Israeli Land Seizure Bill Viewed as Prelude to West Bank Annexation

shepherdsarrest3

“If you don’t understand that stealing property from people, especially people that cannot defend their rights because they are at the bottom of the food chain [is wrong], then you have a moral and personal problem.”

Bill would “retroactively legalize” thousands of Jewish houses built on private Palestinian property

By Ben Lynfield

A controversial bill that would legalise the seizure of Palestinian private property and cripple hopes for a two-state peace solution is expected to easily pass in a Knesset vote next week.

A vote on the Settlement Regulation Bill – intended as a major step towards annexation of the occupied West Bank – was originally due to take place in December. But it was delayed until now to avoid criticism from the Obama administration and in the expectation that it would be backed by Donald Trump.

While Israeli officials have used a variety of legal devices over the years to lay claim to Palestinian property, including deploying a law dating back to Ottoman times stipulating that agricultural land left fallow reverts to the state, the bill would enable seizures on a grand scale and without the need to resort to legal sleight of hand. Only Israel’s supreme court could overturn it.

In a 1979 case, the court deemed it illegal to build settlements on what is clearly private Palestinian property, limiting such seizures to state land and purported military necessity. The new law would effectively nullify that court decision, opening even more swathes of the West Bank to Israeli settlement.

Masoud Ganaim, an Arab member of the Knesset, said the bill will “legitimise the theft of land from the Palestinians and is an opening to annexation of the rest of the territory in the West Bank. It will change everything, it will close up the path to the peace process and to any two state solution. There won’t be two states, there won’t be a solution”.

Dror Etkes, director of the moderate Israeli Kerem Navot NGO, which monitors land use in the West Bank, said the bill, if passed, would retroactively legalise many thousands of houses built on private property in hundreds of places. These include not only smaller wildcat settlement outposts built with government backing in violation of both Israeli and international law but also established settlements that were constructed partly on private property such as Beit El near Ramallah, and Eli, on the road to Nablus.

“Almost every settlement in the West Bank has parts that were built on private Palestinian property,” said Mr Etkes, who formerly monitored settlements for the Peace Now organisation. “If you don’t understand that stealing property from people, especially people that cannot defend their rights because they are at the bottom of the food chain [is wrong], then you have a moral and personal problem.”

Mr Etkes said the bill violates the Fourth Geneva convention, which stipulates that an occupying power can only seize property for military necessity. Politicians, army officers and settlers could leave themselves open to prosecution in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

“This is heading to an escalation of the relations between Israel and the international community, at least parts of the international community that Israel wants to be respected by, namely Europe and sooner or later other countries. Assuming Trump won’t remain president forever, sooner or later it will put Israel in confrontation with important parts of North American politics as well.”

Arab Knesset member Haneen Zoabi termed the bill “an extreme example of Israel’s continuing tradition of land theft.” He added, “This law is illegal by Israeli legal standards and probably will not pass the Supreme Court. Maybe that’s what Bibi and Lieberman expect and count on.”

NGOs and private individuals are expected to petition Israel’s Supreme court in a bid to have the law declared illegal at the first opportunity.

Israel’s hard-right politicians have defended the bill against Arab and left-wing criticism.

Bezalel Smotrich, a Knesset member from the hard-right Jewish Home party that is part of the ruling coalition, said seizing Palestinian private property complies with democratic norms. “Every democratic country confiscates property for the good of the public,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “The settlement activity is a public purpose, not a private purpose.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennet went further by hailing the bill as “leading the way to annexation” of the West Bank.

Rami Mansour, a leading journalist among the Arab citizens of Israel who edits the Arab 48 website, last month called upon Israel’s Arab citizens to reassess their participation in the Knesset in light of the settlements bill, which “changes the rules of the political game.”

“Parliaments generally deal with laws inside their country,” he said. “The United States doesn’t legislate laws that apply to India. But here Israel is legislating a law that applies to territory not under its sovereignty. It is legislating a law to expropriate from Palestinians not by means of military orders but by legislation in contravention of previous practice. This is antidemocratic and turns the Knesset into the tool of the right.”

In the meantime, in the “only democracy in the Middle-East”…

January 21, 2017

Daily life in the “Jewish state of Israel with its eternal capital Jerusalem”, life goes on.  Or does it?  You tell me.

Sweeping House Demolitions: ‘A Declaration of War Against the Arab Community’

January 17, 2017 4:06 AM

Palestinians protest the demolition of eleven homes in Qalansuwa by taking to the streets and launching a general strike.


Alternative Information Center (AIC), Beit Sahour

Leaders of the Palestinian community in present-day Israel announced a general strike as hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets in protest of the demolition of 11 houses in the town of Qalansuwa.

