Annexation is in the air

The Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territory Occupied Since 1967, Michael Lynk, speaks at UN Headquarters in New York City, October 26, 2017

A warning about imminent annexation of the West Bank was given on Tuesday by UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories S. Michael Lynk, on the eve of his delivery of his annual report to the General Assembly.

He was introduced by Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies Rashid Khalidi, with commentary by Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Diala Shamas. The talk was co-sponsored by the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University and the Department of Middle East, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University

Lynk, law professor at Western University, London, Ontario, distributed a draft of his report to the General Assembly, warning of the trends to annexation, to the audience for his talk at Columbia Law School, “Annexing the Future: Israel, Palestine and International Law.”

Much of the report itemizes the legal and political trends in Israel that point to formal annexation, including the Knesset’s March 2017 settlement Regularization Law and this year’s Nation-State Law, which in combination build a foundation for expanding sovereignty to the entire “Land of Israel.”

Israeli parties and politicians are expressing aspirations for annexation, and there is higher and higher public approval in the Israeli public.

The UN human rights monitor said that he has not been permitted to enter the Occupied Palestinian territory by Israel since his appointment in March 2016, and visits Amman, Jordan, to receive reports and confer with Israeli and Palestinian human rights activists and witnesses.

He said that  “annexation trends in the occupied territories, particularly with respect to the West Bank, are quickening, and annexation is in the air, and formal annexation may be occurring sooner than we are thinking.”

He gave the audience his five conclusions pointing to annexation, saying the Oslo process was based on the idea that Occupation and rule over Palestinians is “not sustainable” for Israel, as a self-evident truth. “However, [Prime Minister] Netanyahu has stated that he is only willing to concede a “Palestinian State-minus, with all of the settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley remaining Israeli possessions,”

I think here, as part of my closing remarks, might be a good time to revisit Oslo’s assumption about sustainability, which is premised on the supposedly irreducible fact that Israel has no demographic or political choice but to withdraw from all or most of the occupied territory and allow a sovereign Palestinian state to emerge if it is to retain its Jewish character and democratic values.

It’s my point that this working assumption about sustainability is being left behind by the galloping realities of the occupation, and I might cite just five examples for you:

First, I think this assumption fails to account for the creative thinking among the ascendant Israeli right — that it can comfortably live with the model of permanent rule over the Palestinians that would deny them citizenship and democratic rights.

Secondly, I say that overlooks the striking degree of control that Israel exercises over the Palestinians, as it confines them to smaller, denser, and more fragmented islands of land through a sophisticated security method of walls, checkpoints, control over the population registry, and overwhelming military superiority.

Third, I think this assumption overestimates the willingness of the Oslo sponsors — particularly Europe, which is Israel’s largest trading partner, and America, its military and diplomatic patron — to challenge Israel with any meaningful consequences should it retreat, as it has, from any lingering commitment to a genuine two-state solution.

Fourth, it disregards Oslo’s escape clauses that have allowed Israel to pocket the cost-free features of the occupation, the large amounts of European and international aid to fund the Palestinians, and the annual $3.8 billion dollar military package that the United States gives to Israel, while Israel continues to thicken its presence throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and continues the blockade of Gaza.

And finally, I think, this assumption begs the question of whether a genuine two-state solution was ever possible in the absence of the international community’s political will to enforce the clear obligations and prohibitions of international law that could have stemmed Israel’s revanchism over the last half century.

Lynk pointed to the reprieve of the village of Khan al-Ahmar as giving him hope, protected by the work of Jewish and Palestinian human rights activists and civil society organizations. “They are the bridge to each other. They all speak the language of human rights. They are fluent in it. And the work they do is highly professional, and to me they are the genesis of what a future society, either a genuine two-state solution or a one-state democratic solution, could wind up looking like in Israel and Palestine. They give me hope, or else I would have left the job some time ago, because it’s dreary and it’s soul-destroying to tell you all this depressing news without telling you there is some hope for some optimism, some rainbow beyond all this,” he said.

