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Ed Webb

The 'peace deal' will not break Bahraini-Palestinian solidarity | Middle East | Al Jazeera - 0 views

  • On September 11, 2020, the Bahraini regime announced it was normalising relations with the Palestinians’ oppressor – Israel. This brought the people of Bahrain and the people of Palestine ever closer in their experience of subjugation.
  • Gulf countries already had informal exchanges with Israel, including the purchase of military and surveillance technology to suppress local populations. Their friendly relationships were a badly kept secret. Rather it was the audacity of these ruling elites to make public the relations which go against the will of the majority of people in the Gulf that caused so much public anger.
  • there have been protests in Bahrain, and even some supporters of the regime have joined the opposition in denouncing the deal
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  • how can the normalisation of relations between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel be considered a peace deal when the three parties had never been at war? What peace is there in the continuation of an apartheid occupation of the Palestinian lands and the oppression of the Bahraini people?
  • In the Gulf, a new discourse has been promoted in the government-owned media and in political speeches and religious sermons that the biggest threat to the region and the rest of the Arab states is Iran, not Israel, and that Israel is actually an ally against the Iranian threat.
  • This “threat” narrative is used to further certain political interests; in the case of Bahrain, it is used to prop up the ruling regime and its absolute political and economic control over the country.
  • The use of past and present marginalisation and injustices Middle Eastern (Mizrahi) Jews have suffered to counter criticism of Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinians is the latest trend in Israeli hasbara. Of course, this narrative conveniently ignores the relentless oppression of Mizrahi Jews by Israel’s ruling Ashkenazi elite (Israeli Jews originating from Europe).
  • these new economic opportunities will mean more purchases of weaponry and military technology by these regimes and the import of Israeli repression tactics, which will only further entrench their tyranny and authoritarianism
  • another act of oppression against the Bahrainis, reminding them that they have no say, no freedom and no rights in their own country
  • The ruling family, which launched an attack from modern-day Qatar and took over Bahrain by force in 1783, was only able to maintain its rule through the use of force against local resistance movements and the protection of the British empire. More recently, since the 1920s, Bahrainis have had civil rights uprisings almost every decade, also naming them intifadas, in an attempt to bring down the absolute monarchy. The monarchy, in turn, has used naturalisation of foreigners to build a loyal army and police force of non-Bahrainis, while simultaneously stripping the Indigenous population of their citizenship in an attempt to change the demographics of the country.
  • The monarchy in Bahrain also moved Indigenous populations from certain parts of the country, and built either literal or symbolic barriers between Sunni and Shia areas, with the Shia ones being starkly more impoverished, less accessible and with fewer government services. There are far too many similarities in the oppression of the Bahraini and Palestinian people that renders it impossible for the two populations to not recognise themselves in each other.
  • Many Palestinians do realise that these normalisation deals do not reflect the will of the people, but of their ruling elites, which they have not elected. They themselves are oppressed by their leaders – by the authoritarian Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas authorities in Gaza
  • At the end of the day, it will be up to the Bahrainis and the Palestinians to maintain their struggles, to continue fighting while holding each other’s hands in solidarity. As the Palestinian prisoners of conscience wrote to Bahraini prisoner of conscience Abdul-Hadi al-Khawaja in an exchange of solidarity while on his hunger strike in 2012: “Your freedom is tied to our freedom and our freedom is tied to your freedom.”
Ed Webb

I Lost My Son in a Hail of Bullets at an Israeli Checkpoint | The Nation - 0 views

