What Palestinians Need
January 14, 2013
Your Jan. 11 editorial “Financial Crisis in the West Bank” is absolutely right: This problem should not be “swept under the rug.”
Nice, France, Jan. 11, 2013
"Good question, because this is really a key issue. Under the law, Israel has to withdraw from all the territory it occupied in 1967, just like it did when it withdrew from Egypt’s Sinai desert.
"The core principle of international law - that territory cannot be acquired by force - is the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 242, which Israel actually accepted in 1967. The 1967 borders have been the basis of peace negotiations for 44 years.
"Yet Israel has grabbed about 60% of the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem for its illegal settlements. If Israel really wants peace, it got to stop taking Palestinian land."Netanyahu also said, "Israel cannot negotiate with a Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas. Hamas, as the President said, is a terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction."
"Countries, like people, make enemies - and peace is negotiated between enemies. If you’re friends, then there’s no problem!
"Although Hamas and Israel are enemies, Hamas has clearly stated its acceptance of a two state solution based on the 1967 borders. Netanyahu has specifically rejected such a solution.
?Hamas has also accepted that Mahmoud Abbas will, as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, be responsible for negotiations, and the PLO has recognizedIsrael. The truth is that most Palestinians don’t believe that Israel wants peace because it keeps taking Palestinian land and water and prevents them from traveling to or within Palestine whenever it wants to. Israel announced it wants to build yet another 1,500 illegal homes in occupied East Jerusalem just before Netanyahu came to the United States.
"Since 1967,Israelhas illegally settled 650,000 Israelis on Palestinian land - by Netanyahu's own count. Netanyahu need look no further than his own government's actions for an answer to his question of 'why has peace not been achieved.'"KEEP READING...
"Fayyad has argued that development will make the reality of a Palestinian state impossible to ignore. However, many of the new roads facilitate Israeli settlement expansion and pave the way for the seizure of main West Bank highways for exclusive Israeli use.Hijab and Rosenfeld argue that "many of the alternative roads could facilitate settlement expansion, apartheid-style segregation and annexation by taking Palestinians off the main grid--thus working against a Palestinian state." They point out the human impact of segregated roads:
For decades Israel has carried out its own infrastructure projects in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. These include a segregated road network that, together with the separation wall Israel began building in 2002, divides Palestinian areas from each other while bringing the settlements--all of which are illegal under international law--closer to Israel.
Now, armed with information from United Nations sources and their own research, Palestinian nongovernmental organizations are raising the alarm. Their evidence spotlights the extent to which PA road-building is facilitating the Israeli goal of annexing vast areas of the West Bank--making a viable Palestinian state impossible.
Roads currently under construction in the Bethlehem governorate are a prime example, as they will complete the separation of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, which includes some of the earliest Israeli settlements, from the Palestinian West Bank, swallowing up more pieces of Bethlehem on the way. The PA is building these roads with funding from the US Agency for International Development and thus ultimately the US taxpayer. "
"Nidal Hatim, a local playwright, online columnist and activist with the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS), cannot take the main road from Bethlehem to his home village of Battir, just outside the city. Route 60 is the main highway running north-south through the center of the West Bank. "To go on the highway, we have to go through the checkpoint and turn around," he said. "I have a West Bank Palestinian ID, so I can't go through the checkpoint." Instead, he takes a bumpy side road that is currently being built by the PA with USAID support. The road turns from choppy cement to residential street to dirt and gravel path, weaving around and under the four-lane Route 60, which is now used mostly by Israeli settlers. Passing through a partly completed tunnel, the car stalls for a second on a steep unpaved incline on the edge of an olive grove."Separate is never equal. Read the rest of the article here, and learn more about how you can take a stand against Israeli apartheid and U.S. aid to Israel.
"For starters, Obama could dust off that 1979 State Department ruling that Israeli settlements are “inconsistent with international law.” Never revoked, it peeps through the verbiage every now and then. Now it needs to be rearticulated forcefully. Further, the Administration should begin public investigations of how much of its own aid -- and that of U.S. non-profits -- supports settlement activity, with a view to stemming that flow. This will send the clearest message yet to the Israeli government -- and to the settlers -- to stop settlements and begin to pull back. Buying property there will become unattractive while supporting settlements would be a risky enterprise for law-abiding Americans. Concurrently, the Obama administration should continue the steady if unglamorous task of pushing for a final and comprehensive agreement, albeit at a much, much faster pace and backed by clear costs for Israel for not ending its occupation. And it should call on Europe -- Israel’s largest trading partner -- to help make the costs of occupation clear. This will lessen the heat on the Administration and present Israel with a determined united front that says: Yes, to security for the citizens of Israel, No to occupation, injustice, and inequality."
