My Visit to Lyd, Where Historical and Contemporary Zionist Oppression Meet

August 19th, 2021

By Miko Peled

Source

Palestine stretches from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean and goes right through the ancient Palestinian city of Lyd.

LYD, PALESTINE — One of the toughest challenges facing those who fight for justice in Palestine is breaking the Zionist paradigm, which limits the name Palestine to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These two delineations of territory have no historical meaning and no geographical significance. They are no different from other parts of Palestine except that they were drawn by Zionists who, after the murderous 1948 campaign of ethnic cleansing, decided that they would not include those two areas within the boundaries of the Zionist state.

In 1967 the State of Israel occupied these two areas, and today the West Bank exists only in people’s imagination, while the Gaza Strip operates as a prison. After the disastrous Oslo process began in 1993, and the Palestinian Authority came into being, these two areas became known to the world as the State of Palestine.

Lyd as it was

In July 2021, I visited the city of Lyd, where I met with Councilwoman Fida Shehada, a Palestinian member of the Lyd City Council who was kind enough to spend a day with me in her city. She gave me a tour of the town before we sat down for a lengthy and detailed interview, which will soon be posted to my Patreon page.

“Lyd has archeological sites that show it is as old as the city of Jericho,” Shehada told me. However, the state and the municipality refrain from excavating because these sites have no value to the Zionist narrative. Lyd is perhaps most famous for being home to the Church of Saint George. The church was built over the grave of the famous Saint George of Lyd, who was buried in the city of his Palestinian mother’s birth after he was martyred in the early fourth century.

Church of Saint George, Lyd
Church of Saint George, Lyd, Palestine

The world-renowned hip hop band “Dam” is also from the city of Lyd. According to their website, “Struck by the uncanny resemblance of the reality of the streets in a Tupac video to the streets in their own neighborhood in Lyd, Tamer Nafar, Suhell Nafar and Mahmood Jrere were inspired to tell their stories through hip hop.”

1948 bloodbath

It is becoming clear today that the city of Lyd may well have been the site of the worst massacres by Zionist militia in 1948. In a move more cynical than can be imagined, the municipality of Lyd was renamed Lod in Hebrew, and a plaza was built to commemorate the Palmach right in front of the Dahmash Mosque. The Palmach was the largest of the Zionist militias and was responsible for committing massacres in the city.

The mosque itself was the site of a horrifying bloodbath when citizens from the city, who were fleeing the shooting, crowded into it seeking shelter from the violence. But a Zionist militia headed by Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin took no pity on those seeking refuge and massacred everyone in the mosque. More than 150 men, women and children were gunned down.

Palmach Plaza LYD
The Palmach Plaza in front of the Dahmash Mosque, the site of the massacre, commemorating the murderers as the memory of the victims lingers

Those who were not gunned down at the mosque or on the streets were forced to leave the city, and an estimated 40,000 men, women and children were made to take part in what became known as “The Death March.”

In her book “Palestinian Women, Narrative Histories and Gendered Memory,” published in 2011 by Zed Books, Dr. Fatma Kassem recorded the testimonies of Palestinian women from Lyd who survived the massacres and the forced expulsion.

Some of the women whom Dr. Kassem interviewed had witnessed the massacre at the mosque. One recalled:

The first days when the Jews came in, people went inside the mosques, they thought that the Jews would not kill them in the mosques. But they killed everyone who was inside.”

Another woman remembered:

My father and many others went inside the mosque to protect themselves. He was not fighting. He was an old man. My father and my cousin pushed them into the mosque and [the militia] shot all of them.”

The Kaminitz Law

In 2017, the Knesset passed legislation cracking down on “illegal” construction. The provisions of the new law were based on a report written by Deputy Attorney General for Civil Law Erez Kaminitz. According to Fida Shehada, this law has resulted in over 40,000 demolition orders for Palestinian homes in the north and central parts of the country alone — this does not include the Naqab, Jerusalem or the West Bank. The Kaminitz Law is one of many racist laws designed to keep Palestinian citizens of Israel from building homes.

“I remember one day I saw seven homes being demolished all at the same time, at the same minute,” Shehada told me. “I wanted to understand why this was happening and how to prevent this from happening in the future.”

This drove Shehada to study urban planning. But, she said, “then I saw that when they draw plans for the city, they only have plans for the Israeli population, not the Palestinians.” The city does not account for the growth of the Palestinian population, which makes up about 30% to 40% of the city’s population.

Miko Peled Fida Shehada

Miko Peled, left, meets with councilwoman Fida Shehada in the city of Lyd

“We have 30% Palestinian population, but 40% of the school children,” Shehada said, and smiled as she saw the puzzled look on my face. Officially, on record, the Palestinians make up 30%. Still — because of another racist law, called the Citizenship Law, which limits the rights of Palestinians to wed other Palestinians — some are Palestinian women who are married to Palestinian men are deprived of citizenship.

Their children are citizens but cannot attend public schools, “while their mothers are not allowed to study or work or leave their homes.” So, if the father dies, the mother has to leave, and if she takes the children with her back to the West Bank or Gaza, they will lose their status — which, with all its difficulties, is still better than that of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

A new reality?

In an effort to instill the love of settlement activity in the hearts of Israeli Jews, religious Zionist settlers have made Lyd their home. They have their own municipal budgets and luxury apartments built for them exclusively, even as Palestinians struggle to find housing in the city. During the uprising of May 2021, over 500 armed settlers from the racist, violent Regavim movement moved into the city’s municipality. They aimed to incite violence and terrorize the Palestinian population.

When Councilwoman Shehada questioned the mayor about this, he threatened to report her to the Shabak. The Shabak is the Israeli secret police, known for targeting, detaining and torturing Palestinian political activists. She had to remind him that the Shabak does not work for the mayor’s office.

The most surprising thing I saw or heard during my visit to Lyd was a comment by Councilwoman Shehada: “I am very optimistic,” she said with a grin. “Things are changing, we have seen more Palestinians resist and organize, and I believe that we are facing a new reality today.”

If there is room for optimism, Shehada certainly has a big role in it. “I decided to run for mayor in the upcoming elections,” she told me. Local elections are scheduled to be held in the fall of 2021. Even if the world hasn’t come to terms with reality, Palestine stretches from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean and goes right through the ancient Palestinian city of Lyd.

The Fight to Save Lifta, the Last Remaining Palestinian Village

July 09th, 2021

By Jessica Buxbaum

Source

See the source image
Lifta, the only town Israel did not demolish after the Nakba, stands as a symbol of the Palestinian right of return, but an Israeli government “development” plan may soon change that.

LIFTA, JERUSALEM — Yacoub Odeh is 81 years old but he can still remember his childhood in the Palestinian village of Lifta as if it were yesterday. Children playing together in the gardens, swimming in the pools and laying in the grass.

Today, Lifta remains as a frozen time capsule. While the residents were expelled during Israel’s 1948 ethnic cleansing campaign (Nakba), the ruins of their homes still stand. These ruins carved into the lush hillside are perceived as a symbol of the Palestinians’ right of return. This is the only town Israel did not demolish after the Nakba, but a government plan may soon change that.

In May, the Israel Lands Authority (ILA), the government agency in charge of managing public lands, issued a new tender for construction in Lifta. The development scheme, known as Plan 6036, seeks to build 259 housing units along with a commercial and business space and a luxury hotel on top of and around the existing houses. Daphna Golan-Agnon, a law professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and part of the Save Lifta Coalition’s board, explained that while the homes may not be demolished, “the village will disappear behind walls of concrete needed to hold new construction.”

The bid was supposed to be held on July 4, but significant public opposition delayed it to July 29.

Lifta Jerusalem
The ruins in Lifta, a Palestinian village ethnically cleased in 1948. Liebe Blekh | MintPress News

Attempts to demolish Lifta have been ongoing for years. The ILA first published a tender for Plan 6036 in 2010 after the Israeli state approved the construction plan for Lifta in 2006. A 2012 Jerusalem District Court ruling found Plan 6036 insufficient and requested amending it in accordance with a conservation survey on Lifta from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

The IAA survey was completed in 2017 and found that Plan 6036 could not be executed without making significant adjustments in order to preserve the ancient village. Plan 270b was drawn up to fit the survey’s findings but in 2017 the Local Planning and Building Committee of Jerusalem temporarily halted the initiative for further examination.

The recent ILA announcement was met with hundreds of letters to Jerusalem’s mayor rejecting the sale. When reached for comment, the Municipality of Jerusalem told MintPress News that it “wasn’t informed about the publication of this tender and didn’t approve it. The mayor of Jerusalem asked all the relevant authorities to reconsider the construction plan.” The Israel Lands Council, which operates the ILA, did not respond to a request for comment.

‘In one hour, we became refugees’

Lifta’s strategic location at the edge of Jerusalem has made it a prime target for land grabs. Acting as a suburb of Jerusalem, Lifta’s placement next to the Jerusalem-Jaffa Highway makes for an easy trip to the Mediterranean while still being tied to the city of Jerusalem.

Lifta, often referred to as the entrance to Jerusalem, was a wealthy, agricultural community supported by olive presses and flour mills and situated atop the Wadi al-Shami spring. Homes made of limestone were cut into the hillside and Lifta’s roads wended through the valley.

Prior to the 1948 Nakba, Zionist militias like the Haganah saw seizing Lifta as necessary to cement Jewish control over all of Palestine. According to the Haganah Historical Archives, “[s]ecuring the western exit of the city [of Jerusalem] entailed the eviction of Arabs.”  Israeli historian Benny Morris said the Haganah fired the first shots in 1947, setting off the mass expulsion of Lifta’s 2,960 residents.

In December 1947, the Haganah killed a Palestinian business owner in Lifta. Later that month, one of Lifta’s two coffeehouses was ambushed with gunfire and grenades. The attack killed six and wounded seven. Two months into 1948, the Jewish Agency chairman and future first prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, boasted of the ethnic cleansing’s success, telling his political party members: “From your entry into Jerusalem through Lifta — Romema, through Mahane Yehuda, King George Street and Mea She’arim — there are no strangers. One hundred percent Jews.“

Odeh, head of the Lifta Cultural Heritage Protection Commission, was 8-years-old when Lifta came under siege by Zionist forces.

Lifta refugee
Yacoub Odeh, Nakba survivor and head of the Lifta Cultural Heritage Protection Commission. Liebe Blekh | MintPress News

“I remember one day my mother was preparing the fire to heat our room, and then [the Zionist miltiias] began to shoot. My brothers began to cry, ‘Mama, mama! They’re shooting us!’ My mom took us inside the room in the corner and under a table to protect us,” Odeh said, recalling two stories of Lifta — the town’s beauty and charm and then its tragic fall.

“There is the beautiful life and then began the miserable life because of the occupation.”

Toward the end of February 1948, Odeh’s father put him, his siblings and his mother into a truck heading to Ramallah to escape the violence in Lifta. Odeh’s father stayed behind to defend the village from the Zionist gangs.

“We were only wearing the clothing we had on because we are coming back tomorrow. We are coming back. Now we just want to be far from the shooting.” Odeh took a deep sigh and said, “In one hour, we became refugees.”

Today, 55 buildings out of approximately 450 remain in Lifta, including a club, mosque, cemetery and school, which now operates as a school for Israeli Jews. Liftawi refugees are estimated at around 30,000 and live in Jerusalem, the Occupied West Bank and the Diaspora. Most of the homes are empty, but a few are occupied by Israeli settlers. According to Zochrot, the Israeli nonprofit seeking to raise awareness of the Nakba, the “settlements of Mey Niftoach and Giv’at Sha’ul were built on village lands and now have become parts of the suburbs of Jerusalem.”

Saving Lifta

The Save Lifta Coalition orchestrated the campaign to the mayor and has been organizing since 2010 against Plan 6036. The organization spent five years working with scholars, activists, conservation specialists and higher education professionals to develop an alternative to 6036.

Their proposal aims to “expand the area of the national park and turn the village into a natural urban space for the adjacent neighborhoods,” while preserving Lifta’s cultural landscape.

The World Monuments Fund added Lifta to its list of endangered sites in 2018 and UNESCO added the village to its tentative list of world heritage sites.

‘Not something we can discuss now’

When asked about the plan’s responsibility regarding the right of return for Palestinians, Golan-Agnon said, “our plan is a plan to save Lifta as it is for the future generations to decide upon its fate.” She explained:

Many of us [in the coalition] do think there should be a right of return for Palestinians but we know it’s not something we can discuss now. So we say, it’s beautiful, keep it open, and then one day there can be a decision about what happens and who’s coming.

Dana Amawi’s grandmother grew up in Lifta and was expelled from the village in 1948. Now the family lives in Amman, Jordan. The 20-year-old said she was shaken to her core upon hearing the news of the sale. “Lifta symbolized a tiny, very small bit of hope that maybe we will be able to return to it,” Amawi told MintPress. “And now to think that other people might live in the house that I have the right to be in, it’s very sad.”

Lifta Jerusalem
A Palestinian woman holds a partially eaten fig picked from a tree in Lifta. Liebe Blekh | MintPress News

Amawi said that her grandmother fell ill after learning of the auction. “She got sick. She had a fever and she was really, really sad because to her, this is where she grew up. This is where her earliest memories are and this is where she has the right to be,” Amawi said.

Stone houses like the one Odeh spent his early childhood in now crumble from neglect. The walls are sprayed with graffiti and piles of trash line the floors. On Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath), you’ll often find Israelis bathing in the spring’s waters.

Aseel AlBajeh, advocacy officer and legal researcher at the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, visited Lifta in 2018. Her grandmother, who lives in Ramallah, is from Lifta. “It was a painful experience,” AlBajeh said of her time in Lifta. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back to Lifta in this situation.”

‘You are here as a visitor’

During her visit, AlBajeh tried recalling her grandmother’s memories of a flourishing Lifta, but she said those stories were disrupted by the fact that she’s only in Lifta because of a permit she received from the Israeli government to enter 1948-occupied Palestine or modern-day Israel from the West Bank. “You are here as a visitor. It’s like it’s not a place where you belong, or this is what [the Israeli government] intends for refugees to feel like,” AlBajeh said. “Settlers were swimming in the spring of the village and they were blasting loud music, and it also disrupted my ability to even imagine Lifta as Palestinian.”

Jewish settlers in LIfta
Israeli settlers in Lifta hold a middle finger to a group of Palestinian children. Blekh | MintPress News

To help her reclaim Lifta, AlBajeh took a small piece of the village’s remains during her visit. She collected a broken tile painted with traditional designs from one of the house’s floors, knowing this might be the last physical object she can have of Lifta.

“Lifta is a witness of what happened during the Nakba,” AlBajeh said, explaining:

We have this connection as Palestinians, and when we see the cactus plants, we connect this as evidence that displacement happened here. And if you go to Lifta, you’ll see the huge amount of cactus. So even if the houses remain and [Israel] tries to remove the cactus, it’s still painful… It’s not about the stones or about the trees. It’s about the whole identity of Lifta and the Palestinian history, which we still connect to. “

‘We were kings in our village’

Odeh’s memories paint Lifta as an idyllic place, an oasis carved into the steep slopes of Jerusalem where life was carefree and bountiful. “We were kings in our village,” Odeh said. “Everything we need, we had — a life so simple. We didn’t need cinema or computers, no, everything we needed came from our land.”

