Jewish settlers claim biblical birthright to occupied West Bank land

By Reuters Staff
September 27, 2010

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(Photo: Avraham Binyamin builds a sukkah, a ritual booth for the holiday of Sukkot, on the West Bank Jewish settlement of Yitzhar, south of Nablus, September 20, 2010/Ronen Zvulun)

Jewish settler Avraham Binyamin says any Israeli withdrawal from occupied land would be like severing a limb from his body. As one of some 300,000 Israelis living in enclaves built on West Bank land that Palestinians seek for a state, Binyamin expresses a view held by many that the area is a Jewish biblical birthright and must never be relinquished, not even for peace.

“The national being of any people, particularly the Jewish people, is like a body, you cannot give up parts of your body,” said Binyamin, 25, a teacher from Yitzhar, a settlement known for its tense relations with neighboring Palestinian villages. The question of settlements has come to the fore at the peace negotiations as a partial freeze on Jewish building in the West Bank ended on Sunday.

The religiously devout father of two says the 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank should be relocated to neighboring Arab lands. “I can sometimes very much understand their pain and their need,” he says. “But from the national perspective, it’s either me or them — and I prefer it to be me.”

“We, as Jews, believe that the land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel because a divine promise was given to us. The Bible is our legal document,” says Binyamin, who serves as a spokesman for Yitzhar, which rarely opens up for the media.

Such beliefs underscore how hard it will be to reach a peace deal; the Palestinians take for granted that, at a minimum, dozens of smaller settlements, including Yitzhar, must go as part of an accord.

Read the full story here. This feature is part of a Reuters series on the settlement issue including:

Factbox: Israeli settlements are first hurdle to peace talks

Factbox: Facts about Israel’s Jewish settlements

Divided city of Hebron shows challenge of peace

Jewish settlers declare end to building moratorium

settlers 2

(Photo: Construction in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Elazar south of Bethlehem August 22, 2010/Baz Ratner)

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4 comments

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“would be like severing a limb from his body”.

I built my own house on my own plot of land to my own design – but somehow the real estate assessment people never quite recognize that I would like the place to feel like an extension of my body too. They keep telling me it is getting more expensive – even when it isn’t. And I bought the lot the old fashioned way – from a realtor – from a willing and fully informed seller without the aid of the national armed forces. And there isn’t a soldier in sight protecting my “God given right”. Can’t remember the last time I shot at a neighbor are they at me either.

Someday I am going to have to learn to amputate a limb or develop a more realistic assessment of where my skin and bones end and the ground begins. I’m getting old and won’t be able to keep it forever unless I happen to die in it.

I envy the God of real estate you worship. Why are all the other Churches and religions keeping this character a secret so long? All we ever got was a hymnal or a prayer book and maybe some beads.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

This is the essence of the problem. Using an ancient religious text as grounds for modern day theft, is just so completely wrong. You expect me to feel content that I have to give up my farmland so that you can bring in some foreigners and force me out with a gun pointed to my head, because ‘its either you or me’.

Find somewhere else, there’s plenty of room in the world, you don’t need to steal

Posted by kevin1234 | Report as abusive

Agreed. Real Estate is not ‘God given.’

Israel’s assertion is bullocks.

Posted by PhatBot | Report as abusive

problem with being “chosen people” is lack of consensus — when the Irish and native americans can invoke divine right, then Zionists can, too. . . Until then, it’s hogwash.

Posted by shastakath | Report as abusive