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Hebron Plan is Israel’s Reminder to Palestinians that Settler Power knows no Limits

Proposed destruction of Hebron’s market to make way for a new settlement is Israeli government’s route to refashion its apartheid system as the rule of law

By Jonathon Cook | The National | December 10, 2019

US President Donald Trump told thousands of Israel’s supporters at a rally in Florida at the weekend that some American Jews “don’t love Israel enough”. It is certainly troubling that a US president insists a section of his country’s citizens – the Jewish population – be required to love a foreign state. But then Trump went further, muddying the waters about what constitutes “Israel”.

Echoing remarks made last month by Mike Pompeo, his secretary of state, he described the Jewish settlements in the West Bank as legal – thereby subverting a long-established principle of international law.

US Jews – and the rest of us, it seems – are expected not only to love Israel inside its internationally recognised borders but also to love the Jewish settlements that international law designates as a war crime. Those are the same settlements eating up ever more of the territory supposed to form the basis of a Palestinian state.

When Trump, like his predecessors, told his weekend audience that the US shared an “unbreakable” bond with Israel, what exactly was the “Israel” he referred to? Both the US and Israel have implied in recent declarations and actions that a central plank of the long-delayed Trump peace plan will be Israel’s annexation of the settlements – and with them most of the West Bank.

“Loving Israel” now is meant to include abandoning any hope of Palestinian statehood and accepting that Palestinians will live permanently under an Israeli version of apartheid, with inferior rights to Jews.

The Trump administration seems keen to press ahead with the peace plan – and annexation – but is being hampered by political chaos in Israel.

Mired in corruption scandals and having staged two inconclusive elections this year, Benjamin Netanyahu, the caretaker prime minister, is unable to cobble together a coalition to keep himself in power. The impasse is not over the occupation or the settlements but about who gets to dominate the next government: far-right religious settlers led by Netanyahu or right-wing, secular former army generals?

Nonetheless, Netanyahu is behaving as if Washington has given its blessing to annexation – even without a US peace plan.

That was what Pompeo’s statement last month backing the settlements amounted to. He offered one paltry safeguard, investing responsibility for monitoring and limiting settlement expansion in Israel’s supreme court. But this is the same court that has consistently failed to block settlement growth over five decades. It now includes two judges who actually live in settlements, as well as others who sympathise politically with the settlement project.

Meanwhile, in preparation for a likely third election campaign, the interim Netanyahu government has announced a splurge of new settlement building and boosted settler budgets.

In another fillip for the settlers last month, Netanyahu appointed one of their leaders, Naftali Bennett, to the sensitive role of defence minister. Bennett lost no time in unveiling his latest settlement plan last week, selecting an incendiary spot greatly prized by the settlers: the middle of Hebron, the West Bank’s largest Palestinian city.

For decades, life for Hebron’s 230,000 Palestinians has been forced to a virtual standstill by a few hundred Jewish religious extremists who have taken over the city centre, backed by more than 1,000 Israeli soldiers. Their ultimate goal is to wrestle away the city’s Ibrahimi mosque, the reputed burial site of Abraham, father of the world’s three main monotheistic religions.

After Baruch Goldstein, a settler, shot dead and wounded some 150 Muslim worshippers in 1994, Israel rewarded the settlers twice over.

First, it segregated the mosque site, splitting it into two. Half is now the Jewish Tomb of the Patriarchs. But in practice the Israeli army enjoys absolute control over who can pray there.

And next, Israel declared the surrounding area, including Hebron’s main commercial market, a closed military zone, thereby forcing the Palestinian merchants out. It has been a ghost town ever since, serving as a passageway between the settlement enclaves and the mosque.

For years, the closed market has stood as a potent, silent symbol of the way Israel has been tearing the city apart.

In February, Netanyahu gave the settlers another boost. He shuttered the international observer mission in Hebron, there to witness and record the abuse of Palestinians, especially at the checkpoints that litter the city centre. But still the settlers were not satisfied. They have long wanted to take over the Hebron market for themselves, to expand their enclaves.

So last week, Bennett granted their wish. He announced plans to destroy the market to make way for a settlement serving effectively as a bridge between the existing enclaves and the mosque site. The plan will double the number of settlers in Hebron and complete a wall of Jewish settlement dividing the city in two. This week Palestinian leaders called a citywide strike in protest.

As ever, the Israeli government has tried to put a surreal legal gloss on its criminality, apparently to spare the blushes of its US and European allies. Bennett’s advisers have insisted that Israel has legal title to the air above the roofs of the empty shops. This is where the settlers will supposedly be housed, after the shops have been demolished and rebuilt to support the new apartment blocks.