But the minute Odeh and his family became refugees, their resources became scarce. “At that time there were no charitable associations or agencies ready to help,” Odeh recalled. “You know what Nakba means? Nakba does not mean to destroy homes. No, Nakba means to destroy the life — economic life, social life, educational life, political life. They destroyed our life.”

Upon reminiscing about Lifta, Odeh said his dream is to go back home:

I miss my childhood. Palestinian children have lost their childhood life to play like children, to go to the theater, to concerts, to football. No, until now we have house demolitions, we have arrests, we have land confiscation and killings. Every day we have events like these — if not my family, my neighborhood.”

“The Palestinian Sharpeville” – Dr Haidar Eid on the Global Implications of the Gaza Massacre

By Dan Cohen

Source

Gaza
Dr. Haidar Eid, a professor of cultural studies at Gaza’s al-Aqsa University on Israel’s targeting of middle and upper-class segments of Gaza, comparisons to the fall of South African apartheid, and how the attack on Gaza will fuel the rise of BDS.

Behind The Headlines’ Dan Cohen speaks with Dr. Haidar Eid, a professor of cultural studies at Gaza’s al-Aqsa University. They discuss Israel’s targeting of middle and upper-class segments of Gaza, comparisons to the fall of South African apartheid, and how the current attack on the Gaza Strip will fuel the rise of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Facebook, Social Media Giants Admit to Silencing Palestinian Voices Online

May 14th, 2021

By Jessical Buxbaum

Source

Social media companies including Facebook have admitted to MintPress that pro-Palestinian posts were removed, blaming “technical bugs” and “spam filters.”

OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM — In a video posted on activist organization Jewish Voice for Peace’s Twitter account, Muna El-Kurd explained why social media is so vital for the Palestinian cause.

“We rely on the honorable people standing in solidarity with us, people who tweet #SaveSheikhJarrah everyday,” Muna El-Kurd said. “Even a short tweet or post is a treasure.”

El-Kurd and her family are under threat of forcible displacement by Israel settlers and Israeli government forces from their home in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in Occupied East Jerusalem. Over the past week, Palestinians on the ground have documented both Israeli police brutality and settler violence.

In response, the world rallied behind Palestinian home defenders online by sharing information related to Sheikh Jarrah, al-Aqsa Mosque, and Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine. However, activists claim their content was met with censorship from the very platforms with which they’re engaging.

Instagram disabled Muna El-Kurd’s account last week and her brother, Mohammed El-Kurd, had several of his Instagram stories removed and was threatened with account deletion.

A flurry of content removal and banning

Activists reported that social media companies have been removing their content, stating it violated community guidelines or deeming it “hate speech.” Reports also included suspended and deactivated accounts and text-only content labeled “sensitive,” a designation usually reserved for photos and videos containing violence, gore or derogatory images. The “Save Sheikh Jarrah” Facebook group was also deactivated, according to Mohammed El-Kurd.

Reports were largely centered on Instagram and Twitter, with some restrictive behaviors conducted by Facebook and even TikTok.

Over the weekend, hashtags related to al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Jarrah and Jerusalem could not be found on Instagram.

According to internal employee communications provided to Buzzfeed, al-Aqsa — the third holiest site in Islam — was flagged by Instagram as associated with “violence or dangerous organizations.” The label is typically reserved for terrorist groups.

During the last days of Ramadan, worshippers at al-Aqsa were attacked with stun grenades and rubber bullets by Israeli police in riot gear. More than 170 Palestinians were injured. Social media users hoping to publicize the state violence instead found their content removed from search results.

Twenty-four rights organizations signed a statement demanding that Facebook and Twitter reinstate affected accounts and explain their actions:

The removed content and suspended accounts on both Instagram and Twitter are involved in documenting and reporting what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah, as well as denouncing Israel’s policies of ethnic cleansing, apartheid and persecution. These violations are not limited to Palestinian users, but also affect activists around the world who are using social media to raise awareness about the grave situation in Sheikh Jarrah.

Nadim Nashif, founder and CEO of 7amleh, one of the letter’s signatories, said the digital rights organization had received approximately 200 cases of social media censorship related to the recent events in Palestine. However, he believes the actual number could be well into the thousands, as many users experiencing censorship may not report it.

“Actually, 99 percent of our [content removal] appeals to social media companies were put back, with no questions asked. And this is clearly because these posts did not really violate their community standards,” Nashif told MintPress News. “What’s basically happening is the Israeli Cyber Unit is abusing the system of so-called voluntary takedown.”

When reached for comment, a Twitter spokesperson said “Our automated systems took enforcement action on a small number of accounts in error by an automated spam filter.”

“We are expeditiously reversing this action to reinstate access to the affected accounts, some of which have already been reinstated,” Twitter said.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, responded to requests for comment from MintPress by issuing a statement that reads in part:

We know there have been several issues that have impacted people’s ability to share on our apps, including a technical bug that affected Stories around the world, and an error which temporarily restricted content from being viewed on the Al Aqsa mosque hashtag page. While both issues have been fixed, they never should have happened in the first place. We’re so sorry to everyone who felt they couldn’t bring attention to important events, or who felt this was a deliberate suppression of their voice. This was never our intention.

Corporate and government collaborative censorship

As previously reported by MintPress, social media suppression of Palestinian media is not a new phenomenon. 7amleh’s research unveiled significant cooperation between social media behemoths and Israel in targeting Palestinian content: According to a 2020 7amleh report on the systematic erasure of Palestinian content, the Israeli Ministry of Justice’s Cyber Unit is responsible for submitting removal requests to tech companies based on purported violations of domestic law and the companies’ community guidelines.

7amleh wrote in their report:

The Israeli Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, stated that ‘Facebook, Google, and YouTube are complying with up to 95% of Israel’s requests to delete content that the Israeli government says incites Palestinian violence.’ This shows a significant focus on Palestinian content and efforts to label Palestinian political speech as incitement to violence.

The Israeli government and non-governmental organizations also encourage citizens to participate in these censorship efforts by making their own content removal requests with regard to Palestinian information.

“The big issue of the voluntary takedowns is that there aren’t any legal or bureaucratic procedures to clarify them,” Nashif said.

In 2019, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed a joint petition to Israel’s High Court of Justice against the Cyber Unit on the grounds its mechanisms violate the constitutional rights of freedom of expression and due process. Last month, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected that petition.

“As usual, the Supreme Court supported and validated the actions of the Cyber Unit,” Nashif said. “And now they’re trying to suppress the Palestinian voice by intensifying these requests for takedowns.”

Nashif could not confirm that Israel’s Cyber Unit is behind the latest alleged censorship. But through Adalah and ACRI’s use of the Freedom of Information Law, 7amleh knows the government entity made more than 15,000 requests last year to social media platforms. Nashif explained:

We don’t have evidence about what’s happened in the last week because neither the Cyber Unit nor Facebook is transparent about the takedowns. But it’s clear from following them, researching their policies, speaking with people working in Facebook and from the different appeals in the court against the Cyber Unit, we know that this is obviously happening.”

Escalating violence, growing grassroots action

Tensions in Jerusalem and throughout Palestine have intensified in recent days. At the time of writing, Israeli airstrikes have killed 87 Gazan Palestinians, including 18 children, and rocket fire from Hamas, the resistance movement governing Gaza, has killed six Israelis and one Indian national. More than 530 Palestinians have been injured and 28 Israelis wounded.

Israeli forces have fired skunk water and stun grenades at crowds demonstrating against the expulsions of Sheikh Jarrah residents. Armed groups of Israelis are currently storming Palestine’s streets—chanting “Death to Arabs,” destroying Palestinian properties, and attacking Palestinians.

Palestinians Gaza
Palestinians carry the body of a child found in the rubble home destroyed by a precision Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, May 13, 2021. Abdel Kareem Hana | AP

Palestinians Gaza
A relative mourns over the bodies of four young brothers from the Tanani family killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, May 14, 2021. Khalil Hamra | AP

Palestinians Gaza
A wounded boy lies on a stretcher following an Israeli attack in Beit Lahiya, Gaza, May 10, 2021. Mohammed Ali | AP

The Israeli Supreme Court postponed a court hearing on the possible dispossession facing Sheikh Jarrah families, including the El-Kurds. The court is expected to set a new date in 30 days.

While the Israeli authorities continue crushing Palestinian dissent on the ground, Nashif said Palestinian voices remain silenced online as well.

“Our feeling is that it’s less now because we are getting fewer requests to appeal. But it is still happening,” Nashif said, referring to how the Israeli Cyber Unit, artificial intelligence, and pro-Israel internet communities like Act.IL are all part of the campaign to diminish the Palestinian perspective on social media.

“You have to understand that this is a fight on narrative,” Nashif said. “There is a strong attempt to suppress the Palestinian narrative.”

US/Western Support for Israel Mass Slaughter and Destruction Throughout the Occupied Territories

May 16, 2021

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Support by the US-dominated West lets apartheid Israel reign terror on Occupied Palestinians with impunity — as it’s done from inception since its 1947-48 war of aggression.

An illegitimately created Jewish state in the Arab Middle East remains a prescription for endless conflict.

It’s ongoing perpetually by Israel against Palestinians its ruling regimes want dispossessed of their homes and land, against Syria for years and Lebanon at the Jewish state’s discretion.

As long as apartheid Israel exists, the Middle East will remain one of the world’s hot spots.  

What the Netanyahu regime named Operation Guardian of the Walls, Hamas calls Operation Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Sword.

A statement its leadership issued last week said the following:

“We warned the enemy not to insist on attacking our holy sites and our people.” 

“The enemy, however, continued its brutality, so it’s time now to pay a price.” 

“We have accumulated our military experience in a bid to defend our people, whom we will never abandon.” 

“Our weapon is the weapon of all our people.”

“The time when the coward enemy can attack Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds without being held accountable is over.”

Sunday marks day-seven of Israeli aggression on Gaza — and throughout the Occupied Territories perpetually — defenseless Palestinian civilians paying the biggest price.

Deaths, injuries and mass destruction increase by the hour, including by smashing residential buildings in the Strip and other non-military-related targets.

In all preemptive Israeli wars, inflicting maximum pain, suffering, deaths, destruction, and slow-motion genocide are key objectives — in flagrant breach of the UN Charter and other international law.

On Saturday, Netanyahu pledged to continue endless Israeli aggression on Gaza.

In response, Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyah vowed that “resistance” to Israeli state terror “will not give in.”

According to Gaza health officials Sunday morning, pre-dawn Israeli terror-bombing killed over two dozen more Palestinians in the Strip, including 8 more children.

As of early Sunday morning local time, at least 182 Palestinians were massacred by Israel in cold blood, including around 50 children — thousands injured in Gaza and throughout the Territories.

Whatever the death, injury, and destruction toll at any moment in time, carnage continues to increase hourly throughout one day after another — how it’s been since May 10.

On Sunday, the UN Security Council will hold a first-ever open discussion on the ongoing conflict — to include representatives from Occupied Palestine, Israel and other regional countries, notably Jordan and Egypt.

Two earlier closed-door sessions were held in the past week.

So far, Biden regime hardliners — in support of Israeli aggression — blocked issuance of a statement criticizing it.

Over the weekend, the Biden regime again defied reality by falsely blaming Hamas for Israel’s preemptive reign of terror on Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Netanyahu regime envoy to Washington Gilad Erdan thanked “POTUS” for its one-sided support.

In cities worldwide, large-scale pro-Palestinian rallies continue to be held.

Some participants carried banners and chanted: 

“Free Palestine.” 

“Israel is a terrorist state.” 

“Occupation No More.” 

“We demand change.”

“Not in my name.”

“Solidarity with Palestine.”

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” and other anti-Israeli slogans. 

Jewish state flags were burned.

In the US, thousands turned out in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Denver, and elsewhere nationwide, including downtown Chicago where I live — in solidarity with long-suffering Palestinians.

According to WGN TV Chicago:

“A massive group of protesters from The Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine filled Congress Plaza in downtown Chicago Wednesday to condemn…Israeli aggression.”

“Demonstrators (rallied along the city’s) Magnificent Mile,” including near Chicago’s landmark Water Tower.

CBS TV Chicago reported on a south side “Bridgeview (rally) in support of Palestinians.”

In Los Angeles on Saturday, one demonstrator likely spoke for many others nationwide, saying:

“I’m here because I want a Palestinian life to equal an Israeli life and today it doesn’t,” adding:

“When you have a nuclear-armed state and another state of villagers with rocks, it is clear who is to blame.”

May 15 marked the 73rd anniversary of Nakba Day — the catastrophe, reflecting mass-displacement of Palestinians and decades of endless suffering under suffocating occupation.

Earlier I quoted a violently displaced Palestinian saying the following:

“I cannot forget three horror-filled days in July of 1948.” 

“The pain sears my memory, and I cannot rid myself of it no matter how hard I try.”

“First, Israeli soldiers forced thousands of Palestinians from their homes near the Mediterranean coast, even though some families had lived in the same houses for centuries.”

“My family had been in the town of Lydda in Palestine at least 1,600 years.” 

“Then, without water, we stumbled into the hills and continued for three deadly days.”

“The Jewish soldiers followed, occasionally shooting over our heads to scare us and keep us moving.” 

“Terror filled my eleven-year-old mind as I wondered what would happen.”

“I remembered overhearing my father and his friends express alarm about recent massacres by Jewish terrorists. Would they kill us, too?”

“We did not know what to do, except to follow orders and stumble blindly up the rocky hills.” 

“I walked hand in hand with my grandfather, who carried our only remaining possessions-a small tin of sugar and some milk for my aunt’s two-year-old son, sick with typhoid.”

Palestinians are no match against Israeli brutality committed against them — how it’s always been.

Nakba survivors recall the horror they endured. 

Arabs were gunned down in cold blood, women raped.

Other atrocities were committed. Hundreds of thousands displaced hoped one day they’d return.

They and descendants are still waiting, enduring ruthless militarized occupation.

On Nakba Day 2021, the 

Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) explained “10 facts you need to know about the Palestinian Nakba:”

1. Zionist militia forcibly displaced from “750,000 and 1,000,000 Palestinians into exile, making them refugees.”

2. Around eight million Palestinian refugees are denied their legal “right to return to their homes, lands and other property by Israel, simply because they are not Jewish.”

3. The Nakba was well-planned forced displacement of indigenous Arabs to create a Jewish state in historic Palestine.

4. “Zionist militia begun its ethnic cleansing of Palestinian towns and villages months before the creation of the State of Israel.”

5. Jewish state Arab citizens are discriminated against for being non-Jews and treated like fifth column threats which they’re not.

6. In creating an illegitimate Jewish state by stealing historic Palestinian land, Zionist militia “destroyed about 530 Palestinian towns and villages to prevent refugees from returning.”

7. The Jewish National Fund (JNF)…holds…stolen (Palestinian) land as “the perpetual property of the Jewish People” — illegally.