  • An Israeli ambulance arrived within ten minutes and treated the soldier for her light injuries. They did not treat Ahmad. The soldiers also refused access to the Palestinian ambulance that tried to reach Ahmad. 
  • My husband received a call and rushed to the scene, but the soldiers refused him the decency of holding his dying son. Israel declared Ahmad a “terrorist,” the accident a car-ramming, and concluded that the shooting was self-defense and the denial of life-saving medical treatment and familial goodbyes were justified. But there was no real investigation. 
  • No one checked the car’s black box or, apparently, read the report in Consumer Affairs detailing Hyundai accidents in South Korea and beyond since 2009. No one took note of the fact that even in times of war, incapacitated combatants are entitled to medical care. No one bothered to consider that, as much as we all hate Israel’s occupation, we love our families more, and my Ahmad would never have done this, and certainly not on his baby sister’s wedding day. Still, Israel has held his body captive, refusing us the dignity of a proper burial.
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  • In the past two years, Israeli soldiers have killed over 200 Palestinians under Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy, many for the simple act of participating in the Great March of Return, after which the Israeli authorities have attempted to smear them as terrorists. Yet, the record shows that in the vast majority of those incidents, the slain Palestinian did not even have a weapon. The United Nations Human Rights Council has found that Israeli troops lethally shoot Palestinians on “mere suspicion” or as “a precautionary measure.” And in 2018, the Israeli High Court sanctioned its shoot-to-kill policy against protesters in the Great March of Return in Gaza. Ahmad was not an aberration and, as we Palestinians know too well, he was not the first nor will he be the last to be mercilessly stolen from us.
  • We have been steadily squeezed into smaller and smaller spaces as Israeli settlements boom around us, atop our hills where settlers can watch us from above like prison guards.
  • we have already lived in a de facto annexation reality for more than 50 years
  • Our existence has impeded Israel’s vision for uninterrupted sovereignty from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. As natives, we are inconveniently in the way, and so Israel, its army, and its armed settlers take away our lives with excruciatingly painful ease
  • Republicans and some Democrats insist the US continue to unconditionally support Israel, no matter how many children they snatch away from us, how many homes they destroy, how many walls they build, how many hilltops they desecrate, and weddings they turn into funerals
  • pressure from six U.S. senators advocating on behalf of Ahmad’s paternal aunts, uncles, cousins, and extended family has been impotent in influencing Israel to simply release Ahmad’s body for burial
Ed Webb

A New 'Quartet' for Israeli-Palestinian Peace | United States Institute of Peace - 0 views

  • On July 7, Egypt, France, Germany and Jordan joined to oppose Israel’s declared intent to annex territory that it has occupied since 1967. Vital actors, including Arab states and the European Union, have been unable to stop the march toward annexation and the attendant risks of renewed violence. Yet a partnership of key Arab and European states—the latest in a string of diplomatic “quartets” on the conflict—offers a foothold on which to build.
  • the attributes of this new quartet lend it the potential for some real impact over the issue. Critically, the group combines influence in both Europe and the Arab world, and good relations with Israel and the U.S. administration.
  • The “Middle East Quartet”—combining the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations—has been less active of late than at its inception in 2002. After years in which mediation had been largely a U.S. venture, this quartet aimed to broaden the set of diplomatic brokers, and to balance American positions through inclusion of the other parties. The quartet’s most noted effort was its endorsement of the U.S.-led “roadmap to peace” in 2003—an initiative that at first spurred some optimism, but that fell apart in the mid-2000s.
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  • The second quartet—Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—was established by the Arab League in 2007 to revive peace efforts. This “Arab Quartet” also was active at first, only to become dormant amid a range of developments. These included Arab and regional instability; Saudi-Emirati preoccupation with Iran, Yemen and other regional conflicts; Egypt’s preoccupation with the Nile River negotiations with Ethiopia and Sudan, the conflict in Libya, and a number of pressing internal challenges; and a general feeling that there is very little hope to advance a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Israelis generally accord high importance to the relationship with King Abdullah of Jordan and are enthusiastic about steps toward warmer relations with the Arab World
  • The EU has said that annexation “could not pass unchallenged.” But in considering specific actions, the bloc faces difficulties in achieving the required unanimity among its 27 member states.
  • Egypt and Jordan, the only Arab countries with peace treaties with Israel, have significant influence in the Arab quartet and on the Arab position pertaining to this conflict. Similarly, France and Germany play a central role in Europe, and on EU positions within the Middle East Quartet
Ed Webb

Palestinian students battle militarization of Hebrew University - 0 views

  • A recent video clip about the Nakba and the militarization of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, put together by a left-wing student group, has led to a furious backlash by right-wing groups and politicians who claim the clip incites to violence against soldiers. One Knesset member has called for a criminal investigation, while other actors demanded that the student chapter of the socialist Hadash party, which created and published the video, be shut down.
  • makes several claims about the militarization of Hebrew University, including that many soldiers attend the university; that Palestinian students are being removed from campus dorms; and that Israeli snipers are stationed on the roofs of university buildings in order to take shots at protesters in neighboring Issawiya
  • a controversial army intelligence training program at the university that was launched last year, which grooms undergraduates for an extended stint in the IDF’s intelligence unit, and which has seen a sharp rise in the number of uniformed, armed students attending classes on campus.
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  • According to Hamad, the university administration has not made a serious effort to consider why Arab students, as well as some Jewish students, are fearful when they see uniforms and weapons on campus. “I think they don’t understand, they see soldiers as protectors and not a threat,”
  • Yassin rejects the suggestion that showing soldiers’ faces encourages attacks against them. “There was no call to harm soldiers,” he says, adding that Hadash “fights for the good of both peoples, for the Palestinian people but also for human rights in Israel that have been trampled by a militaristic discourse.”
  • the allocation of space for soldiers’ quarters has added “hundreds of soldiers to campus” as well as additional police, and that this has created the sense that the university is involved in “the repression of the Palestinian people, especially in light of [the campus’] location next to Issawiya.”
  • A lecturer at Hebrew University who asked to remain anonymous said that the number of armed soldiers on campus has increased since the army intelligence training program began last year. They further noted that some student accommodation had been cleared for the benefit of the program. Palestinians make up a relatively high proportion of dorm residents, meaning that they have been disproportionately affected by the assigning of student housing to soldiers.
Ed Webb

