Noura Erakat: West Bank Annexation Is Logical End to Israel’s Apartheid Policy

Democracy Now!, SEPTEMBER 12, 2019

GUESTS

Noura Erakat
Palestinian human rights attorney and an assistant professor at Rutgers University.

Phyllis Bennis
fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and a member of the national board of Jewish Voice for Peace.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing worldwide condemnation for vowing to annex nearly a third of the occupied West Bank if he wins next week’s snap election. The United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union and Russia have all criticized Netanyahu’s plan, which he unveiled Tuesday.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: [translated] Today I am announcing my intention to apply, with the formation of the next government, Israeli sovereignty on the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Netanyahu’s pledge comes just a week before Israeli voters return to the polls on Tuesday for new elections after Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government following Israel’s April 9th election. Netanyahu’s annexation plan would crush hopes of an eventual Palestinian state. Longtime Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the move would add to Israel’s long history of violating international law.

SAEB EREKAT: What Prime Minister Netanyahu said tonight about asking his people for a mandate to allow that will enable him to annex the Jordan Valley is paramount to a war crime. Annexation of occupied territories is a war crime.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we’re joined by Noura Erakat, Palestinian human rights attorney, legal scholar, assistant professor at Rutgers University. Her new book is titled Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine. And Phyllis Bennis is still with us, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, written a number of books, including Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Noura Erakat, let’s go to you first in Montreal. If you could talk about, just respond to, what the prime minister — who knows how long he will be prime minister? — said — if he wins, he will annex a third of the West Bank?

NOURA ERAKAT: Absolutely. Thank you for having me this morning.

First of all, I think it’s important to point out, as you have, that one-third of the West Bank is the Jordan Valley. It’s the site of the richest sources of water — some of the richest sources of water in the West Bank, including the Jordan River Basin and the Dead Sea, as well as numerous springs. The World Bank has said that if Palestinians actually have access to these lands, it could be the Palestinian breadbasket, increasing their agricultural yield by $1.6 [b]illion annually. We are talking about a rich area where Palestinian farmers, where Palestinians cannot access, for leisure, for livelihood, for home. And this is what’s at stake.

The other thing to point out is that there’s already de facto annexation. A lot of attention is being placed on Netanyahu as he makes more bold and racist claims to his constituent base ahead of elections. But it’s important to know that this is not about Netanyahu. This isn’t even about the Israeli right. This is Israeli policy.

In the aftermath of the 1967 war, Israel declared 60% of the Jordan Valley as a closed military zone and off basis. They built three outposts, military outposts, in 1968 and, under a Labor government, built those into civilian settlements in the early 1970s. It was a Labor, Israeli Labor, minister, Yigal Allon, who declared that the Jordan Valley would be part of Israel’s defensible borders. It was Israel’s dove, Yitzhak Rabin, in 1995, who said that this would be part of Israel’s final borders. And it was under the Oslo peace process that 90% of the Jordan Valley came under full Israeli civil and military control.

What Netanyahu is doing now is basically taking this awful policy, this steady policy of settler-colonial removal of Palestinian and encroachment of Palestinian lands, to its logical end, which is to say, “Well, now it’s just ours.”

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Gideon Levy: Let the Annexation Begin


A Palestinian man waters goats and sheep in the Jordan Valley, West Bank, August 21, 2019. (MOHAMAD TOROKMAN – REUTERS)

Gideon Levy, If Americans Knew, September 12, 2019

There’s no longer any real debate in Israel. The right wants to annex Palestinian land openly, and the center wants to annex, but deceive us. All that’s left now is to admit to the world that in reality Israel annexed the West Bank many years ago… it’s one country with an apartheid system.

Reposted from Ha’aretz

Here’s one campaign promise by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that we should hope will be fulfilled: annexing the Jordan Valley to Israel. So far, no other campaign promise has been as encouraging as this one. Not one Zionist party has offered even a hint of an idea that could shake up the existing situation like this annexation proposal, and the status quo is crying for a shake-up.

I obviously won’t vote for Netanyahu, but I hope that this time he keeps his promise. Let him annex the Jordan Valley, and afterward the entire West Bank. Let him turn the reality in this territory into a political reality, without hiding it any longer. The time has come for truth. The time has come to put an end to the great masked ball that Israel and the world have been holding for 52 years already.

