Participants in the first conference on rejecting the land-ownership ban in the Sinai Peninsula yesterday [Jan.22] said that the decision issued by the armed forces to ban land ownership within five kilometers of the border area was made according to political agreements and considerations that are not in the interest of the Sinai people.
They stressed that this decision would result in the displacement of 10,000 families and pave the way for the settlement of Palestinians in the Sinai. They also emphasized that the residents of the border area will not leave their land under any circumstances, and that they will resort to protests, civil disobedience and abstaining from political life until the decision is annulled.
Saeed Atiq, a political activist from the Sinai, said that the security services have organized a parallel conference in Rafah. This conference was organized with the assistance of a number of tribal leaders affiliated with the security services in order to show support for this decision, after the authorities failed to stop the conference on rejecting the ban. He stressed that implementing the decision would cause the displacement of 10,000 Sinai families, and would constitute a prelude to the project designed to nationalize Palestinians.
Speaking to Al-Masry Al-Youm on the sidelines of the conference on rejecting the ban, Atiq added that, with all due respect to the armed forces, he does not find any security reasons for the ban on land ownership within the border area, which consists only of villages. He stressed that Article Three of Decision 203/2012 is the first step in a plan designed to serve foreign — not Egyptian — goals. Article Three gives foreigners the right to land ownership and use for 50 years.
He continued, “Palestinians do not want to own land, but they want to live on the Sinai’s soil, as an alternative homeland and to expand the Gaza Strip. Fifty years later, we will have generations that grew up and lived in Egypt, and they will have the right to Egyptian citizenship, which will never be accepted by the people of the Sinai.”
Atiq stressed that citizens from the border area will not leave their land under any circumstances whatsoever, and hope that the opposition would remain peaceful until the end. He noted that the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel can only be protected by the people of the border area, not by tanks and weapons. He explained, “The Sinai will not be a whipping boy for Israeli plans and interests. We can recall Eilat and all operations in which Egypt crushed the Israeli enemy with the assistance of the Sinai people.”
For his part, Sheikh Ibrahim Alyan, general coordinator of the conference, said that the people of the Sinai believe that there are future plans behind the decision to ban land ownership, and that armed forces want to halt normal development in Area C, stressing that the movement of tribesmen will be peaceful until they get what they deserve.
The conference ended with a set of recommendations, most notably calling for a peaceful movement and protest against “the unjust decision which ravages the hopes of the Sinai people.” The recommendations also called for civil disobedience if their demands are not met. The conference called on the Sinai people to abstain from political participation, including electoral process, since it doesn’t make sense to exercise political rights until the Sinai people reclaim their right to own their land. The conference also called on the residents to resort to the judiciary, human rights and civil-society organizations to highlight the damages of the decision.