It emerged this week that Bennett had threatened Hebron’s municipality, warning it would lose property rights to the shops area too if it did not consent to the settler homes above.

Israel is reminding Palestinians that there are now no limits – military, legal, moral or diplomatic – to the settlers’ power. Israel will annex land where it chooses and deceptively refashion the resulting apartheid system as the rule of law.

The material losses to the Palestinians from Israel’s ever-growing settlement enterprise are devastating enough. This month, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development issued a report estimating conservatively that the past 17 years of occupation alone had cost the Palestinians a whopping $48 billion – three times the current size of its economy.

That income would have generated two million job opportunities, freeing Palestinians from a miserable choice between life without work and, if they are issued a permit by Israel, precarious, exploitative casual labour in Israel or the settlements.

Equally significantly, the ever-expanding settlements have stripped Palestinians of their most basic freedoms, such as movement, and undermined their security and right to be treated with dignity.

And no one ought to love that.

December 10, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Belgian Trade Delegation to Israel Cancelled

IMEMC & Agencies – December 7, 2019

The trade mission would have taken place from the 8th to the 11th of December, will not go forward, due to criticism from the political opposition and several activist organizations, leading to its discontinuation, the Palestine News Network (PNN) reported.

The delegation would have consisted of representatives from the Walloon and Brussels governments, which are separate political entities in Belgium, and numerous companies from the respective regions.

The Walloon government had already withdrawn from the delegation at an earlier stage, but now the Brussels government has done the same, effectively leaving the rest of the mission without political representation.

In the last couple of weeks, the general criticism towards the trade mission has grown. Specifically Israel’s disregard for international agreements concerning the blockade of the Gaza Strip, sparked the opposition’s distaste for the mission.

“We’re talking about participating in the Israeli colonization policy,”

said Stéphanie Koplowicz, member of the Flemish left-wing PVDA-party.

“The UN Human Rights Comittee has complained that over 200 companies do business in these illegal settlements. Does the government want to encourage Brussels’ companies to participate in this?”

December 7, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

When holidays bring hate: Sarah’s Day in Occupied Hebron

Extremist and racist propaganda placed around Hebron (H2) ahead of Sarah’s Day, a major Jewish holiday.
International Solidarity Movement | November 28, 2019

Hebron, occupied Palestine – The Jewish holiday of Shabbat Chayei Sarah (Sarah’s day’) took place in Al Khalil (also known as Hebron) over the weekend of 22-23 November. Over the two days around 50,000 Israeli settlers flocked to the city, to celebrate the festival in the place that Zionists believe is their religious right (despite the fact that it is historically Palestinian and is clearly within the demarcation of Palestinian Territories).

For weeks the area was being adapted and prepared to accommodate the thousands of visitors. Israeli settlers from nearby illegal settlement Kiryat Arba were to be joined by other observant Jews from across Israel, as well as from countries abroad such as France, the UK, and the USA. The mood was set by blatant Zionist propaganda adorning the streets, such as a banner proclaiming “Palestine never existed – and never will”. Whole areas of the old city and surrounding areas were taken over by gazebos, tents and caravans for the weekend. Exclusive and expensive VIP tickets to celebrate ‘Sarah’s day’ were available for hundreds of US dollars, enabling attendees to meet and dine with religious leaders, alongside Knesset members, and IDF commanders.

By Friday afternoon, thousands of celebrants had arrived in the city and the already extensive Israeli Occupation Force (IOF) presence (normally 4000 IOF soldiers guard the 400 Israeli settlers) was even greater than usual. Enhanced security measures were in place and major roads were blocked off, obstructing Palestinian movement around the city, and forcing Arab shops to close for business in an already suffocated economic environment (due to businesses and areas being closed by military order, and commerce/tourism heavily suppressed by restrictions on movement through checkpoints).

Many of the visiting settlers were visibly armed, with handguns or automated weapons, in stark contrast to Palestinians for whom it is illegal to carry a weapon, tightly enforced at all of the numerous checkpoints.

Each day International Solidarity Movement (ISM) received reports of serious, violent attacks on Palestinians living in or passing through vulnerable areas where settlers filled the streets.

