This week has seen the promotion of yet more anti-democratic legislation in Israel. A new law that received final approval by the Knesset gives, for the first time, separate representation to Muslim and Christian Palestinian citizens on a national employment commission. The bill’s sponsor, Likud MK Yariv Levin, was clear about his motivation: “[the Christians are] our natural allies, a counterweight to the Muslims who want to destroy the country from within.” An editorial in Israeli newspaper Haaretz described it as “racist legislation” by “nationalist zealots”. Read more
Since its release in 2009 Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide has become an essential primer for undergraduate students and activists getting to grips with the Palestine/Israel conflict for the first time. Ben White skilfully distills the work of academics and experts into a highly accessible introduction.
This new updated and expanded edition includes information on the Israeli blockade and attacks on the Gaza Strip since 2008, new policies targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel and the growth of the global Boycott Divestment Sanctions campaign. Read more
Last week, EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen warned on Israeli television that the country would face “increasing isolation” if the peace process collapsed, echoing remarks he made in January about a “price to pay” in terms of boycott and divestment initiatives by European companies. Yet last week also saw the official launch of Israel’s participation in the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme, making it “eligible to compete for €77 billion worth of industrial research grants over seven years”. This juxtaposition is a useful picture of current EU-Israel relations, with close cooperation continuing even as strains have emerged in the context of a troubled peace process and civil society pressure. Read more
As the US-led Israeli-Palestinians peace process heads towards the buffers, one of the core aims and assumptions of the two decade-long negotiations – preserving a Jewish state in the majority of Mandate Palestine – has been forced into the spotlight.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas recognises Israel as a “Jewish state”, a call taken up by other Israeli politicians and lobby groups internationally, has garnered a lot of attention. But ultimately, it is the explicit expression of what has been the implicit assumption of talks since the Oslo process began. Read more
Earlier this month, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman declared in a high profile speech that “he would not support any peace agreement that does not include the exchange of Israeli Arab land and population”. Calling it a “basic condition”, the Yisrael Beiteinu leader said that “the border will move” so as to put “the Little Triangle and Wadi Ara” in the proposed Palestinian state.
Lieberman has suggested this before. In a Newsweek interview in 2010, he affirmed that he envisaged “drawing a line” so that “at least half” of all Palestinian citizens would “no longer be part of Israel”. Read more
At the end of 2013 came a shocking update from Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus – at least 15 Palestinians had died of hunger since September. The grim news was shared by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), whose spokesperson Chris Gunness told French news agency AFP that the conditions in the besieged camp were deteriorating. UNRWA, he said, “have been unable to enter the area to deliver desperately needed relief supplies” since September.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, anger at job cuts and budgetary problems has manifested itself in the form of industrial action, hunger strikes and marches by refugee camp popular committees. Read more
In December 2000, the first Herzliya Conference took place, a now annual event and regular fixture in the diaries of politicians, military officials and defense industry figures from Israel and around the world. The report produced after that first gathering included a section on Israel’s “geodemographic aspect”, and noted the following:
“The encouragement of Jewish settlement in demographically problematic regions, especially in the Galilee, the Jezreel Valley, and the Negev, among others, is necessary in order to prevent a contiguous Arab majority that would bisect Israel.”
This need to ‘Judaize’ the Galilee and the Negev in light of the perceived demographic ‘threat’ posed by Palestinian citizens of Israel is a consistent feature of Israeli policies since 1948. Read more
At the regular cabinet meeting on Sunday, Israeli PM Netanyahu repeated a demand that as part of any future agreement with the Palestinians, Israel would maintain a “security border” in the Jordan Valley. The same day, Israeli media reported that Netanyahu has ordered the construction of a security barrier on the Jordanian border in a development that one Israeli journalist said would “finalize the West Bank’s complete closure”. Read more