Demolition and Displacement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories by the Apartheid State

Demolition and Displacement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

September Report

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Between israel’s bullets and bulldozers

Between Israel’s bullets and bulldozers

Adlan Mansri The Electronic Intifada

The shepherding community of Khirbet al-Malih is located in a hilly area of the Jordan Valley in the northeast corner of the occupied West Bank. Pockets of families live in metal-frame tents in small Bedouin encampments. Israel occupied the area in 1967 and, like some 60 percent of the West Bank, it is under full Israeli military control.

Since the 1970s, this area has also been an Israeli live-fire military zone, along with around half of the rest of the Jordan Valley, according to the rights group B’Tselem.

In an otherwise peaceful countryside lies a military outpost. For the residents of Khirbet al-Malih, the firing zone designation means the Israeli military can train whenever they want. The shepherds and their families live with the constant presence of military vehicles criss-crossing the countryside, semi-trailer trucks transporting tanks, low-flying aircraft, gunfire and explosions.

Khirbet Al-Malih is dry and hot in the summer, rainy in the winter and deep green in the spring. Spring is the best season for milk because there is plenty of food for the animals.

A Bedouin resident of Khirbet al-Malih rolls a cigarette made with tobacco grown on his field.

If Israeli forces want to use the land around a Bedouin family compound for military exercises, they do. They pull up to a tent and demand everyone leave for a certain period of time, often for days. Families pack the few things they can, gather their animals and leave. They sleep outside until they are allowed to return, often to trampled crops and turned-up earth where tanks passed through. This photo shows the aftermath of one such military exercise. Since 2014, at least three Palestinians have been killed and five injured by unexploded ordnance left behind during military exercises in the Jordan Valley, according to B’Tselem.

Khadir Brahim lives in Khirbet al-Malih on land owned by a Christian church. In recent days, Brahim said, the military performed exercises. “They made us and others leave our homes,” he said. When Brahim is forced to evacuate, he said: “I take the minimal, the goats, the sheep and just go.” Brahim added that, “If anyone is caught staying in their home, the army would physically throw us out and beat them if necessary.” The army once shot a camel, he said.

Ezra Nawi is an Israeli human rights activist who has been working in the northern Jordan Valley for years. He says Israel’s aim in the Jordan Valley is the same as in the South Hebron Hills and East Jerusalem: pushing Palestinians off their land. “It is the police, the army, the intelligence. It’s the same body with many arms. All of them with the same target, how to squeeze them out,” he said.

Mahyoub al-Meer is a shepherd living with his family on land his grandfather owned. He said he has papers proving his family’s ownership of the land. But under military occupation, papers do little to protect one’s rights. “Every day there is the army, the settlers, the exercises. Every day there are problems,” he said.

The army recently approached al-Meer’s family, some of whom are seen here, and declared his land a closed military zone. There were no military exercises as far as he could see but they still forced him to leave. “I resisted, I asked why? I asked if it was just me, or did the settler two kilometers away also have to evacuate. The army then asked for my papers. I told them that I was born here, why would I need a license? So I had to leave, I took my family away with me for two days.“

Al-Meer and his family are surrounded by three hillsides cradling their cluster of tents and sheep pens. One hillside has a road cutting through it, leading to Amihai, the newest settlement, just two kilometers away, built on his family’s land in 2017. On the adjacent hill, directly above them, is a military outpost with a watchtower and cellphone tower, leaving them with the feeling of always being watched. These hills were once for grazing, but now al-Meer keeps his distance unless Nawi or other volunteers are with him.

Because Israel prevents Palestinians from building in Area C – a zone comprising about 60 percent of the West Bank – al-Meer cannot dig a well. He cannot access the water line that goes up to the military outpost. Instead, he pays for water tanks trucked in from the nearest town. He has been cut off from his pastures, reducing the available food for his sheep and goats. In 2016, his family dwellings and animal shelters, built of mud and earth, were demolished by the military. They also tore down a small kindergarten on his land. The small schoolhouse served children from neighboring camps, giving them a head start before they went to Tubas for regular schooling.

Adlan Mansri is a French-Algerian photojournalist based in the Middle East.

Unearthing Truths: israel, the Nakba, and the Jewish National Fund

Unearthing Truths: Israel, the Nakba, and the Jewish National Fund

Unearthing Truths: Israel, the Nakba, and the Jewish National Fund

One of countless photos of Palestinians fleeing their homes during the Nakba – the Catastrophe – of 1948 when they were forced from their land by the new state of Israel

The Forward courageously reminds American Jews of the reality of the Nakba, the slogans and symbols of the Jewish project that enabled mass expulsion and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people – and the policies that enable it to continue today. Their hope (and ours at IAK) is that pro-Israel communities will honestly confront the history and the present situation in the land, and move toward justice.

by the Editors, the Forward

We present this special issue of Moving Forward to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, the Arabic word for ‘catastrophe.’ The Nakba refers to the expulsion and dispossession of 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland during Israel’s creation (1947-1949).