8. “The Nakba did not end in 1948 and continues to this day, in the form of Israel’s ongoing theft of Palestinian land for settlements and for Jewish communities inside Israel, its destruction of Palestinian homes and agricultural land, revocation of residency rights , deportations, demographic engineering, periodic brutal military assaults, and forced displacement.”

9. “Many (East Jerusalem)Sheikh Jarrah…residents were ethnically cleansed from their homes during the Nakba.” 

“They currently face becoming refugees for the second or third time.”

Throughout the Occupied Territories, “(i)ndigenous Palestinians are being forced from their homes by state sponsored violence at the hands of Israeli soldiers, Israeli police, and armed Israeli” settlers.

10. Israeli law “prohibits Palestinians who are second-class citizens of the state from commemorating the Nakba on May 15.” 

“This does not stop Palestinians from remembering.”

According to the BNC, the most effective way to support justice for long-suffering Palestinians is by “(s)har(ing) stories of the Nakba from Palestinians and join(ing) BDS campaigns.”

Muna is Palestine, Yakub is Israel: The Untold Story of Sheikh Jarrah

May 12th, 2021

Sheikh Jarrah Feature photo

By Ramzy Baroud

Source

There are two separate Sheikh Jarrah stories – one read and watched in the news and another that receives little media coverage or due analysis. 

There are two separate Sheikh Jarrah stories – one read and watched in the news and another that receives little media coverage or due analysis. The obvious story is that of the nightly raids and violence meted out by Israeli police and Jewish extremists against Palestinians in the devastated East Jerusalem neighborhood.

For weeks, thousands of Jewish extremists have targeted Palestinian communities in Jerusalem’s Old City. Their objective is the removal of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. They are not acting alone. Their riots and rampages are directed by a well-coordinated leadership composed of extremist Zionist and Jewish groups, such as the Otzma Yehudit party and the Lehava Movement. Their unfounded claims, violent actions and abhorrent chant “Death to the Arabs” are validated by Israeli politicians, such as Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir and the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Arieh King.

Here is a little introduction to the political discourse of Ben-Gvir and King, who were caught on video shouting and insulting a wounded Palestinian protester. The video starts with MK Ben-Gvir disparagingly yelling at a Palestinian who was apparently wounded by Israeli police, yet returned to protest against the evictions planned for Sheikh Jarrah.

Ben-Gvir is heard shouting, “Abu Hummus, how is your ass?”

“The bullet is still there, that’s why he is limping,” responds the Deputy Mayor, King, to Ben-Gvir.  King continues, “Did they take the bullet out of your ass? Did they take it out already? It is a pity it did not go in here,” King continues, pointing to his head.

Delighted with what they perceive to be a whimsical commentary on the wounding of the Palestinian, Ben-Gvir and King’s entourage of Jewish extremists laugh.

While “Abu Hummus”, wounded yet still protesting, is a testament to the tenacity of the Palestinian people, King, Ben-Gvir, the settlers and the police are a representation of the united Israeli front aimed at ethnically cleansing Palestinians and ensuring Jewish majority in Jerusalem.

Another important participant in the ongoing Israeli ethnic cleansing campaign in Jerusalem is Israel’s court system which has provided a legal cover for the targeting of Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem.

The legal foundation of the Jewish settlers’ constant attempts at acquiring more Palestinian properties can be traced back to a specific 1970 law, known as the Legal and Administrative Matters Law, which allowed Jews to sue Palestinians for properties they claim to have owned prior to the establishment of Israel on the ruins of historic Palestine in 1948. While Palestinians are excluded from making similar claims, Israeli courts have generously handed Palestinian homes, lands and other assets to Jewish claimants. In turn, these homes, as in the case of Sheikh Jarrah and other Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, are often sold to Jewish settler organizations to build yet more colonies on occupied Palestinian land.

Last February, the Israeli Supreme Court awarded Jewish settlers the right to many Palestinian homes in Sheikh Jarrah. Following a Palestinian and international backlash, it offered Palestinians a ‘compromise’, whereby Palestinian families relinquished ownership rights to their homes and agreed to continue to live there as tenants, paying rents to the very illegal Jewish settlers who have stolen their homes in the first place, but who are now armed with a court decision.

However, the ‘logic’ through which Jews claim Palestinian properties as their own should not be associated with a few extremist organizations. After all, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 was not the work of a few extreme Zionists. Similarly, the illegal occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967 and the massive settlement enterprise that followed was not the brainchild of a few extreme individuals. Colonialism in Israel was, and remains, a state-run project, which ultimately aims at achieving the same objective that is being carried out in Sheikh Jarrah – the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians to ensure Jewish demographic majority

This is the untold story of Sheikh Jarrah, one that cannot be expressed by a few news bytes or social media posts. However, this most relevant narrative is largely hidden. It is easier to blame a few Jewish extremists than to hold the entire Israeli government accountable. Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is constantly manipulating the subject of demographics to advance the interests of his Jewish constituency. He is a strong believer in an exclusive Jewish state and also fully aware of the political influence of Jewish settlers. For example, shortly before the March 23 elections, Netanyahu made a decision to greenlight the construction of 540 illegal settlement units in the so-called Har-Homa E Area (Abu Ghneim Mountain) in the occupied West Bank, in the hope of acquiring as many votes as possible.

While the Sheikh Jarrah story is garnering some attention even in mainstream US media, there is a near-complete absence of any depth to that coverage, namely the fact that Sheikh Jarrah is not the exception but the norm. Sadly, as Palestinians and their supporters try to circumvent widespread media censorship by reaching out directly to civil societies across the world using social media platforms, they are often censored there, as well.

One of the videos initially censored by Instagram is that of Muna al-Kurd, a Palestinian woman who had lost her home in Sheikh Jarrah to a Jewish settler by the name of Yakub.

“Yakub, you know this is not your house,” Muna is seen outside her home, speaking to Yakub.

Yakub answers, “Yes, but if I go, you don’t go back. So what’s the problem? Why are you yelling at me? I didn’t do this. I didn’t do this. It’s easy to yell at me, but I didn’t do this. 

Muna: “You are stealing my house.”

Yakub: “And if I don’t steal it, someone else is going to steal it.”

Muna: “No. No one is allowed to steal it.” 

The untold story of Sheikh Jarrah, of Jerusalem – in fact, of all of Palestine – is that of Muna and Yakub, the former representing Palestine, the latter, Israel. For justice to ever be attained, Muna must be allowed to reclaim her stolen home and Yakub must be held accountable for his crime.

Forced Evictions of Palestinians for Exclusive Jewish Development

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Theft of Palestinian land followed the infamous 1917 Balfour Declaration that called for establishment of a nation for Jews on their historic land.

Endless conflict, occupation, dispossession, and repression — along with social and cultural fragmentation — define conditions for beleaguered Palestinians.

They’ve endured over 100 years of suffering with no end of it in sight because the world community is dismissive of their rights.

Israeli land theft for exclusive Jewish development began in earnest during its so-called 1947-48 war of independence.

Around 78% of historic Palestinian land was stolen, the rest during Israel’s preemptive 1967 Six Day War.

Israeli laws illegitimately legitimized theft of Palestinian land for exclusive Jewish use.

Israel’s Basic Law affirms that “ownership of Israel Lands, being the lands in Israel of the State, the Development Authority or the Keren Kayemet Le-Israel (KKL — Jewish National Fund, JNF), shall not be transferred either by sale or in any other manner.” 

Israeli laws prohibit Arabs from buying, leasing or using land exclusively reserved for Jews — part of what apartheid is all about.

Most often, Israeli courts rubber-stamp land theft when Arab owners petition for justice routinely denied them.

The same goes for nearly all issues related to their rights and well-being.

Since mid-April, Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and surrounding areas over ordered forced evictions of Palestinian families.

Last month — together with about 190 other organizations — the US Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) called on the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, to investigate, when the CCR called “war crimes and crimes against humanity in (Occupied) Palestine.”

Eight or more Sheik Jarrah Palestinian families face unlawful forced eviction.

Israel’s Jerusalem District Court ordered six families to vacate their homes by May 2, others by August 1.

CCR and other groups urged the ICC to intervene on behalf of Palestinian rights, saying the following:

“(W)e ask that you include as part of the investigation the war crimes of forcible transfer of parts of the population of the occupied territory (art. 8(2)(b)(viii) and 8(2)(a)(vii)), transfer by the Occupying Power of parts of its civilian population into the territory it occupies (art. 8(2)(b)(viii)), destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully (art. 8(2)(a)(iv))  and, as these forced evictions are part of an ongoing, widespread and systematic attack against Palestinian civilians, the crimes against humanity of deportation or forcible transfer (art. 7.1(d)), persecution (art. 7.1(h)), apartheid (art. 7.1(j)) and other inhumane acts causing great suffering or serious injury to inter alia mental health (art. 7.1(k).”

In 2018, the ICC expressed concern about Israel’s planned eviction of the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar.

At the time, it accused Israel of “extensive destruction of property without military necessity and population transfers in an occupied territory,” adding:

These actions “constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute.”

The same applies to what’s ongoing in Occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheik Jarrah neighorhood.

Long-suffering Palestinians justifiably accuse Israel of discriminatory mistreatment throughout the Occupied Territories.

Its legal system and courts systematically deny Palestinians justice afforded Jews alone.

CCR and allied organizations called on the ICC to condemn Israeli forced evictions from Sheikh Jarrah.

They also urged the ICC to warn Israeli perpetrators that their actions may constitute crimes of war and against humanity.

Continuing their daily police state crackdown on fundamental Palestinian rights, Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Friday where tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered for prayer on the holy month of Ramadan’s last Friday. 

They attacked Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem neighborhoods with rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, tear gas, and beatings.

Palestinians inside the mosque — Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca’s Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina — were assaulted the same way.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, over 200 people were injured from clashes with Israel police in the mosque and elsewhere in Jerusalem, dozens hospitalized.

A field hospital was set up to treat the injured.

Earlier on Friday, Israeli forces lethally shot two Palestinians.

In response to Israeli violence, Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh accused the Netanyahu regime of “playing with fire,” adding:

“This is a battle you can’t win.”

Islamic Jihad’s Secretary General Ziyad al-Nakhalah warned Israel of a strong response against its ongoing violence.

According to Palestinian eyewitnesses in Jerusalem on Friday, Israeli forces aimed potentially lethal rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians’ heads and faces to seriously injure, disable or kill.

Red Crescent health workers confirmed that many Palestinians suffered wounds to their head and/or eyes.

Israeli forces attacked an East Jerusalem clinic involved in treating injured Palestinians with stun grenades.

Throughout Ramadan, Israeli security forces greatly restricted Palestinians’ access to Al-Aqsa and other Muslim holy sites in the Territories.

At the same time, extremists settlers participated in “Death to Arab” marches in Jerusalem — unrestricted.

Since mid-April, Sheik Jarrah Palestinians have been demonstrating daily against forced Israeli evictions from their homes — for the crime of being Arabs in an apartheid Jewish state.

Violently attacked by Israeli security forces and extremist settlers, they continue demonstrating peacefully for their rights at risk of being lost.

Days earlier, Israel’s Supreme Court postponed their forced eviction before perhaps ruling on the issue during or after a Monday May 10 hearing.

On Sunday May 9, one of the holiest Ramadan nights, massive crowds of Palestinian worshipers are expected to converge on the Al-Aqsa compound and mosque.

Sunday is also Jerusalem Day. It commemorates Israel’s illegal seizure and annexation of what the UN considers an international city, the capital of no single country.

Along with tens of thousands of Palestinians expected to rally throughout the city Sunday, extremist Israeli settlers and likeminded ultra-nationalists are likely to turn out in large numbers for “Death to Arab” marches — risking clashes between both sides.

Another day and night of violence is highly likely, perhaps exceeding what’s gone on so far.

One Sheik Jarrah resident likely spoke for others, saying:

“Our people will remain steadfast and patient in their homes, in our blessed land.”

Following Friday prayers, thousands of Palestinians chanted what’s been heard before during Jerusalem protests, saying:

“With our soul and blood, we will redeem you, Aqsa.”

An unanswered question is whether what’s gone on for weeks is the beginning of a Third Intifada.

It’s possible if daily Israeli violence continues and its High Court upholds illegal dispossession of Sheik Jarrah families from their homes.

A Final Comment

Last Friday, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville said the following:

If implemented, Sheik Jarrah evictions “would violate Israel’s obligations under international law” — pertaining to its illegal seizure and occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, adding:

“We call on Israel to immediately halt all forced evictions, including those in Sheikh Jarrah, and to cease any activity that would further contribute to a coercive environment and lead to a risk of forcible transfer.”

Like the US and its key Western partners, Israel long ago abandoned the rule of law, operating exclusively by its own rules.

The US under both right wings of its war party has always been dismissive of Palestinian rights while pretending otherwise. 

It showed in an unacceptable statement by deputy State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter.

Calling on both sides in Jerusalem “to ensure calm and act responsibly to deescalate tensions and avoid violent confrontation” stopped short of condemning Israeli violence like many times before.

Since establishment of Israel on stolen Palestinian land in 1948, the US and West looked the other way in response to the Jewish state’s highest of high crimes.

At the same time, the West has always been dismissive of Palestinian rights, according to the rule of law.

Dominant hardliners in the US and West today don’t give a hoot about them — one-sidedly supporting Israel like always before.

An Old Green Colonial Trick: Israel Masking Land Grabs as Environmental Conservation

Al-Walaja Feature photo

By Jessica Buxbaum

Source

“More and more open areas in East Jerusalem are being designated as preservation or national parks, and this is clearly in order to prevent Palestinian urban development.” — Sari Kronish, Israeli planning rights organization Bimkom

OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM — For decades, a Palestinian village on the southern tip of Jerusalem has lived on and cultivated the land. But a series of recent efforts by Israel is not only threatening their way of life but potentially displacing them from their homes.

On January 25, the Jerusalem District Planning Committee rejected the residents of Palestinian village al-Walaja’s plan to legalize their homes and further develop the community. Instead, the committee declared their land an ancient agricultural area in need of environmental conservation that should be transformed into a national park.

The notion of environmental integrity struck Amy Cohen, director of international relations and advocacy at Israeli non-profit Ir Amim, as contradictory.

“The planning committee and the [Israel] Civil Administration within the West Bank [have] been promoting and advancing plans within the same area for Jewish settlers,” Cohen said. “It shows massive discrimination in how [Israel] treats Palestinian areas in order to suppress the residential development.”

The committee’s decision paves the way for the lifting of the demolition freeze on 38 al-Walaja homes. On April 26, Israel’s Supreme Court will convene for a hearing on al-Walaja’s 2018 petition over its resident-initiated outline plan.

al-Walajeh Map
The portion of al-Walaja (spelled Al Walajeh on this map) facing mass demolitions is shaded in brown within the purple circle between the apartheid wall (red line) and the Jerusalem municipal border/annexation line (blue line). Credit | Ir Amim

Ibrahim A’raj, 37, grew up in al-Walaja. The home he built for his family in 2016 is now under threat of demolition. A’raj expects the court will not rule in al-Walaja’s favor in April and his house will be demolished.

