The pending demolitions of Khan Al-Ahmar and Susiya, two Palestinian communities in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, along with the forced expulsion of their inhabitants, have been attracting international concern and protests.
Similarly, the recent eviction of a Palestinian family to make way for Jewish settlers in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, prompted widespread condemnation (though, of course, no practical steps of censure or sanction).
In all three cases, the Israeli authorities and settlers deploy a variety of legal tools to dress up displacement and colonisation as merely “respect for the law” and “due process”. Read more
Hundreds of Jewish Israelis demonstrated on Saturday in the northern city of Afula, after construction tenders issued for new housing were won by Palestinian citizens from nearby villages.
The demonstrators, who are calling for the tenders to be revoked, included “senior officials” from the Afula city council, as well as David Suissa, chief of staff to Israel’s Housing Minister. “The fight in Afula has set off many warning bells”, said Suissa, adding that the protest was on behalf of “anyone who grew up in the city and wants to safeguard its character.” Read more
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”? 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
Framing events in Gaza in the colonial context is vital for understanding the nature of the violence, argues author.
While it is common knowledge that a majority of the population of the Gaza Strip are refugees, it is less well understood where they came from. The shocking reality is that many of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are a few miles away from the land of their ethnically cleansed former villages, across the border fence in southern Israel. Like so much else with Palestine, you can’t understand Gaza if you don’t understand the Nakba. Read more
This 30 March, the Palestinian minority inside Israel will mark ‘Land Day’, 35 years after Israeli security forces killed six Arab citizens protesting against the expropriation of land by the state. Land Day has become a global day of commemoration and protest for Palestinians, but its significance is that its origins are in the struggle of the Palestinians in Israel. This year there is an added resonance, as the Israeli parliament has only recently passed discriminatory new legislation targeting the Palestinian minority (around 20 per cent of the population). In fact, in recent years, Israeli Members of Knesset have been proposing and passing a whole raft of disturbing proposals, a trend that did not begin with, but was boosted by, the current Netanyahu-Lieberman coalition (see summaries by Adalah and ACRI). Just last week, however, two new laws were passed on the same day. One, dubbed the ‘Nakba Law’, enables “the withholding of funds to public institutions deemed to be involved in publicly challenging the founding of Israel as a Jewish state or any activity ‘denying the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state’. A law, in the words of an editorial in Ha’aretz, “designed to shut people up”. Read more
Shortly after I had arrived in Palestine last month, I visited the devastated community in the Jordan Valley where the Israeli army had, just days earlier, demolished around 70 “illegal” structures. The same week, I visited Dahmash, an “unrecognised” village between Ramla and Lod, inside Israel, where Palestinian citizens face pending demolition orders. Finally, a few days later, I woke up to the news that the “unrecognised” Palestinian Bedouin village of al-Araqib, in the Negev, had been destroyed in a raid involving 1,300 armed police (and cheering volunteers).
Whether under military rule in the West Bank, or as citizens in Israel, Palestinian communities’ ability to grow naturally is compromised by laws, “zoning” plans and permit systems designed to enforce a regime of separation and inequality. In 2008, a UN report detailed how 94 per cent of Palestinian building permit applications are denied in “Area C” of the West Bank, an area that covers 60 per cent of the territory. Read more