On Friday evening, on the ‘Prayer Road’, leading up to the large settlement of Kiryat Arba, a group of 8 Palestinians were attacked in a barber shop. ISM spoke to one of the victims, Fayed, who reported a large group of settlers forcing entry to his father’s shop. Despite attempts to persuade the settlers to leave, more arrived to join the attack. Up to 100 settlers sprayed pepper spray, threw stones, chairs and pieces of wood, damaging property and injuring Fayed, his brother, his uncle and father. Fayed’s 21 year old cousin suffered a broken hand, whilst he and his uncle and father sustained injuries to the head and arms, resulting in hospitalization. The police eventually moved the settlers on however no arrests were made. Only basic details of the attack were taken down and there has been no further investigation of the crime.

Later that night there were further reports of violent attacks by groups of settlers in the same area, including an assault on a young old child, who was kicked and sprayed with pepper spray, requiring him to be taken to hospital. A Palestinian bride was also harassed and attacked by settlers as she celebrated her wedding day.

Despite the heaviness of occupation pressing down on them, the brutal and unprovoked attacks from the settlers, and frustration at the lack of protection from the authorities, Fayed and his family are quietly resistant. “Our life here is hard, but we have to resist. We try to be nice to everyone… to treat them nice, we don’t want any violence. Violence is not the solution…. the settlers carry M16 guns. It’s normal for us and our situation here – to be attacked, arrested, killed. We grew up like this. What can we do? We don’t have a lot of power or support. We can’t fight with guns or knives, this is not the solution. How many Palestinians have been killed? Guns and knives are not free, they do not make Palestine free. We are not against Jews, we are against Zionists and settlers, and those that occupy our houses. ”

The following day, the entire old city plus large swathes of the normally unrestricted area (known as ‘H1’) was locked down, making way for thousands of settlers to be given religious tours of the city. Many were intoxicated, chanting provocative anti-Palestinian songs, shouting abuse, and urinating on Palestinian property. As the day progressed, their behavior became increasingly violent, with numerous incidents of settlers throwing rocks, bottles and other items at Palestinian people and homes, as well as unlawfully entering or climbing on Palestinian property. IOF remained passive, merely supervising the passage of the crowds through Palestinian areas.

In one shocking incident, a group of settlers attacked the home of a known Palestinian activist, Imad, who has been frequently targeted since speaking out against the murder of a Palestinian by the IOF several years ago.

Imad and his family are some of the few Palestinians brave enough to continue living in Tel Rumeida, part of an area in the heart of the old city which has been designated a restricted military zone (known as ‘H2’). Since 1968 Al Khalil has been subject to the establishment of illegal Jewish settlements, and over the last 20 years, the area has seen a huge influx of hardcore settlers who believe for religious reasons they have a right to occupy the land. These are some of the most extreme settlers in Israel, who routinely perpetrate abuse and violence against Palestinian residents, including children going to school. Many Palestinians have been forced out of their homes and for those who remain, living in this area is extremely dangerous for Palestinians. There is a daily threat to life and limb.

On Saturday, as the streets of Tel Rumeida were inundated with thousands more armed settlers, the violence and intimidation escalated. There were multiple reports of attacks on Palestinian people and property. Footage was recorded of large groups of drunk settlers climbing on the roofs of Palestinian homes, and abusing and intimidating residents.

On Saturday Imad remained confined at home with his grandchildren, due to the large numbers of settlers who had been marching and congregating in the streets outside, making it unsafe for Palestinians to leave the house. Imad heard settlers climbing on his roof, and trying to enter his home through the entrance way. He called friends to come and help. and unsuccessfully tried to convince the settlers to leave. The large group were shouting abuse, spitting and throwing stones at bottles. Moments later Imad heard crying from where his 18 month old grandson was sleeping. As he ran into the room he discovered that a settler had thrown a stone through the open window, striking the child on the head and wounding him.

Due to the closed and restricted nature of this part of the city, an ambulance was unable to reach the house to attend to the child. The child had to be carried through the streets, protected by a circle of local people from the settlers who continued to try to attack the group as they tried to reach the ambulance.

Imad explains that the IOF soldiers arrived at the house during the attack, however they only stood watching, and failed to intervene to stop the violence. When local Palestinian’s arrived to provide support, the soldiers pushed and held them back, threatening to arrest them. The IOF also failed to provide any first aid or show concern for the injured child.

Despite the heavy IOF and Israeli police presence throughout the city during this weekend, it was abundantly clear that they were there to protect the settlers, and not the Palestinian residents. There was a complete failure to protect the Palestinians under attack. Police also failed to undertake any investigation into the various incidents, or attempt to bring to justice those settlers engaging in violence against Palestinians.