In this issue, we lay out the historical record of those years to show that the Nakba was the result of a deliberate policy of mass expulsion, dispossession, and ethnic cleansing—a strategy designed to ensure that the Palestinians who had lived on the land for generations would be barred from ever returning. We also zero in on the fundamental role played by the 117-year-old international organization, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), in facilitating that dispossession.

American Jews used to drop coins into the Jewish National Fund’s blue charity boxes to help Zionists build the Jewish state. More than a century later, the JNF, known in Hebrew and functioning in Israel as Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL), owns 13% of all the land in the country and brings in some $3 billion a year, most of it from land sales.

Our goal is that there be a serious moral reckoning with this history, and it begins with that icon of innocence, the JNF’s small blue metal box that many of our readers will remember from their childhood, boxes that beckoned us to drop in coins that would help “make the desert bloom” and build the land of Israel. It was a mission that was legitimized by the governing principle of the Zionist cause: “A land without a people for a people without a land.” As seductive as that slogan was, it was willfully false, as amply documented in personal testimonies of Palestinians and Israelis, historical records, and scholarly research. How, after all, could 750,000 Palestinians flee “a land without a people”?

From its founding, the JNF was encouraged by the Zionist movement to acquire land in Palestine for the purpose of settling Jews on that land. After 1948, aided and abetted by Israeli land law, the JNF continued to acquire land and also contributed to Israel’s dispossession of Palestinians from their land. This was accomplished by buying swathes of land from absentee landlords and then leasing it exclusively to Jews, by confiscating refugees’ land, and by forcibly—often violently—removing Palestinians from their land, a practice which persists today. By continuing to plant forests that conceal the ruins of Palestinian villages, the JNF seeks to erase history and memory, while hoping to whitewash its political motives and enhance its recent branding as an environmental organization. Ironically, however, it has earned widespread international condemnation for the degradation it has inflicted on the natural ecosystem.

While this year marks the 70th anniversary of the catastrophic events of 1948, we also know that the policies that informed Israel’s and the JNF’s actions back then continue to the present. With this issue we hope to expose the relationship between the Nakba and the Jewish National Fund; to encourage deeper conversation about the experiences and realities of Palestinians before, during and since Israel’s creation; and to facilitate among US Jewish communities—and more broadly—honest reflection, analysis, and action toward truth-telling and justice.

The Editors

Mandla Mandela: israel Imposing ‘Worst Version of Apartheid’

Mandla Mandela: Israel Imposing ‘Worst Version of Apartheid’

The grandson of South Africa’s revolutionary leader likened Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands to apartheid.

Mandla Mandela, the grandson of South Africa’s first president and independence leader, Nelson Mandela, accused Israel of imposing an “apartheid regime” during a historic visit to Palestine.

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Mandela, who is a strong advocate for the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, held a joint press conference with Palestinian Prime Minister (PM) Rami Hamdallah and said: “The settlements I saw here [in the West Bank] reminded me of what we had suffered in South Africa because we also were surrounded by many settlements and were not allowed to move from one place to another freely.”

“Palestinians are being subjected to the worst version of apartheid,” Mandela continued, echoing a (now retracted) assessment published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia which concluded that “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”

Hamdallah told the South African MP about the “violations against the Palestinians, including settlement expansion and displacement projects that constitute a major obstacle to realizing the dream of establishing a Palestinian state.”

Prime Minister Hamdallah invoked the legacy of Nelson Mandela in a meeting that took place with the revolutionary leader’s grandson in Ramallah.

The prime minister also stressed the importance of relations between Palestine and South Africa, two nations born of struggle against racism and ethnocentrism. He also praised South Africa for supporting the Palestinian people before the international community and in the United Nations General Assembly.

“What we have experienced in South Africa is a fraction of what the Palestinians are experiencing,” Mandela remarked during an interview with Royal News English, on Sunday. “We were oppressed in order to serve the white minority. The Palestinians are being eliminated off their land and brought out of their territories, and this is a total human-rights violations. I think it is a total disgrace that the world is able to sit back while such atrocities are being carried out by apartheid Israel.”

Mandela is also set to meet with other Palestinian officials, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. During his trip, the MP will also visit Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Yasser Arafat’s mausoleum in Ramallah. An official statement by Mandela did not indicate whether the MP would meet with Israeli officials, though the Israeli Foreign Ministry indicated that they had not been briefed on the MP’s visit.

Perhaps the greatest symbol of solidarity between South Africa and Palestine is a six-meter tall statue of Nelson Mandela erected near Yasser Arafat’s mausoleum, both of whom were the first presidents of their respective countries.