The apparently eternal reality in this territory should be translated into legal language. The Jordan Valley was annexed long ago, as was the entire West Bank. The Green Line has been erased; nothing remains of it.

All that’s left now is to say so officially. To admit to Israelis and to the world: Enough with the occupation, we have annexation. There are no settlements, there are towns. The two-state solution has been put to death, and it actually happened long ago. What remains is one state, in which the only battle will be over the system of government.

There’s no longer any real debate in Israel. Immediately after Netanyahu promised annexation, Benny Gantz, the great hope of the enlightened public, delivered the word of the opposition: He, too, is in favor of the Jordan Valley in perpetuity.

If so, what is all the criticism of Netanyahu for? For his lack of intention to keep his promise. People to Netanyahu’s left have been criticizing him for saying he’ll annex the region without him really meaning it. What more could we ask? Between the right, which wants to annex and announce it, and the center, which wants to annex but deceive us, the choice is easy. The only debate that remains is about the future of the Adei Ad settlement outpost, and that’s no longer important. Evacuating the Baladim outpost will no longer change anything either.

[Adei Ad and Baladim are illegal Jewish outposts in the West Bank, both of which have been sites of violence against Palestinians, Israeli forces, and visitors.]

Netanyahu’s choice of territory to annex is no accident. There’s something symbolic about it. The Oslo process began with “Jericho first,” and its death will be pronounced with “the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea first.”

But there’s also a great deal more than symbolism here. Most Israelis have never considered the Jordan Valley occupied territory. Ever since our colonialist enterprise began, its settlers have been seen as “residents,” and even as pioneers, while its settlements have been seen as kibbutzim and moshavim – more stellar examples of Zionism.

In those settlements there are no prayer shawls and ritual fringes – there are Jewish masters and Thai farm laborers, like in every kibbutz and moshav. Also Palestinian farm laborers who earn shameful, exploitative, criminal wages. The Labor Party, the first and foremost party of occupation, has seen the Jordan Valley as an inseparable part of any agreement ever since the 1967 Allon Plan, which deserves to be remembered and condemned because no other plan has done more to perpetuate the occupation.

[Levy writes elsewhere: “Although it was never officially adopted, the Allon Plan, drafted in 1967 by Yigal Allon – an iconic figure from the War of Independence and afterward a leading politician – was in large measure implemented. Its aim: to cut off the West Bank from Jordan by means of two roads…and to establish settlements and army training camps alongside both highways.”]

The consensus about remaining in the territories began right here, between Hemdat and Almog. This was the first “settlement bloc” to enter the consensus, and it wasn’t even called a settlement. Most Israelis see no difference between Maskiot and Ro’i [two illegal settlements], in the Jordan Valley, and Beit Alfa and Heftziba [two kibbutzim in Israel], located between the Jezreel and Beit She’an valleys. All are in the Israeli valley.

But this is one of the worst evils of apartheid and transfer that the occupation has ever produced. Behind the modern names…hide greedy and sometimes violent farmers. Here, a quiet transfer of communities of shepherds has been carried out, just like in the South Hebron Hills.

Anyone who still doubts the existence of apartheid ought to visit the Jordan Valley. The water, the land and the freedom – which are divvied up there via blatant segregation based on nationality, with no shame – tell the entire story. Nothing could be more just than for the Torah of annexation to go forth from here.

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What Is Israel Trying to Hide?

Reps. Tlaib & Omar Blocked from Taking Official Trip to West Bank


Democracy Now!  August 16, 2019

    GUESTS
    Mustafa Barghouti
    member of the Palestinian Parliament, secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, a political party. He was a presidential candidate in the 2005 elections.
    Rebecca Vilkomerson
    executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Israel sparked outrage Thursday when it banned two freshman Democratic congresswomen of color — Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — from entering the country. Following outcry from Democratic leaders and Palestinians, Israel granted permission for Tlaib to enter the country on “humanitarian” grounds to visit her family in the West Bank — though Tlaib said Friday she will not visit her family under such conditions. Israel originally denied entrance to Tlaib and Omar after President Donald Trump tweeted, “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people.” Congressmembers Tlaib and Omar are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, and were planning to tour East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. Both congresswomen have voiced support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement, a global solidarity campaign with the Palestinian people. The nonviolent movement seeks to use economic and cultural pressure to force Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian lands. We speak with Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative political party, and Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Israel has announced it will conditionally allow Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to visit family in the West Bank, a day after it barred both Tlaib and fellow Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from entering Israel to travel to occupied Palestine. Israel is still refusing entry to Omar. Israel initially blocked entry to both lawmakers after President Trump took the unprecedented step of publicly urging Israel to bar entry to the women, the first two female Muslim members of Congress. Trump tweeted Thursday, “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people,” he tweeted.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his decision Thursday. Israeli prime minister defended the decision to bar both the U.S. lawmakers.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: [translated] By law, we are not willing to admit anyone into Israel who calls for the boycott of the state of Israel and acts to delegitimize the state of the Jews.