This raises concerns that the IOF are turning a blind eye to the violence, sanctioning and enabling it to occur, or alternatively that they simply have no power or authority to control the settlers’ violence. The risk for Palestinians trying to resist the occupation and violence, such as Imad, is to be punished, singly or collectively, for their defiance in the face of the creeping genocide of the Palestinian land and people.

Whilst trying to document and observe violence and abuse, ISM experienced hostility and aggression from both settlers and the IOF, including physical and verbal threats, restriction of movement as well as having our passports photographed by police and threatened arrest, in a clear attempt to deter us from our work. Pro-Palestinian activists in Israel risk deportation, including a 10 year ban from the country, serving to silence and prevent the documenting of human rights violations in Palestine.

December 4, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Only 19.7% of Americans agree with US State Dept on Israeli settlements

IRmep Poll: “International law SHOULD APPLY to Israel’s military occupation & colonization of the West Bank, Golan Heights, E. Jerusalem and displacement of their indigenous populations. Do you Disagree or Agree?”

More than 80 percent of Americans seem unwilling to let Israel reinterpret international law to suit its colonialist agenda.
By Grant F. Smith | IRmep Polls

IRmep representative public opinion poll of 2,034 American adults through Google Surveys on November 20-22. Answer order randomly reversed.

Most American adults of voting age don’t appear willing to reject the applicability of international law to Israel’s ongoing colonization of occupied territories in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Golan Heights.

On Monday, November 18, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reversed a 1978 State Department legal opinion stating that Israeli settlements were “inconsistent with international law.” Citing President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 assessment that the settlements were not “inherently illegal,” Pompeo stated that, “After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate… the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law.”

The Trump administration relocated the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018 and recognized the city as the capital of Israel. This most recent announcement is yet another blow to rule of law and international consensus. However, when polled, 53.6 percent of Americans don’t yet appear ready to register any concrete view on the matter. This may be due to the longstanding absence of serious U.S. mass media coverage of historical and legal issues. In other countries, informed and ongoing international legal analysis is the norm. Given that reality, it is surprising that 26.7 percent of Americans believe international law still applies, while only 19.7 percent believe it does not.

In a Nov. 21 letter sent to Pompeo, 107 House Democrats condemned the State Department’s recent decision on settlements.


Grant F. Smith is the director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington, DC. For more IRmep polls, visit https://IRmep.org/Polls.

December 3, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

UN Security Council members strongly condemn Trump’s support for Israeli settlements

Press TV – November 21, 2019

The European Union, Russia, China and other members of the UN Security Council on Wednesday strongly opposed the US announcement that it no longer considers Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank to be a violation of international law.

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, opened the Security Council meeting, expressing “regret” at the US action and reiterating the UN position that settlements under a December 2016 council resolution “are a flagrant violation under international law.”

Indonesian Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani, whose country has the world’s largest Muslim population, called the US announcement “irresponsible and provocative,” saying it “incontrovertibly constitutes a de facto annexation and is a barrier to peace efforts based on the two-state solution.”

Following the Security Council meeting, ambassadors from the 10 non-permanent council members who serve two-year terms stood before reporters while Deputy German Ambassador Jurgen Shultz read a critical joint statement.

“Israeli settlement activities are illegal, erode the viability of the two-state solution and undermine the prospect for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace” as affirmed by the 2016 council resolution, the statement said.

It also called on Israel to end all settlement activity and expressed concern at calls for possible annexation of areas in the West Bank.

Kuwaiti Ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi, the Arab representative on the council, then told reporters that 14 countries agreed in the private session on the press statement.

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour also said he was grateful to the 14 council nations and their commitment to international law, saying that all 193 UN member nations are required to implement all Security Council resolutions, including on the illegality of all settlements.

“The US administration once again makes another illegal announcement on Israeli settlements in order to sabotage any chance to achieve peace, security and stability in our region and for our people,” Mansour said.

“We strongly reject and condemn this unlawful and irresponsible declaration; we consider it to be null legally, politically, historically and morally.”

Before the meeting, British Ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce had told reporters that “all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.”

She was speaking on behalf of Germany, France, Poland, Belgium and Britain, the EU’s current Security Council members.

The meeting was held two days after an announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reversed a four-decade-old US position on illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. The move was welcomed by Israel but drew condemnation from Palestinians and Arab leaders.

The shift has been widely interpreted as a green light for Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

November 20, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | 3 Comments

West Bank IED Attack Kills And Injures Israelis- A Closer Look

By Robert Inlakesh | 21st Century Wire | August 23, 2019

Earlier this Friday morning an IED attack, conducted inside the occupied West Bank, killed one Israeli and injured two others.