Cleared of Landmines for Easter, Jesus' Baptism Site Now C...... | News & Reporting | C... - 0 views

  • For the past nine years, HALO has cleared other sites in the West Bank, coordinating between Palestinians and Israelis. But there are still approximately 35 square miles of landmines in the West Bank
  • As demining progressed at Qasr al-Yahud, Israeli officials expressed optimism that pilgrims to the baptismal site would triple, as each church gained full access to its facilities.
  • COVID-19 is devastating the industry. Closing the borders to tourism may cost $1.7 billion
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  • This may be particularly painful to Palestinians in Bethlehem, where 70 percent of the economy is derived from tourism and 9 out of 10 industry workers are Christians.
Ed Webb

Israeli citizen stands trial in Jordan as tensions simmer - 0 views

  • The trial of Israeli citizen Konstantin Kotov started Dec. 2 in the State Security Court of Jordan. He stands charged with crossing illegally into Jordanian territory last October.
  • “Legitimizing settlements and moving to annex the Jordan Valley is not an Israeli decision, it is an American decision. Israel cannot take this step without US approval. Therefore, it is with the US that Jordan has a problem.”
  • Jordanian army held military exercises simulating an Israeli invasion Nov. 25. The drill was dubbed “Swords of Karama” after the battle near Karama village that Israel lost to the Jordanian army and Palestinian factions in 1968. The exercise was attended by King Abdullah and security leaders and members of parliament.
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  • On Nov. 10, Jordan recovered from Israel the Baqoura lands in the Jordan Valley by refusing to renew a 25-year lease under a peace agreement between the two countries. A day later, Abdullah publicly prayed in his military uniform.
  • According to analysts who spoke to Al-Monitor, the source of the tension lies far beyond the borders of the Middle East. It has to do with the US administration proposing its "deal of the century," which favors Israel at the expense of the peace process it purports to further. Jordan sees the two-state solution as a fair solution consistent with its interests.
  • Kotov’s trial comes in the context of high tensions between Jordan and Israel, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressing his intention to annex the Jordan Valley and repeated Israeli violations of Jordanian sovereignty over holy sites including incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque, settlement expansion and the administrative detention of Jordanian citizens in Israel.
  • “Jordan deals with Israel based on political and economic issues. It is at odds with Israel regarding the Palestinian cause but is moving forward with bilateral economic projects.”
  • Jordan has a strong relationship with members of the US Congress, but not with the administration. Abdullah has met President Donald Trump only once because of his position toward Israel.
  • A quarter of a century after the signature of the peace agreement between Jordan and Israel on Oct. 26, 1994, their relationship remains lukewarm amid popular and parliamentary demands pressuring the Jordanian regime to end it.
  • Jordan is courting the European Union to condemn Israel’s violations and face the US bias toward Israel
Ed Webb

Recognizing Israeli settlements is about sovereignty, and that's a game-changer - 0 views

