Palestinians campaign to regain 'occupied' Latrun

The valley is an ‘integral part of the State of Palestine,' according to the Fatah's Negotiations Affairs Department.

June 7, 2013 01:59
2 minute read.
Arab Legion gunners and their gun on roof of the Latrun Tegart fort, 1948

arab gunners in latrun b&w 370. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Palestinians want Mini Israel.

No, not the country inside the pre-1967 lines, but rather Mini Israel, the attraction located at Latrun where the country is replicated in miniature models and kids run around with ice cream bars.

In recent days the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Negotiations Affairs Department, the one headed by Saeb Erekat, launched a campaign under the headline “The Latrun Valley – an Integral Part of the State of Palestine.”

A document circulated by the negotiations department described the Latrun Valley as covering a 50-km. area close to the Green Line.

“As a result of the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe),” the document read, “when two-thirds of the Palestinian population were forcibly exiled from their homes by Zionist militias prior to the creation of the State of Israel, almost half of the valley is now considered No Man’s Land (NML) an integral part of the Occupied State of Palestine.”

The Latrun Valley, the document continued, “is well known for its rich water resources and fertile land.”

According to the paper, Israel occupied the area during the Six Day War and “ethnically cleansed” three villages left standing after 1948, before completely wiping them off the map as well.

The paper said that following the forced displacement of the Palestinian inhabitants, the Jewish National Fund, in cooperation with Canada, built Canada Park “over the site of the villages.”

“Preventing Palestinians from making use of the Latrun area is part of Israel’s systematic attempt to turn the occupation of Palestinian land into annexation,” the document read.

“The Latrun Valley holds enormous potential for Palestinians, including its fertile lands, water resources, archeological sites and religious shrines. It is a vital and integral part of the State of Palestine as defined by the 1967 border.”

Israel annexed the Latrun salient, through which part of the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway runs, soon after the Six Day War.

Erekat marked the anniversary of the war on Tuesday by taking journalists and diplomats to the site, saying “I just want to stand here and say, ‘It is 46 years later.”

One Israeli official was stunned by the Palestinian campaign over Latrun, saying it was as if the Palestinians were moving the goal line backwards.

Referring to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s push to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the official said, “It’s almost as if every time we move forward, or every time there is a prospect of moving forward, the Palestinians bring up an issue which they know is a game breaker.”

The Palestinian decision to make this an issue, the official continued, “raises concerns as to their seriousness.”

He characterized as “very troubling” the Palestinian bid to bring this issue “out of deep freeze” now, and said it raised questions about “their attitude to the peace process.”

All peace plans have always put Latrun inside Israel, the official said.

“No Israeli government, no Israeli prime minister, can seriously entertain that this area would be going to the Palestinians.

Instead of dealing with the very issues that Kerry is asking the sides to deal with, it appears the Palestinians are playing games and regressing to hard-line positions that should have been left behind years ago,” he said.

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