"The Goldstone Report has rightly focused international attention on the crimes committed during Israel’s offensive against Gaza in December-January this year. Even if the United States quashes it at the United Nations Security Council -- where it is likely to go now that the Human Rights Council has adopted it -- the report will make human rights violators think twice. But it doesn’t end the Israeli siege of Gaza....This has left it to people from around the world to try to break the siege themselves."Hijab highlights the efforts of the Free Gaza Movement, the Viva Palestina convoys, and the US Campaign endorsed Gaza Freedom March. Here's Hijab commenting on the march:
Click here to read the full article. To find out more about the Gaza Freedom March, click here. And keep an eye on this space and our website for opportunities to shame our leaders into ending the U.S. policy that keeps Israel's siege of Gaza in place.
"The Gaza Freedom March involves hundreds of international activists who plan to cross the border at Rafah and to march alongside the Gaza Palestinians on December 31st, aiming to reach the border with Israel. Enthusiasm for the march in Gaza is understandably high, given the Strip’s isolation, with thousands reportedly planning to march with the internationals. Among other things, youth groups from around Gaza are planning dance, theatre and music shows to welcome the visitors. University student unions hope to strike for the day to bring out the numbers, and women’s groups are also aiming to mobilize their members. All of these international volunteers have been speaking out when they get back home and pushing for change in their own government’s policies that allow Israel to keep its siege in place. Perhaps their sustained efforts will finally shame their leaders into action to end the persecution of the Palestinians."
"On Monday, the United States assumed its seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council -- the one the Bush administration had cold-shouldered, then boycotted. Its representative declared in Obamaesque tones, “Make no mistake: The United States will not look the other way in the face of serious human rights abuses.” And on Tuesday, Justice Richard Goldstone and his team submitted the report of their fact-finding mission into violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during Israel’s December-January offensive against Gaza -- a report requested by the Council itself."What are advocates for human rights and international law to make of the report? It has been produced by preeminently qualified experts on international law, including one participant in the commission of inquiry on Darfur and Goldstone himself, who served as prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunes for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. It is, in the words of Nadia Hijab, "painstakingly even-handed," criticizing not just Israel but Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for their crack-downs on opposition during the December-January assaults. It's recommendations include that the crimes described in the report be taken up by the International Criminal Court. It is, in short, one of the most potentially important documents of international law related to Israel/Palestine since the 2004 ICJ advisory ruling against the apartheid Wall. What does that mean for us? Hijab quotes outgoing UN General Assembly President Father Miguel d'Escoto, who spoke powerfully of the need for accountability in his final speech in that position:
"[d'Escoto] went on to make a very serious accusation against “those who should supposedly have been most interested” yet “denied their support.” He said he hoped “that they were right and that I was wrong. Otherwise, we face an ugly situation of constant complicity with the aggression against the rights of the noble and long-suffering Palestinian people.” If this complicity repeats itself at the Human Rights Council, the Goldstone Report will be sunk. The power of the state system (and a putative statelet) will have trumped the principles of international law and human rights -- unless human rights advocates act to make sure the right thing gets done."We need to make sure the right thing gets done. Over the next few days we'll be posting action alerts and resources that you, our supporters, need in order to make sure that this report doesn't get "sunk," as Nadia Hijab fears it will. For now, if you haven't already, join our campaign to end U.S. military aid to Israel--military aid that was used to commit many of the crimes described in the Goldstone report. Check out the whole report here [warning: it's a big file to download]. Read Hijab's full article here. Watch US Campaign steering committee member Phyllis Bennis talk about the report with Laura Flanders on GRITtv. And donate to the US Campaign to support our response to the Goldstone report. Stay tuned for more!