The incident has been blamed on unidentified Palestinians, who were said to have planted the IED the night prior to the incident, before detonating it upon the arrival of the Israeli settlers to the location.

The attack took place at the site of the Ein Buben Spring, located in between the Palestinian village of Deir Ibzi and the illegal Israeli settlement of Douleb.

A female Israeli has been confirmed dead, with two men injured, one currently on life support in critical condition and the other suffering moderate wounds. The three Israelis had originated from Lod – formerly the Palestinian towns of Lydda and Ramle – and had reportedly been visiting the spring, entering it from the ever expanding neighboring settlement.

As usual, the Israeli and Western press are treating this incident as if it has no link to anything occurring in the area prior to the attack.

Back in 2017 I lived in the occupied West Bank and visited the spring of Deir Ibzi many times. I remember being driven there with Palestinians friends to hang out. The first time I went I was confronted by Israeli soldiers who stopped our car and pointed guns in our faces and continued to linger in the area, watching us, for hours after the incident.

Another time I had visited, we had to quickly leave as armed settlers emerged over the hills and were heading in our direction.

I was told by people in the village of Deir Ibzi, that they fear the day when the Israelis will completely take the site for themselves.

The site, of course being home to a fresh water spring, has been a part the lives of those living in Deir Ibzi and the neighboring villages for generations. Until now, there has been no violent resistance like this recent attack, despite the illegal settlement expansion on the area and the violent forcing of the native population from their land.

Israel considers of all the West Bank as simply being part of Israel and call the land Judea and Sumaria. To Israel, there are no illegal settlers or illegal land grabs, they simply consider their actions as being reasonable expansion on God given Jewish land.

The eldest of the Israelis injured in the attack, currently being treated in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, is a Rabbi and was reported to be a decorated occupation force veteran.

Due to the constant Israeli settler and occupation force attacks upon Palestinians, in the West Bank, as well as a rise in attacks upon the Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem, we now see a string of violent attacks against Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank.

This year so far, approximately 100 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and with the lack of action from the international community, to end the violations of international law, the siege, the occupation etc. Palestinians now have their backs to the wall.

No peace talks or peaceful demonstrations have worked. So now, due to the lack of action taken for the Palestinians, the Palestinian people are resulting to the last and only option left for them, violent resistance.

The mainstream media will paint these attacks as horrid terrorist incidents, but the reality is, this is what happens when a people have no other options.

Today, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, 152 Palestinians were injured in Gaza’s Great Return March protests, 60 were shot with live ammunition. Over 310 Palestinians have been killed in these marches since the 30th of March, 2018, with around 40,000 people being injured. So why aren’t these acts of mass murdered labelled terrorism? Are only Arabs and Muslims able to commit a terrorist act, should this perhaps be the new definition for the word?

Under international law, the Palestinian people reserve the right to armed resistance. So why is it always a terrorist attack, in the eyes of the so-called objective mainstream media, when a Palestinian decides to resist? And why isn’t Israeli settler terrorism reported as such, when 6 year old Palestinians are run down and murdered by Israeli religious fanatics?

***

Author Robert Inlakesh is a special contributor to 21WIRE and European correspondent for Press TV. He has reported from on the ground in occupied Palestine.

August 23, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Jewish Settlers Rule the Roost in Israel, But at What Price?

By Ramzy Baroud | Dissident Voice | August 21, 2019

Israeli Jewish settlers are on a rampage in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. While settler violence is part of everyday routine in Palestine, the violence of recent weeks is directly linked to the general elections in Israel, scheduled to be held on September 17.

The previous elections, on April 9, failed to bring about political stability. Although Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu is now the longest-serving prime minister in the 71-year history of the country, he was still unable to form a government coalition.

Tarnished by a series of corruption cases involving himself, his family and aides, Netanyahu’s leadership is in an unenviable position. Police investigators are closing in on him, while opportunistic political allies, the likes of Avigdor Lieberman, are twisting his arm with the hope of exacting future political concessions.

The political crisis in Israel is not the outcome of a resurrected Labor or invigorated central parties, but the failure of the Right (including far-right and ultra-nationalist parties) to articulate a unified political agenda.

Illegal Jewish settlers understand well that the future identity of any right-wing government coalition will have lasting impact on their colonial enterprise. The settlers, however, are not exactly worried, since all major political parties, including that of the Blue and White, the centrist party of Benjamin Gantz, have made the support for Jewish colonies an important aspect in their campaigns.

