PSP’s First Conference on Land Confiscation and Organized Resistance Success!

20 August 2008

This Sunday, August 17, Palestine Solidarity Project, in conjunction with the city council of Beit Ommar, hosted Beit Ommar’s fiirst ever conference on The Wall and Settlement Expansion. More than 130 people, mostly local farmers who were the intended audience, came to listen to guest speaker Dr. Moustafa Barghouthi, along with the head of the city council, Abu Rashid Sabarnah and PSP co-founder Yousef Abu Maria, as they spoke about the roots of land confiscation in Beit Ommar and the surrounding area and what can be expected if The Annexation Barrier and settlements are built without resistance.

Beit Ommar lost a significant amount of its land shortly after the occupation of the West Bank by Israel in 1967. The oldest settlement in the West Bank, Kfar Etzion, was built on Beit Ommar land just months after the so-called 6-day war. In the decades that followed, Beit Ommar more than 50% of its total agricultural land to large settlements in the Etzion settlement bloc such as Efrata and Kfar Etzion, and to smaller, more extremist settlements, the most notorious of which is Beit ‘Ain, built in 1989, which is famous for its underground cells of militant Jewish terrorists. In 2003 Beit ‘Ain gained international notoriety when 3 members of this cell, funded by the Kahana movement, planted explosives outside a Palestinian girls school in East Jerusalem. Thankfully, the bomb did not go off.
In 1984 a group of students from a settlement in Gush Etzion moved to the south side of Beit Ommar and created what was then an illegal outpost called Karmei Tsur. It was built almost entirely on privately-owned Palestinian land, mostly from residents of Beit Ommar and some from residents of Hahul on the other side of the settlement. Karmei Tsur is now home to over 700 residents and in the last 5 years another illegal outpost has sprung from it, called Tsur Shalem.

PSP organized the conference as a starting point for the village to begin to prepare for the construction of the Annexation Barrier on their land around the Etzion settlement Bloc and intended expansion of Karmei Tsur settlement. PSP also announced at the conference its new program of organizing trainings and concrete coordination of unarmed resistance against the Israeli Occupation in the region.

PSP has always been a Palestinian organization, and the new program is designed to increase Palestinian involvement and reduce the reliance on international volunteers.

PSP firmly believes that Palestinian liberation, in the end, will only come from Palestinians themselves, and while international support and solidarity is appreciated it cannot be a replacement for Palestinian popular resistance.