Israel and apartheid South Africa had close ties, before the African nation’s liberation from repression imposed by the white minority. South Africa was among only 33 nations that voted in favor of the 1947 UN Partition Plan of Palestine and recommended the creation of a Jewish ethnostate.

While apartheid South Africa and Israel had a near-falling-out when Israel tried to extend a hand to sub-Saharan African nations, this hand was quickly rejected when it became apparent to postcolonial African nations that Israeli was a colonizer state. A catalyst for this was the Six-Day War and subsequent military occupation of the Sinai Peninsula and West Bank.

In response to increasing isolation felt by both colonizer states, the mouthpiece of the South African Nationalist Party, Die Burger, remarked: “Israel and South Africa are engaged in a struggle for existence… The anti-Western powers have driven Israel and South Africa into a community of interests which had better be utilized than denied.”

It was after this point that both South Africa and Israel deepened their financial and strategic ties. Israel became the main arms supplier to the South African Defence Force as well as its main military ally. It is also widely believed by many that South Africa and Israel collaborated to develop nuclear weapons.

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In response to this historical collaboration by their respective oppressors, relations between the current South African state and Palestine have deep ties. Nelson Mandela, the first president of South Africa, and Yasser Arafat, the first president of the Palestinian National Authority, had close relations and shared similar views.

South Africa opened diplomatic relations with the State of Palestine in 1995, which was not long after the Republic of South Africa was created from the abolition of apartheid in 1994.

Nelson Mandela once famously remarked:

“We know all too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

Echoing the remarks of his grandfather, Mandla Mandela said, during the July speech:

“We demand that Israel complies with International law and demand the return of six million Palestinian refugees driven from the land of their birth. We demand that all occupied land be returned, and we condemn the continued expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.”

He continued in his address: “Today, we stand to salute the brave and fearless Palestinian people who are facing the brutal might of the Israeli Army to defend al-Aksa with their bare hands. We demand that all occupied land be returned. Madiba reminded us that our freedom is incomplete until Palestine is free.”

Palestine, 50 years of an illegal military occupation and land theft by israel

Fifty years of military rule

A general view of the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit (foreground), on the outskirts of Jerusalem, on March 8, 2010. Photo by Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

Fifty years ago, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 242. The resolution is used as a framework for implementing the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

But since its adoption in 1967, Israel has violated the resolution by entrenching its occupation of the Palestinian territories through illegal settlements.

600,000 – 750,000  Illegal settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories

150 Settlements

119 Outposts

42% Of West Bank land controlled by settlements

86% Of East Jerusalem for Israeli state and settler use

The majority of settlements have been built either entirely or partially on private Palestinian property

Israel’s settlements: 50 years of land theft explained

Produced by Zena Tahhan, Al Jazeera
November 21, 2017

To the casual visitor or tourist driving through the occupied West Bank or Jerusalem, Israeli settlements may appear as just another set of houses on a hill.

The middle-class suburban style townhouses, built fast and locked in a grid of uniform units, stand like fortified compounds, in direct contrast to the sprawling limestone Palestinian homes below.

Settlement homes, mostly constructed of cement with a cosmetic limestone cladding, tend to fashion a similar look: American-style villas topped by red-tiled roofs and surrounded by lush, neatly trimmed green lawns.

The largest settlement, Modi’in Illit, houses more than 64,000 Israeli Jews in the occupied West Bank. The mega-settlement has its own mayor, as well as schools, shopping malls and medical centres.

Some settlements even have their own universities.

Today, between 600,000 and 750,000 Israelis live in these sizeable settlements, equivalent to roughly 11 percent of the total Jewish Israeli population.

They live beyond the internationally recognised borders of their state, on Palestinian land that Israel occupied in 1967, comprising East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Since then, the Israeli government has openly funded and built settlements for Israeli Jews to live there, offering incentives and subsidised housing.

So why have these housing compounds caused so much rancour and been called a threat to the prospect of peace in the Holy Land?

Follow this journey to find out.

What are settlements and how did they come about?

Contrary to common belief, settlements are a legacy of the pre-1948 period, before the creation of Israel.

In the 1880s, the community of Palestinian Jews, known as the Yishuv, amounted to three percent of the total population. They were apolitical and did not aspire to build a modern Jewish state.

But in the late 19th century, the Zionist movement – a political ideology – grew out of Eastern Europe, claiming that Jews were a nation or race that deserved a modern “Jewish state”.

The movement, citing the biblical belief that God promised Palestine to the Jews, began to buy land there and build settlements to strengthen their claim to the land.

At the time, these settlements, built largely on the coastal plain and in the north of the country, were called “Kibbutzim” and “Moshavim”.

The first Kibbutz Degania, was established in 1909 by European Jewish colonists. Tel Aviv, now the economic capital of Israel, was also built in the early 20th century and was one of the first settlements.