This arrangement solidifies the fragmentation of the West Bank in a manner that seems all too familiar to Haddad:"Previous Israeli-issued tourism visas do not restrict the freedom of movement of tourists who are allowed passage into the country, and who originate from countries which Israel has diplomatic relations and reciprocal arrangements regarding travel. That meaning, as long as someone was allowed into the country, they were able to travel freely whether they chose to visit the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, or the Palestinian city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank....“Palestinian Authority only” greatly restricts this freedom of movement, and thus undoes the former arrangement. It essentially precludes travel to areas of pre-1967 Israel, as well as to Israeli controlled areas in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem."
"The fragmentation of PA jurisdiction in the West Bank has invited comparisons to the Bantustans of Apartheid South Africa. Bantustans were false states set up by the white apartheid regime as a means to enforce the segregationist nature of apartheid, controlling the primarily black population, while disenfranchising them particularly with regards to expropriating their land and resources."The new visa restrictions, which would affect U.S. citizens who work, live, or have family in the West Bank, have met with strong condemnation from the U.S. State Department, with Ha'aretz reporting that "The United States has harshly criticized new Israeli restrictions placed on foreign nationals entering the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge, calling the new regulations 'unacceptable'." The State Department made specific note that the new Israeli policy would "'unfairly impact Palestinian and Arab-American travelers.'" (Ha'aretz journalist Amira Hass also published an in-depth report on the new restrictions, which you can read by clicking here.) As with other statements from the Obama Administration, however, this one appears so far to be toothless, as US Campaign Advisory Board member Nadia Hijab notes in her most recent column for Agence Global, entitled "Israel Tests Obama-Again". Hijab recounts an exchange between State Department spokesperson Ian Kelley and a persistent journalist:
"Journalist: What does that mean, we cannot accept this kind of practice? You also can’t accept, you know, continued building of settlements, and they seem to be doing that. Kelly: Yeah. Journalist: So what exactly does that mean? Kelly: Well, it means that this kind of practice is something that the U.S. Government believes should not be done. This is not…something that we can accept. Journalist: What are you going to do if they don’t stop? Kelly: We will continue to protest. Journalist: But that won’t make any difference - Kelly: Yeah. Journalist: So? Kelly: It is what it is. We don’t like the practice."Thank goodness the State Department is standing up for our rights!! Hijab goes on to point out the dangerous implications of this change in policy:
"Unchallenged, it allows Israel to reinforce its hold on East Jerusalem, which it has (illegally) annexed, as well as those pieces of the West Bank it would like to keep if and when there is a final settlement, such as Palestinian lands east of the separation wall and the fertile Jordan Valley. Those Americans whose passports are stamped “Palestinian Authority only” would be unable to visit any of these places, just as Palestinians cannot, even though they are part of occupied Palestinian territory."The plain truth is that as long as we provide unconditional support for Israeli apartheid and occupation, the Israeli government can do what it wants--whether to U.S. citizens or to Palestinians. To change Israeli policy, we have to end U.S. military aid and U.S.-based corporate support for occupation. Otherwise, statements only pile on top of statements--and nothing changes. Join our movement for change today by clicking here!
"Palestinian civil society and the international solidarity movement have shown that boycott and divestment are powerful non-violent, economic tools in the struggle for freedom and justice. How much more powerful such tools would be if a Palestinian leadership also called for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) so that the entire people spoke with one voice and reinforced each other’s efforts."Read the full article here. To get involved in the movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions in the United States, click here.
"Here’s what Obama could say: “Let me be clear. I have already stated that my administration does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. There is no point having ‘natural growth’ in structures which must be evacuated, as required by international law. Peace with the Palestinians -- based on two sovereign states along the 1967 borders with minor, mutually agreed modifications -- is the best guarantee of Israel’s survival and security. We call on the world to act: Not against Israel, but against Israel’s occupation.”"(View of Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, with the settlement of Efrat in the background. For more photos from the US Campaign/IFPB delegation, click here) Hijab adds that the Obama Administration needs to consider the leverage that it has:
"[J]ust as Israel is stalling on what America has described as one of its national security interests -- peace in the Middle East -- the administration should similarly stall on issues important to Israel. For instance, sharing military technology, providing military aid or loan guarantees, and conducting joint military exercises. Bureaucracies can find ways to slow things down without a policy shift, and the administration should use them all."To read the full article, click here. To take action against U.S. military aid to Israel, click here.