The decisive vote of the Jewish settlers of the West Bank and their backers inside Israel became very clear in the last elections. Subsequently, their power forced Gantz to adopt an entirely different political stance since April.

The man who, on April 7 (two days before the last elections), criticized Netanyahu’s “irresponsible” announcement regarding his intention to annex the West Bank, is now a great supporter of the settlements. According to the Israeli news website Arutz Sheva, Gantz vowed to continue expanding the settlements “from a strategic point of view and not as a political strategy”.

Considering the shift in Gantz’ perspective regarding the settlements, Netanyahu is left with no other option but to up the ante, as he is now pushing for complete and irreversible annexation of the West Bank.

Annexing the West Bank, from Netanyahu’s viewpoint, is a sound political strategy. The Israeli prime minister is, of course, oblivious to international law which sees Israel’s military and settler presence as illegal. But neither Netanyahu, nor any other Israeli leader, for that matter, have ever cared about international law whatsoever. All that truly counts for Israel is Washington’s support, which is often blind and unconditional.

According to the Times of Israel newspaper, Netanyahu is now officially lobbying for a public statement by US President Donald Trump to back Israel’s annexation of the West Bank.

Although the White House refused to comment on the story, and an official in Netanyahu’s office claimed that it was “incorrect”, the Israeli right is on the fast track of making that annexation possible.

Encouraged by US Ambassador David Friedman’s comment that “Israel has the right to retain some of the West Bank”, more Israeli officials are speaking boldly and openly regarding their intentions of making that annexation possible.

Netanyahu had, himself, hinted at that possibility in August during a visit to the illegal settlement of Beit El. “We come to build. Our hands will reach out and we will deepen our roots in our homeland – in all parts of it,” Netanyahu said, during a ceremony celebrating the expansion of the illegal settlements to include 650 more housing units.

Unlike Netanyahu, former Israeli justice minister and leader of the newly-formed United Right, Ayelet Shaked, didn’t speak in code. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, she called for the full annexation of Area C, which constitutes nearly 60 percent of the West Bank. “We have to apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria,” she said, referring to the Palestinian land using biblical designations.

Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan, however, wants to go the extra mile. According to Arutz Sheva and the Jerusalem Post, Erdan has called for the annexation of all illegal settlements in the West Bank and the ouster of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas as well.

Now situated at the center of Israeli politics, Jewish settlers are enjoying the spectacle as they are being courted by all major political parties. Their increased violence in the West Bank is a form of political muscle-flexing, an expression of dominance and a brutish display of political priorities.

“There’s only one flag from the Jordan to the sea – the flag of Israel,” was the slogan of a rally involving over 1,200 Jewish settlers who roamed the streets of the Palestinian city of Hebron (Al-Khalil) on August 14. The settlers, together with Israeli soldiers, stormed al-Shuhada street and harassed Palestinians and international activists in the beleaguered Palestinian city.

Just a few days earlier, an estimated 1,700 Jewish settlers, backed by Israeli police, stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, over 60 Palestinians were wounded when Israeli forces and settlers attacked worshippers.

The violent scene was repeated in Nablus, where armed women settlers stormed the town of al-Masoudiya and conducted “military training” under the protection of the Israeli occupation army.

The settlers’ message is clear: we now rule the roost, not only in the West Bank, but in Israeli politics as well.

All of this is happening as if it is entirely an Israeli political affair. The PA, which has now been dropped out of American political calculations altogether, is left to issue occasional, irrelevant press releases about its intention to hold Israel accountable according to international law.

But the guardians of international law are also suspiciously absent. Neither the United Nations, nor advocates of democracy and international law in the European Union, seem interested in confronting Israeli intransigence and blatant violations of human rights.

With Jewish settlers dictating the political agenda in Israel, and constantly provoking Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, violence is likely to grow exponentially in the coming months. As is often the case, this violence will be used strategically by the Israeli government, this time to set the stage for a final and complete annexation of Palestinian land, a disastrous outcome by any count.

August 21, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

FCO Speeds Up Planning to Move UK Embassy to Jerusalem

By Craig Murray | August 18, 2019

Following US National Security Adviser John Bolton’s talks with Boris Johnson and his ministers in London last week, FCO officials have been asked to speed up contingency planning for the UK to move its Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, with an eye to an “early announcement” post Brexit.

The UK is currently bound by an EU common foreign policy position not to follow the United States in moving its Embassy to Jerusalem. As things stand, that prohibition will fall on 1 November. FCO officials had previously been asked to produce a contingency plan, but this involved the construction of a £14 million new Embassy and a four year timescale. They have now been asked to go back and look at a quick fix involving moving the Ambassador and immediate staff to Jerusalem and renaming the Consulate already there as the Embassy. This could be speedily announced, and then implemented in about a year.