The approach is known as “creating facts on the ground” – laying a stake in an area to ensure that it will be part of a future state and difficult to get rid of later on.


Source: PalestineRemembered.com

The distribution of the settlements determined the map of the proposed United Nations Partition Plan for Jewish and Palestinian states in 1947.

By 1948, prior to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by the Zionist movement, Jews had control over less than six percent of the land.


According to Israeli statistics, there were some 80 kibbutzim and moshavim before 1948.

1950
214 kibbutzim
67,550 total population

What Israel did with Jerusalem

Shortly after the 1967 war, Israel illegally annexed East Jerusalem and declared it part of its “eternal, undivided” capital.

Map of East Jerusalem in 2007 shows the separation wall (in red) and the Israeli settlements in purple on areas of the occupied West Bank illegally annexed to Jerusalem. Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

This meant that it extended its law to East Jerusalem and claimed it as part of Israel, unlike the West Bank, which it physically occupies but does not claim.

The annexation of East Jerusalem is not recognised by any country in the world as it violates several principles of international law, which outlines that an occupying power does not have sovereignty in the territory it occupies.

The international community, including the US, officially regards East Jerusalem as occupied territory.

However, since Israel considers East Jerusalem part of its state, it calls the settlements there “neighbourhoods”.

Israel’s settlement project after 1967: How is it different?

When the guns fell silent in 1967, the Israeli state began building colonies, or settlements, for its Jewish Israeli citizens on Palestinian land it had just occupied.

Settlements have become the hallmark of the Israeli colonial project in Palestine.

In the last 50 years, the Israeli government has transferred between 600,000 and 750,000 Jewish Israelis to the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They live in at least 160 settlements and outposts.

This means that roughly 11 percent of Israel’s 6.6 million Jewish population now lives on occupied land, outside the internationally recognised borders of Israel.


Left-wing Israeli protesters hold signs during a protest in Tel Aviv condemning an attack by settlers that killed an 18-month Palestinian baby in 2015 in the occupied West Bank. Source Baz Ratner/ Reuters

The dilemma of the settlements and the occupation has effectively split Israelis between those who believe it is their God-given right to settle land that was promised to the Jewish people, and others who believe the settlements are a death sentence for the Jews.

To religious Jews, the outcome of the 1967 war and the seizure of the remainder of historical Palestine – particularly East Jerusalem, which houses the Old City – led to a sense of euphoria.

Thousands of Jews, including secular Jews, flocked to the Western Wall, also known as the al-Buraq Wall to Muslims. They wept as they gave thanks for what they believed was a miracle from God.

The majority of Israeli Zionist leftists who oppose the settlement project however, believe in the Jewish state along 1948 borders and reject Israel’s expansion into the occupied territories.

To Palestinians, Israel’s occupation and the settlement project did not come as a surprise; the Zionist movement was founded by non-natives to colonise the land, just as they did in 1948.

Munir Nuseibah, a law professor at al-Quds University in Jerusalem, says the occupation and the settlement project “reminded the world of the colonial aspects of Israel”.

Why are they illegal under international law?

In a series of agreements known as the Geneva Conventions, formulated in the aftermath of World War II, the international community established a set of accepted rules and standards for the protection of civilians, prisoners and injured people in times of war.

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which defines humanitarian protections for civilians caught in a war zone, an occupying power is forbidden from transferring parts of its civilian population into the territory it occupies.

The rationale behind this is simple.

1. To ensure that the occupation is temporary and allow for a solution to the conflict by preventing To ensure that the occupation is temporary and allow for a solution to the conflict by preventing the occupying power from acquiring long-term interests through military control.

2. To protect occupied civilians from theft of resources by the occupying power.

3. To prohibit a de facto situation in which two groups living on the same land are subject to two different legal systems, i.e. apartheid.

4. To prevent changes in the demographic makeup of the occupied territory.

But the Israeli government maintains that the status of the Palestinian territories is ambiguous, as there was no internationally recognised government in the territories prior to the 1967 war. The Israeli government argues that it took the territory from Jordan, which had control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem between 1949 and 1967, while Egypt had control of the Gaza Strip.

Israel regards the West Bank as “disputed” territory and thus refutes the existence of a military occupation there; saying the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply. But the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Court of Justice, and the international community have all affirmed that it does.

Israel also denies that any of the settlements were built on private Palestinian land.

What types of settlements are there?

There are three main types of Israeli colonies in the occupied Palestinian territories, all of which involve seizing Palestinian land and are all illegal under international law.

SETTLEMENTS


Houses in the settlement of Ofra in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, established in the vicinity of the Palestinian village of Baytin (background) on Nov. 17.Photo by Thomas Coex / AFP – Getty Images

Built by the Israeli government, mainly in rural areas in the West Bank and Jerusalem, many are on private Palestinian property and within close proximity to Palestinian towns and cities.

