1st July has clandestinely happened – It must be undone

Palestine Update 384


1st July has clandestinely happened – It must be undone
The international community, by and large, recognizes that Palestinians live in a state of ‘de facto’ annexation. What did not happen on July 1 – ‘de jure’ annexations can be attributed to several grounds.

Israel was simply unprepared for the kind of international disapproval that came. Even the US government declined a green light. The EU even threatened sanctions and specific countries in Europe seemed all set to impose them. The Arab world, for all their duplicity, had to guard themselves from their streets and the uproar and dissent it would have to face and censured the move. There was visible rebellion on the streets of the USA and UK too. The #Black Lives Movement in both countries came out in hefty numbers in solidarity with Palestinians. Israel had its international dissensions too. The ruling alliance is dithering and there are questions about whether another election is on the anvil because Gantz and Netanyahu cannot find consensus on how to go about the annexation. . Meanwhile, with Covid striking hard, Israel could hardly cope with the pandemic along with the political tirade. Israel is also under threat of being tried in the ICC for violating international human rights law and multiple International instruments. Israel is politically perplexed.

Israel may still choose to move the annexation into de jure status. But it knows that it would incur the wrath of the international community. It would formally lunch the apartheid system and the political penalty for that cannot easily be warded off. Recall South Africa. The resistance would move to the global stage. BDS would flourish. Economic sanctions from powerful countries would kick in and be grueling. As well, isolation in the sports and cultural arenas will leave Israel a recluse in the community of nations. Israel deserves to be secluded and to pay the price for its colonialist-racist policies and inhuman treatment of the Palestinians.

Whether or not the annexation happens is another matter. As, pointed out at the start, there is a de facto annexation in place.  What does matter is whether Israel will transform as a civilized entity, abandoning its apartheid rules over the Palestinians. It must now find a peace agreement that works against apartheid and in the framework of justice and international law. Nothing less!

Ranjan Solomon       

‘Opposing apartheid is the only way this struggle can go’
Tareq Baconi, a Palestinian political analyst, says he is ‘pessimistic’ about the impact of annexation – but sees hope in the growing anti-colonial nature of the Palestinian struggle. ‘Opposing apartheid is the only way this struggle can go’

Israeli security forces next to Palestinians protesting Israel's plan to annex parts of the West Bank, Haris, June 26, 2020. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)Tareq Baconi, a Palestinian political analyst, sees few reasons for optimism about the outcome of the annexation debacle – whether it comes to pass or not. Like many other experts, Baconi doubts the Palestinian Authority’s ability to stop annexation, and worries that even if de jure annexation does not take place; the European Union will heave a sigh of relief and go back to ignoring Israel’s “creeping annexation” of the West Bank. The only good thing that can come out of the current state of affairs, says Baconi, is the transition from a Palestinian struggle for independence and a state of their own, to an anti-colonial struggle.

 “Palestinians have done everything to warn against annexation — including calling for international support and annulling the Oslo Accords. I don’t think these have been very significant. “What may be able to affect change is American support. Right now, it is clear there is a green light from the United States. The question for the United States is not whether annexation will or will not happen, but how it will happen. The Jordanians and Egyptians can also have an impact. These are all external forces. The Palestinians don’t have any power to influence. This is why they are turning to the international community and the International Criminal Court.”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

53 years of Israeli annexation of Jerusalem
No ImageNothing about the Israeli government’s declared intention to annex parts of the Israeli-occupied territories is new or in the least bit surprising as the process started in 1967 with the gradual but systematic appropriation of lands for settlements and “military” purposes. It has never ceased. Following the Six-Day War that year, Israel unilaterally annexed about 70,500 dunams (approximately 17,400 acres) of east Jerusalem and West Bank land to the municipal boundaries of West Jerusalem. In addition to the areas of Jerusalem that had previously been controlled by Jordan, the annexed lands included an additional 64,000 dunams, most of which belonged to 28 Palestinian villages in the West Bank. The captured lands were within the municipal boundaries of Bethlehem and Beit Jala. With this annexation, the total area of Jerusalem tripled, making it Israel’s largest city, both in territory and population. It is known today as “east Jerusalem.”

The demarcation of Jerusalem’s new municipal borders was based on alleged security concerns, the delineation of defensible borders, and demographic considerations that ensured a Jewish majority in the city. The principle at the base of these demographic considerations was “maximum territory and minimum population.” This translated into a practice of annexing as much territory as possible to the municipal boundaries, which could be used for building new settlements for a Jewish population, while at the same time excluding heavily populated Palestinian areas from the new boundaries.

