Israel’s double speak-  It talks of a two-state settlement and practices land grab, and legitimizes illegality

Palestine Updates 70

Israel’s double speak-  It talks of a two-state settlement, practices land grab, and legitimizes illegality

“There are two legal systems in place in the West Bank, a civilian one for Jews and a military one for Palestinians. There are two separate infrastructures there as well, including roads, electricity and water. The superior and expanding one is for Jews while the inferior and shrinking one is for the Palestinians. There are local pockets, similar to the Bantustans in South Africa, in which the Palestinians have limited self-rule. There is a system of travel restrictions and permits in place since 1991, just when such a system was abolished in South Africa. (Amira Haas)

Israel publicly professes that is stands committed to the two-state solution. But behind that political façade, it persists with relentless efforts to grab Palestinian land on which an independent Palestinian state must eventually stand. Peace talks are in cold storage and Israel shows little appetite for resumed negotiations. Meanwhile, Israel does not hide its intent to grab more land on an almost every day basis.   With Trump at the helm of affairs in the USA, and timid European leader’s in charge of foreign policy, Israel knows it can prolong the status quo as the only workable option for eternity.

Israeli policy and practice of confiscation of Palestinian lands for security and settlement reasons has continued unabated since 1967. The Oslo agreement now reduced to farcical proportions has seen Israel seize thousands of dunams of Palestinian land in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. This de facto annexation of Palestinian lands has paved the way for the illegal construction of Israeli colonies in the Occupied Palestinian, which are home to more than over 800,00 settlers. These settlements cover more than 40 per cent of the West Bank, and appropriate natural resources, including water. Furthermore, settlers in the West Bank enjoy a climate of impunity, which has resulted in an escalation in both the level of violence and the frequency of attacks on Palestinians. In the past two years alone settlers, the number of settler attacks against Palestinians has increased by over 144 per cent. The lack of answerability for settler violence in the West Bank has led to the perpetuation of attacks and encouraged organized groups such as ‘Price Tag’ without any apprehension of penalty. With over 13% of the West Bank population now being settlers and thousands of new locations authorized allocated for unlawful settlement building, the demographics are rapidly changing, and so are the political fallouts. Israel authorized 1,000 new housing units in settlements in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, in the first half of 2016, an increase of 17 percent over the same period in 2015 according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

Israel has shown disdain for international law when it responded to the petition to Israel’s High Court of Justice challenging the “Regularization Law,” a notorious legislation which aims at  retroactively legalizing illegal settlement construction on private Palestinian lands in the West Bank. Israel claims that the Knesset can legislate beyond its jurisdiction to address a national problem and that confiscation of private land can be justified when it addresses a national interest. Israel deems settlers to be a local population, and, hence, they say, there is no violation of international law.

On a day by day basis, Israel perpetually seeks to erase evidence of Palestinian existence. Schools are demolished, cemeteries are damaged, crops destroyed and land leveled depriving people of food security and livelihoods. Spouses are prohibited from joining each other if, even one of them, is a foreigner.

We end on a note of good news: The first ever Israel-Africa Summit scheduled to take place in October has been called off in the aftermath of boycott threats by a number of countries and pressure against the event from Palestinians and Arab countries. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had planned to attend the conference of several dozen African nations, which he has billed a sign of Israel’s success in making new diplomatic friends in that continent.  What is Israel really looking for? Friends or a tacit pretext to exploit Africa’s rich mineral wealth?

In its arrogance, Israel is blinded by the fact that its insolence can only win it isolation. Israeli leaders would do well to buy each of their decision makers the grand old book by Dale Carnegie: “How to win friends and influence people”. Clearly, it has its narrative and political morality all over the place and it is going in no useful direction.

Ranjan Solomon

PA warns against closure of Al-Rahma entrance to Al Aqsa
The Foreign Ministry called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, currently meeting in Astana, to take “serious and operational measures based on direct action represented by cutting relations with Israel” in order to oblige it to refrain from its violations in Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority warned Israel against the permanent closure of Al-Rahma Gate, one of the entrances to Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem. Closure “aims to change the status quo on the ground” and is part of Israel’s attempts to change the historical and legal situation at Al-Aqsa Mosque. “Israel has no moral or legal right to issue judgments or decisions on behalf of the authority responsible for Islamic endowments,” the ministry insisted. “It is working to change the status quo in Al-Aqsa and to deport the responsible people and active Islamic institutions that are working to protect the Noble Sanctuary and other holy sites.” The police recommendation represents a “dangerous escalation” which will have “catastrophic repercussions,” the PA statement added.

