Condemn, don’t celebrate, 50 years of occupation of Palestine

Barbara Olson, The Cap Times, Jun 11, 2017


Palestinian workers wait to cross the Israeli checkpoint of Al-Jalameh, south of the West Bank city of Jenin, on their way to work in Israel May 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

June 2017 marks 50 years of Israeli military occupation of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. In 1967, in open defiance of international law prohibiting acquisition of territory by force, Israel began settling its own Jewish population on occupied Palestinian land, seizing large swathes of the most valuable, fertile and resource-rich areas.

For 50 years this dispossession has been enforced by a violent regime of military occupation, a regime that has expanded and deepened until many argue that it now meets or exceeds the legal definition of apartheid — a system of laws, institutions and practices that treat people differently based on race, ethnicity, nationality or religion.

For the last 70 years, Israel has also denied millions of Palestinian refugees their right under international law to return to the homes and properties from which they were ethnically cleansed from 1947 onward. In contrast, Israel’s “Law of Return” gives automatic citizenship rights to any Jewish person from anywhere in the world.

Those Palestinians who refused to flee after the Israeli state was declared in 1948 spent years living under martial law before gaining Israeli citizenship. Now making up at least 20 percent of Israel’s population, they face dozens of discriminatory laws that privilege Israeli Jews.

A special mention must be made of Gaza. While Israeli soldiers and settlements were withdrawn in 2005, Israel exercises “effective control” over Gaza’s borders, coastal waters and airspace, making it the occupying power under international law. For 10 years it has enforced a suffocating and deadly blockade of Gaza, condemned by the UN as an inhumane act of collective punishment of nearly 2 million civilians, half of them children. Devastating Israeli military assaults in 2008-09, 2012 and 2014 killed thousands of civilians and deliberately destroyed Gaza’s civilian infrastructure.

U.S. political, military and financial support makes this possible. Republican and Democratic administrations have given lip service to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, calling the settlements and occupation “obstacles to peace.” In reality, they envision not two equal states side by side, but disconnected, fragmented and nonviable “Bantustans” for Palestinians under permanent Israeli control.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is underwriting Israel’s abuses of Palestinians and the massive expansion of the Jewish-only settlements that long ago killed the possibility for any two-state solution. U.S. taxpayers already give Israel more than $3 billion in weapons like F-16 (and now F-35) fighter jets, Apache helicopter gunships, Caterpillar bulldozers, the Iron Dome, and more each year. This was before President Obama agreed to give Israel another $38 billion in weapons over the next decade. And before the election of Donald Trump, who has enthusiastically aligned himself with Netanyahu and the most racist and militaristic elements of Israeli society.

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Israel’s Everlasting Occupation

Palestinians were never presented with what Israel offered every neighboring country: full withdrawal from occupied territory

NATHAN THRALL, The New York Times, June 2, 2017

An Israeli soldier praying at the Western Wall during the Six-Day War, in June 1967 (Micha Bar Am/Magnum Photos)

JERUSALEM — Three months after the 1967 war, Israel’s ruling Mapai Party held a discussion on the future of the newly conquered territories. Golda Meir, who would become Israel’s leader a year and a half later, asked Prime Minister Levi Eshkol what he planned to do with the more than one million Arabs now living under Israeli rule.

“I get it,” Mr. Eshkol jokingly replied. “You want the dowry, but you don’t like the bride!” Mrs. Meir responded, “My soul yearns for the dowry, and to let someone else take the bride.”

On this 50th anniversary of the war, it is clear that over the half-century that followed, Israel managed to fulfill Mrs. Meir’s wish, keeping control of the land indefinitely without wedding itself to the inhabitants. This resilient and eminently sustainable arrangement, so often mischaracterized as a state of limbo assumed to be temporary, has stood on three main pillars: American backing, Palestinian weakness and Israeli indifference. Together, the three ensure that for the Israeli government, continuing its occupation is far less costly than the concessions required to end it.

Each pillar, in turn, draws support from a core myth promoted by leaders in American, Palestinian or Israeli society. For Americans, the myth that the occupation is unsustainable is a crucial element in maintaining and excusing the United States’ financial and diplomatic abetting of it. From the halls of the State Department to editorials in major newspapers and the pronouncements of pro-peace organizations like J Street, Americans are told that Israel will have to choose, and very soon, to give Palestinians either citizenship or independence, and choose to either remain a democracy or become an apartheid state.

Yet none of these groups calls on the United States to force this supposedly imminent choice, no matter how many times Israel demonstrates that it prefers a different, far easier option — continued occupation — with no real consequences. The only real fallout from continued occupation are major increases in American financing of it, with Israel now receiving more military assistance from the United States than the rest of the world does combined. Mistaking finger-wagging for pressure, these groups spend far too much time on phrasing their criticism of settlements and occupation, and far too little asking what can be done about it.

What supports the fiction that Israel cannot continue subjugating the Palestinians — and therefore that the United States will not be complicit in several more decades of subjugation — is a seemingly endless parade of coming perils, each of which, it is claimed or hoped, will cause Israel to end its occupation in the near future.

Initially, the threat was of an attack by the Arab states. But that soon crumbled: Israel made a separate peace with the strongest one, Egypt; the Arabs proved incapable of defending even sovereign Lebanon from Israeli invasion; and in recent years, many Arab states have failed to uphold even their longstanding boycott of Israel.

