its own population into occupied territory. It should not have been created in the first place, and certainly should not be regarded as a normal "Israeli city".

Ms Lightstone writes that "Israel, it seems, is expected to stop development at the behest of a tribe of nomadic herders, originally from a different part of the country, which never even held title to the land they now claim". This is pretty breathtaking. The "different part of the country" from which the Jahalin came is near Beersheba, and the reason they are not there, but on land coveted by Maale Adummim, is that they were forced to leave it in 1948, when their home area was occupied by the Israeli army and became part of Israel. They have already been dispossessed once, and now Israel seeks to remove them from their new home for the benefit of its settlers.

Ms Lightstone expresses the view that the issue will be settled in the courts "as is proper in any society". Possibly this will happen, but this is a society in which an Israeli court will be asked to adjudicate on the rival claims of Israeli settlers and Palestinian Arabs, an arrangement which the latter have never regarded as conducive to justice.

Yours faithfully,

JOHN GEE

Council for the Advancement

of Arab-British Understanding

London, SW5

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