19 August 2007 - Peace Now and the Heftsiba collapse
Recently, the Heftsiba construction company, one of Israel’s most important real estate developers, collapsed amidst allegations of fraud and mismanagement. Hundreds of people who paid for apartments in new developments have now been left in the lurch, and some have even tried breaking into their unfinished units in the hope that living inside their investments would save them from being lost.
The story of how and why Heftsiba failed is probably a complex one, and the authorities are investigating charges of wrongdoing. But a new theory is doing the rounds among Israeli settlers. Peace Now, the story goes, caused Heftsiba to collapse when it brought a successful court injunction against a Heftsiba construction project in the West Bank which violated zoning restrictions.
To Israelis on the right of the political spectrum, this is a classic case of left-wing activists damaging the country, and the rights of Israelis, for purely ideological and self-interested reasons. To Israelis on the left, the Heftsiba collapse—if indeed it was indirectly caused by Peace Now—should serve as a warning to Israelis and Israeli companies that the days of “anything goes” in the territories are over.
This has the makings of a great, tragic political drama. All the various factions in Israel are involved, from the left-wing activists to the Haredim to the Russian tycoons. The Palestinians of Bil’in are there, and the new settlers of Modi’in Illit, and with them all the yearnings and recriminations of the conflict. It would be entertaining—if hundreds of families were not in danger of losing their homes.