  • If the Trump administration endorses annexation, a position in line with recognizing the legality of settlements, then the framework of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict changes and the issues of sovereignty and political rights will become front and center.
  • Without question, the new U.S. stance on settlements undermines international law, which is clear on the illegality of an occupying power transferring its population into occupied territory. The applicability of this tenet of the Fourth Geneva Convention to Israel-Palestine has been upheld by near-universal international consensus since the occupation began in 1967, including by the U.N. Security Council and the International Court of Justice.
  • the opinion of a single state — even the most powerful one — does not alter the law itself. As Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the U.N. Commissioner on Human Rights, responded to the Trump administration announcement, “a change in the policy of one state does not modify existing international law nor its interpretation by the International Court of Justice and Security Council.” If the rest of the world continues to adhere to the principle that the settlements are illegal, the decision will likely do more to undermine U.S. standing and leadership than the Geneva Convention or the law itself.
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  • while settlements certainly represent the largest physical obstacle to the establishment of a Palestinian state, the Trump decision hardly changes anything on this front. The U.S. has consistently failed to take action against settlements in order to protect the prospect for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Even at the height of the peace process in the 1990s, the Clinton administration permitted continued settlement-building to the point that the settler population tripled despite ongoing negotiations. While various administrations, such as those of George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama, pushed back against settlements, their efforts were never sustained and settlement-building ultimately carried on.
  • if Israeli settlements are not illegal, and Israelis are able to rightfully settle the land under Israel’s political and military control, then what does that mean for the stateless Palestinians who also live there and for Israel’s 52-year rule over them? In other words, if it is not military occupation, which undoubtedly prohibits the type of settlement that Israel has engaged in, then it is something else and the world should demand that Israel clarify its position and intentions over the territory.
  • It is, in part, the limbo of endless occupation that has doomed the Palestinians to political purgatory, without a state of their own but without citizenship in any other state. It is what differentiates Palestinians from so many other ethnic groups that live as minorities in the ethnic-national states of others. Take the Kurds, for example, who lack a state of their own but who are at the very least citizens of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and elsewhere.
  • This murkiness has also allowed Israel to gradually take physical possession of the land through a colonial process under the cover of temporary occupation, without having to offer political rights to the native inhabitants of the land who live side by side with Israeli settlers. Yet if Israel is the recognized sovereign, then it can’t take legal possession of the land without all of the inhabitants. If it doesn’t want the Palestinians, then the land needed to create a viable alternative political entity for them to fulfill their rights is needed. Israel simply cannot have it both ways.
  • While the Palestinian political leadership still fully embraces a two-state solution, the majority of public opinion has shifted away from it. That could be a game changer, especially as the Netanyahu-led government in Israel looks ready to begin annexing the settlements, at the very minimum.
Ed Webb