(Source / 26.10.2018)

Joint List members make solidarity visit to Khan Al-Ahmar

Arab member of the Israeli Knesset visited the Khan Al-Ahmar Bedouin village on 25 October 2018 [Ma'an News Agency]

Arab member of the Israeli Knesset visited the Khan Al-Ahmar Bedouin village on 25 October 2018

Arab member of the Israeli Knesset yesterday visited the Khan Al-Ahmar Bedouin village, east of Jerusalem, in solidarity with residents who have been threatened with eviction.

MKs Massoud Ghanayim, Abed Al-Hakim Hajj Yahiya, Talab Abu Arar and Said Al-Khawarizmi were received by a local committee at Khan Al-Ahmar who updated them on the latest development regarding the village’s situation.

The MKs expressed their solidarity and support of residents of Khan Al-Ahmar against the Israeli occupation’s bulldozers.

On Sunday, MK Neven Abu Rahmoun, of the Joint List, said during a similar visit to Khan Al-Ahmar “My heart goes out to the village residents who have been anxious for months about their fate and the fate of their children.”

Read: Netanyahu accepted alternative plan for Khan Al-Ahmar

“They have invested all their resources in a legal and public struggle for their right to live in dignity.”

Abu Rahmoun said:

We will continue to stand by the residents in their struggle, and will not remain silent in the face of the government’s efforts to expel natives from their homes in favour of settlements and the annexation of the territories.

In September, the Israeli High Court rejected an appeal against the demolition of the village and ruled in favour of its evacuation and demolition.

The B’Tselem human rights organisation said in a statement that “this ruling shows once again that those under occupation cannot seek justice in the occupier’s courts. If the demolition of the community of Khan Al-Ahmar goes ahead, the Supreme [High] Court Justices will be among those who will bear responsibility for this war crime.”

Khan Al-Ahmar has been under threat of demolition by Israeli forces since July; the demolition would leave more than 35 Palestinian families displaced, as part of an Israeli plan to expand the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Adummim.

Read: Israel delays eviction of West Bank Bedouin village Khan Al-Ahmar

(Source / 26.10.2018)

Israel demolishes Al-Araqeeb for 135th time, arrests residents

Israeli occupation forces demolition the Arab Negev village of Al-Araqeeb for the 130th time [Arab48]

Israeli occupation forces demolition the Arab Negev village of Al-Araqeeb for the 130th time

Israeli forces have demolished the village of Al-Araqeeb in the occupied Negev desert for the 135th time, local sources reported yesterday.

Al-Araqeeb’s residents told Arab48 that Israeli bulldozers, reinforced and protected by the occupation forces, stormed the village and proceeded to demolish all the Palestinian houses and tents there, displacing women and children despite the “cold weather and rain”.

After the demolition was completed, the residents added, Israeli forces arrested four of the village’s inhabitants, including Sheikh Al-Araqeeb, Sheikh Sayah Al-Turi, Aziz Sabah and his wife, and Selim Mohammed Abu Medegham, for allegedly “obstructing the work of police and the demolition crews”.

The locals explained that the detainees were transferred by occupation forces to a detention centre for interrogation.

Earlier this week, scores of Palestinians, including officials, demonstrated in support of Al-Araqeeb.

Read: Palestinians in Israel come out in support of Al-Araqeeb

The Negev village of Al-Araqeeb was first razed in 2010 under pretexts that it was built without the needed licenses. The last demolition was carried out earlier this month.

Al-Araqeb is one of 35 “unrecognised” Bedouin villages. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Bedouins in the Negev reside in unrecognised villages.

The unrecognised Bedouin villages were established in the Negev soon after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war following the creation of the State of Israel.

Right groups say that the demolition of unrecognised Bedouin villages is a central Israeli policyaimed at removing the indigenous Palestinian population from the Negev and transferring them to government-zoned townships to make room for the expansion of Jewish Israeli communities.

INTERVIEW: ‘I became an invader in my own land’ — a Palestinian Bedouin’s struggle

Israel demolishes Al-Araqeeb Village - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

(Source / 26.10.2018)

Israel investigates Iron Dome’s failure to stop rockets

File photo of the 'Iron Dome' missile defence system firing an interceptor missile. The 'Iron Dome' system was funded entirely by the US, for exclusive use by Israel

File photo of the ‘Iron Dome’ missile defence system firing an interceptor missile. The ‘Iron Dome’ system was funded entirely by the US, for exclusive use by Israel

The Israeli army will investigate the Iron Dome missile defence system’s failure to intercept a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night, Israeli radio station KAN reported.

