Over the last six months, there have been numerous reports on the apparent signs of hope in West Bank cities such as Ramallah, Nablus, and Jenin. The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, has also enjoyed flattering coverage in the likes of Newsweek and the New York Times, with his unilateral state-building strategy praised by a variety of commentators. The Israeli government, for its part, has trumpeted improvements in Palestinians’ daily lives – from the easing of restrictions on movement, to a boosted economy. Yet as I discovered during a visit at the beginning of this year, these sunny reports bear no relation to Israel’s colonisation of East Jerusalem and West Bank, where the permanently-temporary occupation continues to defy state-building efforts. Read more
Posts tagged ‘Israeli colonisation’
The Occupied Palestinian Territories is not a place where it is easy to hold on to hope. For decades, Palestinians have been living under Israel’s brutal military rule; their land colonised and subject to an apartheid regime of separation.
Yet one of the most inspiring developments in the West Bank over the last few years has been the emergence of a grassroots non-violent resistance movement amongst Palestinians, targeting Israel’s Separation Wall. Read more
George Mitchell is in Israel/Palestine as the White House’s special envoy, in a visit described as “a final push to revive Middle East peace talks”. The focus remains on Israel’s so –called settlement ‘freeze’, with Mitchell reported as saying that there was still work to be done on the “Israeli-American dispute over construction in the West Bank”. Ahead of his meeting with Mitchell today, Netanyahu has confirmed that there will not be a “complete halt to building” in the settlements, telling a Knesset committee that “a reduction on building in Judea and Samaria will only be for a limited period”. Read more
Ever since Barack Obama’s election, many have been eagerly awaiting the “new” approach they hope he will bring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in contrast to his predecessor. Yet rather than revealing change, my most recent visit to the region in April brought home to me how much of the Bush approach has been maintained under Obama and the Madrid Quartet with its special envoy Tony Blair.
That similarity is most clearly demonstrated by the huge contradiction that exists between the rhetoric of these major players when they talk about a “peace process” and the reality on the ground in Palestine/Israel. Read more
The flat top of the small hill is deserted, as we walk among the gutted concrete buildings. The graffiti on the wall declares that “the Jews will keep this land”. This is Ush Ghrab, a small piece of land in Beit Sahour, south of Jerusalem, and a target for religious settlers seeking yet another colony in the Bethlehem region.
I was walking around the site with my friend Saleem and his colleague Jason, who both work for Paidia, an NGO focused on educational play. Their work has been, and continues to be, primarily social, yet they are now forced to join other locals in defending the site from attempts at colonisation. Read more
It is quite likely that you have not heard of the most important developments this week in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the West Bank, while it has been “occupation as normal”, there have been some events that together should be overshadowing Gaza, Gilad Shalit and Avigdor Lieberman.
First, there have been a large number of Israeli raids on Palestinian villages, with dozens of Palestinians abducted. These kinds of raids are, of course, commonplace for the occupied West Bank, but in recent days it appears the Israeli military has targeted sites of particularly strong Palestinian civil resistance to the separation wall. Read more
In what is becoming somewhat of an annual tradition, recent weeks have seen dozens of stories in the international media about the difficulties facing Palestinians during the olive harvest season. Ever since the start of the Second Intifada in 2000, the West Bank olive harvest has been extensively covered by the press, with reporters accompanying Palestinian farmers and villagers out to the groves.
The olive harvest, as a proportion of the Palestinian economy, is not particularly big, but for many families and villages, it represents the prime, or even only, source of income. The olive tree is also invested with heavy symbolic value; rooted in the soil, ancient, it has come to represent Palestinian steadfastness in the face of concerted efforts to remove them from their land. Read more
From the veranda of his home up on the hillside, Hassan Abed Hassan Jermeh looks out over his village, fertile green fields, and all the way over to the mountains across the border in Jordan. Village elder since 1995, he is intimately familiar with the challenges facing Palestinians in the Jordan Valley.
Al-Zubeidat is home to around 1,800 members of the same hamula (clan), originally Bedouin refugees displaced from Beer al-Sabe’, now the Israeli town of Beer Sheva, in 1948. The residents mainly work in agriculture on land that since 1967 has been rented from the Israeli government, which refused to recognize previous agreements made with the Jordanians. Read more
Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was reported to have suggested that the question of Jerusalem would be “left to last” in negotiations with the Palestinians. This was apparently on account of the issue being “too sensitive and complex,” as well as fears that talks on Jerusalem would cause the departure of religious right-wingers from Olmert’s ruling coalition.
Domestic political considerations will certainly have played a part in the prime minister’s thinking, but there is another possible motivation for leaving this “final status issue” for further down the road. In recent weeks, and indeed, going back to the December announcement of the expansion of West Bank settlement Har Homa, the Israeli government’s approach to Jerusalem has been at best contradictory, and at worst, deeply cynical. Read more
A few weeks ago, the Oxford University Union held a debate on the “one-state solution” in Palestine/Israel. Before the speakers had even taken to the floor, however, the event was the focus of an intense controversy, over allegations that the Union organizers had buckled under pressure to cancel Norman Finkelstein’s appearance. Ghada Karmi, Ilan Pappe, and Avi Shlaim — all scheduled to speak on the opposite side of the floor to Finkelstein — pulled out in solidarity.  Read more