Why a One-State Solution is the Only Solution - 0 views

  • As he tried to rescue what had become known as “the peace process,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress that the two-state solution had one to two years left before it would no longer be viable. That was six years ago. Resolution 2334, which the UN Security Council passed with U.S. consent in late 2016, called for “salvaging the two-state solution” by demanding a number of steps, including an immediate end to Israeli settlement building in the occupied territories. That was three years ago. And since then, Israel has continued to build and expand settlements.
  • What Trump had in mind has become clear in the years that have followed, as he and his team have approved a right-wing Israeli wish list aimed at a one-state outcome—but one that will enshrine Israeli dominance over Palestinian subjects, not one that will grant the parties equal rights. 
  • Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has abandoned any pretense of seeking a two-state solution, and public support for the concept among Israelis has steadily dwindled. Palestinian leaders continue to seek a separate state. But after years of failure and frustration, most Palestinians no longer see that path as viable.
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  • Netanyahu and Trump are seeking not to change the status quo but merely to ratify it
  • the only moral path forward is to recognize the full humanity of both peoples
  • Between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea live approximately 13 million people, all under the control of the Israeli state. Roughly half of them are Palestinian Arabs, some three million of whom live under a military occupation with no right to vote for the government that rules them and around two million of whom live in Israel as second-class citizens, discriminated against based on their identity, owing to Israel’s status as a Jewish state. Two million more Palestinians live in the besieged Gaza Strip, where the militant group Hamas exercises local rule: an open-air prison walled off from the world by an Israeli blockade.
  • the dilemmas posed by partition long predate 1967 and stem from a fundamentally insoluble problem. For the better part of a century, Western powers—first the United Kingdom and then the United States—have repeatedly tried to square the same circle: accommodating the Zionist demand for a Jewish-majority state in a land populated overwhelmingly by Palestinians. This illogical project was made possible by a willingness to dismiss the humanity and rights of the Palestinian population and by sympathy for the idea of creating a space for Jews somewhere outside Europe—a sentiment that was sometimes rooted in an anti-Semitic wish to reduce the number of Jews in the Christian-dominated West.
  • among Jewish Israelis, annexation is not a controversial idea. A recent poll showed that 48 percent of them support steps along the lines of what Netanyahu proposed; only 28 percent oppose them. Even Netanyahu’s main rival, the centrist Blue and White alliance, supports perpetual Israeli control of the Jordan Valley. Its leaders’ response to Netanyahu’s annexation plan was to complain that it had been their idea first. 
  • one national intelligence estimate drawn up by U.S. agencies judged that if Israel continued the occupation and settlement building for “an extended period, say two to three years, it will find it increasingly difficult to relinquish control.” Pressure to hold on to the territories “would grow, and it would be harder to turn back to the Arabs land which contained such settlements.” That estimate was written more than 50 years ago, mere months after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank began. Nevertheless, Israel has forged ahead with its expansion and has enjoyed unflinching U.S. support, even as Israeli officials periodically warned about its irreversibility. 
  • Under Oslo, the Palestinians have had to rely on the United States to treat Israel with a kind of tough love that American leaders, nervous about their domestic support, have never been able to muster.
  • As the failure of the peace process became clearer over time, Palestinians rose up against the occupation—sometimes violently. Israel pointed to those reactions to justify further repression. But the cycle was enabled by Palestinian leaders who resigned themselves to having to prove to Israel’s satisfaction that Palestinians were worthy of self-determination—something to which all peoples are in fact entitled.
  • Today, large numbers of Israelis support keeping much of the occupied territories forever
  • the nakba—the “catastrophe.” The 19 years that followed might be the only time in the past two millennia that the land of Palestine was actually divided. None of the great powers who had ruled over the territory—the Romans, the Byzantines, the Umayyads, the Abbasids, the Fatimids, the crusaders, the Ayyubids, the Mameluks, the Ottomans, the British—had ever divided Gaza from Jerusalem, Nablus from Nazareth, or Jericho from Jaffa. Doing so never made sense, and it still doesn’t. Indeed, when Israel took control of the territories in 1967, it actually represented a return to a historical norm of ruling the land as a single unit. But it did so with two systems, one for Jewish Israelis and the other for the people living on the land that the Israelis had conquered.
  • in the wake of the Holocaust, a UN partition plan presented a similar vision, with borders drawn to create a Jewish-majority state and with the Palestinians again divided into multiple entities. 
  • This formulation contained a fundamental flaw, one that would mar all future partition plans, as well: it conceived of the Jews as a people with national rights but did not grant the same status to the Palestinians. The Palestinian population could therefore be moved around and dismembered, because they were not a people deserving of demographic cohesion.
  • Actual progress in the talks would threaten Jewish control of the land, something that has proved more important to Israel than democracy.
  • Having led the armed struggle against Israel for decades, Yasir Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization was known and accepted by ordinary Palestinians. By the late 1980s, however, the group had become a shell of its former self. Already isolated by its exile in Tunisia, the PLO became even weaker in 1990 after its wealthy patrons in the Gulf cut funding when Arafat backed Saddam Hussein’s grab for Kuwait. On the ground in the territories, meanwhile, the first intifada—a grassroots revolt against the occupation—was making news and threatening to displace the PLO as the face of Palestinian resistance. By embracing the Oslo process, Arafat and his fellow PLO leaders found a personal path back to influence and relevance—while trapping the Palestinian community in a bind that has held them back ever since.
  • The time has come for the Palestinian Authority to abandon its advocacy of a two-state solution, an idea that has become little more than a fig leaf for the United States and other great powers to hide behind while they allow Israel to proceed with de facto apartheid.
  • Some will object that such a shift in strategy would undercut the hard-won consensus, rooted in decades of activism and international law, that the Palestinians have a right to their own state. That consensus, however, has produced little for the Palestinians. Countless UN resolutions have failed to stop Israeli settlements or gain Palestinians a state, so they wouldn’t be losing much. And in a one-state solution worthy of the name, Palestinians would win full equality under the law, so they would be gaining a great deal. 
  • A poll conducted last year by the University of Maryland found that Americans were roughly evenly split between supporting a two-state solution and supporting a one-state solution with equal rights for all inhabitants. Yet when asked what they preferred if a two-state solution were not possible (which it isn’t), the status quo or one state with equal rights, they chose the latter by a two-to-one margin. 
  • Israelis would benefit from a shift to such a state, as well. They, too, would gain security, stability, and growth, while also escaping international isolation and reversing the moral rot that the occupation has produced in Israeli society. At the same time, they would maintain connections to historical and religious sites in the West Bank. Most Israelis would far prefer to perpetuate the status quo. But that is just not possible. Israel cannot continue to deny the rights of millions of Palestinians indefinitely and expect to remain a normal member of the international community.
  • not only a new state but also a new constitution. That would both demonstrate their commitment to democracy and highlight Israel’s lack of the same. When the country was founded in 1948, Zionist leaders were trying to expedite the arrival of more Jews, prevent the return of Palestinians, and seize as much land as possible. They had no interest in defining citizenship criteria, rights, or constraints on government power. So instead of writing a constitution, the Jewish state instituted a series of “basic laws” in an ad hoc fashion, and these have acquired some constitutional weight over time.
  • Israelis and Palestinians should work together to craft a constitution that would uphold the rights of all.
  • despite national narratives and voices on either side that claim otherwise, both peoples have historical ties to the land
  • A new constitution could offer citizenship to all the people currently living in the land between the river and the sea and to Palestinian refugees and would create pathways for immigrants from elsewhere to become citizens. All citizens would enjoy full civil and political rights, including the freedom of movement, religion, speech, and association. And all would be equal before the law: the state would be forbidden from discriminating on the basis of ethnicity or religion.
  • they would be subject to a very high bar for amendment—say, a requirement of at least 90 percent approval in the legislative branch. This would ensure that basic rights could not be altered by means of a simple majority and would prohibit any one group from using a demographic advantage to alter the nature of the state.
  • the new state would also need a truth-and-reconciliation process focused on restorative justice
  • How many more decades of failure must we endure before we can safely conclude that partition is a dead end?
Ed Webb