Johnson heads the most radically pro-Israel cabinet in UK history and the symbolic gesture of rejection of Palestinian rights is naturally appealing to his major ministers Patel, Javid and Raab. They also see three other political benefits. Firstly, they anticipate that Labour opposition to the move can be used to yet again raise accusations of “anti-semitism” against Jeremy Corbyn. Secondly, it provides good “red meat” to Brexiteer support in marking a clear and, they believe, popular break from EU foreign policy, at no economic cost. Thirdly, it seals the special link between the Trump and Johnson administrations and sets the UK apart from other NATO allies.

Bolton also discussed the possibility of UK support for Israeli annexation of areas of the West Bank to “solve” the illegality of Israeli settlements on occupied territory. My FCO sources believe this is going to be much more difficult politically for the Cabinet to agree than simply moving the Embassy, due to lack of support on their own backbenches.

This is an insight into the future of British foreign policy if the Johnson government, and the UK, both survive. In the massive defeat of the UK at the UN General Assembly two months ago over the illegal occupation of the Chagos Islands, the UK was in a voting block with only the USA, Israel, Australia, Hungary and the Maldives, against the rest of the world. The Maldives had a particular maritime interest there, but the leadership of the others – Donald Trump, Viktor Orban, Scott Morrison, Benjamin Netanyahu and now Boris Johnson – constitute a distinct and extreme right wing bloc. These are very worrying times indeed.

August 18, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big dreams for a small school

Defence for Children Palestine – August 12, 2019

Students attending Ibziq Mixed Primary school in the northern Jordan Valley, near the West Bank city of Tubas, face danger and instability due to Israel’s military trainings and activities in the area.

Read the feature: https://www.dci-palestine.org/big_dre…

FOLLOW DCIP Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DCIPS

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DCIPalestine

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MUSIC The Machine Assembly by The Whole Other https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBDYF…

August 14, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel settlers’ month of violence against Palestinians documented

MEMO | August 9, 2019

The month of June saw Israeli settler attacks against at least ten Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank, with significant damage done to property and crops.

According to Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, June was yet “another month of routine settler violence fully backed by the military”.

Settlers vandalised property in ten communities across the West Bank, as well as burning some 1,800 trees and dozens of dunams of grain fields, “uprooting more than 700 vegetable seedlings and damaging at least 55 cars and spray painting hate graffiti on buildings”, stated B’Tselem.

In the Nablus area, “settlers threw stones at a family home in the village of Yasuf, shattering the windows, and punctured the family car’s tires”, while “in the village of Jalud, settlers burned more than a thousand trees in lands belonging to 21 farmers and threw stones at the school”.

Meanwhile, “in the village of Madama, settlers torched farmland and the fire spread to land belonging to the village of Burin, consuming about 180 fruit trees”, and “in the village of ‘Einabus, settlers punctured the tires of three cars and graffitied slogans on the mosque”.

In the central West Bank, settlers punctured the tyres of 22 cars in Beitin, Sinjil and Kafr Malik. In Burqah, “settlers set fire to fields and burned about 200 olive and other fruit trees”, while in Al-Mughayir, “settlers burned some fifty dunams of wheat and hay fields and some 370 olive trees”.

Other examples cited by B’Tselem include attacks by settlers in the Bethlehem region, where they “vandalised farming equipment in the village of Wadi Fukin and uprooted more than 700 saplings and four olive trees”.

According to B’Tselem, “these acts of violence, which are backed by the military, have been occurring every month for years.”

“It is part of Israel’s policy in the West Bank, and it serves the state’s agenda. The policy itself is designed to reduce Palestinian farming and gradually transfer areas that have been abandoned due to fear of violence over to settlers,” the NGO added.

“As part of this policy, and to enable these acts of violence, the authorities rarely investigate the crimes and the odds that any of the criminals would be punished for their actions are minuscule. Settlers are well aware of this fact, as are Palestinians who remain defenceless.”

 

August 9, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

US’ Greenblatt: ‘Israel is victim in conflict with Palestinians’

MEMO | July 18, 2019

The US Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, has said that Israel is the “victim” in its conflict with the Palestinians and that he “cannot think of single instances” when Israel made a mistake.

In an interview aired yesterday by US broadcaster PBS, Greenblatt was asked what responsibility Israel bears for its now 71-year-old conflict with the Palestinians. The US envoy replied:

I think that Israel is actually more the victim than the party that’s responsible. From the moment of its formation, they were attacked multiple times. They continue to be attacked with terrorism. So — I’m not sure I understand the premise of the question.