“It’s not logical or legal,” A’raj said, referring to the Planning Committee’s rejection of the development plan for environmental reasons. “The village is surrounded by settlements and the wall, which destroyed the nature and environmental landscape.”

The Planning Committee did not respond to requests for comment.

Zones and no permits

When Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, it took the northern section of al-Walaja as well. Today, al-Walaja is split between Jerusalem and Areas B and C of the West Bank, so one-third of the land is controlled by the Jerusalem Municipality and the rest by the Bethlehem Governorate.

The Jerusalem area of al-Walaja has been at risk of forced displacement for a decade as a result of the Planning Committee’s refusal to discuss an outline plan. This refusal has made it impossible for the community to obtain building permits, so A’raj had to construct his house without one.

Amid the absence of building permits, demolition orders have increased. More than 20 homes have been razed in al-Walaja since 2016.

An isolated village cut off from its surroundings

Israeli authorities have prevented al-Walaja from developing while expanding Jewish settlements around the village and the apartheid wall (the barrier separating the West Bank and Israel).

Construction of the wall on three sides of al-Walaja cut off the village from nearly 300 acres of its agricultural land and turned that land into Nahal Refaim National Park. Har Gilo settlement lies to the south of al-Walaja. The Israel Civil Administration’s proposed expansion of the Har Gilo settlement to the west of the village will extend the wall, thereby enclosing al-Walaja and fully isolating it from its surroundings. The Civil Administration did not respond to requests for comment.

“The wall and the settlements deprived us from accessing our own land that we worked so hard to cultivate,” A’raj said, mentioning how the villagers are now blocked from the olive trees they harvested before the wall was built.

al-Walaja wall
Ancient agricultural terraces in al-Walaja (left) and Israel’s destruction of ancient terraces to build the wall (right). Photos | B’Tselem

Al-Walaja residents experience harassment daily from Israeli settlers and authorities. A’raj explained:

The Civil Administration confiscates our equipment when we start building a new house. The settlers around us use drones to take pictures when we start building and send them to the Civil Administration. The police put checkpoints at the entrance of the village and sometimes inside the village and the Walaja Bypass Road [connecting Har Gilo settlement to Jerusalem] gets a lot of traffic, so it limits our movement.”

A’raj lamented that if his home is demolished, he will likely leave al-Walaja, the place he’s called home his whole life. “It’s a huge tyranny that I have to leave my own house and my own land,” he said.

Israel doesn’t provide alternative or temporary housing for Palestinians whose homes they demolish. Sari Kronish — East Jerusalem planner for Bimkom, an Israeli planning rights organization — described the government’s lack of consideration in helping displaced families find housing as one of the “dark sides of the Israeli regime at the moment.”

“The very sad reality is that the authorities don’t offer [the uprooted Palestinians] anything. They just treat them as lawbreakers who are receiving their penalty,” Kronish said. “People just become homeless and become displaced.”

Ir Amim’s Cohen emphasizes that what Israel is enacting isn’t just the wide-scale displacement of Palestinians but also an attempt at annexation. She elaborated:

It’s an acute humanitarian toll that’s exacted upon the families, but it is also in service to the Israeli objective of consolidating control, which completely undermines any sort of conditions for a two-state solution based on two capitals. Because if you can completely segment Palestinian contiguity and advance steps toward de facto annexation of these areas, then you’re foiling a prospect of an agreed resolution.”

Not just al-Walaja

In what many Palestinians have described as a continuation of the Nakba (Israel’s 1948 ethnic cleansing campaign in Palestine), Israel is currently in the process of expelling thousands of Palestinians from East Jerusalem under the pretext of preservation.

“More and more open areas in East Jerusalem are being designated as preservation or national parks, and this is clearly in order to prevent Palestinian urban development,” Kronish said.

In the Al-Bustan neighborhood of the East Jerusalem district of Silwan, mass dispossession looms over the residents in order to make room for the touristic venture, Garden of the King. The community of Sheikh Jarrah is experiencing displacement at the hands of settler groups for the Shimon HaTzadik National Park.

Israel has long employed the practice of stealing Palestinian land and claiming it for recreational purposes. Many of Israel’s prized national parks were built on top of Palestinian villages destroyed during the Nakba. In Jerusalem, for instance, the remains of the village of Lifta are now a national park and hotel. Garbage and graffiti adorn what’s left of Lifta’s stone houses. Most of the village’s inhabitants, who were expelled in 1948, and their descendants live in refugee camps around Jerusalem — unable to return to home.

“It’s a form of institutional confiscation and settlement in the guise of green protection,” Kronish said.

Displacing indigenous peoples under the claim of conservation is an inherently settler-colonialist tactic spanning regions and centuries. Most well-known national parks in the United States like Yellowstone and Yosemite were once Native American tribal territories. In order to create an “uninhabited wilderness,” the federal government first had to remove the native peoples living on that land.

Modern environmentalism ignorantly dictates Some environmentalist assumptions suggest humans cannot coexist with wildlife. But that racist assumption idea ignores the history of indigenous communities living with and preserving nature.

Native Americans understood how to sustainably tend to the land. And just as in al-Walaja, maintaining the land is part of their livelihood.

Kronish explained:

This type of agricultural lifestyle is very dependent on people living [on] and working the land harmoniously. Once people are displaced, attempts at preservation become artificial. The residents would argue that by continuing to live there, they are more able to continue to preserve. For them, it’s not a question of preservation. It’s a question of a way of life and connection to the land.”

Revealed: Israeli Settler Groups With Ties To the US Are Evicting Palestinians in Mass

By Jessica Buxbaum

Source

Jessica Buxbaum investigates the slew of Israeli settler groups working to evict Palestinian families from their East Jerusalem homes with the aid of millions of dollars from American donors.

Occupied East Jerusalem — Nearly 20 Palestinian families face homelessness amid a raging pandemic and cold, wet winter in occupied East Jerusalem because of eviction lawsuits from Israeli settler groups backed by wealthy American donors.

Over the last few months, Israeli courts upheld the eviction orders of 16 Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem districts of Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah. The evictions are carried out through lawsuits by Israeli company Nachalat Shimon and settler associations Ateret Cohanim and Elad. These three organizations argue the land the families’ homes are on belongs to them because Yemeni Jews owned the land before 1948. Israel’s discriminatory Legal and Administrative Matters Law allows Jews to claim ownership of property they lost during the 1948 War but doesn’t guarantee that same right to Palestinians.

Nachalat Shimon operates in Sheikh Jarrah and is responsible for the evictions of 11 Palestinian families in the neighborhood since 2008. Ateret Cohanim and Elad work to displace Palestinian residents in Silwan and have evicted 14 families in the area since 2015. Silwan is part of Jerusalem’s “Holy Basin,” an area coveted by Jewish settlers because of its proximity to the Old City and purported connections to King David. While 16 families are under threat of imminent eviction, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that over 800 Palestinians are at risk of forced eviction, chiefly as a result of Israeli settlers.

The planned annexation of Greater Jerusalem. Areas in blue are, or soon will be, under Israeli control. Credit | Ir Amim

While Ateret Cohanim and Elad receive Israeli donations, the majority of their money comes from abroad. Ateret Cohanim received nearly 5 million shekels (roughly $1 million U.S. dollars) in foreign donations in 2018 but only 100,000 shekels or $3,000 domestically. Elad, also known as the Ir David Foundation, secured significantly more foreign monies with over 60,000 shekels or $20 million coming from abroad in 2019 and just 760,000 shekels or about $230,000 from Israel.

Public information is limited on where exactly these entities receive their donations from. According to the Israeli settlement watchdog group, Peace Now, Elad has not disclosed a donor list to Israel’s Registrar of Associations since 2005. However, it’s well-documented that Ateret Cohanim receives money from its sister nonprofit American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and Elad receives funds from its American wing, Friends of Ir David.

American money behind the settlements 

The United States’ Internal Revenue Service doesn’t require nonprofits to disclose their donors, allowing American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and Friends of Ir David haven’t to avoid publishing this information in their tax filings. Despite this, Friends of Ir David reported providing grants of $20 million to organizations in the Middle East in 2018. On its tax forms, the group writes its stated purpose is “to provide assistance to organizations in the Old City of Jerusalem and the Ancient City of David.” 

Elad is currently working with the Israel Antiquities Authority to excavate a nearly 300-foot-long tunnel under the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood of Silwan in hopes of unearthing the First and Second Jewish Temples. This archaeological dig is part of Israel’s recent efforts to “Judaize” Jerusalem and erase any Palestinian heritage from the city.

American Friends of Ateret Cohanim reported close to $550,000 in 2016 (the most recent filing available). The organization, also known as the Jerusalem Reclamation Project, states that part of its mission is to “provide aid for security equipment in support of the safety and protection of community residents, and provide funds to needy families for housing renovations and repairs.”  

Israeli Settler US dollars
US Ambassador David Friedman, left, talks to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson at an event in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. Tsafrir Abayov | AP

Close analysis of IRS reports from 2014-2019 by MintPress News reveals American philanthropists gave large sums to these organizations.

The Hertog Foundation, Irving I Moskowitz Foundation, Adelson Family Foundation, Mindel Foundation, Samueli Foundation, Jay and Jeannie Schottenstein Foundation, and the Jewish Communal Fund all donated to Friends of Ir David. The biggest contributors came from the foundations belonging to American billionaires Roger Hertog, Irving Moskowitz, and Sheldon Adelson. The Adelson Family Foundation gifted Friends of Ir David around $3 million in 2018. The Irving I Moskowitz Foundation contributed $1.5 million, and the Hertog Foundation gave around $600,000 during the five-year period.

The Cherna Moskowitz Foundation, the Jewish Communal Fund, and the Mermelstein Foundation have all donated to the American Friends of Ateret Cohanim. During the five years examined, the charity belonging to Irving Moskowitz’s wife, Cherna, gave the most with a total of $775,000.

These foundations, along with American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and Friends of Ir David, are tax-exempt entities. The organizations whose contact information is available did not respond to requests for comment.

Nachalat Shimon is even less transparent than Ateret Cohanim and Elad. According to documents obtained by Peace Now, Shimon Hazadik Holdings LTD is registered in the Israeli Corporation Authority as the owner of Nachalat Shimon.

Peace Now’s investigation also discovered that Shimon Hazadik is registered in Delaware’s Division of Corporations and another company with a similar name—Shimon Hazadik Partners—is also registered in Delaware. Both companies’ statuses have been canceled due to failure to pay taxes. Nachalat Shimon did not respond to a request for comment.

The Jewish National Fund’s hand in advancing settlements

While Nachalat Shimon, Ateret Cohanim, and Elad are the primary entities behind the current evictions, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) has also been involved in evicting Palestinian families, specifically by collaborating with Elad.

The JNF markets itself as an environmental organization helping to green Israel’s landscape. In reality, JNF has uprooted Palestinian communities since before Israel became a state.

+972 Magazine investigation found that JNF has cooperated with Elad lawyers for decades to evict Palestinian families in Silwan. Historical documents indicate that the JNF purchased Palestinian properties in Silwan through its subsidiary, Hemnutah. Hemnutah then works with Elad on eviction proceedings. In coordination with the JNF, Elad is attempting to evict the Sumarin family from their home in Silwan.

The US-Israel connection 

Since Israel’s inception, the state has overwhelmingly relied on American dollars to maintain its occupation of Palestine and the Syrian Golan—whether that’s through military aid or donations to Jewish settlements. Brian Reeves, Peace Now’s director of Development and External Relations, attributes this to the U.S. having the world’s largest Jewish population outside of Israel.

“Israel would not be a country today—100%— if it did not come from foreign funding from the United States,” Reeves said.

“And the United States has continued to invest billions of dollars per year in philanthropic work in Israel,” Reeves added.” “While a lot of that money might sound like it’s going toward archeology and things we all support, it’s actually going to right-wing organizations that are exploiting the archaeology for ideological reasons at the expense of the local Palestinian population.”

While Israeli organizations on the right and the left obtain financial support from the U.S., Reeves pointed out that conservative causes secure substantially more.

“For right-wing people, Israel is their pet project so they’ll put a disproportionate amount of their allocations and philanthropic work toward Israel,” Reeves said.

As an Israeli, though, Reeves’ main concern is how the influx of foreign wealth is subsequently driving the nation’s priorities.

“Coming from an Israeli perspective, how do we feel about the fact that our own politics, media, and country’s agenda is largely influenced by both right-wing Jewish and evangelical funding?” Reeves said. “Imagine if [President Joe] Biden was funded for the most part by outside private donors in foreign countries. It would just be absurd.”

“It’s infringing on our sovereignty and we’re letting it happen.”

How Israel Wages War on Palestinian History

By Jonathan Cook

Source

Jenin camp c2642

When the Palestinian actor Mohammed Bakri made a documentary about Jenin in 2002 – filming immediately after the Israeli army had completed rampaging through the West Bank city, leaving death and destruction in its wake – he chose an unusual narrator for the opening scene: a mute Palestinian youth.

Jenin had been sealed off from the world for nearly three weeks as the Israeli army razed the neighbouring refugee camp and terrorised its population.

Bakri’s film Jenin, Jenin shows the young man hurrying silently between wrecked buildings, using his nervous body to illustrate where Israeli soldiers shot Palestinians and where bulldozers collapsed homes, sometimes on their inhabitants.

It was not hard to infer Bakri’s larger meaning: when it comes to their own story, Palestinians are denied a voice. They are silent witnesses to their own and their people’s suffering and abuse.

The irony is that Bakri has faced just such a fate himself since Jenin, Jenin was released 18 years ago. Today, little is remembered of his film, or the shocking crimes it recorded, except for the endless legal battles to keep it off screens.

Bakri has been tied up in Israel’s courts ever since, accused of defaming the soldiers who carried out the attack. He has paid a high personal price. Deaths threats, loss of work and endless legal bills that have near-bankrupted him. A verdict in the latest suit against him – this time backed by the Israeli attorney general – is expected in the next few weeks.

Bakri is a particularly prominent victim of Israel’s long-running war on Palestinian history. But there are innumerable other examples.

For decades many hundreds of Palestinian residents in the southern West Bank have been fighting their expulsion as Israeli officials characterise them as “squatters”. According to Israel, the Palestinians are nomads who recklessly built homes on land they seized inside an army firing zone.

The villagers’ counter-claims were ignored until the truth was unearthed recently in Israel’s archives.

These Palestinian communities are, in fact, marked on maps predating Israel. Official Israeli documents presented in court last month show that Ariel Sharon, a general-turned-politician, devised a policy of establishing firing zones in the occupied territories to justify mass evictions of Palestinians like these communities in the Hebron Hills.

The residents are fortunate that their claims have been officially verified, even if they still depend on uncertain justice from an Israeli occupiers’ court.

Israel’s archives are being hurriedly sealed up precisely to prevent any danger that records might confirm long-sidelined and discounted Palestinian history.

Last month Israel’s state comptroller, a watchdog body, revealed that more than one million archived documents were still inaccessible, even though they had passed their declassification date. Nonetheless, some have slipped through the net.