Israel planning new settlement in flashpoint Hebron city | Israeli-Palestinian conflict... - 0 views

  • Israel's defence minister has approved plans for the building of a new illegal settlement in the heart of the flashpoint city of Hebron, drawing sharp criticism from Palestinian officials.
  • Naftali Bennett had instructed departments responsible for the occupied West Bank "to notify the Hebron municipality of planning a new Jewish neighbourhood in the wholesale market complex"
  • The market area is on Hebron's once-bustling Shuhada Street, the Old City's main commercial artery. It has been shut down by the Israeli army since 1994, forcing many businesses to close.
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  • Hebron is holy to both Muslims and Jews and is a flashpoint for clashes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers, who are heavily guarded and usually protected by armed Israeli soldiers.
  • Hebron Mayor Taysir Abu Sneineh warned that the "dangerous" decision by the defence ministry would lead to escalations in the "entire region", Wafa news agency said. He added that the Hebron municipality, under instructions from the Palestinian leadership, will exert "all its efforts" to protect Palestinian land and preserve the property and presence of its citizens.
  • Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank, was divided into two areas and forms of control in 1997 - H1 and H2. With some 200,000 Palestinians living in the area, H1 is under the control of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority. Some 33,000 Palestinians reside in H2, alongside several hundred Jewish settlers who live under Israeli civil law. In the H2 area, Palestinians live under Israeli military control, with their freedom of movement heavily restricted due to the presence of checkpoints and the imposition of curfews.
  • According to several UN Security Council resolutions, the most recent in 2016, Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its population to the area it occupies.
Ed Webb

The Deportation of Omar Shakir: The Israeli Supreme Court and the BDS Movement - Lawfare - 0 views

  • Two judgments handed down just days apart—one by the Israeli Supreme Court and the other by the European Court of Justice—highlight a growing jurisprudential divide between Israeli and international courts on the status of Israeli settlements in the West Bank
  • On Nov. 12, the European Court of Justice ruled that Israeli food products from the West Bank and Golan Heights must be explicitly labeled as coming from “Israeli settlements,” rather than from Israel itself. The ruling, which cited European Union regulations designed to allow consumers to make informed choices about their food purchases, held that since international humanitarian law limits Israeli jurisdiction in these territories to that of an “occupying power,” it would be misleading to represent such products as being “from Israel.”
  • stakes of the long-anticipated Israeli Supreme Court judgment in Human Rights Watch v. Interior Minister, handed down just a week earlier. In its judgment, the court upheld a government decision to expel Human Rights Watch’s (HRW’s) Israel and Palestine director, Omar Shakir, from the country, based on a law barring entry by foreigners who promote boycotts of Israel or its West Bank settlements. The case marked the first time the court was called upon to rule on the law’s application to boycott-related activities directed primarily at the settlements, rather than at Israel itself.
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  • In 2015, in Avneri v. The Knesset, a divided court upheld most of the 2011 law, striking down a provision providing for punitive damages in civil tort cases and construing the law narrowly in order to limit liability to instances where there is a proven causal link to concrete damage. (For more on Avneri, see here and here.) Most significantly for our purposes, a majority of justices in Avneri upheld the law’s contentious provision (which applies equally to the 2017 amendment), equating settlement boycotts to boycotts against Israel as a whole.
  • A boycott directed at an individual company due to its specific behavior, by contrast (for example, because it engaged in discrimination or in some other problematic activity), would not risk running afoul of the law.
  • If actively promoting HRW’s stance on settlements is enough to demonstrate ongoing promotion of boycotts, any new employee could face similar consequences. Israeli employees of HRW, too, could face civil or administrative ramifications simply for implementing HRW’s stated policy of calling on businesses “to stop operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank as part of their duty to avoid complicity in human rights abuses.”
  • Back in 2016, when HRW first requested a foreign expert visa for Shakir, an American citizen, the Foreign Ministry objected on the grounds that HRW itself was biased against Israel, “falsely waving the flag of human rights” in the service of “Palestinian propaganda.” Shortly thereafter, the ministry withdrew its objection, citing political and diplomatic considerations, and the Interior Ministry granted Shakir his visa. An administrative petition by the right-leaning organization Shurat HaDin, among others, led to an additional reversal, and the visa was revoked. The new decision was based on a memorandum issued by the Strategic Affairs Ministry (charged in Israel with heading up the fight against BDS), which argued that the problem was Shakir himself—who had called in the past for boycotts of Israel and the settlements—rather than HRW
  • The appellants, for their part, challenged the constitutionality of the 2017 amendment, arguing that even though foreigners don’t have a right to enter the country, they should not be denied a visa or fear deportation for expressing unpopular views. Mainly, they claimed, the law violates the free speech and equality rights of Israelis (and Palestinians), whose ability to engage freely with foreigners the government doesn’t agree with is limited by the law. They also argued that Shakir’s activities—particularly those undertaken on behalf of HRW—shouldn’t be considered boycott activities, since they were motivated by a desire to combat specific human rights violations and to encourage private corporations to respect their human rights obligations under international law
  • While once again acknowledging that the law doesn’t apply to boycotts targeting specific behaviors, the court stated: An individual who negates the very legitimacy of the State of Israel or its control of the Area, and seeks to undermine it through a boycott, is [included in the law], even if he disguises his position with the rhetoric of human rights or international law. The test is a substantive one, and the words the de-legitimization campaign wraps itself in do not grant it immunity.
  • Several amici from both sides of the political spectrum, including NGO Monitor, Shurat HaDin and Amnesty International, submitted briefs to the court. A group of former foreign service officials also joined the proceedings as amici, arguing that removing Shakir would cause substantial and lasting damage to Israel’s image as an open and democratic society.
  • In Human Rights Watch, the court clarified that what is at stake is also, potentially, the “delegitimization of Israel and of its policy” (emphasis added).
  • the boycott laws, coupled with the court’s continued acquiescence to the law’s conflation of Israel with Israeli settlements, threaten to impair the ability of citizens and noncitizens alike to engage in free discourse on one of the most difficult issues facing the country. They risk undermining the ability of human rights groups to defend human rights and promote respect for international law when their positions and interpretations of the law do not align with those of the Israeli government. They also threaten to further erode the all-important distinction in a democracy between delegitimization of the country itself and criticism of government policy
  • a growing disconnect between the discourse on settlements in Israel (and now, perhaps, the United States) and abroad
Ed Webb

