24 January '16..
The two homes in Hebron which Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon ordered the evacuation of on Friday were purchased from their previous owners for the full price. And this is how it should be in the city of our forefathers. Abraham set the precedent when bought the Cave of the Patriarchs and the surrounding field from Ephron the Hittite for 400 shekels of silver.
The two homes in question are located very close to the Cave of the Patriarchs and the legal justification for their evacuation was just an excuse. The homes are surrounded by hundreds of illegally built Arab homes that the Israeli justice system has taken no steps against.
So the two homes were not evacuated because of Israeli law. They were evacuated for the very same reason Ya'alon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have limited construction in the Judea and Samaria settlement blocs and Jerusalem in recent years -- heavy pressure from the U.S. and Europe.
Deep in his heart, Ya'alon very much supports the expansion of Jewish settlement in Hebron. He knows well that if the settlers had acted in accordance with protocol and requested the proper permits from him and Netanyahu, their chances of being allowed to inhabit the homes would have been close to zero. Ya'alon himself, in previous military roles, knew how to turn a blind eye to unauthorized settlement activities and then later approve them ex post facto.
So while the evacuation of the homes may be a diplomatic-related matter, it represents a huge missed opportunity. We are in the midst of a wave of Palestinian terrorism during which many attackers have come from Hebron. The evacuation broadcast an image of Israeli weakness and it contradicted the long-held Zionist doctrine of building, not retreating -- defiantly constructing new homes, neighborhoods and communities in the face of terrorism, murder and hatred.
The State of Israel's existence is based on more than just military force and diplomatic realism. Most of all, it is rooted in the right of the Jewish people to live in this land with which we are so bonded. Nearly all of Hebron (97%) has already been handed over the Palestinians and if it was not for the Jewish community hanging on by its fingernails to the city's historic core, the other 3% would also be in the hands of the Palestinians today.
David Ben-Gurion said in 1970, "We will make a great and awful mistake if we fail to settle Hebron, neighbor and predecessor of Jerusalem, with a large Jewish settlement, constantly growing and expanding, very soon." Yigal Allon supported Jewish settlement in Hebron and helped establish the community of Kiryat Arba. And the writer Shai Agnon was wise enough to ignore the evil criticism spewed by the Israeli media at the father of the renewed Jewish presence in Hebron -- Rabbi Moshe Levinger. "It's a fine thing you've done, and future generations will inscribe your deeds in a book, that you restored the children to the city of their fathers," Agnon wrote to Levinger.
It would be best for Ya'alon and Netanyahu to find a way to quickly correct their mistake and strengthen Jewish settlement in Hebron, rather than weaken it.
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