The archives have, for example, confirmed some of the large-scale massacres of Palestinian civilians carried out in 1948 – the year Israel was established by dispossessing Palestinians of their homeland.

In one such massacre at Dawaymeh, near where Palestinians are today fighting against their expulsion from the firing zone, hundreds were executed, even as they offered no resistance, to encourage the wider population to flee.

Other files have corroborated Palestinian claims that Israel destroyed more than 500 Palestinian villages during a wave of mass expulsions that same year to dissuade the refugees from trying to return.

Official documents have disproved, too, Israel’s claim that it pleaded with the 750,000 Palestinian refugees to return home. In fact, as the archives reveal, Israel obscured its role in the ethnic cleansing of 1948 by inventing a cover story that it was Arab leaders who commanded Palestinians to leave.

The battle to eradicate Palestinian history does not just take place in the courts and archives. It begins in Israeli schools.

A new study by Avner Ben-Amos, a history professor at Tel Aviv University, shows that Israeli pupils learn almost nothing truthful about the occupation, even though many will soon enforce it as soldiers in a supposedly “moral” army that rules over Palestinians.

Maps in geography textbooks strip out the so-called “Green Line” – the borders demarcating the occupied territories – to present a Greater Israel long desired by the settlers. History and civics classes evade all discussion of the occupation, human rights violations, the role of international law, or apartheid-like local laws that treat Palestinians differently from Jewish settlers living illegally next door.

Instead, the West Bank is known by the Biblical names of “Judea and Samaria”, and its occupation in 1967 is referred to as a “liberation”.

Sadly, Israel’s erasure of Palestinians and their history is echoed outside by digital behemoths such as Google and Apple.

Palestinian solidarity activists have spent years battling to get both platforms to include hundreds of Palestinian communities in the West Bank missed off their maps, under the hashtag #HeresMyVillage. Illegal Jewish settlements, meanwhile, are prioritised on these digital maps.

Another campaign, #ShowTheWall, has lobbied the tech giants to mark on their maps the path of Israel’s 700-kilometre-long steel and concrete barrier, effectively used by Israel to annex occupied Palestinian territory in violation of international law.

And last month Palestinian groups launched yet another campaign, #GoogleMapsPalestine, demanding that the occupied territories be labelled “Palestine”, not just the West Bank and Gaza. The UN recognised the state of Palestine back in 2012, but Google and Apple refused to follow suit.

Palestinians rightly argue that these firms are replicating the kind of disappearance of Palestinians familiar from Israeli textbooks, and that they uphold “mapping segregation” that mirrors Israel’s apartheid laws in the occupied territories.

Today’s crimes of occupation – house demolitions, arrests of activists and children, violence from soldiers, and settlement expansion – are being documented by Israel, just as its earlier crimes were.

Future historians may one day unearth those papers from the Israeli archives and learn the truth. Those Israeli policies were not driven, as Israel claims now, by security concerns, but by a colonial desire to destroy Palestinian society and pressure Palestinians to leave their homeland, to be replaced by Jews.

The lessons for future researchers will be no different from the lessons learnt by their predecessors, who discovered the 1948 documents.

But in truth, we do not need to wait all those years hence. We can understand what is happening to Palestinians right now – simply by refusing to conspire in their silencing. It is time to listen.

How the UK Government Provides Cover for Israel’s Crimes

By Stuart Littlewood

Source

 

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MP Alister Jack has finally replied to my question asking where he and the UK government stand on the threat by Israel to annex more Palestinian territory known as the West Bank. It seems the Government has urged them not to do it.

I doubt if his letter reproduced here, is his own work. It is sprinkled with the humbug and deceit repeated for decades by Tory and Labour governments and was likely penned at least 20 years ago by a Foreign Office scribbler vaccinated with an Israeli embassy gramophone needle. It is still used as a reply template by MPs and ministers who dare not speak their own minds or are plain clueless.

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As usual, Her Majesty’s Government wants “a safe and secure Israel” but only “a viable and sovereign Palestinian state”. What a deplorable statement. Viable means workable in the most meagre sense. And when it comes to safety and security why can’t Mr. Jack be evenhanded? His words (if they are indeed his) express clear racial prejudice favouring the wellbeing and prosperity of one people at the expense of another which, I’d have thought, deserves a sharp rap on the knuckles.

He says there can be no changes to the status quo without a negotiated agreement between the parties. Mr Jack is surely aware that the status quo is itself illegal and breaches umpteen UN resolutions. And why does he feel the Palestinians must ‘negotiate’ their freedom? Picture the scene with the invader holding a gun to the head of the victim whose land the invader has occupied under brutal military control and in defiance of international law for 70+ years. Why is Mr Jack joining his colleagues in calling for more lopsided negotiations instead of pushing for law and justice?

‘Nothing shall be done to prejudice the rights of non-Jewish communities….’ Sorry, forget that.

So many experts are saying that a negotiated two-state solution is impossible. Does anyone seriously think the Israelis will voluntarily give up their ill-gotten territorial gains which are crucial to their Greater Israel dream? The only peaceable way to change their mind is through the persuasive power of BDS and other sanctions. For that reason BDS is under relentless Zionist attack and is fiercely opposed by the servile UK Government. The reason why the West endlessly woffles about ‘negotiations’ is their cowardly failure ever since 1948 to confront Israel’s greedy ambition for expansion and domination. That inconvenient bit in Britain’s 1917 pledge to Rothschild and the Zionist Federation about “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” is best forgotten. It’s so much easier for the UK Government to say and do nothing while their Zionist ‘friends’ surreptitiously complete their programme of creeping annexation. And never mind the 70+ years of grief this has caused innocent Palestinians.

Mr Jack refers to Boris Johnson’s article in Yedioth Ahronoth which appeared on the very day Netanyahu was supposed to be carrying out his crazed threat. “Annexation would represent a violation of international law…. I profoundly hope that annexation does not go ahead,” he wrote. “If it does, the UK will not recognize any changes to the 1967 lines, except those agreed between both parties.” But Israel has repeatedly violated international law and repeatedly been rewarded, so why should it care what the UK thinks about boundary changes? They have been changing all the time. Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem (including the Old City) in 1967 was a flagrant breach of international law, and what did the UK or anyone else do about it? “I want to see an outcome that delivers justice for both Israelis and Palestinians,” says Johnson absurdly. He has no interest in justice otherwise he’d be leading the charge for implementing international law and UN resolutions which have already ruled on the issue.

As for Israel’s annexation misfire, it looks like world hostility gave Netanyahu cold feet and he and Trump cast around in desperation for a face-saver. They found it the United Arab Emirates’ ‘MBZ’ with whom they cobbled a deal for full diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE provided Israel suspended annexation, and this is touted as a triumph. No-one of course insisted on actually abandoning annexation and you can bet the piecemeal ethnic cleansing, destruction of Palestinian homes and confiscation of their lands will continue unabated.

Mr. Jack then says he’s proud that the UK supports UNRWA and is providing £34.5 million funding this year.  If the Palestinians were allowed their universal right to freedom of movement and self-determination in their homeland there’d be no need to keep throwing our tax money at agencies like UNRWA. It’s scandalous that money for our own schools and hospitals has been diverted to subsidise Israel’s long-running programme of thieving, collective punishment, dispossession and the trashing of the Palestinian economy.

Mr Jack goes on to say: “The UK’s position on Israeli settlements is clear.” Well no, it isn’t. They are illegal and even constitute a war crime yet the UK Government doesn’t mind if companies or individuals profiteer from using and endorsing those squats to the detriment of the Palestinians. And he seems to agree with his government’s opposition to the UN’s business and human rights database. Back in March 2016, UN Human Rights Council resolution 31/36 mandated the High Commissioner’s Office to produce a database of all businesses engaged in activities related to Israel’s settlement enterprise and having implications for the rights of the Palestinian people. Fair enough, you might think. But a year ago 103 local, regional and international organizations felt it necessary to call on the High Commissioner to release the Database expressing deep concern that the document and names of the companies facilitating the settlement programme had been withheld from circulation for 3 years due to political pressure. In the meantime the Israeli government had escalated the construction of new squats and broadcast its intention to formally annex parts of the West Bank in further violation of international law.

“The Database will bring an important degree of transparency on the activities of businesses which contravene rules and principles of international humanitarian and human rights law as a result of their operations in or with illegal Israeli settlements,” they said.

Amnesty International commented: “Naming the businesses which profit in the context of this illegal situation sends a clear message from the international community that settlements must never be normalized. These companies are profiting from and contributing to systematic violations against Palestinians.”

And Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights said: “The UK Government abstained on the vote of this Human Rights Council resolution in March 2016…. It was the only state to declare that the database was ‘inappropriate’ and that ‘it would not co-operate in the process’ of its implementation.” LPHR felt that the reasons given for the Government’s position “did not individually or cumulatively amount to an adequate basis for justifiably opposing the UN Database”. One such reason was that the UK Government thought the Human Rights Council should focus on states rather than private companies. LPHR says this contradicts the UK’s earlier agreement, along with the rest of the international community, that companies as well as states have vital responsibilities in protecting and advancing respect for human rights.

I won’t trouble Mr Jack for an explanation for all this. It’s enough that voters and campaigners are aware of the skullduggery.

On Israel’s Bizarre Definitions: The West Bank is Already Annexed

By Ramzy Baroud

Source

The truth is that Israel rarely behaves as an ‘Occupying Power’, but as a sovereign in a country where racial discrimination and apartheid are not only tolerated or acceptable but are, in fact, ‘legal’ as well.

Wednesday, July 1, was meant to be the day on which the Israeli government officially annexed 30% of the occupied Palestinian West Bank and the Jordan Valley. This date, however, came and went and annexation was never actualized.

“I don’t know if there will be a declaration of sovereignty today,” said Israeli Foreign Minister, Gabi Ashkenazi, with reference to the self-imposed deadline declared earlier by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. An alternative date was not immediately announced.

But does it really matter?

Whether Israel’s illegal appropriation of Palestinian land takes place with massive media fanfare and a declaration of sovereignty, or whether it happens incrementally over the course of the coming days, weeks, and months, Israel has, in reality, already annexed the West Bank – not just 30% of it but, in fact, the whole area.

It is critical that we understand such terms as ‘annexation’, ‘illegal’, ‘military occupation’, and so on, in their proper contexts.

For example, international law deems that all of Israel’s Jewish settlements, constructed anywhere on Palestinian land occupied during the 1967 war, are illegal.

Interestingly, Israel, too, uses the term ‘illegal’ with reference to settlements, but only to ‘outposts’ that have been erected in the occupied territories without the permission of the Israeli government.

In other words, while in the Israeli lexicon the vast majority of all settlement activities in occupied Palestine are ‘legal’, the rest can only be legalized through official channels. Indeed, many of today’s ‘legal’ 132 settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, housing over half a million Israeli Jewish settlers, began as ‘illegal outposts’.

Though this logic may satisfy the need of the Israeli government to ensure its relentless colonial project in Palestine follows a centralized blueprint, none of this matters in international law.

Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions states that “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive”, adding that “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

Israel has violated its commitment to international law as an ‘Occupying Power’ on numerous occasions, rendering its very ‘occupation’ of Palestine, itself, a violation of how military occupations are conducted – which are meant to be temporary, anyway.

Military occupation is different from annexation. The former is a temporary transition, at the end of which the ‘Occupying Power’ is expected, in fact, demanded, to relinquish its military hold on the occupied territory after a fixed length of time. Annexation, on the other hand, is a stark violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Regulations. It is tantamount to a war crime, for the occupier is strictly prohibited from proclaiming unilateral sovereignty over occupied land.

The international uproar generated by Netanyahu’s plan to annex a third of the West Bank is fully understandable. But the bigger issue at stake is that, in practice, Israel’s violations of the terms of occupation have granted it a de facto annexation of the whole of the West Bank.

So when the European Union, for example, demands that Israel abandons its annexation plans, it is merely asking Israel to re-embrace the status quo ante, that of de facto annexation. Both abhorring scenarios should be rejected.

Israel began utilizing the occupied territories as if they are contiguous and permanent parts of so-called Israel proper, immediately following the June 1967 war. Within a few years, it erected illegal settlements, now thriving cities, eventually moving hundreds of thousands of its own citizens to populate the newly acquired areas.

This exploitation became more sophisticated with time, as Palestinians were subjected to slow, but irreversible, ethnic cleansing. As Palestinian homes were destroyed, farms confiscated, and entire regions depopulated, Jewish settlers moved in to take their place. The post-1967 scenario was a repeat of the post-1948 history, which led to the establishment of the State of Israel on the ruins of historic Palestine.

Moshe Dayan, who served as Israel’s Defense Minister during the 1967 war, explained the Israeli logic best in a historical address at Israel’s Technion University in March 1969. “We came to this country which was already populated by Arabs, and we are establishing a Hebrew, that is a Jewish state here,” he said.

“Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you, because these geography books no longer exist; not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there, either … There is no one place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population,” he added.

The same colonial approach was applied to East Jerusalem and the West Bank after the war. While East Jerusalem was formally annexed in 1980, the West Bank was annexed in practice, but not through a clear legal Israeli proclamation. Why? In one word: demographics.

When Israel first occupied East Jerusalem, it went on a population transfer frenzy: moving its own population to the Palestinian city, strategically expanding the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem to include as many Jews and as few Palestinians as possible, slowly reducing the Palestinian population of Al Quds through numerous tactics, including the revocation of residency and outright ethnic cleansing.

And, thus, Jerusalem’s Palestinian population, which once constituted the absolute majority, has now been reduced to a dwindling minority.

The same process was initiated in parts of the West Bank, but due to the relatively large size of the area and population, it was not possible to follow a similar annexation stratagem without jeopardizing Israel’s drive to maintain Jewish majority.

Dividing the West Bank into Areas A, B, and C as a result of the disastrous Oslo accords, has given Israel a lifeline, for this allowed it to increase settlement activities in Area C – nearly 60% of the West Bank – without stressing too much about demographic imbalances. Area C, where the current annexation plan is set to take place, is ideal for Israeli colonialism, for it includes Palestine’s most arable, resource-rich, and sparsely populated lands.

It matters little whether the annexation will have a set date or will take place progressively through Israel’s declarations of sovereignty over smaller chunks of the West Bank in the future. The fact is, annexation is not a new Israeli political agenda dictated by political circumstances in Tel Aviv and Washington. Rather, annexation has been the ultimate Israeli colonial objective from the very onset.

Let us not get entangled in Israel’s bizarre definitions. The truth is that Israel rarely behaves as an ‘Occupying Power’, but as a sovereign in a country where racial discrimination and apartheid are not only tolerated or acceptable but are, in fact, ‘legal’ as well.

Do Palestinians’ Lives Matter?

By Stuart Littlewood

Source

Not according to the UK Government which continues to cuddle and slobber over the rogue regime that terrorizes, dispossesses and slaughters them.

