Palestine Update 169
Donald Trump seems to be carving his political legacy with decisions on Israel and Palestine that few leaders in their right political minds would have even remotely considered. His decision on Jerusalem was one such. His likely decision on the refugees ‘right to return’ is yet another. But there is a degree of global political sycophancy among some countries – weak and strong – that endorse Trump and are following his track. In the end it will permit Trump to feel he is a global leader of sorts. The truth is somewhat different. Those countries that pander to the power-centric view that Israel must be the winner in the negotiations and that the winner takes it all are only stunting global democracy and justice. If Israel has exposed its racist-colonialist political instincts, its supporters are showing that those traits are theirs too. For now, the USA and UK have clearly shown that even-handedness has taken a toss. The handful of lesser powers that have lined up with the US stance will remain a minor number. And yet, the damage has been done. Peace has been further distanced.
In point of fact, Israel is widening its variety of disparities. For example, Israel has now blocked the entry of half of the foreign nationals who teach at BirZeit and at other Palestinian institutions of higher learning from Gaza’s University of Palestine to Jericho’s al-Istiqlal University. This is a war against education, a war against Palestinian children, a war against memory and history. And, Israeli Intelligence Minister wants ‘Civilian Separation’ from Gaza. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Municipality plans to expand the Western Wall prayer space in Jerusalem. The plan to expand the prayer area came after pressures from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, under the pretext to expand the prayer space to suit people with special needs.
The disapprovals are making their impact. Several Arab members of the Knesset from the Joint List, Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, and Palestinian officials seek a UN resolution that likens the “nation-state” law to apartheid laws. Arabs make up roughly a fifth of Israel’s population of close to nine million. They face inequality and discrimination in their former homeland where they are treated as second-class citizens. In Chile the BDS movement has distributed posters showing the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra’s conductor covered in blood. It has drawn expected protest from the Israeli Ambassador in Chile. The protesters are undeterred.
Israel’s missile interception system, Iron Dome, may keep away homemade rockets and its technology designed to identify and wipe out tunnels so that Israel could keep Gaza locked down with a blockade and render its two million inhabitants undetectable has scarcely emptied the Gazans of new ideas to challenge Israel. Israel confronts a new form of defiance. They are looking for clues to end Palestinian confrontations from Gaza by means of flaming kites, which have set fire to lands, close by in Israel. The modest kite is now a threat that keeps Israeli military minds busy. Gazans have shown they won’t be cowed down and that they reject complicity through indifference. They want only to regain control over their destiny.
Protesters defy Israel’s blockade with paper scraps and plastic
First Israel built a sophisticated missile interception system named Iron Dome to neutralise the threat of homemade rockets fired out of Gaza. Next it created technology that could detect and destroy tunnels Palestinians had cut through the parched earth deep under the fences Israel erected to imprison Gaza on all sides. Israel’s priority was to keep Gaza locked down with a blockade and its two million inhabitants invisible. Now Israel is facing a new and apparently even tougher challenge: how to stop Palestinian resistance from Gaza using flaming kites, which have set fire to lands, close by in Israel. F-16 fighter jets are equipped to take on many foes but not the humble kite. For Israelis, these various innovations by Palestinians are widely seen as part of the same relentless campaign by Hamas to destroy their country.
But from inside Gaza, things look very different. These initiatives are driven by a mix of recognizably human emotions: a refusal to bow before crushing oppression; a fear of becoming complicit through silence and inaction in being erased and forgotten; and a compelling need to take back control of one’s life.
Arab MPs in Israel push UN Resolution on ‘Apartheid’ Law
Several Arab members of the Knesset from the Joint List, Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour, and other senior Palestinian officials are trying to persuade the UN to pass a resolution that likens the “nation-state” law to apartheid laws. Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon cried foul, writing to Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein in which he slammed Arab lawmakers for the initiative and accused them of “causing great damage” to Israel. “Over the past two years we have witnessed a close partnership between the MKs and Palestinian representatives in the UN working with the goal of inciting against and defaming” Israel and its military on the UN stage, Danon wrote. The legislation defines occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel, downgrades the status of the Arabic language and encourages expansion of Israeli settlements. Arabs make up roughly a fifth of Israel’s population of close to nine million. They have long complained of inequality and discrimination in their former homeland where they are treated as second-class citizens.
BDS movement uses bloody poster against Israeli orchestra in Chile
The BDS movement calling for a boycott of Israel printed posters showing the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra’s conductor covered in blood, ahead of a concert in Chile. Anti-Israel protesters were planning to hold a demonstration outside the concert venue in Santiago on Monday evening, prompting Israel’s ambassador Eldad Hayet, to call on local security force and police to ensure safety at the performance. Demonstrators circulated a poster showing orchestra conductor Yeruham Scharovsky covered in blood, using a trope popular in medieval blood libels.
