There is much talk these days about Israel’s “creeping annexation” of the occupied West Bank, from both critics and proponents alike.
Critics say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s government, dominated by right-wing nationalists in both the Likud and Jewish Home parties, has been advancing various laws designed to prepare the ground for Israel to annex portions of the occupied territory. 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
Update (17/3//17): since this article was first published, ESCWA has been forced to remove the report from its website. It can be viewed/downloaded here: UN ESCWA Israel Apartheid Report
A new United Nations report accuses Israel of having established “an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole”.
The publication comes amid renewed debate about whether, through its settlement policy and rejection of Palestinian self-determination, the Israeli government is creating – or even has already created – a de facto “one-state”, which critics warn would constitute a form of apartheid. Read more
A key element of Israel’s military regime in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), an occupation that will complete fifty years in June, is the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit, which is overseen by the Ministry of Defence.
COGAT, whose operating budget in 2015 was nearly half a billion shekels, describes itself as “responsible for implementing the government’s policy in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip.” 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
The settlers of the Amona outpost are but a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands who live in colonies, established by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory since 1967. Their fate has seen Benjamin Netanyahu challenged by the pro-settler right both inside and outside his coalition government.
For some, the fact that the court-mandated removal of settlers living on privately owned Palestinian land is taking place at all proves that Israel is not, in fact, being led by the “settler lobby”.
For others, the fact that such a protest, and contrived “compromise”, can be generated over one outpost suggests that a large-scale settler withdrawal is perhaps impossible. Read more
Israeli leaders like to boast they have “the most moral army in the world”, a claim made by everyone from Ehud Barak to Binyamin Netanyahu. Over the last decade, however, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have been the subject of stinging criticism and well-documented allegations of war crimes, particularly with respect to offensives in the Gaza Strip. Read more
“[Israeli] settlement activity…is corrosive to the cause of peace,” the statement began, describing Israel’s recent steps as merely “the latest examples of what appears to be a steady acceleration of settlement activity that is systematically undermining the prospects for a two-state solution”.
Settlement construction and the demolition of Palestinian homes, it went on, “is part of an ongoing process of land seizures, settlement expansion, legalisations of outposts, and denial of Palestinian development that risk entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict”. 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