Will Hamas accept Israeli incentives? - 0 views

  • hortly after Hamas announced its disengagement from the recent confrontation, Haaretz reported Nov. 14 that the Israeli army and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) advised the government to provide Gaza with economic incentives. The newspaper reported that Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett supports this step
  • On Nov. 16, Israel allowed the entry of dozens of oil trucks into the Gaza Strip, expanded the fishing zone from 6 to 12 nautical miles and reopened its border crossings, after it had closed them Nov. 12 following the unrest in Gaza.
  • A Hamas official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “The incentives for Gaza mentioned in Haaretz were agreed upon as part of humanitarian understandings between the resistance and Israel, with Egyptian, Qatari and UN brokerage that started in October 2018. They are not related to the recent Israeli aggression on Gaza or Hamas’ stance. We are [still] waiting for the Israeli promises to alleviate Gaza’s suffering to materialize.”
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  • Looser Israeli measures toward Gaza might be an attempt to push Hamas into holding on to its self-restraint policy and not to engage in any future military escalation. But this might not happen for two reasons: First, the ongoing exchange of threats between the two sides and Hamas’ conviction that Israel is getting ready to attack; second, the rampant political crisis in Israel and new elections being scheduled for February 2020, for the third time in less than a year. As a result, the current Israeli government would be unable to implement looser policies in the Gaza Strip.
  • Hussam al-Dujni, political science professor at Umma University, told Al-Monitor, “There are two possibilities regarding why Hamas did not engage in the latest round of fighting. First, it might have realized that its participation would lead to violent Israeli aggression on Gaza, which would last for weeks and result in economic and human losses, further burdening Hamas. Second, Hamas and Islamic Jihad might not see eye to eye regarding the method of response to Abu el-Atta’s assassination.”
Ed Webb