The strike was observed in Nazareth, Umm al-Fahm, Haifa as well as Qalansuwa.

The Joint List, a coalition of primarily Palestinian parties that is the third largest bloc in the Israeli Knesset, condemned the demolitions.“The act of demolishing 11 houses, whose owners built on their private lands in Qalansuwa, is an unprecedented crime and a declaration of war against the residents of Qalansuwa and against the Arab community in Israel,” the party said in a statement. “The Arab public will not stand idle by this policy and will defend the right to fair and safe housing.”

Joint List MK Dr. Yousef Jabareen added:

“The source of this issue lies in the institutional, planning, and legal barriers forcing the Arab citizens to build without a permit as a last resort to ensure a basic right of shelter. It is inhuman and immoral to push the Arab citizens into choosing between two terrible decisions: either remain homeless or build without a formal permit.”

Joint List MK Jamal Zahalka said, in reference to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “We suggested negotiation to solve the problem of unlicensed houses, but the government sent bulldozers to demolish them, leaving us no choice but to defend our homes.”

Another demonstration is planned for Friday in Qalansuwa. Protestors will gather at the Rabat Mosque and march in the direction of the demolished homes.

The High Follow-Up Committee for Arabs in Israel is planning further actions to upset Israel’s discriminatory city planning regime in coordination with the mayor of Qalansuwa and Joint List MKs.

Also in Human Interest — 12/25/16 DCI Report: Children in West Bank Face Deadliest Year of Past Decade

 

Palestine news

‘The Last Bullet in the Peace Process’–Abbas Urges Trump not to Move US Embassy to Jerusalem

In addition to writing to Trump, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also reportedly has written letters to the leaders of Russia, China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Arab League asking them to do what they can to stop the newly-elected president of the the US from moving the embassy.

Secretary of State John Kerry has waded into the controversy as well, warning that if the embassy is moved, “you’d have an explosion–an absolute explosion in the region, not just in the West Bank and perhaps even Israel itself, but throughout the region.”

A typically un-hinged-from-reality comment on the matter has come from an Israeli official. Ron Dermer, the ambassador to the US, said the embassy “move would be a great step forward to peace,” and he claims also that it would work to undo the “delegitimization of Israel.”

There are also now reports of worries that moving the embassy could increase security threats to State Department personnel in other countries besides Israel–but apparently this doesn’t concern Florida Sen. (and devoted Zionist) Marco Rubio.

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel, and that’s where America’s embassy belongs,” says Rubio. “It’s time for Congress and the president-elect to eliminate the loophole that has allowed presidents in both parties to ignore U.S. law and delay our embassy’s rightful relocation to Jerusalem for over two decades.”

Rubio is referring to the “Jerusalem Embassy Act,” approved by Congress in 1995, which calls for the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem but which also allows for a presidential waiver if it is deemed the move would harm US security interests. Every president from the time the law was passed up until today has exercised the waiver.

The PLO response to the move–at least as stated in the above video–would be a withdrawal of its recognition of Israel. There is also a warning that the Palestinian Authority could dissolve itself, effectively rendering Israel responsible for administering what are now referred to as the “Palestinian territories.” This would leave the Jewish state with the choice of either annexing the territories and giving Palestinians living within them the right to vote in Israeli elections–or, alternately, Israel could openly rule over a subject people who have no rights as citizens. This would basically remove the fig leaf cover and expose Israel once and for all as an apartheid state. Should it choose this latter course of action, doubtless it would become grist for the mill for a conference set to take place in Ireland and which I posted an article about four days ago.

The three-day conference is to be entitled “International Law & the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism, and Responsibility,” and as I reported, one of the questions its participants will examine is whether Israel has a legal right to exist under international law.

If Dermer and other Israeli officials are worried about the “delegitimization” they are experiencing now, doubtless the fires of illicitness will get hotter if the Palestinian Authority “hands the keys to the territories” back to Israel. Whether the PA will actually go through with that remains to be seen, however. And my own personal view is that it is something they probably should have done a long time ago.

However, if today’s resignation of a Palestinian mayor inside of Israel is any indication, we could perhaps seem something like that come to pass.

Palestinian Mayor Resigns After Israelis Demolish 10 Homes in His Town

[ Ed. note – Qalansawe is an Arab town located within pre-1967 Israel, though adjacent to the Green Line ]

Ma’an News

QALANSAWE (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities demolished 10 homes belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel in the city of Qalansawe in central Israel on Tuesday morning, prompting a defeated mayor to resign after Israeli authorities refused for decades to approve the city’s master plan.

Local sources told Ma’an the devastating demolition campaign sparked clashes between Israeli police and residents.

Mayor Abd al-Basit Mansour visited the area along with members of the municipal council and announced he would resign from his post, as Israeli bulldozers razed the homes to ground.