Annexation (even delayed) is the great truth teller
No To Annexation (Image: Palestinian Youth Movement)

The July 1st deadline has come and gone, and annexation hasn’t arrived. But don’t celebrate yet. It’s delayed not cancelled. The Trump White House is divided on the details; the international protest is stronger than expected; and Israel has a renewed coronavirus crisis that ought to be getting its government’s full attention. But with Donald Trump’s polling numbers in the US tumbling and rumours that Trump may even drop out of the November election if he thinks he can’t win, Prime Minister Netanyahu will want to get the ball rolling on annexation as soon as possible.

And once it’s on the Knesset statute books will it ever come off? Like the Settlements project, annexation will creep forward month by month and year by year until the desired new status quo is achieved. That means enlarged Israeli sovereignty/apartheid (ultimately including the Jordan Valley), total control of security from ‘the river to the sea’ and disconnected, semi-autonomous Palestinian Bantustans. Trump will have been the enabler, but the political legacy will be Netanyahu’s to enjoy and the Palestinians to endure.

If you’re looking for a simple explainer for what’s coming, try this 7-minute video from the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence.

Palestinian civil society rejects EU’s conditional funding
The Palestinian flag is seen next to the European Union flag at the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels [File: Thierry Charlier/AFP]

Palestinian civil society organizations have formed a national campaign that rejects the European Union’s conditional funding based its “anti-terror clause”. The stipulation, which was included in EU grant proposals late last year, identifies at least seven Palestinian political parties as “terrorist groups”, and calls for Palestinian civil society organizations to vet individuals to ensure they are not affiliated with such parties. However, these organizations have described these conditions as “criminalizing” the Palestinian national struggle against the Israeli occupation.

“The EU’s imposition of the clause and restrictive measures constitutes the criminalization of the Palestinian liberation struggle and its freedom fighters based on Western criteria and standards,” said Lubnah Shomali, the spokeswoman for the anti-EU conditional funding campaign. “It does not take into consideration the legal status of Palestine under international law – as a country and a people facing oppression and a foreign colonial domination.”

U.S. dollars cannot fund Israeli human rights violations tax

Members of Congress, led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, released a bold letter to the State Department yesterday. Their message is clear: U.S. tax dollars should never be used by Israel to violate Palestinian human rights. The letter calls for Congress to condition and withhold U.S. military funding to Israel if the government formally annexes any part of the West Bank. It provides a clear rights-based vision and signals that human rights conditions and withholding of U.S. military funding to Israel are necessary to ensure that no taxpayer funds support gross violations of international law. In advocating for H.R. 2407, which aims to condition military assistance to Israel by preventing funds for being used to arrest, detain, and ill-treat Palestinian children, we’ve learned that more and more members of Congress are willing to say U.S. funding should not be used to further human rights abuses and violations of international law.

No matter what happens with Israel’s further annexation of occupied territory moving forward, we are committed to protecting and defending the rights of Palestinian children and ending Israeli military detention. This letter from Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, backed by many of H.R. 2407’s co-sponsors, does just that.
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Seven former Latin American Presidents join call for sanctions on Israeli apartheid, with 320 more public figures from Latin America 

Former Latin American Presidents Dilma Rousseff (Brazil), Lula da Silva (Brazil), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Ernesto Samper (Colombia), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), José Mujica (Ecuador), and Fernando Lugo (Paraguay) are among the over 320 public figures from Latin America who signed a statement released yesterday calling for sanctions against Israel as a response  to Israel’s planned de jure annexation of occupied Palestinian territory and its ongoing de facto annexation and apartheid.  The statement is part of a South African initiative to unify Global South support from Africa, Asia and Latin America for the Palestinian civil society call for sanctions in response to Israel’s planned formal annexation. In June, South African signatories to the same statement were made public.

The statement says: The increasing severity of Israel’s violations and its impunity obliges us to respond to the call issued by the overwhelming majority of Palestinian civil society organisations. […] We endorse the Palestinian call for banning arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel; suspending free trade agreements with Israel; prohibiting trade with illegal Israeli settlements and accountability from individuals and corporate actors complicit in Israel’s occupation and apartheid regime. We commit to working within the framework of our respective national structures to advocate for implementing these measures.

The statement also calls for the reactivation of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid, last functional during the era of apartheid in South Africa, with the aim of putting an end to Israel’s apartheid policies targeting the Palestinian people.