When Israeli authorities last week approved plans for more than 2,000 settlement housing units in the occupied West Bank, the European Union was quick to condemn the move.
“All settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace,” read the statement issued by the European External Action Service, the EU’s diplomatic service.
It went on: “The EU expects the Israeli authorities to fully meet their obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive Israeli use, and of denying Palestinian development.” Read more
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is in dire straits but observers differ on whether the framework of negotiations towards a two-state solution is in poor health, comatose or dead.
The arrival of Donald Trump in the White House, along with an Israeli government and opposition that are either explicitly opposed to Palestinian statehood, ambivalent or believe it is not the right time, are all further evidence of an era of uncertainty and danger. But there is also an opportunity for a rethink by the international community about how they relate to Israel and Palestinians. And it is vital that any new approach must end the subordination of Palestinian rights. Read more
As world leaders reacted to Donald Trump’s US presidential election victory, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did not want to be left out. “Abbas congratulates the elected American president, Donald Trump, and hopes that peace will be achieved during his term,” said a statement on the official Palestinian news agency. Read more
Earlier this year, I took a look at a booklet by the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) called ‘The Apartheid Smear’, authored by staffer Alan Johnson. Intended as a “vital tool” for fighting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, the publication is full of errors and omissions; for example, it doesn’t mention the illegality of Israeli settlements even once.
I am returning to BICOM and Alan Johnson, following the latter’s interventions in recent debates on BDS and antisemitism. Johnson presents himself as a leftist when arguing Israel’s corner, especially in contexts where Israeli apartheid gets short shrift (e.g. campuses). He also tends to repeat the same points again and again – so here is the BICOM guide to defending Netanyahu’s Israel. Read more
On June 3, a few days before the 49th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, diplomats gathered in Paris for a conference framed as a preliminary step towards reviving official Israeli-Palestinian peace talks – though without the presence of either’s respective officials.
The gathering did not amount to much; the final statement was characterized by generalities and included phrases copied and pasted from recent statements issued by the Middle East Quartet, or the Diplomatic Quartet. Read more
In the end, the deadline came and went, and some people did not even notice. April 29, a day that had loomed on the horizon portending decisive developments for the US secretary of state John Kerry’s stricken peace process, brought neither breakthrough nor decisive failure.
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have been “paused”, and the US has very little to show for months of shuttle diplomacy, discussions, and proposals. On the ground, meanwhile, Israeli colonisation has continued apace. In nine months of formal talks, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government advanced construction for around 14,000 housing units in West Bank settlements. Read more
Earlier this month, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman declared in a high profile speech that “he would not support any peace agreement that does not include the exchange of Israeli Arab land and population”. Calling it a “basic condition”, the Yisrael Beiteinu leader said that “the border will move” so as to put “the Little Triangle and Wadi Ara” in the proposed Palestinian state.
Lieberman has suggested this before. In a Newsweek interview in 2010, he affirmed that he envisaged “drawing a line” so that “at least half” of all Palestinian citizens would “no longer be part of Israel”. Read more
This Friday will mark 20 years to the day since Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chair Yasser Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn, signing an agreement that established the Palestinian Authority (PA) and a framework for negotiations that has lasted to this day.
On the 20th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, the infographic below demonstrates what these years of the US-led peace process have produced for Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip: an acceleration of Israeli colonisation and a cementing of an apartheid regime of control and discrimination. The infographic is far from comprehensive: The last two decades have also seen the siege and brutalisation of the Gaza Strip, the consolidation of the checkpoint and permit system, land confiscations, settler outposts expanding, and the detention and torture of thousands. Read more
With peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials beginning again, many analysts have given their reasons for being either cautiously hopeful or sceptical. Yet what is incredible is that, twenty years on from the Oslo Accords, many people still have not asked more fundamental questions about the paradigm of the official peace process itself. Read more