Mansour told reporters that, “We have been waiting for approval of a master plan for twenty years, but our request fell on deaf ears.”

“As head of Qalansawe municipality, who doesn’t have the power to change anything, I decided to send my resignation to the ministry of interior.”

Dozens of locals crowded in the area in an attempt to prevent bulldozers from demolishing the structures, but Israeli police officers dispersed them.

One homeowner described the demolition as part of Israel’s policy of “oppression, injustices, and displacement.”

Qalansawe resident Ashraf Abu Ali criticized leaders of Palestinian communities in Israel. “What have they done to prevent demolitions in the Arab communities?” he asked, asserting that Palestinian citizens of Israel will “remain under threat as long as master plans and allocating land for construction are dealt with so recklessly.”

Another owner of one of the demolished houses Hassuna Makhlouf said he held Qalansawe’s mayor responsible, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He told Ma’an that Israeli police officers treated homeowners “violently” during the demolition raid.

Continued here

Spitting Vitriol

 photo vitriolicneta_zps8facfl9o.jpg

Israeli leaders seem to be spitting a lot of vitriol these days over the recent UN vote. It’s almost as if they’re discharging their sputum into a revolving global fan blade. We don’t really know where the spittle is going to end up next.

On Christmas Day, the Israeli government summoned the ambassadors of ten different countries, presumably for a vitriolic dressing down over the resolution which passed the Security Council two days earlier. At a Cabinet meeting, later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nentanyahu openly accused the Obama administration of being the prime impetus behind the resolution.

“According to our information, we have no doubt the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated the wording and demanded it be passed,” he said.

At least some of the spittle, however, seems to be catching a tailwind from the fan and blowing back into the Israelis’ faces. Nina Ben Ami, the Israeli ambassador to Uruguay (Uruguay is currently a member of the Security Council and voted in favor of the resolution), issued a public rebuke to top officials in that country but seems not to have chosen her words with care. (H/T Ariadna )

“Please allow me [to speak] a sincere word in this moment over a recent event,” said Ben Ami. “I have to say that we have been disappointed by the support that Uruguay gave to the resolution of the UN Security Council, which attacked Israel again, while other atrocities and territorial conflicts much more serious go on unnoticed.”

“Other atrocities…much more serious”? The implication (probably unintended) is that Israel commits its fair share of atrocities, they just tend to be somewhat less serious than those committed by other countries.

The ambassador also alluded to the other Security Council members in a manner which, considered in a certain light, might be construed as menacing–although gratefully she seemed somewhat more forgiving toward Uruguay.

“El primer ministro habló de cosas que quiere hacer con quienes votaron la resolución. Pero no todos los países están en la misma situación. De Senegal y Nueva Zelanda que hicieron la propuesta ya hemos removido al embajador. No es el caso acá en Uruguay asi que buscamos como salir de esa situación pero es complicado”, concluyó Ben Ami.

Which according to our interpreter, Ariadna, translates to:

“The Prime Minister [i.e., Netanyahu] talked about what he wants to do with those who voted the resolution. But not all countries are in the same situation. From Senegal and New Zeeland — who proposed it — we have already recalled our ambassadors. It is not the case of Uruguay, so we are looking to see how we can get out of this situation but it is complicated,” concluded Ben Ami.

Yes, of course. Everything always becomes “complicated” whenever anyone gets to justifying the longest occupation in world history.

The spitting continued on Wednesday in a response to a speech given by Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington. Attempting to lay out the administration’s reasons for not vetoing the UN resolution, Kerry said, “The two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians” and reiterated his belief that current Israeli policies are contravening that goal.

“The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution, but his current coalition is the most right-wing in Israeli history with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements,” Kerry said.

“Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by world leaders. No one wants peace more than the people of Israel,” Netanyahu riposted.

He also accused Kerry of “attacking the only democracy in the Middle East” and laid claim that Israel is the “only place in the Middle East where Christians can celebrate Christmas,” insisting at the same time that “all of this doesn’t interest the US Secretary of State, unfortunately.”

If it was a spitting contest between Kerry and Netanyahu, it looks like Netanyahu is hands down the winner.

In fact, the Obama administration now seems to be crying uncle. Following Netanyahu’s response, Ben Rhodes, White House Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications, went on CNN to assure the world that the US will veto any further resolutions critical of Israel which may come up during the remainder of the president’s term in office.

It is a shame we have officials in what is purportedly the most powerful nation on earth succumbing so easily to intimidation from a foreign leader, but it looks like top brass in the Obama administration will be carrying umbrellas whenever venturing outdoors between now and January 20.

Israeli Art

December 14, 2016  /  Gilad Atzmon

The Israeli art students who produced this image is now subject to police investigation…

 
%d bloggers like this: