“Israel” to Double Settling Population, Expand Construction in Occupied Golan Heights

June 9, 2022

By Staff, Agencies 

As part of its scheme to double its population of settlers in the Occupied Syrian Golan, the apartheid “Israeli” regime continues bolstering its settlements in the Golan Heights.

The plan charged “Israeli” Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked with establishing a special committee for planning and construction, in order to create new settling units at existing communities and plan new ones. 

Last week, Shaked took another step in that direction, announcing the creation of a special planning space only for the Golan Heights. Marking 55 years since the occupation of the Golan Heights, on June 2 Shaked signed a decree authorizing a shortened process for building and expanding settlements in the Golan Heights.

The December 2021 decision to double the occupation population was made in an “Israeli” government meeting held not in Occupied Al-Quds but at “Kibbutz Mevo Hamma” in the southern Golan Heights. After a debate, the decision was passed to allocate a billion shekels in order to double the area’s population within five years. 

Last week, Shaked, who belongs to Bennett’s right-wing “Yamina” party, stated, “Fifty-five years after the ‘liberation’ of the Golan Heights I am excited to sign a decree that would change the face of the Golan Heights and meaningfully help strengthen settlement in the Golan.” 

According to plans, 7,300 settling units will be constructed in the Golan Heights within five years. Two new villages will be established [Asaf and Matar], each with 2,000 units. Further investment will be toward transportation infrastructure, updating the medical system in the region, and developing two advanced sectors, which are actually inter-related.  

The first is the agritech industry/smart agriculture, which includes developing unique greenhouses and advanced water management systems. The second is to turn the Golan into the capital of innovative climate and energy technologies.

TO TIMES OF ISRAEL WRITER, APARTHEID IS OK, SYMPATHY FOR PALESTINIANS “LOATHSOME”

MAY 26TH, 2022

Source

By Miko Peled

JERUSALEM – Zionists like to admonish Palestinians by saying that they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. But, according to Zionist talking points, Palestinians missed several opportunities when Israel was willing to graciously “give” them pieces of their own land. Moreover, it is alleged that Palestinians have missed so many of these great opportunities that they have no one to blame but themselves for their misfortunes.

BLAMING THE VICTIMS

piece by Richard Cravatts published in the Times of Israel, and later republished in other publications, is a particularly asinine example of this admonition. In his piece, “An Open Letter to Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Your Fellow Travelers,” Cravatts writes: “Millions of Palestinian refugees [have been] created by your people’s repeated rejection of offers of statehood – in 1937, 1947, 1967, 2000, and other occasions….”

Blaming the Palestinians for the ongoing tragedy of the refugees is not only callous but as outrageous as blaming the victims of the Holocaust for the horrors of the Nazis. I can testify that I have heard more than one Zionist claim that the Jews whom the Nazis killed had it coming because they did not heed the call of the Zionists. Had the Jews of Europe come to Palestine to steal and live on other people’s land, the Nazis would have spared them, a theme found throughout Yoav Shamir’s 2009 documentary, “Defamation.”

The claim that Palestinians are prone to missing opportunities is one of the most common Zionist lines, and they still use it because it works – because unfortunately there exists such a lack of knowledge regarding the history of Palestine that Zionists can loudly proclaim that “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity!” and go unchallenged. Another iteration of this claim is, “If only the Palestinians had the foresight to accept Zionist offers, or at least offers that the Zionists were agreeable to, things would have been so much better for them.” “Them” being the Palestinians.

Anyone familiar with the Zionist talking points has heard the claim that the Palestinians “missed opportunities” so they have no one to blame for their lot but themselves. In a recent lecture I gave in southern California, a Palestinian student asked me how to reply to this argument. His question was specifically about the Zionist accusation that Palestinians rejected the Two-State Solution.

AN OUTRIGHT LIE

We will set aside the fact that this is an outright lie for a moment. We will not get into this issue in-depth, only to say that in fact, since the 1970s, the Palestine Liberation Organization (the PLO) has been the only party striving to achieve a Two-State Solution and that their willingness to make this enormous sacrifice cost them a great deal and made things worse for Palestinians the world over.

This argument typically comes from Zionists who live in the United States or the U.K. and who think it is OK that Israel has taken all of Palestine. They never admonish Israel for annexing the Syrian Golan Heights or East Jerusalem. They have no issue with Israel’s building entire cities on Palestinian land. This accusation comes from Zionists who believe Israel has a right to colonize all of historic Palestine.

Israel has a right to do this because, so they tell us, Jewish people around the world may (or may not) be related to a tribe that resided in Palestine some two or three thousand years ago. They tell us that this tribe, called the Hebrews, which may or may not have any historical connection to modern-day Israel and the Jewish people, is the reason it is OK for the modern State of Israel to commit unspeakable crimes against an entire nation.

LEGITIMIZING THE OPPRESSOR

What is implied in the admonitions by Zionists is that Zionism and the colonization of Palestine by Zionist Jews are legitimate and that the Palestinians refuse to accept this legitimacy. However, these admonitions present us with opportunities to raise a larger question. The question that ought to be asked is: Why in the world would Palestinians accept any offer by their colonizers? Why would any colonized nation accept anything but the total defeat of their colonizers and oppressors, especially considering that these “offers” fail to include the liberation of all of historic Palestine?

The answer is that there is no reason. The attempts at partitioning and slicing Palestine have all been part of a strategy meant to legitimize the violent Zionist takeover of Palestine and delegitimize the Palestinian rejection of it.

The aforementioned senseless, mindless Zionist propaganda piece starts by addressing Rep. Tlaib as follows:

On May 16th, you and some other members of The Squad, including Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, McCollum, and others, introduced a loathsome resolution, H. RES. 1123, which had as its purpose “Recognizing the Nakba and Palestinian refugees’ rights” and to “commemorate the Nakba,” the catastrophe you assign to Israel’s creation, “through official recognition and remembrance.” According to your baleful resolution, the Nakba not only took place at Israel’s founding “but [refers] to an ongoing process of Israel’s expropriation of Palestinian land and its dispossession of the Palestinian people that continues to this day.”

In this typical Zionist propaganda piece, Cravatts calls the proposed legislation to recognize the Nakba “loathsome.” Amnesty International recently published a report accusing Israel of committing the crime of apartheid — a crime so heinous it is designated as a “crime against humanity.” Interestingly, the writer does not find those who commit the crime of apartheid loathsome, only the legislation recognizing the victims of the crime.

What is loathsome, however, is that the United States is complicit in the crimes against the Palestinians. It is loathsome to live in the United States and to justify, explain and provide cover – thin as it may be – for the brutal regime that has been tearing Palestine apart for over seven decades. And it is loathsome to stand by and applaud as the state of Israel continues to brutalize an entire nation while the world, and Israeli society, look the other away.

Since the Nakba: More than 100,000 martyrs, 6.4 mln refugees

15 May 2022

Source: Agencies + Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen English 

Palestine’s Central Bureau of Statistics reveals shocking numbers related to Palestine, its martyrs, prisoners, and lands, from the Nakba until the present day.

By the end of 2020, Palestinians around the world numbered 14 million, marking a tenfold increase from their numbers in the Nakba

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) says the number of UNRWA’s Palestinian refugees reached 6.4 million by December 2020.

The center’s statistics showed that 28.4% of Palestinian refugees are currently living in 58 official UNRWA camps, with 10 in Jordan, 9 in Syria, 12 in Lebanon, 19 in the West Bank, and 8 in the Gaza Strip.

These estimates show the minimum number of Palestinian refugees, seeing as some refugees are not registered, like those forcibly displaced from Palestine after 1949 until the war of June 1967, according to UNRWA, and this also does not include those who were displaced during the 1967 war, who weren’t refugees.

According to UNRWA’s official definition, Palestinian refugees are defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”

The number of Palestinians increased more than tenfold since the Nakba

The PCBS revealed that historical Palestine’s population reached around 690,000 in 1914, 8% of whom were Jews. In 1948, the population rose to more than 2 million, around 31.5% of which were Jews, as 225,000 flocked to Palestine between 1932 in 1939’s organized migration waves. 

Between 1940 and 1947, more than 93,000 Jews entered Palestine, and by 1975, the total number of Jews that immigrated to Palestine reached more than 540,000.

As for the total number of Palestinians around the world, the number was estimated in 2021 to have reached around 14 million, a tenfold increase of their numbers since the Nakba, especially since 7 million of them were living in historical Palestine, including 1.7 million living in 48-occupied territories.

Nakba cause of overpopulation in Palestine

The Palestinian Nakba turned the Gaza Strip into the world’s most densely populated area. While the population density in Palestine reached 878 persons/km2 by the end of 2021, with a density of 557 persons/km2, the Gaza Strip’s density reaches 5,855 persons/km2, knowing that 66% of Gaza’s citizens are refugees.

Furthermore, the occupation’s establishment of a buffer zone on the periphery of the Gaza Strip allowed it to seize control over 24% of the strip’s 365 km2 area, which further exacerbated the city’s economic difficulties, and impoverished over a half of its citizens, with Gaza’s poverty rate reaching 53% in 2017.

Over 100,000 martyred since the 1948 Nakba

Since the Nakba in 1948, both inside Palestine and out, close to 100,000 people were martyred, with the number of martyrs since the beginning of the Intifada reaching 11,358 between 29/9/2000 and up to 30/4/2022.

It is noted that 2014 was the bloodiest year, as 2,240 people were martyred, 2,181 of whom were martyred in Gaza during an Israeli aggression.

The number of martyrs in Palestine reached 341 in 2021, including 87 children and 48 women, whereas the number of wounded reached 12,500.

Close to 1 million arrests since 1967

The occupation has kept 25 Palestinians under arrest for over a quarter century, whereas the total number of detainees in Israeli prisons reached 4,450 in April, including 160 child prisoners, 32 women, 570 sentences to life, 700 prisoners who are in ill health, six Palestinian lawmakers, and 650 prisoners placed in administrative detention.

The overall number of arrests in 2021 reached 8,000 in Palestine, including 1,300 children and 184, while 1,595 people were sentenced to administrative detention without any charges being brought up against them.

226 prisoners have been martyred since 1967, either because of torture inflicted upon them following their arrest or due to medical neglect; these include 103 prisoners that were martyred since September 2000.

Continued colonialist expansion of Israeli occupation

By the end of 2020, 712,815 illegal settlers were living in the West Bank, around 47% of whom (246,909) were living in Al-Quds. The settler/Palestinian ratio reached 23/100 in the West Bank and surged to 71/100 in Al-Quds.

Moreover, 2021 also witnessed a large increase in the speed at which Israeli settlements were built in the West Bank, as Israeli occupation forces approved the building of more than 12,000 new settlement units in 2021, including 9,000 on the lands of Al-Quds’ Qalandia airport.

Continued confiscation of land

The Israeli occupation abused the categorization of lands according to the Oslo Accords (A, B and C) in order to further its control on Palestinian C-classified lands, which are completely under Israeli control in terms of security, planning, and construction, and close to 76% of their area are currently being exploited.

Al-Quds: Displacement and settlement policies

In 2021, Israeli occupation authorities approved the building of more than 12,000 settlement units, most of which were in Al-Quds. Meanwhile, it demolished more than 300 buildings and gave orders to demolish more than 200 others, in addition to approving a project to seize 2,050 Palestinian properties, including those of the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods in eastern Al-Quds, whose area is estimated at 2,500 acres.

Last year also saw close to 1,621 cases of attacks by settlers protected by occupation forces against Palestinians and their properties, marking a 49% increase in attacks from 2020. Israeli settlers are also exploiting around 120,000 acres of Palestinian lands for agriculture.

20% of water in Palestine is bought from Mekorot

Israeli measures against Palestinian water resources force them to compensate for their lack of water by buying 20% of their water from Israeli company Mekorot, meaning around 448.4 million m3. The main reason behind Palestinians’ inability to use surface water is due to the Israeli occupation’s control over the Jordan River and Dead Sea’s waters.

79% of available water drawn from groundwater

Palestine mainly relies on water extracted from surface and groundwater, which constitutes around 79% of all available water resources. In 2020, the amount of water pumped from groundwater wells (eastern, western, and northeastern basins) in the West Bank amounted to 108.6 million m3.

Zionism in Ukraine Allied with Nazism

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360°

In this deep dive with historian and author Matt Ehret we examine the history of Zionism in Ukraine and the origin of many of the Zionist ultra nationalist groups now occupying Palestinian territory since the Nakba (ethnic cleansing of Palestine) in 1948.

We look at the emergence of the Chabad Lubavitch sect that was established before Zionism came into existence and has its origins in Ukraine – now with 10,000 emissaries in 100 countries at the cutting edge of Zionist expansionism. This group is believed to be responsible for the majority of the price tag attacks in occupied Palestine, denies the right to return for all Palestinians and leads the ideological war against non adherents of Judaism.

We make the link between this secular ultra nationalist ideology and consider how it is mutually inclusive of the Ukrainian far right and Nazi elements that now dominate Ukrainian politics, military and police. Matt analyses the Oligarchical power base behind these cults and how it ties into the Great Reset/WEF agenda that is threatening Humanity.

France’s ‘robust’ ties with “Israel” keep Georges Abdallah in prison

April 25 2022

Source: Agencies + Al Mayadeen Net

By Ahmad Karakira 

The French government claims it respects human rights and condemns the Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories, yet it shakes hands with “Israel”, turning a blind eye to all its crimes.

France’s ‘robust’ ties with “Israel” keep Georges Abdallah in prison

Incumbent President Emmanuel Macron is elected President for a second term, winning 58% of the voter turnout.

Macron and his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen had led the polls during the first round of the French presidential elections with a slight lead for Macron, who won 28.1-29.7%, around 5% more than Le Pen’s 23.3-24.7%.

The other candidates, Jean-Luc Melenchon, Eric Zemmour, Valerie Pecresse, and Yannick Jadot received 20.1%, 7.2%, 5%, and 4.4%, respectively.

The President has garnered support from several opponents, mainly left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came in third place and called on his supporters and the French public to pivot away from the extremist.

“We know who we will never vote for… Not a single vote must go to Mrs. Le Pen,” Melenchon said at his party headquarters in Paris, though he did not explicitly ask his supporters to back the incumbent President.

Another boost for the President also came from his other opponents. Communist Party candidate Fabien Roussel, Socialist Anne Hidalgo, Yannick Jadot of the Greens, and right-wing Republican candidate Valerie Pecresse said they would vote for him to prevent the far-right leader from coming to power.

Only fellow far-right candidate Eric Zemmour urged his supporters to vote for Marine Le Pen on April 24.

“I don’t make a mistake over who my opponents are. I call on my voters to vote for Marine Le Pen,” Zemmour told supporters following his elimination from the electoral race.

In parallel to the presidential election battle between Macron and Le Pen, the main question remains: What will the results hold for Palestine in light of the strong French-Israeli relations?

“Robust” relationship with “Israel”

France was one of the very first countries to establish diplomatic ties with the Israeli occupation on May 11, 1949.

The French Foreign Ministry brags on its website that Paris has established a “robust” relationship with “Israel”, “marked by constant commitment to its existence and security” and contribution to its military power.

Along with “Israel” and Britain, France attacked Egypt in October 1956 in what was called the Tripartite Aggression against Egypt after then-President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal.

But following the Six-Day War on Egypt in 1967, which saw “Israel” occupying the West Bank, Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights, France adopted the United Nations Resolution 242 that calls on “Israel” to withdraw “from territories occupied.”

Ever since, France’s official policy is a combination of supporting the Israeli occupation’s so-called “right to exist and right to security,” supporting the two-state solution, and allegedly condemning “Israel’s” unlawful and illegal policy of settlement-building in occupied Palestinian territories.

The French Ministry of Foreign considers that “the annexation of Palestinian territories, whatever the scope, would be a violation of international law, and particularly the prohibition of acquisition of territories by force.”

According to the Ministry, the annexation of Palestinian territories “would aggravate tensions and seriously compromise the two-state solution, and would be contrary to the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as Europeans and the wider the international community.”

It also claimed that annexation “could not go unanswered or be without consequence for the EU’s relations with Israel.”

Despite France’s claims of respecting international law, during the May 2021 Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, French Interior Minister, Gerald Darminin, announced a ban on protests in solidarity with Palestine.

The Paris police also issued a decree deeming such demonstrations illegal, claiming that they could lead to “risky elements aimed at provoking violent confrontations with the police.” 

In addition, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed during a phone call on May 14 with then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu his “unwavering attachment” to “Israel’s” security and condemned the Palestinian Resistance.

Economic collaboration

According to the French Ministry of Foreign, “The bilateral relationship between France and Israel is also supported by the presence in Israel of a large French community (150,000 people), while France is home to Europe’s largest Jewish community.”

France is “Israel’s” 12th largest supplier and 10th largest customer.

In 2017, approximately 100 French companies established themselves in “Israel”, creating 5,530 jobs and generating an estimated €534 million in revenue.

According to Bank of France data, the stock of French foreign direct investment (FDI) in “Israel” reached €2.9 billion at the end of 2017, representing a 6% annual increase since 2012.

Scientific & technical cooperation

France is “Israel’s” fifth-largest scientific and technological research partner. Academic collaboration, including the joint laboratory of INSERM Nice and the Technion-“Israel” Institute of Technology in Haifa, and the exchange of young researchers underpin this collaboration.

The French-Israeli High Council for Research and Scientific and Technological Cooperation has ensured this cooperation since 2003.

Secret military agreements

A research article called France and the Israeli occupation: talking the talk, but not walking the walk? revealed that “in the 1950s, France was the main supplier of military equipment to Israel through a number of secret deals that included aircraft, tanks, and ammunition.”

“It also played a crucial role in Israel’s acquisition of nuclear capabilities through the provision of know-how, material and technology,” the article added.

“In a secret agreement signed in 1956, France committed to helping Israel build a nuclear reactor and to providing uranium,” the research article mentioned.

In the same context, US military historian Warner Farr had highlighted that “cooperation was so close that Israel worked with France on the pre-production design of early Mirage jet aircraft, designed to be capable of delivering nuclear bombs.”

Farr revealed that “French experts secretly built the Israel reactor underground at Dimona, in the Negev (Naqab) desert… Hundreds of French engineers and technicians filled Beersheba (Beer Al-Sabe), the biggest town in the Negev (Naqab).”  

Longest-serving political prisoner in Europe

When mentioning the strong ties linking France with the Israeli occupation, we can’t but shed light on the just cause of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, former leader of the Marxist-Leninist Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions (LARF). Abdallah is accused of establishing the LARF.

Georges Abdallah at the heart of the French presidential elections

The LARF fought to stop the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and targeted several senior US and Israeli figures involved in the war. All the LARF members were released except for Abdallah.

The Factions have also claimed responsibility for the operations in response to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Abdallah has been imprisoned in southwestern France since 1984, despite completing the minimum term of his sentence in 1999.

He was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for his alleged involvement in the 1982 killing of US military attaché Charles Ray and Israeli diplomat Yakov Barsimentov in Paris, as well as in an assassination attempt on Robert O. Homme, a US consul in Strasbourg. 

The revolutionary never responded to the list of accusations and considered that the French judicial system is “despicably” taking the resistance action out of context.

It had been possible to release Abdallah in 1999, but French authorities denied his nine parole requests.

In November 2003, the entity that grants parole in the city of Pau – where Abdallah is detained – gave the green light to one of Abdallah’s release requests. 

Why hasn’t he been released yet?

However, then-French Minister of Justice Dominique Perben appealed the decision, describing the case as “extremely serious”, which kept Abdallah in prison, and his file was transferred to another court.

Abdallah’s May 2009 request for release on parole was rejected by a Paris appeals court that claimed the prisoner was “a resolute and pitiless militant” who might resume his “combat” again in Lebanon, citing a 2008 French law.

A Paris judge approved Abdallah’s release on Thursday, January 10, 2013, and set the date of his extradition to Beirut on Monday, January 14.

However, the decision was delayed due to a government appeal. White House Spokesperson Victoria Nuland at the time, had declared that the US – “Israel’s” biggest ally – was still discussing with the French government how to stop the decision.

A Wikileaks document about former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s leaked emails revealed that between January 10-14, she sent an email to former French Minister of Foreign Laurent Fabius, saying that “although the French Government has no legal authority to overturn the Court of Appeal’s January 10 decision, we hope French officials might find another basis to challenge the decision’s legality.”

In other words, the US ordered the French government to stomp over its legal system and over the principle of separation of powers.

Hillary Clinton’s email to French Minister of Foreign Laurent Fabius regarding Georges Abdallah

Abdallah’s lawyer, Jean-Louis Chalanset, told French media that the Lebanese authorities have repeatedly said they were ready to receive Georges Abdallah in Lebanon, where he is perceived as a political prisoner.

Chalanset said a decision to release the defendant would be political before being judicial. He believes that keeping him incarcerated is a “lack of courage” and “subservience” from Paris.

Over the years, leftist MPs and human rights organizations such as the Human Rights League (LDH) and even the French intelligence chief called for Abdallah’s release.

Melenchon supports Georges Abdallah

In relation to the French presidential election, leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon has expressed, on many occasions, his solidarity with Georges Abdallah’s cause.

According to the Collective for the Liberation of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, Mélenchon’s party – La France Insoumise (LFI) – regularly participates in the protests demanding the immediate release of the Lebanese revolutionary.

In parallel, Mélenchon’s campaign had said he is ready to back sanctions against the Israeli occupation over its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and its imposed blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The leftist leader had pledged to cancel the so-called “Circulaire Alliot-Marie” French Ministry of Justice memorandum instructing prosecutors to crack down on BDS movement activists. On the other hand, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed in 2017 that “the French state condemns BDS and all boycotts.”

“I must be clear that this will continue if I am elected president,” he added during an interview with Beur FM radio.

How does Abdallah spend his time in detention?

In detention, Abdallah spends his time as a revolutionary political prisoner reading books and newspapers in five languages, writing political statements and analyses about imperialism, capitalism and colonialism, as well as replying to solidarity letters from across the world.

The Lebanese revolutionary exchanges letters with Palestinian prisoners and initiates hunger strikes in support of other prisoners, the latest of which was on April 16 in demand of the release of Sibel Balac and Gokhan Yildirim from Turkish prisons.

  • Georges Abdallah’s letter announcing a hunger strike in support of Sibel Balac and Gokhan Yildirim in Turkish prisons

His latest views

In France, Abdallah considers that popular revolts and movements of the popular masses like the Yellow Vests are partially challenging capitalism.

According to Tom Martin of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Solidarity Network, Samidoun, Abdallah sees with a good eye the unwavering resistance of the Palestinian people and the Lebanese people in the face of imperialism and Zionism. Nevertheless, he thinks that resistance organizations must intensify their actions and aim for a radical, clear anti-Zionism and anti-imperialist program.

In his only statement in regard to the war in Ukraine, Abdallah underlined the hypocrisy of the imperialist camp, notably by turning a blind eye to the presence of neo-Nazi Ukrainian battalions, while criminalizing pro-Palestinian movements.

He believes that the Ukrainian people are victims and that the solution to this crisis would only depend on their efforts that should be away from all imperialist forces.

Ukraine is not Palestine, Russia is not Israel

March 26, 2022

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. (Photo: Government of Ukraine, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Issa Khalaf

Most people of goodwill and strong politico-moral sense who seek justice and fairness, all of us who are just plain human, naturally desire to be consistent in how we assess and judge the world outside us.  However, we cannot speak intelligently without acknowledging that one must navigate the inherent tension between moral-legal consistency and context and veracity.

There was no lack of just war theory academics, including within the rich Catholic tradition, actually arguing, at the time, that the 2003 US invasion and obliteration of Iraq, which killed hundreds of thousands, mostly civilians, displaced millions of mostly Sunni Arabs (decimating the core of the educated, secular, professional middle class), constituted a just war.

We cannot but be moved and outraged at the strong tormenting the weak.  Palestinians, at the receiving end for close to seventy-five years, are especially aware and sensitive to occupation, oppression, refugees, war.

But this is not the complete reality of and in Ukraine.  Yes, civilians are suffering and many escaping from active war zones—notwithstanding context or who is at fault, who is the victim.  Rare in war are there good and bad sides, villains and heroes.  Nor am I arguing the legality or otherwise of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, or that preemptive war is legal, or weighing the legal merits of Russia’s “responsibility to protect” in the Donbass.  And no, civilians should not be punished for the reckless idiocy of their leaders.

Neither the “might makes right” premise of the “realists” nor the war gods of “the liberal international order” is moral or legal.  Still, we can’t be mired in the exegesis of rights.

The argument for the Ukrainian state’s justice and presumed victimhood, its innocence and helplessness in face of Russian power, rings hollow.

What is particularly disappointing, are those Palestinian and Arab-Americans who seem to have accepted the received wisdom—including of young people tweeting their outrage, transferring their virtue signaling to a place many can’t find on a map—of legal and moral right for Ukraine.  Advancing basic arguments about double standards and inconsistencies in the application of international law and norms, viewing Ukraine as the recipient of unmitigated, unregenerate Russian aggression and brutality, emphasizing that international law cannot be selectively applied to Palestine and Ukraine, they presume to convince those who have never done right by them.

Palestine will not, ever, obtain redress, justice from the US/EU and certainly not if the Israeli ruling fanatics imbued with Zionist ideological craziness can help it.

The appeal to international law misses the essential geopolitical correctness of the Russian case, of aggressor and aggressed, aggravator and aggrieved, but also the implications for Palestine, the Middle East, and the world, of US/Western actions: specifically, at this critical juncture in history, the destabilization of international order and security, festering local conflicts and disputes, endless wars, and continuing impoverishment of the world’s under-classes.

Russia of course is a major power, with a great asymmetry in strength between it and Ukraine, thereby stymieing any further critical comparison, much less nuance, scrutiny or context.

Russia, it can be argued is acting out of defense, Israel is not.  Ukraine, backed by creeping, belligerent US/NATO expansion to Russia’s borders, demanding of its Western backers before the war to acquire nuclear capability is a real, present danger to Russian national security; Israel, armed with nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, is a dangerous, destabilizing threat to regional and world peace.

Russia is not fighting a defenseless state, but one de facto allied and armed by US/NATO, with an armed forces count of about 300,000, including paramilitaries; Israel’s is perhaps the strongest military in the Middle East.

The Russian offensive is not motivated by ideologically-inspired expansionist motives; Israel is a hyper-expansionist, colonizing apartheid state.  Russia does not engage in dispossession and ethnic cleansing, Israel and Ukraine do.  Russia does not conduct war with criminality; Israel and Ukraine do.  Russia aspires to a secure, fair, economically prosperous neighborhood and world, Israel hinders this locally and doesn’t give a damn globally.  (For Israel’s extremely well-organized and financed supporters—aka lobbies—in Washington and other Western capitals, there’s only one state that comes first.)

Russia does not have an institutionally racist, exclusivist ideology, Israel and Ukraine do.  Russia is not a religio-ethnic or ethnolinguistic state, Israel and Ukraine are.  Ukraine is not a stateless, occupied, captive population, Palestine is.  Israel is interested in using the Ukraine conflict to “ingather” Ukrainian Jews to solidify its demographic lead and disappear Palestine, Russia does not do this in Ukraine or elsewhere.

The Ukrainian and Israeli regimes enjoy the support of the same imperial, global hegemon, are hostile to their neighbor(s), and are extremists unaware that their long term survival, security and prosperity hinges on peace and coexistence with the others within them and around them.  Both suffer from suicidal myopia.

With the exception of innocent people suffering, there’s little political or moral equivalence between Palestine and Ukraine, including schoolyard talk about Ukraine’s right to join NATO.

Residing in the US or other Western countries, apprehending from the centers of power, saturated with a monolithic narrative, you would believe that Russia’s leader is unspeakably evil, even neurotically demented, out of control, the Russian people deserving their comeuppance.  Russians’ vulgar cruelty, their crude methods in prosecuting war, indiscriminate killing of civilians, women and children included, is the Orwellian propaganda we’re fed, and apparently, legions of Americans and Europeans have internalized these lies.

There is another side to this narrative told by military experts worth listening to: Russia’s offensive is designed to minimize the physical and immoral impact of war, its movement methodical, patient, restrained.  It is simultaneously pursuing war and diplomacy; has not targeted vital physical and social infrastructure, including utilities; encircled but not leveled cities; created “cauldrons” around the enemy’s large military formations rather than annihilating them to effect surrender; opened humanitarian corridors everywhere for civilians to exit cities, provided food, water, medical care; and refrained from using air power (so far) to minimize damage to property.

The objective is not to kill and destroy, but to preserve.  Kiev has not been attacked for that reason, the Russians aiming to have their political demands met including neutrality and demilitarization, and thus ending the war.  (How Ukraine is politically-territorially-administratively organized after it’s over remains to be seen.)

Astoundingly, one would never know any of this. The leading newspaper of record and warmongering, The New York Times, beats the Ukraine victim narrative while insisting that Ukraine is stronger and Russia weaker than thought in this war.  What am I saying?  That people are indeed getting killed and uprooted; that stray munitions hit civilian buildings; that some low-level crimes may occur, but the killing and destruction by the professional, disciplined Russian military are comparatively small and unintentional.  Has anyone in American media verified any Ukrainian claim of destroyed, civilian-filled swimming pools, theatres, hospitals, shopping centers, art schools or investigated the Russian version?

Not that one lost life is morally defensible, but we cannot critically process without facts.

Contrast the Ukraine war with the inveterate display of Israeli barbarity.  Indiscriminate murder from air, ground, sea against defenseless populations, Gaza being the prime example; use of horrible weapons from cluster to phosphorous bombs; destruction of schools, hospitals, water systems, laying medieval sieges to punish civilians by starving them; use of human shields, sniping at old men, women and children; and all manner of crimes against humanity (not to mention unprovoked attacks against neighboring states).

These crimes are of course well documented, including dozens of UNSC resolutions regarding the Israeli occupation’s egregious violations of international law, much less any semblance of morality.

The Ukrainians aren’t much better.  Aside from their genocidal war against ethnic Russians, including unspeakable brutality in the Donbass, their army and hardcore Nazi formations have in fact terrorized and killed their own civilians to prevent them moving through the humanitarian corridors (as in the homicidal Azov battalion in Mariupol where 125,000 civilians are held captive), placed artillery and military formations in neighborhoods as a hostage to avoid Russian attack, moved into civilian buildings, used human shields, murdered journalists, those deemed to be politically incorrect towards war, and opposition figures, shelled their own civilian facilities, presumably accidentally, and blamed it on the Russians, and early on in the war, the regime’s security services murdered one of its own negotiators.

Ending the war is of the utmost urgency, but the Kiev regime is, under US pressure and its own extremists, stalling and escalating even when its army is scattered and surrounded, the US imperative being to maintain the stream into Ukraine of lethal weapons and neo-Nazi fighters and other assorted mercenaries trained by the CIA (and British) since at least 2015, and assiduously work overtime to cause a Russian quagmire even at the growing risk of a nuclear cataclysm.

It needs reiteration: Ukraine’s ruling military/oligarchic/xenophobic elite is intensely corrupt, right-radical, chauvinistic, and undemocratic, violently imposing its authority on a country of intensely divided identities.

This elite’s sociopolitical and cultural base is in parts of the western half of the country with its anachronistic Galician-Polish loathing towards Russia and ethnic Russians in Ukraine, and whose nationalists and crypto-Nazis view Russians as Asiatic mongrels.  Though accounting, with their supporters, for some 10 percent of the population, neo-Nazi and old-fashioned Nazi groups have had a huge, outsized effect on the state.

Many are familiar with the quote from a leading expert, the late Stephen F. Cohen, that Kyiv “encouraged” and “rehabilitated” neofascists, “even memorializing Ukrainian collaborators with Nazi German extermination pogroms and their leaders during World War II, renaming streets in their honor, building monuments to them, rewriting history to glorify them…”

We are talking about monuments to western Ukrainian Nazis who, along with that other equally virulently Russophobic state, Poland, collaborated, in their territories, with the German Nazi occupation in the murder of millions of Jews in the Holocaust.

In the racist, supremacist realm, the Ukrainian and Israeli regimes ironically have much in common.

Aside from the war’s material and political realities, there’s the astounding matter of the “information war,” so tightly controlled and orchestrated by the West and which hands down leaves Russia in the dust, that most of us are clueless regarding up from down, war from peace, criminality from humanity, victim from victimizer, legal from illegal, fake from real.  The intense propaganda is directed at American and Western publics to convince them of war and economic sacrifice.

The information blackout and frenzied emotional manipulation by the mass and social medias, including a deluge of misinformation and manufactured stories and false images from other places and conflicts, the terrifying assault on dissenting voices in context of iconoclastic madness, the fear and censorship of speaking out makes this whole affair disgusting, rife with hypocrisy, and horrifyingly fearsome.

Which leads us to Volodymyr Zelensky, that erstwhile, scripted hero whose racism towards Palestinians exactly matches the screeching anti-Palestinian racists and killers heading the Israeli government.  One would think a hero is empathetic, altruistic, just, unselfish, honest, and much else.  Instead, Zelensky thinks Israel, towards which he feels a cozy kinship, is the sufferer and victim of the Palestinians.

A bizarre, unholy mix, this story, featuring cynicism, immorality, illegality, duplicity:

–A president-comedian-actor and a Ukrainian-Israeli oligarch, the wealthiest in Ukraine, who made and enriched Zelensky and financed his TV show (as well as his real presidential run) in which he played president and whose indoctrinating message was the wonderful utopia of joining NATO and the EU;

–This president in tenuous control of the armed forces and neo-Nazi formations and police state methods of the interior ministry and security services, ruling alongside radical nationalists and many in the regime who hate Jews;

–All regime factions super-racist towards the Palestinians and viciously anti-Russian;

–Tel-Aviv doing the aliyah-shuttle for Ukrainian Jews, not other Ukrainians, unless one counts the tokens;

–Israel involved in arming race-mixing-hating neo-Nazi militias and training nefarious elements;

–Israelis coming and going, feeling at home as if Ukraine were their business playground;

–All sides enabled by an ideologue-managed US, its “deep state” massively projecting its denial-rage, incapable of strategic empathy, apparently willing to blow up Europe than be denied global control.

The victims here are truly the Ukrainian people abused by all sides, followed by the rest of us.

-Issa Khalaf has a D. Phil. in political science and Middle East Studies from Oxford University. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

Churches Declare Christianity in The Holy Land is Under Threat from Jewish Extremists

March 09th, 2022

By Jessica Buxbaum

Source

Christianity was born in Palestine, but its population there is dwindling in numbers.
“We are facing a very dangerous situation,” Archbishop Theodosios said, “where in a few years we might find the holiest city for Christians without any local Christians, without any indigenous Christians.”

OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM — Last month, Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) announced plans to encompass Christian holy sites within a national park. Church leaders condemned the move as part of systematic efforts to drive Christians out of the Holy Land.

Following backlash, INPA withdrew the plan from the Jerusalem Municipality’s March agenda, saying it would instead have discussions with local churches on how to preserve the area. Yet the project is back on the municipality’s Local Planning and Construction Committee’s agenda, scheduled for Aug. 31. INPA did not respond to requests for comment on why this item was placed back on the municipality’s agenda.

The plan proposes expanding the Jerusalem Walls National Park, which surrounds the Old City, by about 25% and calls for taking over privately-owned Palestinain and Church-owned land, including some of the most sacred Christian sites. Originally, the proposal also included a Jewish cemetery, but it was left out when Jewish authorities managing the cemetery opposed the decision. 

Following the plan’s announcement, Israeli peace and human rights organizations Bimkom – Planners For Planning Rights, Emek Shaveh, Ir Amim, and Peace Now said in a joint statement:

There is a direct link between what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah and the expansion plan. These are various mechanisms used by Israel in East Jerusalem to entrench its sovereignty, to marginalize non-Jewish presence and to prevent much needed development of Palestinian neighborhoods, thereby increasing the pressure to push them out of the Old City basin.

Church leaders also slammed the outlined expansion in a letter to Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection: 

This is a brutal measure that constitutes a direct and premeditated attack on the Christians in the Holy Land, on the churches and on their ancient, internationally guaranteed rights in the Holy City. Under the guise of protecting green spaces, the plan appears to serve an ideological agenda that denies the status and rights of Christians in Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Walls National Park was established after Israel annexed East Jerusalem following the 1967 Six-Day War. Its declaration included the areas designated for expansion, but those efforts did not come to fruition — until now.

Israeli human rights organizations condemned expansion for restricting Palestinian building, while also stressing the park’s current state has significantly hindered Palestinian development.

Sari Kronish, the architect with Bimkom, said the Jerusalem Walls National Park contains several Palestinian neighborhoods, including Wadi-Hilweh and al-Hizbe. “It’s not just a ring around the Old City walls,” Kronish told MintPress News. “Both of these neighborhoods found themselves suddenly living inside a national park, which completely prevents their improvement and development and not to mention also brings heightened law enforcement.”

Palestinian neighborhoods are not the only community affected by the development of Israeli parks. Father Koryoun Baghdasaryan, chancellor of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, told MintPress that since 1967, the Armenian Patriarchate has not received a permit to construct anything new in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City because the area is declared a green space.

“The idea of declaring [areas] national parks or green zones is to impose restrictions,” Baghdasaryan said, explaining how these restrictions have depleted the quarter’s commercial activity and economic growth. “Armenians bought these properties to secure the income for the patriarchate, the convent, to survive here,” Baghdasaryan continued. “Now there is no profit for us.” 

Settlers taking over 

In their letter to Israel’s environmental protection minister regarding the extension of the Jerusalem Walls National Park, church leaders wrote:

In recent years, we cannot help but feel that various entities are seeking to minimize, not to say eliminate, any non-Jewish characteristics of the Holy City by attempting to alter the status quo… [I]t seems that [the plan] was put forward and is being orchestrated, advanced and promoted by entities whose apparent sole purpose is to confiscate and nationalize one of the holiest sites to Christianity and alter its nature.

The churches are referring here to Israeli settler groups. More specifically, the settler associations Ir David Foundation (or El’ad) and Ateret Cohanim, which have been part of real estate and building operations in and around the Old City. 

El’ad is most recognized for managing the City of David archeological site located in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan and near Al-Aqsa Mosque. In addition to spurring eviction lawsuits against Silwan residents, El’ad also conducts archaeological excavations beneath Silwan’s streets, damaging the structural foundations of many Palestinian homes. The organization is also involved in the construction of a pedestrian bridge cutting through the Old City. 

“They’re trying to create a ring of settlement-related tourism attractions around the Old City,” said Talya Ezrahi, external relations coordinator at Emek Shaveh, an Israeli non-profit focused on archaeology. “Their objective is to transform the identity of the space around the Old City from one that is multicultural and multi-faith into one that has a Judeocentric narrative that justifies the settlements.”

Ateret Cohanim’s endeavors are slightly different. In the Christian Quarter of the Old City, the settler group purchased the Petra and New Imperial hotels from the Greek Orthodox Church in 2004 through a secret deal orchestrated by Nikolaos Papadimas, who was then responsible for the church’s properties. Papadimas disappeared following the $1.25 million sale. Now, the New Imperial Hotel’s Palestinian management is embroiled in a legal battle against their eviction after Israel’s Supreme Court ruled the deal was done in good faith in 2019. 

The hotel is situated between the Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches and next to the Old City’s main entrance, Jaffa Gate. “If this is in the hands of this radical group, this will threaten the Christian presence on Jaffa Gate and in Jerusalem,” Walid Dajani, the hotel’s manager, told MintPress. His family has been running the hotel since 1949 and are protected tenants. 

Archbishop Theodosios of Sebastia, from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, explained lands owned by the Greek Orthodox church are part of a Christian waqf or trust, meaning they are not for sale. “These properties support the steadfastness of Christians,” Archbishop Theodosios said. “These deals are illegal and these properties shall remain in the ownership of the church.” The religious leader added the Christian waqf had been under threat prior to the establishment of the Israeli state. “It started even before 1948,” Archbishop Theodosios said. “There are so many lands that belonged to churches in western Jerusalem that have been confiscated and so many Israeli official institutions were then built on these lands.”

Ateret Cohanim declined to comment on the matter. 

Attacks against Christians increasing 

A Palestinian Christian, lights candles, in a morning Christmas mass at St. George Melkite Greek Catholic Church, in the West Bank village of Burqin near Jenin city, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

belonging to the Christian community are under threat, so too is their own safety. 

Both Father Baghdasaryan and Archbishop Theodosios described how nearly anyone wearing a cross while walking through the Old City will experience verbal or physical assaults from Jewish extremists. “Once a person is identified as a Christian — doesn’t matter whether he is a clergyman, seminarian or a lay person — they [the settlers] just behave like they are not welcome here. They spit on them. They curse them,” Baghdasaryan said.

Armenian Christians are most susceptible to attacks, given the Armenian Quarter’s proximity to the Jewish Quarter. Last May, Armenian reverends Father Tiran Hakobyan and Father Arbak Sarukhanyan were beaten by a group of Israeli settlers while walking to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre from the Armenian Convent. Sarukhanyan was hospitalized for his injuries. “I have been in Jerusalem since 1995. [Attacks are] increasing yearly. In the past, there has never been any physical violence, but recently it’s becoming more and more common,” Baghdasaryan said.

Baghdasaryan has been spat on numerous times and Archbishop Theodosios has also been attacked when walking through the Old City. “Some of them are kids. They’re little children who spit, who verbally assault and who are treating religious people and elderly people in a very offensive way,” Archbishop Theodosios said. “These children are being raised on racism and hatred. They think that Jerusalem only belongs to them and not to any other people.”

But it’s not just physical violence that’s disturbing the Christian presence in Jerusalem. Archbishop Theodosios described how the municipality, together with settler groups, often organizes loud festivals during Jewish holidays in the Christian Quarter near the New Gate. “There will be music and dancing that is disrupting the area’s holiness and disrupting the daily lives of residents,” Archbishop Theodosios said.  “It’s an attempt to change the dominant Christian atmosphere of that area.”

Erasing a community

Israel Palestinians Easter
Palestinian Christians carry an effigy of Jesus Christ covered by flowers, during a symbolic funeral as part of their services marking Good Friday in the West Bank village of Al-Zababedah near Jenin, Friday, April 18, 2014. Followers of the Eastern Orthodox Churches are marking the solemn period of Easter. (AP/Mohammed Ballas)

Christianity was born in Palestine, but its population there is dwindling in numbers. In 2019, Jerusalem’s Palestinian Christian population was only 4% of the city’s demographic, with just under 5,000 residents in the Old City’s Christian Quarter.

Archbishop Theodosios believes strategic efforts are behind the city’s decreasing Christian numbers. Violence and land confiscation are part of a larger plan to empty Jerusalem of its Christian inhabitants.  

“We are facing a very dangerous situation,” Archbishop Theodosios said, “wherein a few years we might find the holiest city for Christians without any local Christians, without any indigenous Christians.”

Russian bear wants justice

February 25, 2022

Source

by Batko Milacic

Despite possible sanctions and their hard-hitting economic consequences, the hunted Russian bear has got out of the den and is going after the hunters. Until recently, Russians, Ukrainians, and Europeans believed that there would be no war. What we see now, however, is a full-scale Russian intervention and quite a successful one too. Where are the Russian troops going, and most importantly, why? And where will they stop?

Strengthened since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia was quite content with its new status of a leading regional power, and only verbally recalled its glorious imperial past. During the early 2000s, Russia even mulled the possibility of integrating into NATO and the EU, only to see its natural and legitimate interests repeatedly and shamelessly ignored. Millions of Russian-speakers living in the post-Soviet republics were deprived of their right to use their native language, while the Baltic countries and Ukraine profited from the transit of gas, oil, and raw materials. There was even a new “policy of gas pipelines,” when Russia was pressured into make concessions in exchange for being allowed to build a gas pipeline or simply put a stop to the syphoning off of its pipeline gas.

In fact, a resurgent Russia was gradually being presented as a “potential enemy” for the sake of reiterating NATO’s role as a defender against the imagined Russian threat. All this resulted in the 2013 events in Ukraine where nationalists came to power not without outside help, flatly refusing to safeguard the interests of the country’s Russian-speaking population, primarily in eastern Ukraine. Facing the risk of losing its naval base in Sevastopol (existing there since the 18th century) and wishing to protect the Russian-speaking people living in Ukraine, Russia, with the full support of the local population, re-absorbed Crimea and supported the separatists of Donbass. This was followed by Kiev’s ban on the use of the Russian language in the country (not entirely successful, though, since it was the main spoken language of Ukraine) and police persecution of those who advocated a dialogue with Moscow. In its effort to support Ukraine, the West introduced a series of anti-Russian sanctions, which seriously damaged the Russian economy. Still, for the past eight years, Russia was ready for dialogue. In exchange for autonomy for Russian-speakers and guarantees of non-deployment of a NATO infrastructure in eastern Ukraine, Moscow was prepared to roll back its support for the separatists and, possibly, even hold a new referendum in Crimea on its reunification with Russia.

However, during all these eight years, people continued to die along the disengagement line in Donbass, separating Kiev’s armed forces and the separatists (at the rate of more than 100 a year). Meanwhile, Russia was officially branded by Kiev as an “aggressor,” and those in power in Ukraine started to busily prepare for a big war, demanding military and financial assistance from the EU and Washington. And while President Zelensky’s predecessor, the millionaire Petro Poroshenko, was still able to maintain a dialogue with Moscow with the help of the oligarchs, the current president, who came to power on the strength of promises to seek peace and reconciliation, was trying hard to enter NATO and was threatening Russia with missiles deployed near Chernigov (750 km from Moscow). As for the Kremlin, it has spent the past six months trying to negotiate with Brussels, Washington and Zelensky himself. All that Putin was asking for were security guarantees for Russia. In fact, Moscow never really threatened Ukraine but was still being systematically pushed towards a military solution.

It should be noted that prior to the intervention, Putin explained in great detail to his compatriots what was going on, recalling how the borders of the Soviet republics had been cut and how Russian-speaking territories had been handed over to Ukraine. He also made it clear that one cannot talk about a violation of international law after the invasion of Iraq, the bombing of Serbia, the recognition of Kosovo and NATO’s move to the Russian borders.

Let’s be honest: a bear sleeping peacefully in its den was smoked out of there by being poked with a stick, and now they are wondering why it is chasing those who did that. Moscow has been pushed into a corner and is now demonstrating its strength and standing up for its interests. Now Putin will at best be satisfied with a change of guard in Kiev, and at worst, Ukraine as a state will disappear from the map of Europe. Is it possible to justify an aggression that has been provoked for a long time? This is a matter of a lengthy discussion. One thing is clear: 20 years ago, Russia could and wanted to join NATO and united Europe. However, the latter chose to make Russia an enemy…

‘Israeli’ Regime OKs Plan for 1,500 New Illegal Settler Units in Occupied Al-Quds

Feb 4 2020

By Staff, Agencies

An ‘Israeli’ occupation committee approved a plan for the construction of 1,500 new settler units in the occupied East al-Quds, as the Zionist regime steps up its land grab and forced eviction policies in the Palestinian territories in defiance of international law.

The Tel Aviv regime’s so-called organization and building committee of the al-Quds municipality on Thursday said it had approved the plan for constructing 1,500 units in East al-Quds, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

The illegal settler units are to be built on an annexed land located between the French Hill and the Hebrew University in the holy city, and the construction will begin on an area that stretches over 150 dunums.

The new settlement scheme will include 500 rooms for Zionist students, 200 fortified rooms, several settling towers and public buildings, the report added.

Since early January, the Tel Aviv regime has approved four settlement expansion schemes, including a plan to expand the Hebrew University.

More than 600,000 Zionists occupy more than 230 settlements built since the 1967 ‘Israeli’ occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

All ‘Israeli’ settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land. The United Nations Security Council has condemned Tel Aviv’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

In addition to expanding its illegal settlements, the ‘Israeli’ entity restricts freedom of movement for Palestinians not only in and out of Palestine but also within it. Zionist settlers, backed by the military, also routinely storm the al-Aqsa mosque and provoke clashes with Palestinian worshipers.

As Israel Plots Endgame in Occupied Golan, Bennett Must Remember Lessons of the Past

January 5, 2022

Israeli Government approves a plan to double the number of illegal Jewish settlers in the Golan Heights. (Photo: via Prime Minister of Israel Twitter page)

By Ramzy Baroud

With Syria still embroiled in its own war, Israel has been actively rewriting the rule book regarding its conduct in this Arab country. Gone are the days of a potential return of the illegally occupied Golan Heights to Syrian sovereignty in exchange for peace, per the language of yesteryears. Now, Israel is set to double its illegal Jewish settler population in the Golan, while Israeli bombs continue to drop with a much higher frequency on various Syrian targets.

Indeed, a one-sided war is underway, casually reported as if a routine, everyday event. In the last decade, many ‘mysterious’ attacks on Syria were attributed to Israel. The latter neither confirmed nor denied. With the blanket support given to Israel by the Donald Trump administration, which recognized Israel’s illegal annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights of 1981, Israeli reluctance to take credit for the frequent and increasingly destructive and bloody air raids has dissipated.

Briefly, some in the Israeli government were concerned by the possible repercussions of the advent of Joe Biden to the White House in January 2021. They worried that the new president might reverse some of the pro-Israel decisions enacted by his predecessor, including the recognition of the “Sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” due to the “strategic and security importance to the State of Israel”. Biden, a long-time supporter of Israel himself, did no such thing.

The initial concern about a shift in US policy turned into euphoria and, eventually, an opportunity, especially as Israel’s new Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, is eager to break the Right’s historic dominance over the Jewish settlement movement in occupied Palestinian and Arab lands.

“This is our moment. This is the moment of the Golan Heights,” Bennett declared triumphantly at an Israeli government cabinet meeting held specially to officiate plans regarding the further colonization of the Golan on December 26.

The following statement by Bennett speaks volumes about the context of the Israeli decision, and its future intentions: “After long and static years in terms of the scope of settlement, our goal today is to double settlement in the Golan Heights.” The reference to ‘static years’ is an outright rejection of the occasional freezing of settlement construction that mostly took place during the so-called ‘peace process.’ Bennett – who, in June 2021, was embraced by Washington and its western allies as the political antithesis to the obstinate Benjamin Netanyahu – has effectively ended any possibility of a peaceful resolution to Israel’s illegal occupation of the Golan.

Aside from predictable and clichéd responses by Syria and the Arab League, Israel’s massive push to double its settlement activities in the Golan is going largely unnoticed. Not only Israel’s right-wing media, but the likes of Haaretz are also welcoming the government’s investment – estimated at nearly $320 million. The title of David Rosenberg’s article in Haaretz tells the whole story: “Picturesque but Poor, Israel’s Golan Needs a Government Boost to Thrive.” The article decries government ‘neglect’ of the Golan, speaks of employment opportunities and merely challenges Bennett’s government on whether it will “stay the course”. The fact that the occupation of the Golan, like that of Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, is illegal under international law is absent from Israeli media coverage.

Namely, Israel’s main focus currently is to normalize its occupation of Arab land entirely. But if that mission has failed over the course of 54 years, can it succeed now?

For Israel, the illegal settlement enterprise, whether in the Syrian Golan or in occupied Palestine, is synonymous. It is inspired by deep-rooted ideological and religious beliefs, compelled by economic opportunities and political interests and assuaged by the lack of any meaningful international response.

In the case of the Golan, Israel’s intention was, from the onset, to expand on its agricultural space, as the capture of the fertile Syrian territory almost immediately attracted settlers, who set the stage for massive agricultural settlements. Although the home of merely 25,000 Jewish settlers, the Golan became a major source of Israeli apples, pears and wine grape production. Local tourism in the scenic Golan, dotted with numerous wineries, thrived, especially following the Israeli annexation of the territory in 1981.

The plight of the steadfast Golan Arab Druze population of nearly 23,000 is as irrelevant in the eyes of Israel as that of the millions of occupied Palestinians, whether under siege in Gaza or living under a perpetual occupation or apartheid in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Golan population is equally isolated and oppressed but, like the Palestinians, continues to resist despite the heavy price of their resistance. Their hardship, however, is likely to increase with the expected doubling of the Jewish settler population.

Israel is, of course, aware that popular uprisings will eventually be mounted in response to its latest colonial endeavors, but various factors must be giving Bennett the confidence to continue with his plans. A major source of reassurance is that it could take Syria years to achieve any degree of political stabilization before mounting any source of challenge to the Israeli occupation. Another is that the Palestinian leadership is in no mood for confrontation, especially that it is, once again, on good terms with Washington, which has resumed its funding of the PA soon after Biden’s inauguration.

Moreover, in Israel, the anti-settlement movement has long subsided, crystallized mostly into smaller political parties that are hardly critical in the formation or toppling of government coalitions.

More importantly, Washington has no interest to initiate any kind of diplomatic efforts to lay the ground for future talks involving Israel, the Palestinians and certainly not Syria. Any such attempt now, or even in coming years would represent a political gamble for Biden’s embattled administration.

Israel understands this absolutely and plans to take advantage of this opportunity, arguably unprecedented since the Madrid talks over thirty years ago. Yet, while Bennett is urging Israelis in their quest for settlement expansion with such battle cries as “this is our moment’, he must not underestimate that the occupied Palestinians and Syrians are also aware that their ‘moment’, too, is drawing near. In fact, all popular Palestinian uprisings of the past were initiated at times when Israel assumed that it had the upper hand, and that people’s resistance has been forever pacified.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website iswww.ramzybaroud.net

Why is Israel Amending Its Open-Fire Policy: Three Possible Answers

December 29, 2021

Israeli soldiers in the West Bank. (Photo: UNRWA)

By Ramzy Baroud

At the outset, the Israeli military decision to revise its open-fire policies in the occupied West Bank seems puzzling. What would be the logic of giving Israeli soldiers the space to shoot more Palestinians when existing army manuals had already granted them near-total immunity and little legal accountability?

The military’s new rules now allow Isreali soldiers to shoot, even kill, fleeing Palestinian youngsters with live ammunition for allegedly throwing rocks at Israeli ‘civilian’ cars. This also applies to situations where the alleged Palestinian ‘attackers’ are not holding rocks at the time of the shooting.

The reference to ‘civilians’ in the revised army manual applies to armed Israeli Jewish settlers who have colonized the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in defiance of international law and Palestinian sovereignty. These settlers, who often operate as paramilitary forces in direct coordination with the Israeli army, endanger the lives of their own families by residing on occupied Palestinian land. Per Israel’s twisted standards, these violent Israelis, who have killed and wounded numerous Palestinians throughout the years, are ‘civilians’ in need of protection from rock-throwing Palestinian ‘assailants’.

In Israel, throwing rocks is a “serious crime” and Palestinians who throw rocks are “criminals”, according to Liron Libman, Israel’s former chief military prosecutor, commenting on the new rules. For Israelis, there is little disagreement on these assertions, even by those who are questioning the legality of the new rules. The point of contention, according to Libman and others, is that “a person who is fleeing does not present a threat,” though, according to Libman himself, “the new policy could potentially be justified,” The Times of Israel reported.

The ‘debate’ on the new open-fire policy in Israeli media, gives one the false impression that something fundamental has changed in the Israeli army’s relationship with occupied Palestinians. This is not the case at all. There are numerous, daily examples in which Palestinians, including children, are shot and killed with impunity, whether throwing rocks or not, going to school or merely protesting the illegal confiscation of their land by the Israeli military or armed settlers.

In the Palestinian village of Beita, in the northern occupied West Bank, eight unarmed Palestinians have been killed since May. This small village has been the scene of regular demonstrations against Jewish settlement expansion and against the illegal settlement outpost of Eviatar, in the Palestinian rural area of Mount Sabih. The victims include Muhammad Ali Khabisa, the 28-year-old father of an eight-month-old child, who was shot dead last September.

Though the new rules have placed much emphasis on the status of the supposed Israeli victims, labeling them ‘civilians’, in practice, the Israeli military has used the exact same standard to shoot, maim and kill Palestinian alleged rock-throwers, even when armed settlers are not present.

A famous case, in 2015, involved the killing of a 17-year-old Palestinian teenager, Mohammad Kosba, at the hands of an Israeli army colonel, Yisrael Shomer. The latter alleged that Kosba had thrown a rock at his car. Subsequently, Shomer chased down the Palestinian teenager and shot him in the back, killing him.

The Israeli officer was “censored” for his conduct, not for killing the boy, but for not stopping “in order to aim properly,” according to The Times of Israel. The Israeli military chief prosecutor at the time concluded that “Shomer’s use of deadly force under the framework of the arrest protocol was justified from the circumstances of the incident.”

Israel’s disregard of international law in its targeting of Palestinians is not a secret. Israeli and international human rights groups have repeatedly condemned the Israeli army’s inhumane and barbaric behavior in the occupied territories.

In an extensive report as early as 2014, Amnesty International condemned Israel’s “callous disregard for human life by killing dozens of Palestinian civilians, including children, in the occupied West Bank” over the years. AI said that such killings had taken place “with near total impunity.”

“The frequency and persistence of arbitrary and abusive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank by Israeli soldiers and police officers – and the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators – suggests that it is carried out as a matter of policy,” the Amnesty report read.

Even Israel’s own rights group, B’tselem, concurs. The organization decried the Israeli army’s “shoot-to-kill policy”, which is also applied to “people who have already been ‘neutralized’”. Indeed, in the case of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, a Palestinian man who was shot point-blank in Al-Khalil (Hebron), by an Israeli military medic, Elor Azaria, in 2016, was not only ‘neutralized’ but also unconscious.

According to B’tselem, Israeli “soldiers and police officers have become judge, jury and executioner”. With this tragic and sinister trajectory in mind, one is left to wonder why the Israeli army would amend its open-fire policy at this particular moment. There are three possible answers:

One, the Israeli government and army are anticipating a surge in Palestinian popular resistance in the coming months, possibly as a result of the massive expansion of illegal settlements and forced evictions in occupied East Jerusalem.

Two, by perfectly aligning the existing open-fire policy with the aggressive shoot-to-kill military practice already in place, Israeli courts would no longer have to contend with any legal repercussions for killing Palestinians, including children, regardless of the circumstances of their murders.

Finally, the revised rules would allow Israel to make a case for itself in response to the open investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC), concerning human rights violations and war crimes in occupied Palestine. Israel’s Attorney General will now argue that no war crimes are taking place in Palestine since the killing of Palestinians is consistent with Israel’s own military conduct and judicial system. Since the ICC is investigating alleged war criminals, not the government itself, Israel hopes that it can spare its own murderers from having to contend with the legal expectations of the Court.

Though the timing of the Israeli military decision to amend its open-fire policy may appear sudden and without much context, the decision is still ominous, nonetheless. When a country’s military decides that shooting a child in the back without any proof that the alleged ‘criminal’ posed any danger whatsoever is a legal act, the international community must take notice.