After the signing of the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s, the Israeli government stopped officially building new settlements but expanded existing ones,

In 2017, Israel started building the first new settlement in two decades.

How does Israel take over land?

Israel has developed a myriad of ways to seize Palestinian land.

Since Israel has not annexed the occupied West Bank and does not have jurisdiction there, it uses military orders as well as its own interpretations of Ottoman, British and Jordanian laws to seize Palestinian property.

In East Jerusalem however, the state applies Israeli law, despite the fact that the territory is considered occupied under international law, and the Palestinians who live there are not Israeli citizens.

Israel has declared at least 26 percent of the West Bank as “state land”.

Using a different interpretation of Ottoman, British and Jordanian laws, Israel stole public and private Palestinian land for settlements under the pretext of “state land”.

Though many Palestinians had paid taxes and cultivated their land for decades, most land wasn’t registered during the Ottoman and British occupations; in 1968, Israel stopped the process of land registration and declared any unregistered land as belonging to the Israeli government.

Settlements on “state land” often expand into surrounding, privately owned, Palestinian land.

As an occupying power, Israel does not own the West Bank and is not permitted under international law to seize land in this manner.

ABSENTEE LAND

Why the locations of settlements matter

Settlements are scattered across the West Bank in a way that makes a contiguous Palestinian state impossible, while in Jerusalem the Israeli government has built settlements around the city to consolidate control over it.


Beit El settlement

These “ring neighbourhoods” are a set of major settlement blocs to the north, east and south of the Jerusalem, which Israel hopes to annex to its state.

The ring settlements have effectively cut off the West Bank’s north from the south, impeding the ability of Palestinians to travel between cities in a normal fashion.

The building of these Jewish settlements around the city was not random but rather tells of a deeper Israeli political aim.

After the 1967 war and the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek, the mayor of the contested city, said in 1968: “The object is to ensure that all of Jerusalem remains forever a part of Israel. If this city is to be our capital, then we have to make it an integral part of our country, and we need Jewish inhabitants to do that.”

Indeed, Israel formalised its annexation of the eastern half of the city in 1980 when it passed the Jerusalem Law, claiming that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel”, in violation of international law, which states that the city should be administered by the UN for its importance to the three Abrahamic religions.

The purpose was to seal the fate of Jerusalem and thwart negotiations over the city in any future agreement.

The woman who first introduced the Jerusalem Law to the Israeli parliament, Geula Cohen, also believes that Israel could annex the entire West Bank “if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wills it”.

Israeli MKs plan to annex the three major settlement blocs round Jerusalem

Israeli lawmakers are now making moves to annex three large settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank to the Israeli-defined boundaries of Jerusalem.

The so-called “Greater Jerusalem bill” would see the addition of 140,000 Jewish Israelis who live in these settlements to the population of Jerusalem, to ensure a Jewish majority in the city.

“The government will approve the Greater Jerusalem law that will strengthen the eternal capital Jerusalem – demographically and geographically,” Yoav Kish, the Knesset member (MK) who submitted the proposal for the bill, said on Twitter.

A boy places the Palestinian flag on the controversial Israeli separation wall, with Israeli settlements showing in the background. Source: Ammar Awad/Reuters

In 2004, Israel began building the separation wall, which was meant to provide “security” for Israelis by dividing between the West Bank and Israel following the second Palestinian uprising in 2000.

Israel has however used the wall to annex more land to its borders and has built it around some of the largest settlements in the West Bank, placing them on the “Israeli side”.

Some 85 percent of the wall falls inside the West Bank, and not on the Green Line. Palestinians have therefore aptly described the wall as an “annexation wall”.

In 2009, the Jerusalem municipality adopted a master plan intended “to guide and outline the city’s development in the next decades”. The vision, as stated in the plan, is to create a ratio of 70 percent Israeli Jews to 30 percent Palestinians in the city.

Does Israel hope to annex the West Bank as well?

While many Israeli members of parliament hope to annex the entire West Bank – which they call by its biblical name, Judea and Samaria – there is a fear that bringing the territory into the boundaries of Israel would upset the population ratio by tipping the demographic balance in favour of the Palestinians in the country.

Annexing the West Bank would mean giving the 3.1 million Palestinians who live there Israeli citizenship and extending Israeli law, instead of martial law, to the area. Many see this as “an end to the Jewish state”, as Palestinians would outnumber Jewish Israelis.

But the growing settlement enterprise across the West Bank brings this possibility closer to reality every day.

 

Map shows Area C (in dark brown), and the route of the separation wall, which Israel has used to annex parts of the West Bank to East Jerusalem
Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

.

 For some Israeli right-wing ministers, the annexation of Area C – which makes up 60 percent of the West Bank and is subject to total Israeli control – is a more realistic aim for the time being.

