End settlements and settler violence

Palestine Update 513

End settlements and settler violence

Israeli settler violence in the occupied West Bank has risen by leaps and bounds in the recent past. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has asked on the United Nations (UN) to initiate international protection for Palestinians. Israel is the occupying power and its actions against amount to terrorism, and crimes committed against defenseless Palestinians, their towns and villages. The acceleration of settler attacks has left dozens injured. Armed settlers sheltered by Israeli occupation forces, have indulged in indiscriminate killing of unarmed Palestinian citizens, raiding homes, and kidnapping Palestinians.” All these actions have risky costs and repercussions on the situation in the region and yet international bodies have not implemented measures of deterrence.

Not only international bodies, but church leaders have preferred to keep their lips sealed. A rare exception is Archbishop Atallah Hanna who has asserted that Palestinians have been subjected to “oppression and repeated catastrophes” and “we, as Christians, cannot stay neutral as some want us to be. When we see oppressed or persecuted people, we have to stand beside them.”

There is anger among the ranks of Palestinians at the way settlers act. A woman was reported to have stabbed a settler inflicting slight injuries. The action smacks of courage and frustration. Settlements are illegal according to international law and Jews who occupy them must vacate immediately because they are built on stolen land. When Palestinians react in anger it is prompted by the cruelties they see inflicted on them in multiple ways. Unless settlements are vacated and the lands are handed over to Palestinians, the cycle of violence will only breed more hostility.  It is obvious that there will be irrational mass punishment by Israel forces in retaliation for the stabbing.

In the midst of these tragic circumstances, comes a spot of good news. The United Nations voted 156-17 to affirm Palestinian rights to sovereignty over its natural resources. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Israel had no sovereignty over Palestine “or any of its cities

These are isolated moves but sooner or later these will, hopefully, fuse into a solid and integrated movement to bring an end to apartheid in Palestine. To realize these important purposes, there needs to be a vibrant global civil society that stands together. It needs a uniting global that sets aside its institutional interests and opts for a prophetic role.

This is no occasion for hesitancy or lethargy. Nor is time for selfish cowardice.

As churches claimed in a major conference held in 2007 in Amman, Jordan: “We have allowed too much time to pass. Time has not served the cause of peace but has served the cause of extremism. This is our urgent cause that cannot wait.

Ranjan Solomon

Atallah Hanna: ‘Christians must not stay silent regarding Israel’s crimes’
Head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem Archbishop Atallah Hanna announced on Friday that Christians must not stay silent regarding the Israeli occupation’s crimes against Palestinians, Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported. The archbishop’s remarks came during a meeting with a delegation from the Palestinian orthodox Christians in Israel to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The delegation toured Jerusalem and Bethlehem, listening to Hanna speak on the importance of historical Christian sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. “We have always been beside the oppressed and preachers of peace, love, fraternity and humanity,” Hanna expressed. “We reject all forms of hatred and racism… and take the side of the just issues, freedom and human dignity.”

Hanna reiterated that Palestinians have been subjected to “oppression and repeated catastrophes”, stressing that Palestinians have the right to freedom. Therefore,” he urged, “we, as Christians, cannot stay neutral as some want us to be. When we see oppressed or persecuted people, we have to stand beside them.”


Palestinian woman stabs Israeli man in attack near Hebron 
A Palestinian woman on Saturday stabbed an Israeli settler near a disputed holy site in Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, wounding him slightly, a border guard spokesperson said. The attack took place near a flashpoint site known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarch and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi mosque, a place revered by both faiths.

raeli border guards said they had arrested the attacker, a 65-year-old Palestinian woman from a nearby village, the statement added. The wounded man was a 38-year-old resident of the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba. Israel seized the West Bank in the Six-Day War of 1967. Since then nearly 700,000 Jewish Israelis have moved into West Bank and east Jerusalem settlements that much of the international community regard as illegal. Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank with some 200,000 Palestinian residents, also has some 1,000 Jewish settlers living there under heavy protection from the Israeli army.

The attack comes as Israeli security forces continue a manhunt for the assailants behind a deadly shooting on Thursday near the northern West Bank wildcat settlement outpost of Homesh. Israel’s army said Palestinian attackers opened fire on a car, killing 25-year-old Jewish religious student and settler. No one has claimed responsibility for that attack, but multiple Palestinian organizations praised the shooting. It is the latest violence over the past month, which has seen Palestinian attacks on Israelis and the killing of Palestinians by Israeli troops during clashes. United Nations Middle East peace envoy said he was “alarmed by the escalating violence in the occupied West Bank, including east Jerusalem, which is claiming the lives of Israelis and Palestinians.”

Occupied West Bank witnesses painful wave of Israel’s settler attacks
Tens of Israeli settlers last Friday raided the town of Burqa, north of the West Bank city of Nablus, and torched and opened fire on Palestinian homes, eyewitnesses and activists reported. Palestinian residents made a distress call to Palestinians in the surrounding villages and towns to help them repel the settler attack. They fended off the attack and managed to put out the fire.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers gathered on Nablus-Ramallah Road near Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya village to the south of Nablus and attacked Palestinian vehicles with stones, causing damages to cars. This came one day after a group of Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian vehicles and blocked a traffic artery to the east of Hebron.

Aref Jaber, a local anti-settlement activist, explained that scores of settlers gathered close to the Israeli settlement of Kharsina, east of Hebron, and hurled stones at Palestinian vehicles, causing damage to them. Jaber claimed Israeli settlers closed the main road connecting. Dozens of Palestinians suffocated from tear gas of forces during clashes that broke out in the Hebron area.

Palestine hails UN vote affirming sovereignty over natural resources
Palestine welcomed a United Nations vote affirming its right to sovereignty over its natural resources. The UN Economic and Financial Committee adopted a draft resolution on the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, and of the Arabs in the occupied Syrian Golan over natural resources.

A total of 156 countries on Friday voted in favor of the UN resolution against seven and 17 abstentions. In a statement, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Israel had no sovereignty over Palestine “or any of its cities…Voting in favor of this resolution confirms the Palestinian people’s right and sovereignty over their natural resources, including land, water and energy resources,” he said. Al-Maliki called on Israel to “stop exploiting the natural resources in the occupied Palestinian territory.” He also called on the international community to pressure Israel “to implement international resolutions” that will allow Palestinians “to benefit from their natural resources, and their right to claim compensation for the exploitation, damaging, losing, depleting, or endangering of their natural resources in any way.” The top diplomat noted that the resolution is one of many adopted annually by the UN that are in the interest of the Palestinian people.

US-Palestinian economic ties resume after 5 years
Palestinians have reluctantly agreed to give the economic track a chance after it became obvious that there was no movement expected on the political track

Five years after the suspension of US-Palestinian talks on economic issues, Washington appears to be open for the resumption of economic talks. Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland recently met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, inaugurating the way for talks that were suspended during the Trump administration and for the most part of the first year of Joe Biden’s presidency. During the meeting with Nuland, Abbas said Israel must stop unilateral measures that undermine the two-state solution

Unable or unwilling to even pursue their own election commitment to reopen the US Consulate in Jerusalem, Washington appears to have accepted the ground rules set by Israel’s government. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett adopted the former Khartoum Arab formula of the three no’s by telling the US president in their August summit link that in his two-year rotating term he will not meet with the Palestinian leadership, will not negotiate with Palestinians, and will certainly not support the two-state solution for peace with Palestinians. What is left is the economic track. The economic meeting took place Dec. 14 virtually with a large number of officials from both the Palestinian and US side.

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