It is true that Israel operates outside the minimum standards of international and humanitarian laws, but it is the responsibility of the international community to protect Palestinians, whose lives remain precious even if Israel disagrees.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website iswww.ramzybaroud.net

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Biden Admin’s Reluctance to Spend Geopolitical Capital Greenlights Israeli Settlement Push

December 15th, 2021

By Jessica Buxbaum

Source

“No U.S. administration wants to be perceived as picking 10 fights every day with Israel, even if Israel is engaging every day in 10 things that really demand a response from the U.S.” – Lara Friedman, Foundation for Middle East Peace.

OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM — Last week, Israel bowed to American pressure and scrapped the controversial Atarot settlement in the Palestinian neighborhood of Qalandiya just north of Jerusalem. But on the heels of that decision, the state advanced another Jewish settlement in Palestinian neighborhoods along Jerusalem’s southern tip, even as the residents there are grappling with a severe housing shortage.

The plan is to develop a new neighborhood called Givat HaShaked on land extending beyond the Green Line (Israel’s de facto border before the 1967 War, which saw it occupy East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) and adjacent to the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa in Occupied East Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, the Jerusalem municipality’s Planning and Building Committee recommended the development plan for deposit, meaning it will now head to the Jerusalem District Planning Committee, which will decide whether to deposit the plan for objections or public review. The project calls for the construction of 473 homes, schools and synagogues to be built on about nine acres of open land.

During Wednesday’s committee hearing, Israel’s Custodian General, the authority within the Justice Ministry overseeing properties whose owners are unknown, was represented by its economic unit director, Hananel Gurfinkel. Gurfinkel is a right-wing activist known for supporting Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.

Givat HaShaked is not the only settlement in East Jerusalem being pushed by the Custodian General. Documentation obtained by Haaretz reveals Givat HaShaked is one of six Jewish neighborhoods Israel is currently advancing across East Jerusalem. These include one in Sheikh Jarrah, one near Damascus Gate, one in Sur Baher, one in Beit Hanina, and another in Beit Safafa.

Activists emphasized that Gurfinkel’s appointment is directly intertwined with the heightened settlement activity and displacement of Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

Amy Cohen, director of international relations and advocacy at the Jerusalem-focused Israeli human rights organization Ir Amim, said of Gurfinkel:

What we’ve seen is that since his appointment in 2017, there has been a substantial increase in eviction lawsuits against Palestinians and the expansion of Jewish settlement in Palestinian areas.”

Settlement expansion under the guise of helping Palestinians

According to Ir Amim, the acreage set for Givat HaShaked is actually on land that is undergoing formal land registration in the Sharafat area of Beit Safafa.

Israel’s 2018 Government Decision 3790 was marketed to the public as a means to push economic development in East Jerusalem and reduce socioeconomic inequality. The initiative reserved 50 million shekels (nearly $16 million) for the registration of land rights in East Jerusalem, an important prerequisite needed to secure building permits. Israeli authorities often use the absence of building permits as justification for demolishing Palestinian homes.

However, as uncovered by Ir Amim, land registration procedures are being used to advance Jewish settlement – as found in Sheikh Jarrah – rather than develop Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

Demolition East Jerusalem
sraeli authorities demolish an East Jerusalem Palestinian home for “being built without obtaining a permit” June, 2021. Photo | Activestills

“On one hand, [Government Decision 3790] is depicted as a tool to aid Palestinians,” Cohen told MintPress News. “And yet it’s being used to further the expansion of Jewish settlement and confiscation of Palestinian land and property.”

Land registration is supposed to be a transparent and publicized process, Sari Kronish, East Jerusalem planner at Israeli planning rights organization Bimkom, explained. “The state is supposed to publish a map of the areas of the plots and invite people to make claims. And if claims are made that contradict each other, then the registrar is supposed to send those claims to court to be clarified,” Kronish said. “But the way the state is actually doing it, we see that it’s being done quietly. People often don’t know that it’s happening.”

“We don’t know yet of a single case where the Palestinians will be able to benefit from it,” Kronish added.

East Jerusalem’s housing crisis

Like other areas of East Jerusalem, Beit Safafa is suffering from an extreme housing shortage.  This is a result of a bureaucratic labyrinth of building permits and a lack of zoning plans. While the Palestinian population has quadrupled to nearly 40% of Jerusalem’s total population since 1967, Israeli authorities have allowed Palestinians to develop only 9% of the land in East Jerusalem.

Abu Ghassan, chairman of the board of directors for Beit Safafa-Sharafat, dismissed the notion that the Israeli government is merely recommending the development of Givat HaShaked. “Israel is not promoting the plan,” Ghassan said. “It’s a reality that we are living and the plan is going to happen.” He said Beit Safafa residents are up in arms over the Givat HaShaked plan, given they have been requesting the city for more housing for young couples in Beit Safafa. But their demands have failed to be heard.

“What’s happening in Beit Safafa is a political situation. They’re doing the same thing in many other Arabic villages in Jerusalem.” Ghassan said. “Jerusalem’s government is just ignoring the Arabic community as if they don’t live here at all. They’re ignoring us while developing their own community.”

According to Ghassan, former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who served until 2018, promised 400 homes to Beit Safafa but the current mayor, Moshe Lion, walked back this commitment.

Ghassan explained Beit Safafa’s housing shortage is the result of infrastructure and encroaching settlements. Beit Safafa is currently surrounded by three Israeli settlements – Gilo, Givat Hamatos, and East Talpiot – and the majority Jewish neighborhood of Pat, which has made it difficult for Beit Safafa residents to obtain construction permits. Beit Safafa was also split in two when the Begin Highway and HaRav Ovadia Yosef Road were built, leading to a lack of open space.

The Bennett doctrine

The area reserved for Givat HaShaked was once sought after for development by former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. In 1995, Rabin put forward a housing project for the land, sparking international outcry. The UN Security Council voted to have Israel halt the plan, with the United States vetoing the resolution. Rabin shelved his expropriation efforts days after the UN vote, in what has been speculated to be an exchange for the U.S.’ veto.

Now, the current Israeli government is going beyond what any previous leadership dared to do, Daniel Seidemann, founder and director of Israeli non-profit Terrestrial Jerusalem, emphasized.

“These [settlement] plans are now on the agenda,” Seidemann told MintPress News. “Relations between the United States and [Israeli Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett are charged at the moment,” Seidemann continued. “The Americans have made their concerns very clear about [the settlements of] E1 and Atarot, so why is Bennett having another poke-in-the-eye over something like this?”

Lara Friedman, president of the American non-profit Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP), agreed the new government is stepping into territory even Bennett’s predecessor wouldn’t touch. “They’re as bad as the [Benjamin] Netanyahu government and in many ways, they’re worse,” Friedman said. “These settlements are absolutely incompatible with any commitment to anything other than permanent Israeli control over the entire area,” Friedman added, highlighting the record number of home demolitions throughout Area C of the Occupied West Bank as another way Bennett’s government is pushing increased annexation.

Demolition East Jerusalem
Israeli police arrest a Palestinian boy during the demolition of a Palestinian shop in East Jerusalem. Photo | AP

From Ir Amim’s Cohen’s perspective, despite Bennett’s government being a politically diverse coalition, hardline voices are the ones in power. “Far-right members of the coalition are put in very strategic, high-level positions, like in the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice,” Cohen said. “All of these portfolios are very senior and they have a lot of weight. And what we’ve seen is because of this, they are quietly able to advance this very far-right-wing agenda.”

Prominent right-wing politicians hold top spots in Israel’s government: Ayelet Shaked is Interior Minister; Ze’ev Elkin is the Minister of Housing and Construction; and Gideon Sa’ar serves as the Minister of Justice.

Biden versus Israel?

As settlement expansion becomes the defining feature of Bennett’s government, the other side of the Atlantic is becoming increasingly more vocal about Israeli occupation and land theft.

In November, 26 U.S. House Democrats penned a letter urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to stop Israel from moving forward with the settlement plan in the E1 area of the West Bank.

The move was led by Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan, who recently toured a Palestinian village in the West Bank with New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman. And Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum has become a strong advocate for Palestinian rights in Congress. The Democrat has sponsored two bills related to U.S. military aid to Israel and said the state practices apartheid. On the Givat HaShaked proposal and ongoing settlement expansion in Palestine, McCollum told MintPress in a statement:

Israel’s state-sponsored expansion of settlements on Palestinian land – while the Israeli government’s bureaucrats deny Palestinians permits to even build homes and bulldoze existing Palestinian homes, schools, and businesses – is destroying the prospect of a Palestinian state and the prospects for peace.

The global community views Israeli settlement expansion as illegal and lethal to any future peace process, and the U.S. government should not be silent. This situation has reached a point in which the Palestinians are clearly a people denied even basic human rights while under Israeli government subjugation.

U.S. lawmakers are emerging as more and more critical of Israel, but that hasn’t stopped Israeli state violence. In fact, Israel appears almost fueled by the condemnation.

FMEP’s Friedman suggested President Joe Biden’s administration can’t keep up with the sheer number of controversial actions Israel has initiated this year, referring to increased settlement activity and Israel’s designation of six Palestinian organizations as terrorist entities.

“How much political capital does the Biden administration have to spend on any one of these things while it’s also working on Iran?” Friedman asked, arguing that the U.S. can’t expend all its political energy on Israel. So if a provocative move slips under the radar, Israel might view that as American approval. “If things like a new settlement in East Jerusalem are not on the agenda, it’s seen as a green light from Israel, that the U.S. is not opposing it,” Friedman said. “And if the U.S. does put it on the agenda, it means there’s that much less political capital that it can spend on other things.”

But at the end of the day, the U.S.-Israel alliance is a lot stronger than any notion of democracy or human rights.

“No U.S. administration wants to be perceived as picking 10 fights every day with Israel, even if Israel is engaging every day in 10 things that really demand a response from the U.S.,” Friedman observed.

Hamas: Resistance Only Way to Extract Our Rights; Its Flame Will Never Fade

December 8, 2021

By Staff, Agencies

On the 34th anniversary of the First Intifada [uprising], the Palestinian resistance movement “Hamas” affirmed that the flame of the resistance will not fade, stressing the continuity of resisting the ‘Israeli’ occupation.