AMY GOODMAN: Israeli authorities say Congressmember Tlaib will now be allowed entry on “humanitarian” grounds to visit her ailing 90-year-old grandmother, on the condition she does not promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement during her visit. Both Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar have voiced support for the BDS movement, the global solidarity campaign with the Palestinian people. The nonviolent movement seeks to use economic and cultural pressure to force Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian lands. The congresswomen were planning to tour East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

After learning of the ban, Congressmember Ilhan Omar released a statement that read, in part, quote, “It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the U.S. government. Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress,” she said.

Both centrist and progressive Democrats criticized Israel’s move and Trump’s statements. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Israel to reconsider its decision. Meanwhile, Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “I cannot move forward with scheduling any visits to Israel until all members of Congress are allowed.” Despite outcry from Democratic leaders, as well as Palestinians, President Trump doubled down on his position later on Thursday.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They are very anti-Jewish, and they’re very anti-Israel. I think it’s disgraceful, the things they’ve said. You have lists of — this isn’t just a one-line mistake. What they’ve said about Israel and Jewish people is a horrible thing, and they’ve become the face of the Democrat Party. So, I did absolutely put out a very strong statement. I think if you look at their language, if you look at what they’ve said, if I ever said it, it would be a — it would be a horrible — it would be a horrible month, to put it mildly. So, the things that they’ve said, Omar, Tlaib, what they’ve said is disgraceful. So I can’t imagine why Israel would let them in.

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Meet Rashida Tlaib’s grandma: ‘Who wouldn’t be proud of a granddaughter like that?’

Rep. Tlaib’s grandmother says the family had already prepared a lamb

Muftiyah Tlaib, the grandmother of Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), spoke to The Washington Post on Aug. 16 from her home in the West Bank. (Video: James McAuley/Photo: James McAuley/The Washington Post)

James McAuley and Sufian Taha, The Washington Post, August 16, 2019

BEIT UR AL-FAUQA, WEST BANK — Rashida Tlaib’s grandmother does not understand why her granddaughter, a sitting U.S. congresswoman, could not visit her as originally planned.

Muftiyah Tlaib — who says she is somewhere between 85 and her early 90s — lives in the village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa, about 15 miles outside Jerusalem and close to the seam line between Israel and the West Bank, territory that Israel occupied in the 1967 war and that Palestinians hope to see as part of an independent state someday.

She lives in the same elegant limestone house in the same sleepy village she has called home since 1974 — the house where the whole village once came to celebrate Rashida Tlaib’s wedding, and the house that looks directly onto an Israeli settlement with a visible military presence.

“She’s in a big position, and she cannot visit her grandmother,” she laughed, seated in her living room on Friday. “So what good is the position?”

In the end, Muftiyah Tlaib will not see her granddaughter in the coming week. The reunion would have marked the first meeting for the two since about 2007, she said.

Rep. Tlaib says she will not go to Israel after the country initially rejected her request for a visit, then reversed course

On Friday, Israel partly reversed its decision from the day before to deny entry to Tlaib (D-Mich.) and fellow congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from a planned tour of the Palestinian territories, on the grounds that “the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.”

Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said Friday that he would approve a separate humanitarian request for Tlaib to visit her grandmother, or “sity” in Arabic.

“This could be my last opportunity to see her,” Tlaib wrote in a letter to Israeli authorities. “I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit.”

For many Palestinians, the fact that Tlaib accepted these terms was itself an affront, a humiliating compromise in which she was made to forgo her opinions to see her loved ones.

“Israel is the oppressor and its racist attitude towards Palestinians is established policy,” Nour Odeh, a Palestinian journalist, wrote on Twitter. “Rashida should have known better. She should have acted with more dignity & pride.”

Tlaib appeared to agree by Friday morning.