The station said yesterday that this is the third time in a row that the Israeli defence system has failed to intercept rockets fired from Gaza in recent days, adding that a few weeks ago the system automatically launched missiles without reason.

“The Iron Dome wasn’t meant to intercept the rocket that landed last night in Eshkol. [The rocket] was heading toward open land,” the Israeli army spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis told the Army Radio yesterday.

The Israeli air force yesterday carried out eight air strikes on three sites in the north and south of the Gaza Strip.

Read: Saudi Arabia buys Iron Dome defence system from Israel

The Iron Dome, Israeli military systems which intercept missiles - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

(Source / 26.10. 2018)

Palestine accuses Israel of falsifying Palestinian curriculum in Jerusalem schools

Palestinian students attend activities during a summer camp, organized by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) at Zaitoun School in Gaza City, Gaza on 18 July, 2017 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian students attend activities during a summer camp, organized by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) at Zaitoun School in Gaza City, Gaza on 18 July, 2017

Palestinian Education Minister Sabri Sidem accused Israel, Thursday, of “falsifying” the Palestinian curriculum in schools in occupied Jerusalem.

Sidem said in a news conference held at the ministry’s headquarters in Ramallah that “the Israeli authorities printed distorted copies of the Palestinian curriculum and distributed them to the schools supervised by the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem.”

He pointed out that the distortion affected “all the curricula issued by the Palestinian Curriculum Development Centre.”

“The occupation authorities removed the Palestinian flag from all books covers, the Palestinian keffiyeh, and the name of the State of Palestine and its Eagle Logo as well as the phrase ‘Ministry of Education and Higher Education,’” he clarified.

‘A cruel choice’: Why Israel targets Palestinian schools

He added that Israel “removed paragraphs and replaced them with others which support the Israeli case, in an attempt to obliterate the Palestinian version.”

During the conference, the minister announced the launch of “the national campaign against the policies of the occupation against Palestinian education in the Holy City,” in order to address “the serious falsification of the Palestinian curricula content and the act of reprinting them with distorted contents and imposing them on the schools of Jerusalem.”

Israel, which has occupied the city of East Jerusalem since 1967, seeks to impose the Israeli curriculum on Palestinian schools, in a move that the Palestinian Authority rejects.

(Source / 26.10.2018)

The Israeli Myth of the Uncivilised Palestinian

Palestinian women demonstrate to draw attention to Israeli blockade on Gaza, on the event as part of the International Women's Day, in Gaza City, Gaza on March 09, 2017. ( Mohammed Talatene - Anadolu Agency )

Dr Mohammad Makram Balawi

Recently, in another shocking incident, Israel’s Culture Minister Miri Regev was outraged by a Palestinian children’s novel written by Walid Dagga, a Palestinian prisoner who spent more than thirty years in jail for resisting the occupation. In her opinion, he is in jail not to write novels but to be punished. This might cause shock to some, but this falls perfectly in line with how Israel’s official discourse stereotypes Palestinians: as mere demons who are able only to kill indiscriminately. Writing novels? Well, this does not fit in this stereotype.

Israel’s Minister of Interior, Aryeh Deri, prevented a launching ceremony for the novel being held in the writer’s home village. The Israel Prison Service declared that it will conduct a full investigation into the incident and punish the writer, who has already spent 34 years in prison.

Ironically, a few months ago Walid was punished by Israeli authorities by adding two more years to his sentence because he “conspired” with a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament, Basel Ghattas, to smuggle mobile phones into prison. The news told us “an Israeli court convicted Ghattas on charges of fraud, breach of trust and smuggling a prohibited letter and electronic equipment into a prison. He was sentenced to two years in jail. An earlier charge of providing material support for the perpetration of an act of terror was removed as part of the deal and Ghattas was also forced to resign from his post”.