All the settlements are located in Area C, where some 300,000 Palestinians live – a figure consistently under-reported by Israeli politicians. Annexing the territory would mean that Israel could absorb the maximum amount of land with the least number of Palestinians.

The settlements in the West Bank are already connected to East Jerusalem and Israel through a series of Jewish-only roads that give the settlers the luxury of crossing the Green Line without having to pass through Palestinian population centres – as though they live in one single state.

The situation in Area C, where Israel consistently acts to minimise Palestinian presence through home demolitions, displacement, theft of resources and refusing to grant building permits, amounts to de facto annexation.

Quotes from Israeli politicians on annexation

How do they impact Palestinians?

Besides being built illegally on private and public Palestinian land, settlements impact the day-to-day life of Palestinians in many ways.

In 2016, the UN found that the economy of the occupied Palestinian territories would be twice as large if the 50-year occupation were lifted.

Israel’s policies of occupation and settlement have come to be seen as a purposeful strategy of de-development to weaken resistance to military rule and thwart attempts to build a successful Palestinian state.

Theft of resources

The settlements have only been able to thrive through severe economic exploitation of the occupied West Bank at the expense of the natives.

While the majority of the Palestinian population in the West Bank live in Areas A and B, the infrastructure upon which their livelihood depends either lies in or crosses into Area C.

Close to half of the Biet Owwa village (pictured) lies in Area C and has been severely affected by the settlements, checkpoints and the separation wall surrounding it. Photo by Mussa Qawasma/ Reuters

The area encompasses the territory’s water resources, most fertile pasture and agricultural land, as well as mining and mineral extraction resources and tourist sites.

Palestinian access to Area C, some 60 percent of the West Bank, is either completely prohibited or highly restricted, causing an annual loss of $3.4bn to the economy.

WATER

Israel controls some 90 percent of the water resources

Israeli settlers use about six times more water than the 3.1 million Palestinians in the West Bank do.

Freedom of movement and the separation wall

Israel uses various methods to hinder Palestinian movement in the West Bank for the protection of Israeli settlers.

Palestinians cross through the Israeli Qalandia military checkpoint near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. Photo by Ammar Awad/ Reuters

  • By the end of 2016, there were 572 obstacles to the free movement of Palestinians, including military checkpoints and roadblocks, in the occupied West Bank.
  • The separation wall has physically separated Palestinian communities from one another and added hours to otherwise short commutes.
  • Palestinians in certain areas must cross a checkpoint to enter and exit their villages.

Settler violence

Due to the close proximity of settlements to Palestinian homes, friction and violence between settlers and Palestinians is a near-daily reality.


A Palestinian boy  looks at a torched car in the Palestinian village of Zubeidat in the Jordan Valley in 2013. Photo by Mohamad Torokman /Reuters

  • In the first half of 2017, the UN documented 89 incidents in which Israeli settlers killed or injured Palestinians or damaged Palestinian property.
  • The main forms of violence by Israeli settlers include throwing stones at Palestinian homes and vehicles, physically assaulting Palestinians, uprooting or damaging olive trees, vandalising property, or setting fire to agricultural lands.
  • In 2016, more than 1,500 Palestinian olive trees were damaged or uprooted by settlers, in addition to 2.5 million trees uprooted since 1967.
  • The overwhelming majority of complaints filed against settler violence pass without any punishment of the perpetrators.

Home demolitions

While building homes for settlers, Israel employs a policy of home demolitions to restrict the expansion of Palestinian communities on the pretext that homes were built without necessary permits, while refusing to issue them.


A Palestinian girl cries as she walks past her family’s house after it was demolished by Israeli bulldozers in Om Ajaj village, north of the occupied West Bank city of Jericho. Photo by Abed Omar Qusini/ Reuters

  • Since 1967, Israeli authorities have demolished over 27,000 Palestinian homes in the occupied territory.
  • Between 2000 and 2007, Israeli authorities rejected more than 94 percent of permit requests in Area C.
  • Demolitions of homes and other structures that forcibly displace Palestinians may amount to war crimes.

Resolution 242, adopted unanimously by the Security Council on November 22 

The Security Council,

Expressing its continuing concern with the grave situation in the Middle East,

Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,

Emphasizing further that all Member States in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter,

1. Affirms that the fulfilment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

2. Affirms further the necessity

(a) For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;

(b) For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;

(c) For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones;

3. Requests the Secretary-General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution;

4. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the progress of the efforts of the Special Representative as soon as possible.
Adopted unanimously at the 1382nd meeting.

Forget the ‘slippery slope’ — israel already is an apartheid state

Source

by Neil MacDonald

As the late Yossi Sarid, longtime leader of Israel's Meretz party and former education minister once put it: "What acts like apartheid, is run like apartheid and harasses like apartheid, is not a duck — it is apartheid."

