This week saw a new round of construction approvals by the Israeli government for settlement housing units, the majority of which are for colonies “deep” in the occupied West Bank.
The settlement homes were advanced by a committee of the so-called Civil Administration, part of the defence ministry, which forms a key part of the bureaucratic process for advancing settlement construction in the West Bank (East Jerusalem, illegally annexed by Israel, is treated differently). Read more
When Israeli opposition leader and Labour Party chairman Isaac Herzog published a plan for kick-starting the peace process last month, one of his stated goals was to “save the settlement blocs” – areas of the West Bank where Israel has built clusters of settlements, including larger towns.
Settlement blocs are often referred to by politicians and pundits alike, but there is no common understanding about precisely what the term means. Read more
There is a growing consensus that the status quo in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is fatal to the possibility of an independent Palestinian state.
This was the take-home message of a recent, high-profile speech by US Secretary of State John Kerry, and, as pointed out recently by Yousef Munayyer, the diplomat himself warned four years ago that the window for the “two-state solution” would definitively close in two years.
Versions of this warning, that Israel’s colonisation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank is becoming irreversible, have been issued by Palestinians, Israelis and international diplomats and commentators for decades. Read more
As Israel and its advocates promote a depoliticised framework of economic improvements for Palestinians under military occupation, a new United Nations (UN) document is required reading.
Late last month, the UN Country Team in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) published an extensive, 180-page report on “the state of development in Palestine as the Israeli occupation of its territory enters its 50th year.” Read more
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat likes to present himself to a Western audience as the head of an open, pluralistic city, a place at ease with its ethnic and religious diversity, despite complex “security” challenges. The reality is somewhat different.
As reported in Haaretz (with thanks to Ofer Neiman for translation), while speaking recently with Likud party members, Barkat boasted of inflicting collective punishment on Palestinian neighbourhoods of Occupied East Jerusalem. Read more
The Israeli government and its supporters routinely play down the significance of West Bank settlements as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians. One recent example of this came from a Jewish Agency spokesperson, who tweeted: “Jewish communities in the West Bank take up under 2% of the land; that is, over 98% of the West Bank contains no Jewish residents at all.”
So is this true – and exactly how much of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) do Israel’s settlements take up? Read more
Last week, as Israelis celebrated their Independence Day, Palestinians in the country’s south held the annual March of Return, walking to the site of one of hundreds of Palestinian villages destroyed between 1947 and 1949.
This mass displacement and dispossession, known as the Nakba (catastrophe), is commemorated internationally each May. But in recent years, Israeli authorities have attempted to clamp down on events to mark the Nakba – most notably through a 2011 change to legislation pertaining to budget allocations. Read more
The former deputy mayor of Jerusalem had a stark warning for his American audience. Using official figures, Meron Benvenisti showed how the Israeli government had “proceeded methodically and effectively toward de facto annexation of the West Bank.” In terms of the West Bank’s “part in a solution” with the Palestinians, said Benvenisti, the time is “five minutes to midnight.”
Sounds pertinent? In fact, that speech was given 34 years ago, in 1982. Read more
“If there are other inhabitants there, they must be transferred to some other place. We must take over the land. We have a greater and nobler ideal than preserving several hundred thousands of Arab fellahin.”
Menahem Ussishkin, chair of Jewish National Fund, 1930.
There is a lot of discussion about Zionism at the moment: how to define it, what it means to be anti-Zionist and whether that equates to antisemitism, and so on. But there has been a notable, and instructive, absence in these debates: an understanding of what Zionism has meant for Palestinians. Read more