Why did Ghattas do it? He gave a simple answer in an article published by Middle East Eye: “It was a personal act, motivated only by humanitarian and moral reasons, for which I’m ready to take full responsibility […] One of the most severe atrocities that Palestinian prisoners endure is the denial of their right to communicate with their families and relatives by phone and the limitations that Israeli authorities put on the visitors they can receive”. He added: “Prisoners have only been allowed to see first-degree relatives every two weeks, although thanks to a new International Red Cross policy, that will be reduced to once a month”.

READ: Israel: Bill banning family visits passes first reading

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how Israel’s military intentionally targets Palestinian media workers covering the demonstrations on the Gaza fence, many of whom were killed by direct sniper shots hundreds of metres away from the fence. I also wrote, in another article, about how Israel’s court tried Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour and sentenced her to two years in prison for writing a poem reflecting her sympathy for the tragedy of her fellow Palestinians. I also mentioned Lama Khater, a Palestinian journalist, writer and a mother of 5 children, who was arrested at her home in the middle of the night and accused of building an armed terrorist organisation. These are not isolated incidents, but rather represent a mind-set and systematic practice based on pre-prepared plans.

This might explain why most renowned Palestinian poets spent part of their lives behind Israeli bars, had to go into self-exile or were assassinated. Israel never hated anyone more than Palestinian intellectuals and artists, because they are living proof that its narrative is completely fictional.

Even those Palestinian writers and artists who lived outside their homeland were targeted by Israel’s secret service – Mossad – and killed. Palestinian collective memory retains many stories in this regard, such as that of Ghassan Kanafani, Abdel Wael Zwaiter, Kamal Nasser, Majed Abu Sharar and many others.

READ: Photo exhibition highlights Israel’s violations against journalists in Gaza

Even when Palestinians are able to overcome Israeli restrictions and resentment to succeed, Israel wants to share their success. Israel insists on calling them Arab-Israelis, implying that it cherishes diversity and encourages “its Arab citizens” to unleash their potential. The Joubran Brothers, better known as Le Trio Joubran – an oud trio playing traditional Palestinian music – use every occasion to stress their Palestinian-ness, dedicating their work to a free Palestine and to their people who suffer under occupation. Yet, in the Israeli media they are referred to as Arab-Israelis and the same applies to Mahmoud Darwish, Samih Al-Qasim and many others.

The “Jewish Nation State Law” recently endorsed by the Israeli parliament leaves no doubt about the nature of this so-called state. Only followers of one religion – Judaism – are eligible to full citizenship and national rights, including the right of self-determination. Why? Because this is a Jewish State. The rest are only temporary residents according to Dore Gold, Israel’s former Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a key ally and close adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. When he was asked in an interview with Mehdi Hasan if Palestinian citizens also have a right to self-determination under the Nation State Law or only Jewish citizens, Gold answered: “Nope. Canadian immigrants in America don’t and nor do Mexican immigrants”.

This is a hatred mixed with envy because, deep in their hearts, Zionists know that even if they live for two thousand years or more on this land, they will never be able to love it and sacrifice for it as Palestinians do. They will never be able to get drunk on the smell of the soil, befriend little birds, memorise the face of each and every herb, shrub and bush on the hills, give names to the slightest blow of air and absorb the rays of the Palestinian sun on their skin. This land is not a production unit that you monitor from your air-conditioned villas with drone cameras. It is a story of thousands of years of love between two living beings – only the children of the soil understand.

READ: PLO: Israel practices ‘systematic aggression’ against Palestinian rights

(Source / 26.10.2018)

Zionist warplanes carried out an airstrikes’ campaign across the besieged Gaza Strip

GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — Israeli warplanes carried out an airstrikes’ campaign across the besieged Gaza Strip, predawn Thursday.

Local sources said, according to Ma’an, that Israeli warplanes fired two missiles towards a military site belonging to the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, in Rafah district, in southern Gaza.

Sources confirmed that Israeli warplanes targeted a site in Khan Younis district, also in southern Gaza.

Israeli warplanes also targeted a site in al-Shiekh Zayid City, in northern Gaza.

No injuries were reported, however, the airstrikes led to extensive material damages in the targeted areas.