Israeli forces demolish Palestinian primary school
 “Every child has the right to safe access to education and States have an obligation to protect, respect and fulfill this right, by ensuring that schools are inviolable safe spaces for children.”

On 9 September 2017 Israeli forces entered a village near Bethlehem where the local education authority was trying to rebuild a primary school. The troops surrounded the school and fired tear gas, stun grenades, and gunshots toward the workers and onlookers. The school, in Jubbet al-Dhib, had planning permission and was built by local authorities and international NGOs partnered with the European Union. On 24 August 2017 Israeli forces had completely demolished it and taken away equipment, including small desks and chairs, the night before its grand opening. As a result 64 children were left without a school.The European Union Representative and the EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a statement condemning the demolition of the school, along with other recent instances of Israeli authorities targeting education institutions in the occupied West Bank. The EU missions demanded that Israel halt demolitions and confiscations of Palestinian property, and those properties that have already been confiscated be returned to Palestinians.
Israel demolitions Palestinian cemetery near Jerusalem’s Old City
The fate of Jerusalem and its holy sites has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the “Judaization” of East Jerusalem.
Report from Ekklesia
Israeli forces on Monday morning demolished parts of the outer wall of a Palestinian cemetery in occupied East Jerusalem, according to local sources. Mustafa Abu Zahra, head of the committee for the preservation of Islamic cemeteries in Jerusalem, told Ma’an that bulldozers escorted by officers of Israel’s Nature And Parks Authority (INPA) demolished the western section of the al-Shuhada, or ‘martyrs’, cemetery, which is an extension of the al-Yusifiya cemetery located at the Lion’s Gate entrance of the Old City.

According to Abu Zahra, after demolishing the outer cemetery wall, bulldozers continued to work in the area before a group of Jerusalemite Palestinians arrived and “coerced the bulldozers to stop leveling the land.”

Israel blocking visas for Palestinians’ foreign spouses in West Bank
Some foreign spouses of Palestinians, people with children, have recently travelled abroad to renew their visa only to be blocked by the authorities from re-entering.
Israeli authorities are making it increasingly difficult for Palestinians’ foreign spouses to stay in the Occupied West Bank. In recent months “citizens of foreign countries who are married to Palestinian residents of the West Bank have noticed that Israel has been putting more limits on their ability to stay put.”

Some women who are married to Palestinians, who until recently received visas from the Israeli occupation authorities for six or seven months, are now being given “visas valid for just over two weeks and which must be renewed over and over”. Meetings between these women and the relevant Israeli official “led them to conclude that the arrangement of issuing year-long visas has been halted”.

According to Haaretz, “the more stringent policy came unannounced and without any explanation”. The “new rules and prohibitions…are being presented verbally to the foreign spouses,” while “the visa’s duration changes from person to person, without any clear criteria.”


Israeli forces level lands in northern Gaza Strip

Leveling of land in Gaza practice has in effect destroyed much of the agricultural and fishing sector of the blockaded coastal enclave
Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers invaded the Gaza Strip and destroyed lands in the “buffer zone”. Six bulldozers destroyed in the northern Gaza Strip with military safeguard. Israeli military incursions have long been a frequent episode. The Israeli army also frequently captures and shoots at defenseless Palestinian fishermen, shepherds, and farmers along the border areas if they are seen near the buffer zone. To keep the justification for such actions, Israel has made clear the exact area of the selected zone. The Israeli actions has had the effect of ruining much of the agricultural and fishing sector of Gaza which already suffers the ill effects of the 10-year blockade.

First Israel-Africa summit called off following boycott threats

Many Arab countries called for the summit to be cancelled, and now Israel’s Foreign Ministry is saying that the event has been “postponed” without providing an alternative date.

The first ever Israel-Africa Summit scheduled to take place in October has been called off in the aftermath of boycott threats by a number of countries and pressure against the event from Palestinians and Arab countries. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had planned to attend the conference of several dozen African nations, which he has billed a sign of Israel’s success in making new diplomatic friends in that continent.

What is Israel really looking for? Friends? Or a tacit pretext to exploit Africa’s rich mineral wealth?