Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Land for Peace!

Consider the problem the modern segmentation of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel posed for the historical inhabitants of the land. The map below highlights this, by overlaying onto the modern map, Israel’s ancient tribal land map. The ancient map is known because the boundary markers are recorded in the 3400 year old Hebrew bible, which precedes the record of any other identifiable continuing tribal rights in the region.

In the years preceding and following Israel’s war of independence in 1948 hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from land on either side of the Jordan river. Ancient rights of Jews who lived on the east bank of the Jordan river (Jordan) were presumed exchanged for the rights of Muslims living on the west bank of the Jordan river (Israel). Each of these communities were severely disrupted during the mass migration that took place as a result of war. Land rights and registration, followed from the Ottoman and British land registries, were handed to the new Jordanian and Israeli governments for management.

From the 1948 war, Jordan became the occupier of adjacent portions of land west of the Jordan river (in Israel) including a significant section of Jerusalem - commonly referred to as the West Bank. Prior to and in response to this state of war, laws were passed in Israel and Jordan in respect of future land rights. Israel offered a right of return to Jewish property owners displaced by acts of war. Jordan confiscated and cancelled rights to possess land by anyone it declared an enemy of their state - including all Jews.

In 1967 Israel, in response to an attack by Jordan and Egypt, conquered back the territory Jordan had occupied since 1948 and soon after began returning properties to Jewish families that could prove ownership prior to 1948. Jordan never returned or recognized the rights of owners of the hundreds of thousands of acres registered to Jews that were confiscated and Israel never recognized the rights of displaced Muslim landowners.

There is little point in dwelling on this much longer, but any so called land for peace arrangement must first reconcile these rights, including recognition of Israel’s ancient tribal land owners in the region. Apparently the truth is inconvenient, but it cannot be ignored by Israel or its proxies when negotiating to reduce further displacement and suffering by the people who have been most affected through violent conflict. Any ambit claims by parties with a vested interest must first be filtered by the backdrop of the ancient map of the indigenous rights of Israeli's.

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