Is Jordan Valley's annexation already on the way? - 0 views

  • The campaign for the next election is yet to get underway, but it is expected to be uglier and nastier than its predecessors. It most certainly will feature the indictments that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced Nov. 21 against Netanyahu for bribery and other corruption-related charges. The annexation of the Jordan Valley is another issue expected to top the political agenda.
  • New Right leader Ayelet Shaked is a challenger for credit for the annexation idea. When Shaked served as justice minister, she planted the first seeds for West Bank annexation together with her political partner, Naftali Bennett. Justice Minister Shaked pushed to impose Israeli law on the West Bank, or in other words, full annexation, period.
  • “The historic decision of the American administration yesterday [Nov. 18] gives us a one-time-only chance to determine the eastern border of the state of Israel and annex the Jordan Valley,” Netanyahu proclaimed in the video. “This cannot be done by a minority government dependent on [Arab Joint List leaders] Ahmad Tibi and Ayman Odeh. Therefore, I call upon Benny Gantz to come together with me and with [Yisrael Beitenu leader] Avigdor Liberman to establish a unity government: The first item of this government, on the first day of the new government, is annexation of the Jordan Valley. The nation, and history, will not forgive anyone who squanders such a golden opportunity.”
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  • The Joint List's Tibi had been in touch with Blue and White in recent weeks regarding a possible minority government. He believes that the timing of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement that the settlements do not violate international law is not coincidental. According to Tibi, President Donald Trump did not hide the fact that he favored Netanyahu in the September elections in Israel. With his friend in Jerusalem still in distress, why not give Netanyahu a little push to help him in the competition for right-wing votes? “This is an election gift from a president undergoing an impeachment inquiry to a prime minister who was toppled,”
  • it seems that annexation of the Jordan Valley is on its way, with the encouragement of the Trump administration
Ed Webb

By labeling Arabs an 'existential threat,' Bibi invokes a terrifying history of ethnic ... - 0 views

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a bitter struggle to prevent his challenger from establishing a government with support from the Arab-led Joint List party, has again accused Arab party leaders of representing an existential threat to Israel. On Sunday night, Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh responded by circulating a photo on social media of himself in pajamas, reading stories to his three doting kids. “At the end of a long day, I’ve got to put these existential threats to sleep!” he wrote, to viral delight.
  • Netanyahu’s frenzied anti-Arab diatribes are accelerating in pace and severity. In 2015 he warned that Arab citizens were voting “in droves.” Prior to the September election, his Facebook page stated that “Arab politicians want to destroy us all.” (Netanyahu said it was a campaign staffer’s mistake.) On Sunday, Netanyahu held an “emergency” meeting of Likud members (the emergency was not a rain of rockets but the possibility of a minority coalition backed by the Joint List). There he thundered that the rival Blue and White party was negotiating with the Arab MKs, who, he insisted, “support terror organizations and want to destroy the state.”
  • conflating Iran’s “existential threat” with Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel mimics the ideological rhetoric behind some of the worst ethnic violence in the world
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  • The conflation of genuine grievances with obsessive repetition of imminent existential threat should terrify everyone.
  • In a way, Netanyahu’s fantasies are even more egregious. They lack any basis of actual injury by Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, historical or present. This group is never involved in organizational terror, and individual incidents are exceedingly rare. The community has no secessionist tendencies, has participated in the Israeli political process for decades, and repeatedly states its desire for greater political, civil, and economic integration. The one demand that challenges Israeli Jews is symbolic: preservation of their battered Palestinian identity. The great political demand associated with that identity is their call to release Palestinians in the territories from a five-decade military occupation and allow their independence.
Ed Webb

Blight on the landscape: 'Racist' Israeli cable car set to wreck Jerusalem's skyline | ... - 0 views

  • Aviv Tatarsky of Ir Amim, an Israeli NGO researching the Israeli-Palestinians conflict over Jerusalem, told MEE that a cable car is not the answer to the heavy traffic and that the project has political layers aimed at giving legitimacy to settlers in the area. Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since the 1967 Middle East war, and settled hundreds of its citizens there in contravention of international law. The Old City and the adjacent neighbourhood of Silwan lie in the city's east, which the Palestinians seek as the capital of any future state. “The project is a way to whitewash Israel’s taking of areas in Silwan to use for archaeological and touristic reasons," Tatarsky said.
  • Some 2,500 Israeli settlers live in the East Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Silwan, Ras al-Amud and Sheikh Jarrah, dwarfed by the 150,000 Palestinian residents there. In Silwan, 500 settlers live under heavy police and private security protection, among 25,000 Palestinians.
  • Several Palestinian families that have lived in Silwan for generations have been evicted from the area by Israel to create an archaeological park there and accommodate Jewish settlers.
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  • “We've waited 2,000 years [to return] to the Western Wall, and it's impossible that heavy traffic prevents thousands of people from praying, visiting and taking part in military and national ceremonies that are taking place there,” Kahlon said
  • “It will block and disturb the panorama of the Old City, including Muslim and Christian buildings, and this is what the occupation wants, to cover the historical buildings that prove other people exist in Jerusalem,”
  • Emek Shaveh, an Israeli archaeological NGO, said in a video that hard-to-access sites in Venice and the Acropolis in Athens did not lead to installing a cable car in these tourist cities. The NGO, which is appealing the housing cabinet decision, warned that the historic centre of Jerusalem, which is packed with centuries-old buildings, will be blighted by the modern cable car.
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