Constructing hope for 2017 on the foundations of shifting public perceptions

Palestine Updates 7

Editorial comment

We begin the year by wishing readers of Palestine Update a year of hope and political transformation for the Palestinians. 50 years of occupation is enough and more. The Occupation  must end with some haste and the international community is morally obliged to act to end it.

In the Palestinian context there is often reason for disappointment and despair. With the Israeli occupation ever-escalating, Palestinians are usually at the receiving end of its punitive
measures. Yet, the resistance does not cease even though it has not amalgamated into a single force. The political class is unable to forge a united front and that is where the colonialist regime of Israel retains the edge.

At the same time, it is clear that resistance within Palestine alone will not bring the occupation to its knees. It requires censure from the international community that goes beyond mere condemnations and resolutions. Israel does not like the reprimands from international sources. But it can still ignore them and make them redundant by simply refusing to abide by their dictate. It has done so for what seems eternity.

2016 showed why the BDS Movement has been able to make a dent. Boycotts and Divestments are mounting in every part of the world. Churches, trade unions, local self-governance structures in many parts of the world, Municipalities, University campuses, and even some governments have acted. The ripple effect is beginning to show. The hope is that the wave will turn into a storm.

Many of these measures belong to the people and quite obviously public perception is shifting away from what used to be sympathy for Israel to opposition to its occupation cruelties. Public opinion and grassroots actions are the only way of letting governments knows if they are, or are not, in sync with the will of the peoples. More than four decades ago, youth and wider protests in the USA pushed the government to halt the American war in Vietnam. Of course, that end was also made possible by the stubborn resistance of the Vietcong rebels who fought back relentlessly against what was a far superior army.

In the case of Palestine, the armed struggle has given way to other forms of resistance – essentially peaceful in orientation. Israel may find this easy to cope with and that explains its arrogant colonialist antics that repeat themselves nearly every day with impunity.

At the risk of repeating the call many times over, Palestine Update underscores the call to isolate the regime in Tel Aviv – the only language that seems to hurt the government. BDS is the only movement Israel is unable to suppress, try as it may. Regardless, in 2017, more people and movements will join the BDS call. Hopefully a string of sanctions will ideally follow.

The PA has predicted 2017 would be “the year of the independent Palestinian state.”Palestinians want an independent state in the territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds and the Gaza Strip, with East al-Quds as its capital. Palestine’s status has been upgraded from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state” despite strong opposition from Israel. Palestine’s flag was hoisted for the first time at the UN Headquarters in New York in September 2015. The question that is persistently asked around the world is this: Will Obama recognize Palestine as his last political decision. If that happens, it is very possible that the European Union, Russia and China could follow. What could stop him? And the other question: What will the Paris conference coming up soon yield?

For sure, the pressures are mounting on Israel. How long will it stand up on the shaking foundations of its political immoralities?

The news that follows this comment all point to the urgency to respond in concrete ways

In solidarity
Ranjan Solomon

Make Your Church HP-Free
 Hewlett-Packard (HP) is one of the largest contractors of the U.S. defense industry. The technology created by HP helps deport U.S. immigrants on a scale we have never seen, tracks Americans held within the massive and discriminatory incarceration system, and denies Palestinians freedom of movement in the West Bank and Gaza. Hewlett-Packard sells the tools necessary for state repression: surveillance and population registration technologies. The biometric IDs, fingerprinting, and retinal scanning equipment and software developed by HP are critical to Israel’s ability to maintain segregation and apartheid.
Read more about the campaign from the Friends of Sabeel North America

Paris conference to discuss Jerusalem, Refugees
Israeli political sources uncovered on Friday that France was planning to suggest during the expected Middle East Peace Conference scheduled in Paris on Jan. 15, a number of principles to settle the big issues stuck in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as the issue of Palestinian refugees and the future of the occupied East Jerusalem. A source at the Israeli government said there are fears that Switzerland presents, during the Security Council meeting, a draft resolution in line with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s last speech. Last week, US Secretary of State, John Kerry made a final plea to save the two-state solution, warning that disregarding such a solution would lead to an endless Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Meanwhile, Israel was comforted that the Obama administration and the British government would both veto any new draft resolution proposed to the Security Council against it.
Read full report from English version of Aawsat

Waqf: 2016 marked the highest number of Israeli incursions into Al-Aqsa
The year 2016 saw the highest number of incursions on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by right-wing Israelis than previous recorded years, according to a statement released Saturday by the Islamic Endowment (Waqf) that manages the holy site.
Head of the religious trust’s public relations department, Firas al-Dibs said in the statement that a total of 14,806 Israeli settler incursions occurred on the compound in 2016 via the Old City’s Moroccan Gate. Al-Dibs added that the highest number of Israeli settler incursions on the Al-Aqsa compound occurred in October, with 2,856 such visits recorded by the trust, as the month marks several Jewish holidays that typically coincide with Jewish visits to the site.
Read full report from Maaan News
View video also from Palestine Chronicle

With the two-state solution a distant dream:
– Palestinians ask if it’s time to push for a one-state solution
Photo credit: 972 Magazine

For nearly three decades, governments around the world have insisted that the best way to end the most intractable conflict in the Middle East is to trade land for peace, creating an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But these days, as Palestinians see prospects for the so-called two-state solution disintegrating, a growing number are mulling over a provocative alternative: a single binational state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean.
Read file report in LA Times

39% of Israelis support annexing the West Bank
Citing Israeli media sources, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said that 39 per cent of Israelis support the annexation of the large Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank, with a Palestinian state being established in the remaining areas, including East Jerusalem. The survey showed that only 30 per cent of Israelis support the establishment of a Palestinian state on Palestinian lands that Israel occupied in 1967. Israeli MKs and ministers are happy with the findings of the survey. MKs planned to propose a bill to the Knesset calling for enforcing Israeli law in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
See for more report in Middle East Monitor

B’Tselem survey maps “Judaization” of the neighborhood in East Jerusalem
B’Tselem mapped the processes underway in Batan al-Hawa, which is facing the most extensive dispossession in East Jerusalem in recent years. Israeli authorities have already transferred 9 of its roughly 50 parcels to the Ateret Cohanim association, and settlers have moved in to 5. Eviction claims are pending against 81 Palestinian families who have lived in the neighborhood for decades. Residents are also subjected to other types of pressure. Settler presence brings with it the police, the Border Police and private security guards; they regularly use violence against local residents, including live fire and crowd control measures, threats, arresting minors and disrupting the fabric of life.
 For more read on the B’Tselem website

Military displaces Palestinians in Jordan Valley citing training nearby
Since Sept. some 220 Palestinians (incl. about 100 minors) have been forced to leave their homes in the Jordan Valley on multiple occasions to make way for military training. Families from Ibziq, Khirbet Humsah and Khirbet a-Ras al-Ahmar have had to spend hours on end, or even all night, far from home and exposed to the elements. The frequency of these displacements completely disrupts residents’ lives and jeopardizes the very existence of these communities. As an occupying power, Israel cannot use the land for routine military purposes, harm the livelihood of protected persons on this pretext, or attempt to expel the residents.
Read more on the B’Tselem website

Expel and Exploit: The Israeli Practice of Taking over Rural Palestinian Land
 This report tells the history of the process of fragmentation imposed on Palestinian rural land in the West Bank through a case study of three villages in the Nablus District – ‘Azmut, Deir al-Hatab and Salem. What these communities have experienced since 1980, when Israel established the Elon Moreh nearby, is but one illustration of broader developments taking place throughout the West Bank. Their story is similar to that of hundreds of Palestinian communities on whose lands Israeli settlements were established.
Read more on the B’Tselem website