“When I won, it gave the Palestinian people hope that someone will finally speak the truth about the inhumane conditions,” Tlaib tweeted. “I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my sity to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies.”

“Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in — fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”

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Why Americans Should Support BDS


Demonstrators protest New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s McCarthyite executive order requiring state agencies to divest from organizations that support the Palestinian call to boycott companies profiting from, or cultural or academic institutions complicit in, Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people, June 9, 2016. (Sipa via AP Images)

Omar Barghouti, The Nation, July 29, 2019

Last Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a resolution, H. Res. 246, targeting the grassroots, global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights that I helped found in 2005. Sadly, H. Res. 246, which fundamentally mischaracterizes our goals and misrepresents my own personal views, is only the latest attempt by Israel’s supporters in Congress to demonize and suppress our peaceful struggle.

H. Res. 246 is a sweeping condemnation of Americans who advocate for Palestinian rights using BDS tactics. It reinforces other unconstitutional anti-boycott measures, including those passed by some 27 state legislatures, that are reminiscent of “McCarthy era tactics,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union. It also exacerbates the oppressive atmosphere that Palestinians and their supporters already face, further chilling speech critical of Israel at a time when President Donald Trump is publicly smearing members of Congress who speak out in support of Palestinian freedom.

In response to H. Res. 246 and similarly repressive legislative measures, House member Ilhan Omar, joined by Rashida Tlaib, civil rights icon John Lewis, and 12 other co-sponsors, introduced H. Res. 496, which defends “the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”

Inspired by the US civil rights and South African anti-apartheid movements, BDS calls for ending Israel’s 1967 military occupation, full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the UN-stipulated right of Palestinian refugees to return to the homeland they were uprooted from.

BDS categorically opposes all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. Contrary to the false claim in H. Res. 246, BDS does not target individuals, but rather institutions and corporations that are implicated in Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian human rights.

H. Res. 246 also includes a specific smear against me that has been pushed by Israel lobby groups like AIPAC by quoting a single, out-of-context sentence from a talk I gave in 2013. The same false assertion is repeated in a similar Senate Resolution, S. Res. 120.

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Israeli house demolitions are the true crime — not BDS


Celebration of house demolition, by Israeli border police and IDF officer, July 22, 2019. Screenshot from video.

Mohamed Mohamed, Mondoweiss, July 26, 2019

Israel is at it again. It remains consistent in engaging in one of its favorite activities: stealing Palestinian land and tormenting Palestinians.

On Monday, Israeli bulldozers, escorted by hundreds of Israeli soldiers, demolished no less than 16 residential buildings containing around 100 apartments in the village of Sur Baher, which is on the outskirts of East Jerusalem.

Israel’s reasoning for demolishing these homes is that they are too close to its “separation wall” (or more accurately, the Israeli apartheid wall), and it claims that the homes pose a security risk. This is not surprising, because Israel’s “security” is commonly cited as an excuse to steal Palestinian land and resources, and to impose full control over every aspect of the lives of Palestinians.

Correspondents reporting from the demolition area described seeing homeowners watch with horror as their homes turned into dust.

Let that sink in. Imagine your own home being destroyed in front of your eyes while you are powerless to do anything to stop its demolition by armed soldiers. Living under military occupation, there is no insurance to reimburse you or to rebuild your house on the land that rightfully belongs to you.

Even the American concept of “eminent domain,” where your property could be taken by the government for public use, although with “just” compensation, does not apply. In the US, no one would ever accept such a despicable injustice and outright theft.

But this is the reality that the Palestinians of East Jerusalem (and throughout Palestine) face. One man who has four children said that when their house is demolished, they will become homeless and forced to live in the streets.

To see how Israeli demolition of homes and theft of Palestinian land is done out of spite, cruelty, and cold-heartedness, rather than “security,” one only has to watch this video.

In the video, Israeli forces in charge of imploding a Palestinian building are seen counting down to the detonation of explosives. A masked soldier initiates the demolition and the explosive charges go off, reducing the building to a large pile of rubble and dust within a matter of seconds.

The Israelis laugh, cheer, and whistle in the aftermath of their barbarism. One of the soldiers hugs the man who set off the explosives, shakes his hand, and poses with him for the camera with a huge grin on his face. There is absolutely no doubt that they enjoyed the destruction of the homes and property of innocent Palestinians. People who are genuinely concerned about their security would not celebrate another human being’s devastation in such a sickening way.

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