The resistance group said in a press statement on Wednesday, that the comprehensive resistance, especially the armed one, and the unity of our Palestinian people behind a unified struggle program and a strategy of confrontation with the occupation, is the only and the shortest way to extracting our rights and liberating our land, and detainees.

Hamas added that the occupied city of al-Quds and the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque are the core of the conflict with the Zionist entity, noting that “our people with their valiant resistance will remain an impenetrable dam to protect and defend them by all means.”

Hamas underscored that the detainees languishing in the ‘Israeli’ occupation jails are an integral part of the Palestinian people and that their liberation is a national responsibility that Hamas puts at the forefront of its priorities, and as the resistance excelled in fulfilling its promise to the freed detainees, it is able today to renew its loyalty to the remaining ones in an honorable deal that frees them all.

Hamas renewed its rejection of all settlement schemes and projects of absurd negotiation with the occupation, and security coordination with it, which has proven to be unsuccessful in protecting our people and extracting their rights. Rather, it opened the way for the occupation to expand settlements, escalate aggression, Judaize sanctities, and besiege our people.

It also renewed its rejection and condemnation of all normalization agreements with the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity, and efforts to establish relations with it, and affirmed that these relations are a stab in the back of our people, and a blow to the depth, security, and stability of our nation and that the only beneficiary of it is the occupation.

Hamas further called on the people of the Arab and Islamic nations to confront all forms of normalization with the common enemy of the entire nation.

In its statement, Hamas called on our Arab and Islamic nation, leaders, governments, parties, organizations, and peoples, to act effectively and to strengthen activities and projects of support and solidarity with the Palestinian people and their just cause, in defense of themselves, and protection of their land and holy sites, until the end of the occupation and the liberation of occupied Palestine.

UNGA’s Latest Resolution Illustrates the International Community’s Complicity With Israel’s Colonial Expansion

December 2, 2021

Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger. Her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America.

By Ramona Wadi

Source

Israel’s impunity has been crafted by the UN, in a parallel manner to how the UN facilitated Palestine’s territorial loss, Ramona Wadi writes.

Yet another non-binding UN General Assembly has passed, granting Palestinians permanent sovereignty over their natural resources, even as Israel has absolute dominion over their territory. The draft resolution, titled “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources,” is a perfect example of how the UN glosses over Israel’s colonial violence by refusing to take action, preferring to enact non-binding resolutions which do nothing to protect the Palestinian people’s political rights and their territory.

The resolution demands Israel ceases its exploitation and theft of Palestinian land, while noting all other Israeli violations on Palestinian territory, such as the Apartheid Wall, settlement expansion, destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, as well as the impact of Israel weapons in Gaza. With the passing of such a detailed resolution, it would stand to reason that the UN takes measures against Israel’s colonial violence, rather than call upon Israel to halt its damage. The latter is a futile request, and the UN knows Israel will not abide by the non-binding resolution, in which case it is pertinent to ask why the international institution keeps score of each violation only to mete out some symbolic recognition of Palestinian rights which has so far failed to translate into political value for the Palestinian people.

Palestine’s Permanent Observer to the UN Riyad Mansour described the resolution as confirming the international community supporting full rights for Palestinians. Similarly the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki declared that the resolution affirmed Palestinian people’s rights over their territory and called upon the UN to implement international resolutions. Which is where Palestine, as usual, will hit a dead end. The UN’s complicity in Israel’s colonial expansion is the primary reason why non-binding resolutions have taken the place of political resolution for Palestinians.

Does the UN need reminding of how it failed Palestinians since the passing of the 1947 Partition Plan? Or of how its defence of Israel’s security narrative directly ties in to the Palestinian people’s experience of loss, to the point that non-binding resolutions are necessary to remind the world that Palestinians have political rights? Only the periodic reminders mean nothing if the UN refuses to face Israel’s war crimes and international law violations.

Unfortunately, the PA has long supported this disastrous status quo, in which the gap between non-binding resolutions and Israel’s expansion is becoming irreconcilable.

EU diplomats recently visited occupied East Jerusalem, in a visit organised by the Israeli non-governmental organization Ir Amin. The NGO explained the consequences of Israel’s settlement expansion, including forced displacement and the rupture between Palestinian villages and Jerusalem, which is Israel’s next aim.

Yet, at an international level, Israel’s violations are considered separately, with barely ever a connection between one violation and its precedents. If the UN was truly against human rights violations, it would put its research to good use, as well as consistently draw attention to the fact that the earlier colonization process is ongoing.

The PA is also guilty of the same process, preferring to focus on each violation separately rather than take into account how Israel’s actions are collectively contributing to Palestine’s territorial loss.

While shedding light on the cumulative effect of Israel’s violations, the recent UNGA non-binding draft resolution holds no sway over international chastisement of Israel, let alone enforcing punitive measures. Israel’s impunity has been crafted by the UN, in a parallel manner to how the UN facilitated Palestine’s territorial loss. The resolution is no cause to celebrate; rather it is an affirmation of how the international community’s complicity resulted in these belated affirmations that do nothing to reinstate the Palestinian people’s political rights.

Words without Action: The West’s Role in Israel’s Illegal Settlement Expansion

November 04th, 2021

By Ramzy Baroud

Source

The international uproar in response to Israel’s approval of a massive expansion of its illegal settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian West Bank may give the impression that such a reaction could, in theory, force Israel to abandon its plans. Alas, it will not, because the statements of ‘concern,’ ‘regrets’, ‘disappointment’ and even outright condemnation are rarely followed by meaningful action.

True, the international community has a political, and even legal, frame of reference regarding its position on the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Unfortunately, however, it has no genuine political mandate, or the inclination to act individually or collectively, to bring this occupation to an end.

This is precisely why the announcement on October 27 by Israel that it has given a ‘final approval’ for the building of 1,800 housing units and initial approval for another 1,344 will unlikely be reversed anytime soon. One ought to keep in mind that this decision came only two days after an earlier announcement that the Israeli government had advanced construction tenders for 1,355 housing units in the occupied West Bank.

Israel has rarely, if ever, reversed such decisions since its establishment on the ruins of historic Palestine. Moreover, since Israel’s occupation of Palestinian East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Israel’s colonial project has remained in constant and unhindered expansion. 54 years should have been enough for the international community to realize that Israel has no intentions whatsoever to end its military occupation on its own accord, to respect international law and to cease construction of its illegal settlements.

Yet, despite this obvious fact, the international community continues to issue statements, moderate in their language, at times, even angry at others, but without ever taking a single action to punish Israel.

A quick examination of the US government’s reaction to the news of settlement expansion tells of the lack of seriousness from Washington towards Israel’s continued disregard of international law, peace and security in the Middle East.

“We strongly oppose the expansion of settlements,” said US State Department spokesman, Ned Price, adding that the Israeli decision is “completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tension and ensure calm.”

Since when was Israel concerned about ‘lowering tensions’ and ‘ensuring calm’? If these were truly important US demands and expectations, why then, does the US keep funneling billions of dollars a year in military aid to Israel, knowing fully that such armaments will be used to sustain the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine and other Arab lands?

If, for the sake of argument, we assume that Washington is finally shifting its policies on Israel and Palestine, how does it intend to pressure Israel to cease settlement construction? Mr. Price has the answer: The Biden Administration would “raise our views on this issue directly with senior Israeli officials in our private discussions”, he said on October 26. “Raise our views”, as opposed to demanding accountability, threatening retaliation, or, God forbid, withholding funds.

While it is true that the US government is Israel’s main western benefactor, Washington is not the only hypocritical administration in this regard. The Europeans are not fundamentally different, despite the fact that their statements might be a tad stronger in terms of language.

“Settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between the parties,” read a statement issued by the office of EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, on October 29.

The statement mirrors the exact sentiments and language of numerous statements issued in the past, ones that “strongly reject” the Israeli action, and “urge” the Israeli government to “revoke” its recent decisions for the sake of “sustainable peace”, and so on. One may even muse to claim that the task of preparing these statements must be the easiest of all clerical work at the EU offices, as it is largely a matter of a simple ‘cut and paste’.

Yet, again, when it comes to action, Brussels, like Washington, refrains from taking any. Worse, these entities often bankroll the very action they protest, while insisting that they are standing at the exact same distance between Israelis and Palestinians, assigning themselves such roles as “honest peace brokers”, “peace mediators” and the like.

One should not be in the least surprised by Israel’s recent announcement. In fact, we should expect more settlement expansion and even the construction of new settlements, because that is what colonial Israel does best.

Within a matter of a few days, Israel has announced its intentions to build, or start bids for, nearly 4,500 settlement units. Compare this number with the settlement expansion during Donald Trump’s term in office. “Israel promoted plans for more than 30,000 settler homes in the West Bank during the four years (Trump) was in power,” the BBC reported, citing an Israeli group, Peace Now, as saying in its recent findings.

Those figures in mind, if the Israeli government under Naftali Bennett continues with this hurried pace of illegal housing construction, it could potentially match – and even overtake – the expansion that took place during the terrible years of the Trump era. With no accountability, this catastrophic political paradigm will remain in place, irrespective of who rules Israel and who resides in the White House.

Israel is doing what any colonial power does. It expands at the expense of the native population. The onus is not on colonial powers to behave themselves, but on the rest of the world to hold them accountable. This was true in the case of the South African Apartheid and numerous other examples throughout the Global South. It is equally true in the case of Israeli Apartheid in Palestine.

The truth is that a thousand or a million more statements by western governments will not end the Israeli occupation, or even slow down the pace of Israeli military bulldozers as they uproot Palestinian trees, destroy homes and construct yet more illegal colonies. If words are not backed by action – which is very much possible, considering the massive military, political and economic leverage the West wields over Israel – then the West remains a party in this conflict, not as a ‘peace broker’, but as a direct supporter of the Israeli occupation and apartheid.

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