The White House buries the era of even-handedness. Will that bring Palestinians to the table?
President Donald Trump wants to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, but he and his top officials appear to be determined to first reframe the parameters of the conflict. What’s unclear is if the radical changes in policy, spearheaded by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will bring Palestinians back to the peace table, or cripple any prospects for peace.
Since Trump assumed office he has jettisoned a number of orthodoxies that for years defined U.S. administration policy, whether Democratic or Republican: He retreated from the two-state solution, he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he slashed funding to the Palestinians and he has trained rhetorical fire on the Palestinian Authority. Now his administration looks set to embrace a much narrower definition of Palestinian refugee than the one accepted by the U.N. agency that delivers aid to the Palestinians, UNRWA.
Israeli court recognizes settlement on private Palestinian land
An Israeli court has for the first time recognized as legal a settlement established on privately-owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, court officials announced. The settlement of Mitzpe Carmit, close to Ramallah, was established in the late 1990s on land owned by Palestinians who had title deeds recognized by the Israeli authorities. The owners had appealed to the Israeli courts to have the settlers evicted from their land. But the Jerusalem district court found the settlement was legal as it had been created with the consent of the Israeli authorities and that the settlers had settled there “in good faith” – without knowing the land was privately owned.“The District Court today clearly stated that whoever settled [the land] with the state’s approval and in good faith, would not be evacuated. The injustice done in the evacuations of the Amona and Netiv Ha’avot [outposts] should not be repeated,” said Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. Today, the settlement close to Ramallah is home to several dozen families. The ruling may still be appealed, but if that fails, it may serve as a precedent for the legal recognition of settlements established without permission from the Israeli authorities or occupying land privately owned by Palestinians.
Israeli cruelty and Palestine’s predicament
Israel has now blocked the entry of half of the foreign nationals who teach at BirZeit and at other Palestinian institutions of higher learning (from Gaza’s University of Palestine to Jerico’s al-Istiqlal University). Amongst them is a history professor who has taught at BirZeit for thirty-five years – Roger Heacock – and the health specialist – Laura Wick. I met Roger and Laura several times in Lebanon over the years and found them to be warm and generous people, committed to the values of truth, justice and decency. They moved to Palestine in 1983, coming from Central America, where they had gone to provide their services to the Sandinista revolution. These are the professors. Meanwhile, Israeli authorities continue to bulldoze Palestinian schools and try and prevent Palestinian children from getting to school through checkpoints. It is no surprise, therefore, that 40% of communities in the West Bank have no elementary schools. It is why children have to walk a distance to study, often to be stopped and harassed at Israeli checkpoints. This is a war against education, a war against Palestinian children, a war against memory and history.
Israeli Intelligence Minister wants ‘Civilian Separation’ from Gaza
Israeli Intelligence Yisrael Katz criticized Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman for saying that he has “nothing to do” with any talks on a long-term ceasefire agreement with Hamas in Gaza. He claimed Lieberman is being untruthful about not being involved in truce talks with the Palestinian group. Katz said on a radio show that the defense minister said he is not involved in the truce and “all Israeli citizens should feel bad if that is the announcement that was made. The issue of Gaza requires thought and decisions.” He indicated that he does not need to leak from cabinet meetings that the defense minister is involved in what’s happening, asserting: “Of course he’s involved.” Katz called for a strategic decision on how to relinquish civil responsibility for Gaza. The security cabinet has not heard any proposal to overthrow Hamas since three years.
Western Wall to be expanded
The Jerusalem Municipality plans to expand the Western Wall prayer space in Jerusalem. The plan to expand the prayer area came after pressures from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, under the pretext to expand the prayer space to suit people with special needs. The plan allegedly does not need to obtain a building permit if the expansion is to ease access of people with special needs. The expansion plan also includes expanding the mixed prayer space, the expansion of the road leading to it and the installation of transit supplies for people with special needs. The mixed square in the Western Wall, called the “Wailing Wall”, was established in 2016, in an effort by the Israeli government to separate Orthodox worshipers who forbid the mixing of women with men during prayer, and between reformers and conservatives.
Don’t befriend me for a day, and leave me a month. Don’t get close to me if you’re going to leave. Don’t say what you don’t do. Be close or get away.
لا تصاحبني يوماً .. لتهجرني شهراً ولا تقربني .. لتبعدني .. لا تقل ما لا تفعل كُن قريباً .. أو ابتعد.