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Like Israeli apartheid, Palestinian resistance crosses Green Line

In 2003, Israel’s then-finance minister, Binyamin Netanyahu described Palestinian citizens of Israel as the real “demographic problem”.

Seven years later as prime minister, Netanyahu told his cabinet that “without a Jewish majority”, the Negev posed “a palpable threat”.

Did someone say “incitement”?

This is the man currently leading Israel into a diplomatic and security cul-de-sac; a man who, thanks to his ideology and obsession with political power, is cementing the de facto one-state reality with the support of his eager accomplices in the Israeli parliament.

There should be no surprise that Netanyahu has expanded settlements, overseen atrocities in Gaza, proclaimed the return of punitive house demolitions and threatened Palestinian citizens of Israel with expulsion for advocating the “destruction of the state”.

For Netanyahu, the “Green Line” – the division between territory held by Israel before and after 1967 – is meaningless.

Apartheid nation

None of this sets him apart from previous Israeli leaders and governments. From Sharon to Rabin, the colonial consensus has always trumped international law.

But in recent years, the erasure of the Green Line has become more pronounced. Israeli bulldozers are tearing down Palestinian homes in the south Hebron hills, and destroying what Israel says are “illegal” homes in the Negev.

In Silwan, Jewish settlers move into Palestinian homes using legal mechanisms and brute force, the continuation of bureaucratic and physical violence that stretches back to the 1948 Nakba.

Over the summer, as Gaza burned, Israeli forces were also cutting down Palestinian protesters in the West Bank, confronting demonstrators in occupied East Jerusalem, and arresting and harassing Palestinians in the villages of the Galilee Triangle.

Palestinian solidarity

And just as Israeli apartheid has crossed the Green Line, so has Palestinian resistance. Palestinians, especially the politically engaged youth, are reaching out across the divisions created by Zionist colonisation to create links of solidarity.

These connections emerge out of an understanding that they are facing the same enemy: a state determined to expel, corral and silence the indigenous population in the name of ethno-religious supremacy.

Examples include the 2011 solidarity hunger strikes in Haifa in support of Palestinian prisoners, similar coordinated activity during Khader Adnan’s hunger strike, and the days of rage and protest against the so-called “Prawer Plan” to ethnically cleanse Bedouin Palestinians from the Negev.

The tools provided by social media platforms are part of the story, but it is also about a generation which rejects the fragmentation of the past.

It is a reflection of a political consciousness that is both old and new: it harks back to before the time when the Palestinian issue was reduced to that of “statehood”, and is shaped by the realities and priorities of the present.

State of mind

The fact that Israel’s policies of segregation and discrimination bridge the Green Line brings us to a conversation less about “states” (and even less about the “two-state solution”), and more about decolonisation.

Even a single, democratic state, as Noura Erakat wrote in The Nation in March 2013, is not sufficient without a commitment to dismantling “those institutions that confer privilege to any particular ethnic, religious or national group”.

And those are the sorts of questions and issues that are slowly coming to the fore, as Israel upholds a politics of racial privilege and policies of exclusion as it maintains a grip over all the territory from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean.

The status quo is unravelling, despite – or perhaps because of – the best efforts of different parties to maintain it. The emergence of a de facto “one state” thus contains dangers and opportunities.

Israel’s leaders will do their best to solidify and refine the apparatus of apartheid. Meanwhile, the Palestinian political leadership, by and large, is not reflecting the changes that have already taken place.

Events this year have brought home the irrelevancy of the Green Line: Israeli apartheid crosses it, and so does Palestinian resistance. The battle for justice in Palestine, to borrow from the title of Ali Abunimah’s most recent book, will play out in Shuafat and Gaza, Hebron and Kafr Kanna.

Published first by al-Araby al-Jadeed

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