He added that he “cannot think of single instances” in which Israel made a mistake or overstepped its authority, saying: “I think that they’re trying their best to succeed. They have actually succeeded in many ways, especially economically, under very, very trying circumstances.”

Greenblatt also doubled down on previous comments in which he argued Israel’s illegal settlements should be referred to as “neighbourhoods and cities”, saying that the term “settlements” is “pejorative”.

On the occupied West Bank – where over 500 illegal settlements are located – and the besieged Gaza Strip, the envoy said: “I would argue that the land is disputed. It needs to be resolved in the context of direct negotiations between the parties. Calling it occupied territory does not help resolve the conflict.”

Under international law, both the West Bank and Gaza Strip remain classified as occupied territories.

Greenblatt’s comments are the latest in a series of controversial remarks that have drawn fierce criticism and rebuke of the US envoy.

Earlier this month, Greenblatt came under fire after criticising the Palestinian Authority (PA) for failing to provide adequate funds for a Palestinian child’s blood cancer medication. This came after Gaza-based Palestinian journalist Fathi Sabbah accused PA Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, and Ahmed Abu Houli, a member of the executive committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), of reneging on promises to assist with his daughter Rima’s treatment.

This prompted Greenblatt to write on Twitter: “Mr. Shtayyeh, how about keeping your word & paying for Rima’s treatment? The PA has the funds and it would be a wise and compassionate use of them. Mr. Sabbah, my thoughts are with you and your family. I pray Rima will have a full and speedy recovery.”

Twitter users – including Sabbah – were quick to point out the irony of Greenblatt blaming the PA for the family’s plight while ignoring Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip, regular refusal to grant exit visas for medical treatment, and the US’ almost-unconditional support for Israel.

The US envoy – who is one of the chief architects of the US’ long-awaited “deal of the century” – has also made a number of provocative claims about Israel’s policy in the occupied West Bank.

In June, Greenblatt stood behind comments made by US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, in which the latter stated Israel has “the right” to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

Friedman told the New York Times that “under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank”, provoking international outcry and prompting the Palestinian Foreign Ministry to consider filing a complaint against the ambassador at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Greenblatt backed Friedman’s stance, saying: “I will let David’s comments stand for themselves. I think he said them elegantly and I support his comments.” For his part, Friedman has also refused to back down, since claiming he does “not understand why this issue was faced with such criticism. There is no scenario in which Israel is leaving the whole West Bank.”

His comments have been interpreted as an effort to normalise discussion of Israel’s annexation of the West Bank, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed ahead of the country’s April general election that he would annex the territory if he were re-elected.

Though the political elements of the “deal of the century” have not yet been unveiled, the plan is not expected to demand that Israel dismantle its West Bank settlements. Though the US has not yet changed its policy on annexation, the precedent set by President Donald Trump’s recognition of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights as Israeli could pave the way for a similar move in the West Bank.

July 18, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli municipality in Jerusalem names Silwan streets after rabbis

Palestine Information Center | June 21, 2019

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – The Israeli municipality in Occupied Jerusalem has decided to name some streets in the predominantly Arab Silwan neighborhood after Jewish rabbis.

According to Haaretz, the move was against the recommendation of a professional panel who said “It is inappropriate to give Jewish street names in neighborhoods overwhelmingly populated by Arabs.”

The naming committee in the municipality, headed by Mayor Moshe Leon, named five alleyways and narrow streets in the Baten Al-Hawa neighborhood of Silwan.

The neighborhood, which is currently the home of 12 Jewish families and hundreds of Palestinian families, is targeted by extremist settler groups, including Ateret Cohanim.

Settlers claim there was a small Jewish-Yemenite community in the neighborhood 80 years ago. The newly-approved street names are “Ezrat Nidhim,” after the charitable organization founded by Yisroel Dov Frumkin in the late 19th century which established the Yemenite community.

The other streets are named after Yemenite rabbis. The decision was taken by a majority of eight to two.

The committee made the decision despite the opinion of a professional panel, who warned that the move will “create unnecessary tension. The names will not be used by residents and will therefore be futile.” The committee recommended neutral street names which will benefit all residents.

The two committee members opposing the decision are city coalition members Laura Wharton and Yossi Havilio. Havilio said he firmly opposes as the move, adding that it provokes Arab residents and will inflame the atmosphere in the neighborhood.

June 21, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 2 Comments