Middle East and Land Rights

We are beginning this Forum on Middle East and Land Rights with this policy position statement from Alanna Hartzok, Co-Director, Earth Rights Institute. Comments and discussion are welcome as well as your own policy statements, experiences, thoughts and suggestions regarding conflict in the Middle East. When beginning your entry please write your name and where you are from.

Israel/Palestine as Land Problem by Alanna Hartzok, USA

I have for years now viewed the Israeli/Palestinian situation as a microcosm of the conflicts throughout the world and for many past centuries. Essentially, these are fights to control land and resources. Each side battles back and forth with reasons why an area is THEIRS rather than the OTHERS - that their particular god has said it was theirs and that their particular god was on their side fighting to take it from the other. We humans have not yet learned to fairly share our world.

Even under a two state solution, you can be certain that a few people in each state would come to own and control more land than others, as is true now in Israel, while the gap between rich and poor Israelis and Palestinians would thus continue to widen.

I have looked at these problems of wealth gap, poverty and war for more than 30 years now and have come to the full realization that we need a democratic land ethic of equal rights to the planet as a birthright, and the implementation of policies - such as land value taxation, which is the social capturing of unearned value accruing to land and natural resources - for the benefit of EVERYONE. UN HABITAT Action Agenda includes this policy recommendation as endorsed by consensus of all UN member states.

Applied to Israel/Palestine, there should be a Resource Rent Authority established to collect all the land rent of the entire land area; then these funds should pay for public goods and services - education, health care, infrastructure improvements, etc. - to benefit all on an equitable basis. With this policy there is no need to partition the land based on tribal identities and history stories, just share the land rent based on the human identity of equal rights to the earth.

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