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Lately, anti-racism activists and their fellow-travelers have been vandalizing statues in the UK, including a memorial to Winston Churchill. Even Nelson is threatened. And Robert Peel, like Churchill, has been boarded up for protection from the loonies. Incredibly Robert the Bruce, king of Scotland 1306-1329, hero of Bannockburn and bringer of independence, has been branded a racist by graffiti scribblers. Bruce (or de Brus), Earl of Carrick and 7th Lord of Annandale, was of Norman descent I believe. So, is our entire medieval history and culture – 1066 and all that – condemned? If it’s the feudal system and the struggle between mighty lords and their lowly vassals that bothers today’s hypersensitive agitators, most of our history books will have to be taken off the shelves and our monarchs consigned to the dustbin in order to appease them.

Why don’t these firebrands look for modern-day racists to complain about? In which case they might focus on “Israel’s knee-on-the-neck occupation of Palestine”, as Leslie Bravery describes it. This snarling, brutal entity illegally occupies Palestine and part of Syria and is stuffed with baddies with no redeeming features whatsoever. They have been busy ethnically cleansing the native Palestinians and stealing their lands for seven decades.  And what of their many supporters in high places? What should we call people who defend the indefensible… who admire the despicable… who applaud the expulsion at gunpoint of peaceable civilians and the confiscation of their homes?

Being a Friend of Israel – like most of the Conservative Party at Westminster – means embracing the terror and racism on which the state of Israel was built. It means embracing the dispossession of the innocent and oppression of the powerless. It means embracing the discriminatory laws against those who stubbornly remain in their homeland. It means embracing the jackboot gangsterdom that abducts civilians — including children — and imprisons and tortures them without trial. It means embracing the theft and annexation of Palestinian lands and water resources, the imposition of hundreds of military checkpoints, the severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods, and maximum interference with Palestinian life at every level.

It means not minding the bloodbaths inflicted by Israel on Gaza and feeling not too bothered about blowing hundreds of children to smithereens, maiming thousands more, trashing vital infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, power plants and clean water supplies, and causing $billions of devastation that will take 20 years to rebuild. And where is the money coming from? That’s right – from you and me.

It means turning a blind eye to the strangulation of the West Bank’s economy and the cruel 14-year blockade on Gaza. It means endorsing the denial of Palestinians’ right to self-determination and return to their homes. It means shrugging off the religious war that humiliates Muslims and Christians and prevents them visiting their holy places. It means meekly accepting a situation in which hard-pressed American and British taxpayers are having to subsidize Israel’s illegal occupation of the Holy Land.

And if, after all that, you are still Israel’s special friend, where is your self-respect?

Pandering to Israel has been immensely costly in blood and treasure and stupidly damaging to our reputation. Is it not ludicrous that a foreign military power which has no regard for international law and rejects weapons conventions and safeguards can exert such influence on foreign policy in the US and UK?

Everyone outside the Westminster/Washington bubble knows perfectly well that there can be no peace in the Holy Land without justice. In other words no peace until the occupation ends. Everyone knows that international law and countless UN resolutions still wait to be enforced. Everyone knows that Israel won’t comply unless sanctions are imposed. Everyone knows that the siege on Gaza won’t be lifted until warships are sent.

What’s more, everyone now knows that the US is not an honest broker, that Israel wants to keep the pot boiling and that justice won’t come from more sham ‘negotiations’. Nor will peace. Everyone knows who is the real cause of turmoil in the Middle East. And everyone knows that Her Majesty’s Government’s hand-wringing and empty words of ‘concern’ serve no purpose except to prolong the daily misery for Palestinians and buy time for Israel to complete its criminal scheme to make the occupation permanent.

And that is about to happen.

Can’t breathe!

For the last year Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been saying he’ll “extend sovereignty on all the settlements” including sites that have security importance or are important to Israel’s heritage. And that will include Hebron, Jericho and the Jordan Valley.

The move would be another major step in the fulfillment of the long-running Plan Dalet (otherwise known as Plan D) which was the Zionists’ blueprint for the violent takeover of the Palestinian homeland as a prelude to declaring Israeli statehood – which they did in May 1948. It was drawn up by the Jewish underground militia, the Haganah, at the behest of David Ben-Gurion, then boss of the Jewish Agency.

Plan D’s intention was not only to gain control of the areas of the Jewish state and defend its borders but also to control the areas of Jewish presence outside those borders and ensure “freedom of military and economic activity” by occupying important high-ground positions on a number of transport routes.

“Outside the borders of the state” was a curious thing to say when nobody would admit to where Israel’s borders actually ran, but the aim was to steal land that wasn’t allocated to Israel but was reserved for a Palestinian state on the 1947 UN Partition Plan map. Since then Israel has purposely kept its borders fluid in order to accommodate the Zionists’ perpetual lust for expansion into Palestinian and Syrian territory and eventual takeover.

No doubt with this in mind the Israeli government has confirmed the appointment of the pro-annexation Settlements Minister Tzipi Hotovely as Israel’s next ambassador to the UK. Hotovely is a religious-nationalist extremist committed to the ‘Greater Israel’ project.  As Minister of Settlement Affairs in the Israeli government many here will regard her as a war criminal. All Israeli settlements (a more appropriate word would be ‘squats’) in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and are considered illegal under international law. And many see Israel’s long-running squatter policy as a war crime for the simple reason that Article 8(2) of the Rome Statute defines “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory” as such “when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes”.

Hotovely tends to run off at the mouth having criticised American Jews for not understanding the complexities of the region because “they never send their children to fight for their country, most of the Jews don’t have children serving as soldiers”. She herself slid out of compulsory military service by becoming an educational guide in Jerusalem and an emissary of the Jewish Agency in the United States.

She’s also keen to re-write New Israel’s sordid history: “We need to delete the word ‘occupation’ and we need to redefine the term ‘refugee’….” Hotovely rejects Palestinians’ hopes for statehood and instead dreams of a Greater Israel spanning the length and breadth of current Israel plus the Palestinian territories, saying “We need to return to the basic truth of our rights to this country…. This land is ours. All of it is ours. We did not come here to apologise for that.”

But what is the basic truth of her right to the land? She came there from the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic so a question that immediately springs to mind is: “What ancestral links does she have with the Holy Land? Has she had a DNA check-up? And what exactly gives her and her kind the right to lord it over the Palestinians who have been there all the time?”

In London she’ll replace Mark Regev, former Netanyahu spokesman and mastermind behind Israel’s propaganda programme of disinformation and dirty tricks. Under Regev’s watch in January 2017 a senior political officer at the Israeli embassy in London, Shai Masot, plotted with stooges among British MPs and other maggots in the rotting political woodwork to “take down” senior government figures including Boris Johnson’s deputy at the Foreign Office, Sir Alan Duncan.

Masot was almost certainly a Mossad asset. His hostile activities were revealed not, as one would have wished, by Britain’s own security services and media but an Al Jazeera undercover news team. Her Majesty’s Government’s response? “The UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.”

At a Labour Party conference fringe meeting Israel insider Miko Peled warned that “they are going to pull all the stops, they are going to smear, they are going to try anything they can to stop Corbyn…. the reason anti-Semitism is used is because they [the Israelis] have no argument….”

And that’s exactly what happened. Corbyn, a perceived threat to Israel’s cosy relationship with the UK, is now relegated to the sidelines.

Regev came to help silence criticism of the Israeli regime. Why the switch to lovely Tzipi? I’d say she’s here to smooth ruffled feelings caused by Israel’s latest planned land grab in the creeping annexation of the West Bank. And Regev, mission accomplished in the UK, is needed in Tel Aviv to defend Netanyahu from the ensuing flak if he goes ahead with annexation.

EU’s shame

Where does the EU stand in all this? A year ago one hundred and fifty-five European researchers and academics delivered a stinging rebuke to Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, and Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Science, Research & Innovation.

Their letter expressed the outrage felt throughout the world, and especially in European countries including the UK, at the EU’s policy of endlessly rewarding the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel. Perversely each new act of unspeakable brutality, each new onslaught of disproportionate force against civilians had brought fresh privileges, fresh co-operation, fresh embraces from an enthusiastic EU élite. The letter said among other things:

“In spite of continual and serious breaches of international law and violation of human rights, and regardless of the commitment for upholding human rights of European countries, Israel enjoys an exceptionally privileged status in dealing with Europe also through the Association Agreement and has been receiving grants from the European Commission in the area of research and innovation (FP7 and its successor Horizon 2020).

“Funds are granted even to Israeli arms producers such as Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd, the producers of lethal drones that were used in the Gaza military assaults against civilians, together with numerous academic institutions that have close ties with Israeli military industry.

“We appeal to the European Union to impose a comprehensive military embargo on Israel, as long as Israel continues to blatantly violate human rights. We are deeply disturbed that public funds contributed by European tax payers are channeled to a country that not only disregards human rights but also uses most advanced knowledge and technology for the very violation of human rights.”

The EU-Israel Association Agreement has a lot to answer for. It came into force in 2000 for the purpose of promoting (1) peace and security, (2) shared prosperity through, for example, the creation of a free trade zone, and (3) cross-cultural rapprochement. It governs not only EU-Israel relations but Israel’s relations with the EU’s other Mediterranean partners, including the Palestinian National Authority. To enjoy the Association’s privileges Israel undertook to show “respect for human rights and democratic principles” as set out as a general condition in Article 2, which says:

“Relations between the Parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement.”

Essential being the operative word.

Respecting human rights and democratic principles is not optional. Article 2 allows steps to be taken to enforce the contractual obligations regarding human rights and to dissuade partners from pursuing policies and practices that disrespect those rights. The Agreement also requires respect for self-determination of peoples and fundamental freedoms for all. Given Israel’s contempt for such principles the EU, had it been an honorable group, would have enforced Article 2 and not let matters slide. They would have suspended Israel’s membership until the regime fully complied. Israel relies heavily on exports to Europe so the EU could by now have forced an end to the brutal occupation of the Holy Land.

Rewarding annexation

Questions in the House of Commons last week revealed that the Government plans to host a UK-Israel trade and investment conference in London. One such question advertised the fact that “Israeli exports to the UK grew by 286% over the last decade, and bilateral trade levels are at a record high”. The Minister, Conor Burns, announced: “We strongly value our trading relationship with the State of Israel and are working closely with the Israeli government to implement the UK-Israel trade and partnership agreement.… We are working with the Israeli counterparts to host a UK-Israel trade and investment conference in London, which will have its primary focus on scoping out and identifying new opportunities and collaboration between Israel and the United Kingdom.”

Then Andrew Percy MP, a notorious stooge for Israel, asked the Secretary of State for International Trade what recent discussions she’d had with her counterpart in the Israeli government on a UK-Israel free trade deal. Ranil Jayawardena, answering for the Secretary of State, said that the UK-Israel Trade and Partnership Agreement, signed in February 2019, will enter into force at the end of the Transition Period in January 2021. It will allow businesses to trade as freely as they do now, without additional tariffs or barriers. “Total trade between the United Kingdom and Israel increased by 15 percent in 2019 to £5.1bn. We value this trade relationship and are committed to strengthening it, so we will seek to work with counterparts in the new Israeli government to host a bilateral trade and investment summit in London.”

So there’s still a desire at the heart of UK government to reward racist Israel, not only for its knee-on-the-neck brutality but even for a crime of such enormity as can’t-breathe annexation.

After the West Bank When (How Soon) Will the East Follow?

By Jeremy Salt

Source

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Whatever percentage of the West Bank Israel begins to annex in July, it will eventually annex the rest. Will it then turn to the east bank of the Jordan river?

Since the 19th century, the Zionist project was based on the seizure of all Palestine, including territory east of the Jordan. The map of ‘Israel’ presented to the Paris peace conference in 1919 extended northwards into what is now Lebanon and included the city of Sidon; in the northeast, all the Golan Heights and Syria almost as far as Damascus; in the southeast the entire Jordan River valley, with the territory it desired extending almost to the town limits of Amman.

Water was integral to zionist calculations from the beginning. In the imperial carve-up between Britain and France, however, the headwaters of the Jordan on Mt Hermon, fed by the Hasbani and Baniyas rivers,  stayed within the French mandate for Syria (later divided into Lebanon and Syria).  The water flows into the Sea of Galilee, from where it feeds the Jordan River before emptying into the Dead Sea.

In the 1950s and 60s the zionists made repeated attempts to divert the waters of the Golan, apart from bombing Syrian attempts to make better use of the water by building pumping stations. In its 1967 attack on Egypt and Syria, Israel seized two-thirds of the Golan, ensuring the flow of its waters south into Lake Galilee.  About 100, 000 Syrians fled or were expelled, along with several thousand Palestinians. About 100 of their villages were demolished and their land given to the 22,000 settlers who now live on the heights. An entire city, Quneitra, was also reduced to rubble by Israeli army sappers.

Currently, Israel takes about 60 percent of its fresh water needs from Lake Galilee and the West Bank.  From the Galilee the water is pumped south to feed the Naqab, while 80 percent of the West Bank’s aquifers is drained so Israeli needs can be met and the settlers (about 450,000 excluding occupied East Jerusalem) can water their lawns and fill their swimming pools.  By comparison, the Palestinians (2.2 million are allowed scarcely enough for domestic use, they have to endure frequent cuts and they have been prevented from drilling new wells since 1967 despite population growth.

With the Dead Sea dying and the Sea of Galilee drying up, falling to its lowest level for a century in 2018, Israel is increasingly dependent on desalinated water.  In 2018, in an attempt to revive the Sea of Galilee, the government approved a plan for it to be refilled with desalinated water. The drought of 2018 forced a reduction in the water pumped from the Sea of Galilee from an annual 400 million cubic meters to 30-40 million.  With a growing population and a diminishing supply of fresh water, control of both banks of the Jordan river is bound to be a critical element in zionist forward planning once the latest stage of expansion – the annexation of the West Bank – has been completed.

A false dichotomy

The mainstream Zionists, led by Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion, attached themselves to British imperial designs like a limpet,   promising to be faithful to British interests in the Middle East. They were rewarded with key positions in the civilian administration (control of ‘immigration’ and the attorney-generalship)  as well as military and police protection for their purchase and settlement of land, and the ejection of the Palestinian farmers which followed.

In the history of the Zionist movement a false dichotomy has been created between the mainstream ‘practicals’ and Vladimir Jabotinsky’s Revisionist stream of ‘politicals.’ Jabotinsky – “your fascist” as Mussolini described him to a zionist delegation – was indifferent to the rights, needs and aspirations of the Palestinians but open about his intentions. The Palestine he intended to take in its entirety extended not just from the sea to the Jordan river but to the other side of the river, originally placed within the mandate but removed by Britain in 1922 and converted into the puppet state of Transjordan.

Jabotinsky knew ‘the Arabs’ of Palestine would resist the seizure of their land, and thus intended to build an ‘iron wall’ of military force to overcome them. Once defeated, having been forced to see reason, as Jabotinsky put it,  peace could be established between the two peoples.