As the late Yossi Sarid, longtime leader of Israel’s Meretz party and former education minister once put it: “What acts like apartheid, is run like apartheid and harasses like apartheid, is not a duck — it is apartheid.” (Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

The time has come to call the duck a duck. It’s time to agree with a long list of Israeli political leaders, academics and public figures on both the political left and right, including three former prime ministers, a winner of the Israel prize, two former heads of the Israeli internal security service Shin Bet, and one of the country’s principal newspapers, all of whom have warned that the Jewish state is becoming, or already is, an apartheid state.

I would choose the latter characterization.    

It’s interesting that within the Israeli discourse, the assertion seems to have become routine, while it remains radioactive in the West, where energetic pro-Israel activists scrutinize the media, the academy and the polity, ready to declare anti-Semitism or incitement at any use of the word.

Look at the outrage and venom poured upon former President Jimmy Carter, under whose brokerage the peace accord between Israel and Egypt was signed, when he titled a 2006 book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid.

Suddenly, Carter was transformed from a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and statesman to a dotty old man under the sway of terrorists, at least in the eyes of Israel’s supporters, including a significant fraction of his own cohort, Evangelical American Christians.

A duck is a duck

But reality is reality, and a duck is a duck. As the late Yossi Sarid, longtime leader of Israel’s Meretz party and former education minister once put it: “What acts like apartheid, is run like apartheid and harasses like apartheid, is not a duck — it is apartheid.”

This past June, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak re-stated a position he’s held for years: “If we keep controlling the whole area from the Mediterranean to the river Jordan where some 13 million people are living — eight million Israelis, five million Palestinians … if only one entity reigned over this whole area, named Israel, it would become inevitably — that’s the key word, inevitably – either non-Jewish or non-democratic.” The country is, he repeated, “on a slippery slope” that ends in apartheid.

The dividing line between prominent Israelis who use the term in the here and now, rather than as a warning of what’s coming, seems to be the continued existence of the “peace process,” with its promise of a Palestinian state, and self-governance.

And when I was posted in Jerusalem for CBC News, back in the late ’90s, that actually did seem like a possibility, if an unlikely one.

Since then, the peace process — always half-hearted — has utterly collapsed. Expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank continued, and since the election of Donald Trump, colonization has surged with an invigorated enthusiasm.

A picture taken on January 17, 2017 shows new apartments under construction in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa situated in East Jerusalem, and a view of the Arab neighborhood of Umm Tuba in the background. (Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

Their existence is in fact currently being celebrated in a series of appearances by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We are here to stay, forever,” he declared two months ago in the settlement of Barkan, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

“There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel.” (The “Land of Israel,” as opposed to the State of Israel, is a term used by the Israeli right to describe all the territory between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, and sometimes even further).

Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett, respectively Israel’s justice and education ministers, have said the Palestinians must understand they will never have a state. Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman, a settler, has said there is “no hope” of a mutually agreed upon Palestinian state, but has warned Naftali Bennett against promoting outright annexation:

“What Bennett and his Jewish Home party are proposing is a classical bi-national state,” Liberman said two years ago. “They need to decide if they’re talking about a bi-national state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean … or whether they’re talking about an apartheid state.”

Palestinian underclass

Liberman’s logic seems to be that as long as the Palestinians are simply occupied and governed by a different set of laws, with far fewer rights than Israelis (as opposed to denying them a state but giving them a vote in some expanded version of Israel, which the Israeli right considers national suicide), then it is not really apartheid.

But annexation at this point would merely amount to staging a home already sold.

In the past decade, Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s “Iron Wall” doctrine has given rise to an actual wall, sometimes an iron one, running roughly along the 1967 borders of the West Bank and Gaza. The main roads from Jerusalem north to Ramallah and Nablus and south to Bethlehem and Hebron are now blocked by gigantic, fortified military barriers. The roughly three quarters of a million Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have complete freedom of movement and their own set of roads, effectively forbidden to the disenfranchised Palestinian underclass.

 

Settlers suspected of crimes are entitled to full rights in Israeli courts; Palestinians endure military tribunals, indefinite imprisonment without charge (“administrative detention”) and collective punishment. Settlers are entitled to carry arms and use them in self-defence; Palestinians are not. Settlers have property rights. Palestinians have property claims. Et cetera.

Netanyahu frames it all as a matter of national survival, warning that any land conceded will immediately be occupied by fundamentalist terrorists determined to destroy the State of Israel, with its nuclear weapons, tanks, fighter jets, layered missile defence systems and 600,000-plus active and reserve troops.

His definition of terrorism is a nuanced one; at an event a few years ago commemorating the 60th anniversary of the bombing of the King David Hotel by Irgun fighters, considered a terrorist act by the British government to this day, Netanyahu characterized the perpetrators as legitimate military fighters, and warned the outraged British government to watch its language.