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Israeli police kill 16-year old Palestinian girl in Jerusalem

International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) News, May 8, 2017

Updated: On Sunday afternoon, Israeli police shot and killed a 16-year old Palestinian girl near the Damascus gate in Jerusalem.

Although the Israeli police spokesperson claimed that the teen attempted to stab a security officer, that account has been disputed.

The child has been identified as Fatima Afeef Abdul-Rahman Hajiji, 16, from Qarawat Bani Zeid village, northwest of Ramallah, in the central part of the West Bank.

Eyewitnesses said Fatima was standing near the entrance of Bab al-‘Amoud (Damascus Gate), and was at least ten meters away from the near soldier or officer, and that one of the soldiers started shouting “knife, knife,” before five soldiers fired a barrage of bullets at the child.

Fatima killed (Ma'an image)They added that the Fatima was first shot with several live rounds in the chest, and the soldiers continued to fire at her after she fell onto the ground.

Many live rounds also struck a Palestinian Taxi, parked nearby, causing damage and puncturing one of its tires.

Photos of the deceased show that she was shot and killed at quite a distance from the guard post, so even if she had been holding a knife (which is disputed), no security officers were in danger at the time when she was killed.

Following the fatal shooting of the child, the soldiers used pepper-spray against dozens of Palestinians who gathered in the area, especially close to Fatima.

In addition, the soldiers assaulted many Palestinians, including children, in Sultan Suleiman Street, causing a child, identified as Mahmoud Abu Sbeih, 9, to fall from a high altitude after mounted officer chased him and many other Palestinians.

Hundreds of soldiers and mounted police officers were deployed in the area, closed many roads and alleys, and forced the Palestinians away.

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Israeli Soldiers Execute Palestinian Girl in Occupied Jerusalem

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), May 8, 2017

As part of the Israeli policy to use excessive and lethal force against Palestinian civilians, who are suspected by Israeli soldiers of intending to carry out stab attacks against the soldiers, on Sunday, 07 May 2017, Israeli forces killed a girl at the southern entrance to the Damascus Gate “al-‘Amoud” in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns this heinous crime. PCHR stresses this crime was committed after the Israeli political and military leaders gave the Israeli soldiers the green light to shed the Palestinian blood in light of the international community’s policy to tolerate Israel for crimes committed by the Israeli soldiers against Palestinian civilians.

According to PCHR’s investigations and testimonies by eyewitnesses to PCHR’s fieldworker in occupied Jerusalem, at approximately 19:00 on the abovementioned day, Fatmah ‘Afif ‘Abdel Rahman Hjeiji (16), from Qarawet Bani Zaid village, northwest of Ramallah, was walking 10 meters away from a police checkpoint, which is permanently established at the southern entrance to the Damascus Gate. One of the soldiers suddenly screamed out, “knife”. Immediately, the Israeli soldiers stationed there opened fire at the girl. As a result, 30 live bullets hit her body; some of them penetrated her chest and waist from the right side. Therefore, Fatmah was killed on the spot. Eyewitnesses emphasized that after the girl fell on the ground, the Israeli soldiers continued shooting at her and not only attempting to wound or arrest her.

Following this, the Israeli police deployed in the area closed the scene and prevented anyone from approaching the girl, whose body had been on the ground for an hour. The police officers attacked and pushed dozens of civilians away. They chased Mahmoud Abu Sbeih (9) until he fell from height in the Damascus Gate area and was then taken to the hospital to receive medical treatment.

Luba al-Samri, the Israeli police spokesperson, published a statement claiming that “According to the preliminary information available, it was an attempt to a stab attack carried out by a girl that was neutralized without injuries among the police officers.”

PCHR condemns this crime that resulted in the killing of Hjeiji on grounds of suspicion of a stab attack, and:

    1. Calls upon the United Nations to offer international protection to the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and to guarantee that protection;

    2. Calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to ensure that Israel commit to the application of Geneva Conventions in the oPt as a State Party to those conventions;

    3. Demands the states signing the Geneva conventions to fulfill their obligations to guarantee the application of the conventions by resorting to the principle of Universal Jurisdiction to prosecute the war criminals regardless of their nationality or place of the crime to pave the way for prosecuting the Israeli war criminals and stop the impunity they enjoy for decades; and

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Is It True That Not a Single Senator – Including Progressive Dems – Cares About Palestine?

The pro-Israel letter 100 U.S. senators sent to the U.N. fails to mention Israel's illegal occupation or settlements

Ben Norton & Adam Johnson, AlterNet, May 2, 2017

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

All 100 members of the U.S. Senate sent a letter to the United Nations on April 27 that spread misleading pro-Israel myths. Included as signatories were the Senate’s two progressive leaders, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

AlterNet repeatedly contacted the offices of Sanders and Warren with a request for comment. Neither replied.

The 725-word letter does not mention Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestinian land, which marks its 50th anniversary this June. Nor does it acknowledge Israel’s illegal colonization of Palestinian territory through ever-expanding settlements.

Even the U.S., Israel’s closest ally, has agreed at the U.N. that Israel’s occupation and settlements are flagrant violations of international law. The senators’ letter glosses over this elementary fact, and does not even acknowledge the existence of the Palestinian people.

The bipartisan senatorial campaign against the U.N. was led by hard-right neoconservative Republican Marco Rubio and Reagan-Republican-turned-Democrat Christopher Coons.

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