The  ‘practicals’ projected an entirely different image. They reviled Jabotinsky’s fascistic Revisionists. They were socialists,  so they declared, irrespective of the fact that their kibbutzes,  their moshavs,  their labor unions and their peak union body, the Histadrut, were for Jews only. They intended no harm to ‘the Arabs’.  All they wanted was to work the land to the benefit of everyone and live in peace with their neighbors.  They were happy to share irrespective of another fact, that Palestine was not theirs to share in the first place.  When partition was first suggested in 1937 they accepted it and they accepted it again in 1947. It was ‘Arab’ obstructionism that was blocking the road to peace.

The diaries of their senior figures told the real story behind the dissimulation. Only there did they reveal their true intentions, to take the land and get rid of the people. The ‘practicals’ knew as well as the Revisionists that an ‘iron wall’ would have to be built against ‘the Arabs.’  An ‘Eretz Israel’ which included the other side of the Jordan was their map as well.  The differences between themselves and the Revisionists were no more than tribal infighting over power. Tactics differed but the strategic end objective  – the seizure of all of Palestine as delineated on the 1919 map – was the same.

Zionist map 7e5fb

Having served its purpose,  the UN partition plan was dumped almost immediately. The zionist leadership never had any intention of abiding by UN resolutions or international law.  It could do neither, if Israel was to be established as a Jewish state.  As Ben-Gurion made clear,  war would give the zionists what they wanted, all of Palestine, not just the 54 percent allocated in the partition plan and but for international intervention in 1948-9, they might well have succeeded.  Partition was accepted by the zionists only because at that stage they could go no further.

Having seized 78 percent of Palestine, Israel was admitted to UN membership only on the condition that it comply with General Assembly resolution 194 of 1948, giving expelled Palestinians the right of repatriation or compensation.

As it has never complied with this resolution and never had any intention of doing so, there is a clear legal reason to regard Israel’s membership of the world body as null and void. Another distinctive characteristic of Israel’s UN membership is that it remains a state without declared borders. This is not just because of the state of war that still exists between itself and two adjoining Arab states (Lebanon and Syria) but because Israel does not want to declare its borders. This seemingly anomalous situation is deliberate, allowing Israel to continue its expansionist drive towards the borders of the ‘national home’ as inked on the map in 1919.

Annexation of the West Bank takes it a further step in this direction. Netanyahu is a Revisionist. His Arab-hating father was for some time Jabotinsky’s secretary.  Since the election of Menachem Begin in 1977, Revisionists have been in government for more than 40 years, with even more extreme extremists (Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked) now taking center stage. In the Zionist context they almost make Netanyahu seem a moderate.

No one should doubt that beyond his lies and deceit, Netanyahu remains faithful to his Revisionist roots.  In his 1993 book A Place Among the Nations: Israel and the World Netanyahu reaffirmed the “right” of the Jewish “people” to the entire ‘land of Israel.’

There should be no confusion about this. The ‘land of Israel’ is not (not yet) synonymous with the state of Israel.

The land is there only for Jews, not to be shared with anyone else, a principle pursued since the beginning of Zionist colonization and a commitment which Netanyahu took a step further with the nation-state law of 2018 and has now taken another step further with his declaration that the Palestinians of the annexed West Bank will not be citizens but “subjects”, a term usually applied to the subjects of a king or emperor.  Again,  this is consistent with the long-term view held along the political spectrum that Israel is the state of the Jewish ‘people’, and not of its citizens.

Last September Netanyahu pledged to annex the West Bank if re-elected.  He now rules Israel under a power-sharing arrangement with Benny Gantz, army chief of staff during the 2014 onslaught on Gaza that killed 2200 people, including 1492 civilians (551 of them children). The Israeli military also shelled UNRWA shelters, killing civilians there as well as in the streets and their apartments.  Annexation of the West Bank was part of the unity deal between these two unindicted war criminals.

How much will be annexed in the first stage won’t be known until Netanyahu issues the first decree but it will definitely include a 100-km long stretch of the Jordan River valley between the Hussein and Karameh (formerly Allenby) bridges. Violence will follow as surely as night follows day, the zionists using resistance,  as they always do, as a pretext to take more land and further tighten their grip.

There may well be a third intifada on the West Bank  and it would take only a few shots across the river for Israel to have the ‘security’ pretext (the protection of its 11,000 illegal settlers in the Jordan valley) for crossing the water and establishing itself on the east bank.  An immediate acquisition would be King Abdullah (formerly the East Ghor) canal on the east bank, from which is pumped 90 million cubic meters of fresh water a year to the residents of Amman.

On the basis of all past zionist practice, the steady expansion into and settlement of Jordanian territory would soon follow, over the futile objections of the ‘international community.’ This is hardly far-fetched. Zionism is an opportunistic ideology and where opportunities have not arisen fortuitously to seize more of Palestine over the past seven decades,  Israel has created them.

Those beating their breasts because annexation will mean an end to the ‘peace process’ and the two-state solution are delusional. The Zionists never intended there to be a two-state solution in Palestine and the ‘peace process’ died long ago, if it was ever intended to live.  In reality, it was no more than a cost-effective war process fought behind closed doors at Camp David and giving Israel time to consolidate its hold on the West Bank.

Once the annexation of the West Bank begins the Palestinian Authority will collapse.  Mahmud Abbas has already severed links with Israel and the US, not that this counts for anything at this stage. King Abdullah has already warned of the “massive crisis” that will follow once the West Bank is annexed but there is little he can do to stop it. The king can respond by sending the Israeli ambassador home and he can suspend the 1994 ‘peace’ treaty in whole or part but he cannot stop annexation any more than King Canute could stop the incoming tide.

The ‘international community’ is already reacting negatively but is likely to do little in practice. The  US is giving Israel a free hand and the lobby will ensure King Abdullah stays in line. He is dependent on the US, where pressure is already being exerted through Congress for the extradition of Ahlam al Tamimi,  implicated in the bombing of a Jerusalem pizzeria in 2001, and released in 2011 as part of a Hamas-Israel prisoner exchange. As US nationals died in the bombing, Al Tamimi is wanted for prosecution in the US.  Refusal or delay by Jordan in handing her over would completely play into Israel’s hands. It is the “child killer” – Israel of course never kills children – that would capture the US media headlines and not the annexation of occupied Palestinian territory.

Israel’s ‘peace treaty’ with Jordan is no more than a tactical tool, just as the ‘peace process’ was, to be tossed aside when it has outlived its usefulness.  The Israel army is already stationed on the west bank of the Jordan. No one should expect it to stay there once the annexation of the West Bank has been completed. The east bank of the Jordan River is as much a part of the 1919 map as the Golan Heights or southern Lebanon, where only the resistance of Hizbullah has held the zionists at bay. Almost certainly Israel is going to cross the Jordan river one day.

Zionism and COVID-19: Two Viruses that Require the Same Remedy

By Daniel Haiphong

Source

Zionism COVID c0ab5

On May 15th, Palestinians and their allies around the world marked another Nakba Day on the calendar. The 72nd anniversary of the founding of the Zionist state intersected with the continued spread of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world. COVID-19 has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and plunged millions more into economic precarity. The devastation of the virus in many ways relates to the ongoing Zionist colonization of Palestine. Nakba Day symbolizes the heinous oppression that Israeli colonialism has imposed upon the Palestinian people and it should come as no surprise that many people sympathetic to the Palestinian cause view Zionism as its own kind of virus. To commemorate Nakba Day, Twitter users all over the world shared the hashtag #COVID1948 to make the comparison between Zionist aggression and COVID-19.

The colonial virus of Zionism reached its deadliest phase of development after World War II. Between 1947 to 1949, nearly 800,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homeland by Zionist security forces. If Palestinians did not flee, then they were massacred. At least thirteen thousand Palestinians were killed over the same period. Nakba Day was the culmination of thirty years of British colonial policy that had all but sold the Palestinian homeland to “the Jewish People,” a euphemism for the Zionist settlers seeking to produce their own colonial empire in the heart of the Arab world.

May 15th itself merely marks the moment when Zionist colonial forces were able to declare an “independent state” of Israel with the help of stolen Palestinian land and the blessings of the Western dominated United Nations. Since Israel’s formation, the viral spread of the Zionist occupation has become no less violent and destructive for the Palestinian people. After losing nearly 80 percent of historic Palestine to Zionist aggression in the Nakba, Palestinians were removed from the remaining twenty percent following the defeat of the Arab resistance to Israel in the 1967 war. Colonial settlement in the West Bank continues unabated and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip live under conditions unfit for human life.

Since 2000 alone, Zionist occupation forces have slain ten thousand Palestinian lives, including over one thousand children. Thousands of political prisoners languish in Israeli prisons. The colonization of Palestine is supported by the United States. U.S. aid to Israel since 1948 totals to around 142 billion USD. Israel also benefits from U.S. protection in the form of diplomatic immunity on the global stage. Despite ample evidence of ethnic cleansing, genocide, and the commission of war crimes, Israel has never been punished by the International Criminal Court or any other U.N. body.

COVID-19 has only given Israel further reason to annex more Palestinian land in the West Bank and intensify economic ruin for Palestinians in Gaza. In this way, Palestinians and their allies in the Arab world are currently struggling with two viruses. The first is the virus of Zionist colonialism. Israeli settlers not only benefit from the oppression of the Palestinians but also from a relationship with the U.S. that strengthens an equally destructive imperialist policy employed throughout the region and the globe. Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Libya are but a few allies of the Palestinian people that have either been successfully destabilized or placed under ongoing imperial siege by the U.S., Israel, and their regional allies. Israel’s hand in these regime change campaigns has been verified by strategic documents such as the Oded Yinon Plan published by the World Zionist Organization in 1982.

The second virus is COVID-19. Palestinians in the West Bank have largely been left to the whims of their colonizer in battling the pandemic. Palestinians essentially have no state of their own, but rather an instrument of Israel in the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority only has jurisdiction in portions of the West Bank carved out by the Israeli colonizers. Furthermore, Palestinian Authority officials, especially security forces, have no real autonomy. Israel is ultimately responsible in the final analysis for enforcing social distancing measures and providing necessary medical supplies and other basic necessities. While Israeli officials boast of their success in stopping the spread in segregated cities, Palestinians have voiced concern that the virus is spreading virtually undetected due to a lack of testing capacity. Life under colonial occupation has made the containment of the virus virtually impossible.

Israel’s relationship with Palestine is a reminder that colonialism did not end during the anti-colonial liberation movements that followed the Second World War. COVID-19 and Zionism are two viruses that require the same remedy. The end of colonialism and its violent legacy in the 21st century is the only path to recovery from the Zionist plague. Palestine’s colonial status is a reminder that the principle of self-determination has yet to be applied equally among nations. Zionism must be cut off from its host. This means that the Palestinian people must be given full autonomy through an independent state such as what occurred in the former colonial world. A mere satellite state that neighbors a hostile colonial regime, which is what is proposed by advocates of the two-state solution, cannot stem the tide of land theft, military occupation, and ethnic cleansing without a redistribution of power into the hands of the Palestinian people.

There is a direct connection between nations that have overthrown their formerly colonial or semi-colonial status and success in containing the COVID-19 pandemic. Vietnam became a truly independent nation in 1975 after its national liberation movement defeated the United States. Vietnam currently reports 0 deaths from COVID-19 due to its swift response to the virus’ spread in China. China, which was the first nation to report the new virus, preserved hundreds of thousands of lives by using its enormous state and mass organizations to test and quarantine citizens living in dense urban centers. And Venezuela, a nation that remains economically vulnerable due to U.S. sanctions, has lost just ten people to the virus through effective mass quarantine measures and popular mobilization.

The collective power necessary to rid of COVID-19’s deadly transmission as well as Zionism’s deadly expansion cannot be achieved in isolation. As Al-Quds day approaches, efforts to develop solidarity with the Palestinian people must be intensified. The American people can fulfill their commitment to solidarity with Palestine by pressuring the U.S. government to withdraw from bilateral military and economic aid relations with Israel. Such pressure should also extend to U.S. wars of aggression abroad that weaken allies of Palestine such as Syria and Iran. Americans must demand that their government cease its pursuit of permanent hegemony—a goal which requires Israel’s unmitigated colonial expansion in the Middle East to successfully achieve.

On the domestic front, there is much work to be done in strengthening the principle of self-determination and combating the spread of the virus. As is the case with Palestine, the two struggles go hand in hand. Native Americans and Black Americans, two oppressed nations ravaged by centuries of U.S.-based colonialism, have also been hit hardest by COVID-19. Furthermore, wonton violence, state repression, and economic disparities continue to shape the lives of people within these communities. A movement for the self-determination of oppressed nations in the U.S. mainland necessarily leads to a situation where the U.S. government must think twice about its unanimous support for Israel’s predatory expansionism. It would also give Palestinians and all oppressed peoples more breathing room to address global pandemics such as COVID-19 and the destruction of the environment. More crises are bound to arise from the innumerable contradictions that the people of the world have inherited from the rise and fall of global capitalism and its imperialist stage of development. The struggle for freedom and self-determination in Palestine will be critical in the broader movement to resolve these contradictions in the days, years, and decades to come.

Israel Prepares for Annexation of the West Bank

By Jeremy Salt

Source

Netanyha Gantz b3bd0

Since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, Israel and its global lobbies have had an extraordinary run of success.

In the US and Canada, the passage of laws against the BDS movement; US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the shifting of the embassy there; the appointment of an ambassador who is no more than Israel’s point man in Washington; the Kushner plan and US acceptance of Israeli annexation of the West Bank; and in the UK, the defeat of Jeremy Corbyn, partly if not largely based on  a slanderous campaign launched against the Labor Party generally and Corbyn personally.

This was the most malicious political assassination in British history, with the corporate media and the zionist lobby driving in the knives day after day. The main Jewish newspapers had already maligned Corbyn in the same front page editorial when the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, used the Corbyn-hating Times to attack Corbyn as “mendacious” and to plant fear amongst British Jews: “What will become of Jews and Judaism in Britain if the Labor Party forms the next government?” Nothing would happen, of course, not to British Jews, but there would be significant changes affecting Britain’s relations with the racist settler enterprise it established in Palestine more than a century ago.

These attacks were not about Judaism but Israel. Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-semite. This is so obvious that it should not need saying. The false charge of anti-semitism is the weapon used by zionists throughout modern history to destroy critics of Israel and here it was being used again.

Had Corbyn expressed undying support for Israel – as Keir Starmer has since done –  this issue would never have arisen.  Jews inside and outside the Labor Party would have issued statements that while there were bad apples in every barrel,  anti-semitism was a minor issue which the party leadership was dealing with. They would not have hesitated to canvass votes for the Labor Party.

Corbyn has a lifelong record of defending human rights everywhere and that includes the human rights of the Palestinians. Had he been elected he would have re-orientated foreign policy in their favor. That had to be prevented at all costs and the accusation of anti semitism was the weapon used,  on the grounds that repeated often enough people would believe it.

Thus a good man with good policies was thrown aside and a buffoon with no policies installed in his place. In time, once they realize they were duped, the British people may remember the knifing of Corbyn by the zionists.

Now Israel is moving on to its next success, the annexation of the West Bank. This is due to begin on July 1, Netanyahu and Gantz having agreed on its fundamentals and the US ready to rubber-stamp whatever portion of territory they decide to take.