Netanyahu frames expansion of settlements all as a matter of national survival. (Sebastian ScheinerAssociated Press)

But then, an elastic worldview is apparently necessary to maintain the status quo; when Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party signed a formal reconciliation recently with the “terrorists” of Hamas, who rule Gaza, both Israel and the United States objected, saying such a union endangers, yes, the peace process. The fact that today’s terrorists tend to become tomorrow’s statesmen (the Irgun bombers later joined the nascent government of Israel, and former Irgun chief Menachem Begin became prime minister) is apparently irrelevant in this context.

At any rate, Ehud Barak’s slippery slope is now in the rearview mirror. Yossi Sarid’s duck has arrived. Let’s accept that, drop the pretense, and move on.

This column is part of CBC’s Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor’s blog and our FAQ

Many people in the West claim to oppose racism but easily accept israel’s race-based system of ethnic cleansing

Zionism from the Diaspora: infinity.0

By Eve Mykytyn | October 16, 2107

I have noticed a distinct shift in the focus of the Zionist narrative in the US. For the last forty years or so, Israel has been sold to Americans as a necessary palliative for the Jewish people following the total destruction of the Holocaust. Now, the primary argument advanced is that the Jewish people have been a people tied to the land on which their state is located for a mythically uninterrupted period of time variously described as between 2,000 and 4,000 years.

Tom Segev reports in his book, The Seventh Million, that Holocaust refugees were looked down upon when they arrived in Israel. In the United States the holocaust didn’t become a major part of the Zionist dialogue until the 1970s and  we are now suffused with memorials (wikipedia lists 63) to a tragedy that occurred on another continent. While there are certainly groups that commemorate the Irish Famine, the Armenian Genocide and other such tragedies, no tragedy receives the kind of attention that the Holocaust has garnered. Our own complicity in genocide receives relatively scant attention. This is despite the estimated two to four million Africans who died while being transported to be forced into slavery and the multiple genocidal wars with native peoples.

But while the magnificent horrors of the Holocaust have been infinitely portrayed  and the movies and books continue to flow, the focus of the narrative has shifted back to a variant to that employed by Zionism’s founders. The basic tenets are that the Jews have ties to the land of Israel that are stronger and somehow more legitimate than that of the Palestinians.

The Palestinians are first scorned for not using that term for themselves until their land was ‘cleansed’ of their presence. This was of course, common everywhere before the rise of nationalism. Before emancipation, Jews themselves identified as a religion and not as a nation. Certainly they were not Israelis before they established Israel. As Shlomo Sand has explored in The Invention of the Jewish People, Jews went through a process of inventing themselves as a nation, and that definition was probably a necessary precursor to ‘finding’ themselves a country. (Maybe as a result of this, Jews now have a unique identity. They are not one race, not all of them are religious and not all claim a right to Palestinian land. As Gilad Atzmon has explored it is the tripart nature of that identity, i.e., religion, race and politics that leave you criticized as racist or anti Semitic if you criticize the politics of Israel.)

But whatever the facts of who called themselves what, the concept that the Palestinians by not calling themselves Palestinians should not be entitled to the land they lived on makes no real sense. Why would my self-proclaimed identity affect my ability to own land? I can own land in California without thinking of myself as a Californian. In fact, some Israelis own land in the US and I presume that they expect the US to make sure they retain their rights as owners.

The next step of this fantastic narrative is that the Palestinians gave up the land by leaving it at some point during the establishment of the state of Israel. By this narrative, the Palestinians gave up all rights to the land either by becoming refugees fleeing from ethnic cleansing and the destruction of their towns or by fighting to keep their land. This is tortured reasoning, but I guess that the idea is that if you don’t submit willingly to your own destruction and somehow survive, then you lose your property and assets.

I don’t know why the primary thrust of the myth has altered but I have a guess. In its initial stages, Israel needed citizens. Nationalism and blood privilege are attractive concepts. Then it seems for a long period Israel was more interested in donations, political capital and investment. As long as Jews supported Israel, Israel did not need them to move there. That has changed. With the full support of President Trump and the tacit support of most of western Europe’s leaders, Israel has been expanding by increasing its so-called settler movement of occupation, approving 12,000 new units in 2017 up from about 3000 in 2016. Netanyahu has announced he will annex the settlements, effectively increasing the size of the State of Israel. Instead of a Nakba there has been an endless stream of mini-Nakbas, just small enough to fall under the indulgent radar of the press.

Israel’s free ‘birthright’ (the name itself proclaims blood privilege) program promotional videos now emphasize coming home to young people who are citizens of other countries. It could be that Israel is working to neutralize the population advantage of the Palestinians.

It is clear that in the new narrative, citizenship is biologically and not geographically determined. It seems odd that so many in the West who claim to oppose racism, so easily accept a race-based system of ethnic cleansing.

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