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
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
From the refugees in 1949 looking over the Lebanese border at the land from which they were expelled, to the students in the Gaza banned by the Israeli Supreme Court from studying in the West Bank, Israeli colonisation has fragmented the Palestinian people over the decades with walls, fences, guns, bureaucracy and propaganda.
Overcoming that fragmentation has become further complicated in recent times on account of the moribund state of representative bodies like the Palestine Liberation Organisation, as well as the long-running split between Fatah and Hamas. Read more
Recently the Israeli cabinet approved a major plan for the Negev that seeks to “relocate” an estimated 30,000 Bedouin Palestinian citizens to government-approved townships.
The details that have emerged about the government’s ‘solution’ for Bedouin Palestinians show a continuation of the colonial logic that has shaped Israeli policy in the Negev since 1948. Reports suggest that the state will reject half of the Bedouins’ land claims. For the tens of thousands of Bedouin Palestinians in ‘unrecognised villages’, there is now uncertainty about exactly which communities will be ‘legalised’ – and which will be demolished, their residents forcibly transferred. 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