Initially, this seems to be 30 percent plus the Jordan Valley. The 70 percent ostensibly left to the Palestinians will mostly consist mostly of rural land running alongside the border with Jordan.

The Trump-Kushner  ‘peace’ plan was deliberately written to be unacceptable to the Palestinians, all of them, including the now-embittered Mahmud Abbas. His ‘threats’ to rip up all accords if they go ahead is no more than the squeaking of a rusty wheel. He used the zionists and they used him. Now he has been discarded, Mahmud Abbas is of no relevance to anyone.

In the soundings he would have taken before his plan was released,  Kushner would have known perfectly well that the Palestinians would never accept it. No capital in Jerusalem, disarmament in Gaza as well as on the West Bank, Israel in charge of ‘security’ and all borders, no right of return, no more legal claims against Israel on the basis of history, no independent foreign policy, no joining of any international organization except with Israel’s approval, no more payments to the families of martyrs (Israel’s ‘terrorists’) and the acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state.  This was the price demanded of the Palestinians in return for their ‘state’ and as Kushner well knew, they could not possibly pay it.  His plan was designed from the start to be rejected by the Palestinians.

Even if they had accepted this ‘deal’ every loophole had been inserted into it to make sure  Israel ultimately gets what it wants  – all of the West Bank – anyway.  This situation,  of an offer they could not possibly accept,  is one imposed on them throughout their modern history.  When they reject what they cannot possibly accept, whether it be the Peel partition plan of 1937, the UN partition plan of 1947, the establishment of Israel on their land in 1948 or  the Camp David plan of the 1990s,  it is they who are made to shoulder the blame for the failure of the latest ‘peace process.’ If there is a difference now, it is that the Kushner-Trump-Netanyahu plan is so transparently shoddy that anyone with eyes in their head can see right through it.

With increasing portions of the West Bank annexed, under the false sovereignty of an occupying power, the Palestinians will eventually be outnumbered by the settlers poured into their land.  This is the script being written by Netanyahu and his cohorts. A racist parliament will endorse it and even more pseudo-legal and practical obstacles will be raised to make life even more unbearable for the Palestinians.

This is a heinous plan, a plan devoid of any legality, a plan cooked up by criminals and charlatans. The zionists may see it as the end of the road but this is a long war and annexation is no more than another milestone in the struggle against the takeover of Palestine by European colonists in the 20th century.

As the World Turns Its Attention to the Pandemic, Israel Is Moving Forward with Military Raids

By Lucas Leiroz

Source

Jenin West Bank 15839

The West Bank situation is becoming increasingly complicated amid the coronavirus pandemic and territorial disputes between Palestinians and Israelis. At first, the Palestinian Authority and Israel showed signs of cooperation in combating the pandemic. A few weeks ago, joint measures were announced between both sides to contain the epidemic of the new coronavirus in the region. The measures include distribution of cleaning and personal hygiene materials, in addition to virus testing kits and medical equipment.

On the part of Tel Aviv, the total closure of the West Bank was promoted, allowing, however, access for Palestinian workers involved in the construction and agriculture sectors to the Jewish state, which is why the proposal was well accepted by Ramallah. On the part of the Palestinians, the West Bank has also been blocked, but only partially and for two weeks, since last Sunday (March 22), in addition to the implementation of a series of control and quarantine measures.

However, efforts to contain the pandemic have not prevented Israeli incursions into the region, which have increased recently. Ibrahim Melhim, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, acknowledged Israeli efforts to contain the coronavirus in the country and in Palestine, but criticized the unstoppable incursions against the Palestinians. “We have very strong round-the-clock coordination with the Israeli side to prevent the coronavirus from spreading (…) At the same time, Israel continues to operate in the Palestinian Territories as if there is no coronavirus crisis (…) They [Israeli forces] continue their raids across the West Bank, arresting people and confiscating lands, and that harms the existing coordination between the PA and Israel putting an additional burden on the Palestinian Authority,” said the spokesman.

Apparently, Israel pretends to collaborate with Palestine to stop the pandemic, when, in fact, it freely promotes its military maneuvers in the region, which go unnoticed by the mainstream media, strongly focused on covering the viral tragedy. In addition, Tel Aviv’s own collaboration to control COVID-19 in the region seems extremely limited. The blocking measures made it impossible, for example, for doctors from the “Physicians for Human Rights” (an Israeli NGO that serves Palestinians free of charge) to move alongside the West Bank, clearly hampering medical care in the region.

Mention should also be made of the fact that Israel, not Palestine, is the major focus of infections by the new coronavirus in the region. Israel has already more than 1.000 officially reported cases of the disease, in addition to one death, and several suspicions. In contrast, Palestine has around 60 infected people. It is clear from these data that the most stringent containment measures should come exclusively from Ramallah, since the Israeli military presence in the region itself poses a serious risk to Palestinian public health.

According to a survey by the Truman Institute for Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 63% of Israelis say Israel must help Palestinians during the coronavirus crisis. Vered Vinitsky-Serousse, president of the Institute, said that “the majority of Israelis believe that, when necessary, the government should devise preventive measures to help Palestinians during the Covid-19 epidemic.” The big problem, however, is how these joint maneuvers are conducted. Perhaps the first step to be taken in establishing joint measures is the definitive and immediate end to military incursions in the region, which constantly bring insecurity and terror to the Palestinian people.

The situation of tensions in the region must still be read in the context of the so-called “Deal of the Century”, the “peace” proposal for the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians announced by American President Donald Trump. The “agreement” was celebrated unilaterally by the Washigton-Tel Aviv axis, with no participation of Palestinians, which is why it was rejected by the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League. The document foresaw the annexation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, leaving around 70% of the region under Palestinian rule – a figure much lower than that proposed by all previous attempts to resolve the conflict. Everything indicates that Israel will not stop its attempts to occupy that territory as much as possible.

It is in this context that the “joint” actions between Israelis and Palestinians must be analyzed with skepticism and suspicion. Are these pandemic containment measures really good, even when behind them the Israeli army expands its occupation in the region with increasingly aggressive incursions? Also, to what extent does Palestine benefit from the help of these joint actions when Israel has an absurdly greater number of infected people? Would Israel be able to help the Palestinians? Or would that aid be a mask for such military incursions? All of these are valid questions.

It is also worth remembering that a few weeks ago, at the end of February, Israel announced the construction of more than 2.000 new settlements in Palestinian territories – and on the same occasion, Netanyahu authorized the construction of other 7.000 units in the East Jerusalem region. These data mean that Israel’s aggressiveness against the Palestinians was increasing recently. Did this aggression really disappear from Tel Aviv’s plans in the face of a “commotion” with public health in Palestine (which is much better than the situation in Israel)? Perhaps, the mainstream media and Human Rights observers should divide their attention between the coronavirus and the conflict in Palestine, before more serious clashes erupt.

Dead on Arrival: Dissecting Trump’s Vision for the Future of Palestine — Miko Peled

What used to be an idea expressed by only the most extreme right-wing Zionists, namely ridding Israel of its Palestinian citizens, is now part of a “peace” plan and has been given the rubber stamp of the United States government.

via Dead on Arrival: Dissecting Trump’s Vision for the Future of Palestine — Miko Peled

Netanyahu/Gantz White House Invitation to Discuss Trump Regime’s No-Peace/Peace Plan

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Leaked information shows Trump’s so-called deal of the century is a one-sided scam, favoring Israel at the expense of fundamental Palestinian rights.

The so-called peace process is the greatest hoax in modern times, along with the US war OF terror worldwide, not on it.

Israeli/Palestinian no-peace/peace plans have been around since the 1970s — a near-half century of failure to reach accommodation proof positive of US/Israeli unwillingness to respect Palestinian rights.

If both countries wanted conflict resolution resolution with Palestinians, it would have happened long ago.

Former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir explained why not. He and his predecessors wanted forever talks accomplishing nothing – giving Israel time to steal all valued Palestinian land.

His successors to the present day followed the same strategy.

Since Israel seized control of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza in 1967, colonizing and developing the most valued Palestinian land for exclusive Jewish use became official state policy — explained by Yigal Allon’s regional scheme, its elements including:

• permanent militarized occupation;

• maximum land for Jews with minimum Arabs;

• dispossessing Palestinians from areas Israel wants for exclusive Jewish development and use;

• annexing all valued parts of Judea and Sumaria;

• controlling Jerusalem as Israel’s exclusive capital;

• establishing settlements, military bases, free-fire zones, commercial locations, tourist sites, nature reserves, no-go areas, Jews-only roads, checkpoints, other barriers, and other exclusive Jewish areas — non-Jews excluded from them;

• stealing Palestinian resources; and

• cracking down hard on resisters. 

The above policies make peace, stability, equity and justice for Palestinians unattainable.

Achieving them defeats the US/Israeli agenda — dependent on endless regional conflicts and instability.

It’s why decades of peace plans when unveiled were dead on arrival, Trump’s let em eat cake deal of the century dead before arrival.

Partly introduced last June at a so-called “Peace to Prosperity Workshop” in Bahrain, the Trump regime’s dog and pony PR show was boycotted by Palestinians.

Deceptively billed as “a vision to empower the Palestinian people to build a prosperous and vibrant Palestinian society,” the economic plan has nothing to do with peace, equity and justice for long-suffering Palestinians — everything to do with one-sidedly serving US/Israeli interests. 

Based on what’s known so far, subject to fine-tuning, Trump’s overall scheme ignores fundamental final status issues, especially real Palestinian self-determination free from Israeli occupation and control, Israeli land theft, air and water rights, other resources, the right of diaspora Palestinians to return to their homeland, and East Jerusalem as exclusive Palestinian capital. 

He illegally recognized Jerusalem (a UN-established international city) as Israel’s exclusive capital, moved the US embassy there, abandoned a legitimate two-state solution, recognized Israel’s unlawful Golan annexation, and no longer considers illegal settlements occupied territory.

Trump and hardliners surrounding him are no friends of Palestinians or ordinary people anywhere, not at home or abroad.

Information leaked last month about his no-peace/peace plan revealed it excludes 70% or more of West Bank land controlled by Israel, including the Jordan Valley, closed military zones, exclusive Jewish commercial areas, tourist sites, no-go areas, and illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land. 

Jerusalem is to remain undivided, the city “shared between Israel and New Palestine” — Israel maintaining exclusive control, the way it’s been for over half a century.

On July 30, 1980, the Knesset Jerusalem Law officially annexed the city as Israel’s exclusive capital — breaching Security Council Res. 465 (March 1980).

It declared actions taken by Israel “to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity…”

In July 2004,  the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social development (and) have been established in breach of international law.”

Time and again, the US and Israel breach Security Council resolutions and other international laws.

Trump’s no-peace/peace plan is all about serving US and Israeli interests at the expense of regional peace, stability, and fundamental Palestinian rights.

According to Mike Pence on Thursday, Netanyahu and his chief political rival Benny Gantz will meet with Trump in the White House next week to discuss regional issues and what PA official Saeb Erekat called Trump’s “deal of the next century,” a conspiracy against Palestinian rights.

Reuters reported that the Trump regime will release his no-peace/peace plan ahead of the January 28 meeting with Netanyahu and Gantz.

DJT calling it “a great plan” defies reality. PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh reaffirmed the Palestinian demand for an independent state within June 1967 borders — free from Israeli occupation and control.

On Thursday, Israel’s Channel 12, citing unnamed Netanyahu regime sources, said Trump’s plan includes exclusive Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, illegal settlements, and the Jordan Valley adding:

It supports the illusion of Palestinian self-determination, demanding a demilitarized Hamas, along with Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, Jerusalem its capital.

It also reportedly stipulates that if Palestinians reject the so-called plan, the Trump regime will support Israeli annexation of illegal settlements unilaterally.

According to the Wafa PA news site, Rudeineh said the following:

“If the announcement of this deal, with these unacceptable formulas, is made, the (PA) leadership will announce a series of measures to preserve our legitimate rights, and we will call on Israel to assume its responsibilities as an occupying power,” adding:

“We warn (the Netanyahu and Trump regimes) to not cross the red lines.”

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassim said “any deal or project that does not contain our people’s full rights in our land and holy sites will not stand,” adding:

“All the attempts to make this deal come to pass will be squashed by our people’s resistance and steadfastness.” 

“Our Palestinian people will determine its fate by way of its ongoing revolution, legitimate struggle and absolute belief in the justness of its cause.”

On Thursday, Trump tweeted:

“Reports about details and timing of our closely-held peace plan are purely speculative.”

If its provisions resemble what’s discussed above, it’ll clearly be rejected by the PA, Hamas, and the Palestinian street.

Dangerous Drivel from Pompeo Confirms America Is No Peace Broker

By Stuart Littlewood

Source

Pretence not to understand 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention perpetuates Israel’s impunity

Pompeo visits the Western Wall and Tunnel with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu edfc9

Before our American friends run away with the idea that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has authority to say that planting Israeli civilian settlements in Occupied Palestine “is not, per se, inconsistent with international law”, and that the Trump Administration is only recognizing the reality on the ground, they might like to hear the authoritative opinion of John McHugo, International lawyer and Balfour Project trustee:

Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 provides that “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

Article 49(6) was considered by the International Court of Justice in its Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in 2004. It stated, at para. 120 of the Advisory Opinion, that Article 49(6) “prohibits not only deportations or forced transfers of population…but also any measures taken by an occupying Power in order to organize or encourage transfers of parts of its own population into the occupied territory.”

All judges of the court subscribed to this with the sole exception of Judge Buergenthal, the American judge, who is a Holocaust survivor and who lost toes to frostbite as a child in Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. He took the view that the Court should have declined to exercise its jurisdiction. Yet he issued his own Separate Declaration to the Advisory Opinion in which he expressly stated at Para. 9: “I agree that [Article 49(6)] applies to the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and that their existence violates Article 49, paragraph 6”. The view that Israeli civilian settlements violated Article 49(6) was thus the unanimous view of the judges.

More recently, the fact that this is the law was reiterated by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2334 of 23 December 2016 at operative paragraph 1: “The Security Council Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

It is not for any State, however mighty and powerful, to rewrite the rules of international law. Realities on the ground are subject to the rule of law, just as all other realities are.

For good measure Article 85(4)(a) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I provides that “the transfer by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” is a grave breach of the Protocol. And under Article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the 1998 ICC Statute “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts.

And, by the way, in 1992, in its final report to Congress on the conduct of the Gulf War, the US Department of Defence declared that it regarded the transfer of the Iraqi population into occupied Kuwait in violation of Article 49 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV as a war crime. So, happy with the Convention then.

As usual, the US and its allies (including the UK), will observe international law when it suits them. But not if it upsets their bosom-pals in Israel.

Pompeo’s two cents’ worth follows Trump’s presidential declaration earlier this year recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, which belong to Syria. When will Washington understand that Trump’s capricious shifts in policy don’t alter international law, don’t impress other nations, and endanger world peace?

As a product of Harvard Law School Pompeo should be ashamed of his fatuous pronouncement.

McHugo points out that British government policy is to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state “when it best serves the interests of peace”. In view of Pompeo’s and Trump’s dangerous remarks that moment is now.

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