Hebrew-language news outlets reported that Israeli warplanes carried out eight airstrikes targeting Hamas sites, after one shell was fired from Gaza towards Israeli communities surrounding the Strip had landed in the Eshkol Regional Council.

The shells reportedly exploded in an open area; no injuries or damages were reported.

Sources added that the Israeli army spokesperson issued an official statement following the airstrikes, claiming that among the sites targeted were a military compound, a training camp and a weapons storage facility belonging to Hamas.

No response from Hamas officials was given.

(Source / 26.10.2018)

Khader Adnan’s health condition gets worse on 53rd day of hunger strike in Israel jail

RAMALLAH, PALESTINOW.COM —The health condition of Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan has taken a serious turn for the worse, as his open-ended hunger strike has been ongoing for 53 consecutive days to protest his arbitrary detention in Israeli lock-ups.

Khader Adnan’s wife has expressed concerns over his exacerbated health status and the preplanned medical neglect pursued by the Israeli prison authorities against her isolated husband.

She added that Adnan cannot stand on his feet and moves on a wheelchair.

Recently, Muhjat al-Quds Foundation said prisoner Khader Adnan declared his open-ended hunger strike in response to being held arbitrarily in Israeli dungeons.

The foundation has railed against Israel’s torture tactics, including bans of visits by family members and attorneys, perpetrated against the hunger striker, in contravention of international laws and treaties.

In a letter leaked from the prison and published a couple of weeks ago by Muhjat al-Quds Foundation, Adnan said that he had been locked up in a very small and isolated cell in Jalama jail for long weeks, during which he had been barred from visits by his lawyers and family and made to endure dire conditions of captivity.

Head of the legal unit at the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, Jawad Boulos, said following a visit to Adnan in the Ramla lock-up that the hunger striker continues to refuse to take in vitamins and undergo medical check-ups.

Khader Adnan, from the northern occupied West Bank province of Jenin, was kidnapped by the Israeli forces on December 11, 2017 over allegations of anti-occupation incitement.

(Source / 26.10.2018)

Israeli Forces Repress March at Jerusalem Gate

25 OCT
6:38 PM

Dozens of solidarity activists and journalists, on Wednesday evening, suffered from tear gas inhalation, during Israeli occupation forces’ repression of a peaceful march at the Jerusalem Gate, in the town of Abu Dis, southeast of occupied Jerusalem.

Resistance to the wall and settlements, along with activists of the Popular Resistance Committees, Fateh and national action groups organized a peaceful march in protest against the plan to deport the residents of Red Khan to the area.

The participants, including the Minister of the Wall and Settlements Resistance Committee, Walid Assaf, raised Palestinian flags during their presence in the area near the Jerusalem Gate and chanted slogans “Go out, Occupation”.

The spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committee, Hani Halabiya, pointed out that Israeli forces repressed the participants using gas, sound bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets, leading to dozens of suffocation cases.

He added, according to Al Ray, that soldiers stormed the area of the Jerusalem Gate, intended for housing the Bedouin communities located on the eastern side of Jerusalem, and destroyed the water reservoirs.

The Israeli Knesset passed a decision, three years ago, to seize lands belong to the residents of Abu Dis, an area of about 67 dunams, and to be used for the construction of mobile homes to accommodate the Bedouin communities, including the Red Khan, after being forcibly deported from the surrounding communities East of Jerusalem.

(Source / 26.10.2018)

Army Injures Many Schoolchildren In Hebron

25 OCT
7:38 PM

Israeli soldiers fired, Thursday, several gas bombs into the Nahda Basic School for Boys, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, causing dozens of students and teacher to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation, including some students who fainted.

Rawhi az-Zaro, the principal of the school, said the soldiers surrounded the school and fired dozens of gas bombs directly into its campus.

He added that dozens of children and teachers suffered the severe effects of teargas inhalation, including some who fainted, and required urgent treatment.

Az-Zaro stated that the soldiers also fired gas bombs and workers of the Hebron City Council, near the school, causing them to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation.

The principal said the school administration contacted the Palestinian Education Ministry about the attack, and the Palestinian District Coordination Office to demand the military vehicles to avoid driving near the schools during the times when students are arriving or leaving it.

(Source / 26.10.2018)