The Theft of Palestine in Action
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 4 Jun 2018
28 May 2018 – The last two weeks’ developments in and for/against Palestine, were intensive in a way that included all the components of what was going on since the second half of the nineteenth century: the process of the displacement of the Palestinians and their replacement by colonial settlers.
Colonial Settlement expansion wise, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics new report released in the 15th of May, showed that the number of settlers reached the number of 636,402 in the end of 2016, representing 21.8% in comparison with each 100 Palestinian. In East Jerusalem 68.3 of its population is already of settlers. Besides that there are a majority of settlers versus the Palestinian population in area which represent 64 percent of West Bank. This means that East Jerusalem and area C are already Judaized in regard to their population. While the 6,310,000 Palestinians calculated by the end of 2017 are condensed in the tiny Strip of Gaza, and the area A, and to lesser extent area B of West Bank both representing no more than 36 percent of West Bank.
What will be the next step of the settler colonial project now on?
The trend is not for peace, but for more grabbing of land, and more settlement expansion. In the last two weeks the Israeli Minister Avigdor Lieberman declared the establishment of new 3900 settler units in West Bank. In Jerusalem 58 new units decided for Gilo settlement, and 92 for Pisgat Zeev. More importantly the government decided a new plan of 2 billion shekels in the 13th of May aiming clearly this time to Israelize Jerusalem as opposite to the previous plans that were released on the name of sustaining security in the city as the Israeli Journalist Nir Hasson indicated (Haaretz, 14/5). Moreover the Judaization of Bab Al Rahmeh Cemetery is still going on combined with a plan to create cable cars project going from the Mount of Olives to the Wailing Wall, accompanied by a full change of the landscape of the Old City of Jerusalem and its environs.
These examples of settlement and Israelization processes are accompanied with laws and practices of displacement such as the law to confiscate the Jerusalem ID’s from anybody who do not show loyalty to Israel( Hamas PLC members were the first to pay the price of this law), and the ongoing discussions for ousting Kufr Aqab and Shufat Refugee Camp from Jerusalem aiming to decrease the Palestinian population from the city. Also there are the new decision of the Israeli Ministry of Justice to oblige the Palestinian Jerusalemites to register their houses and properties on their names. Failure to do so due to problems resulting from the Islamic inheritance system, or from the fact that many of the lands and properties are endowed will lead to confiscation of the House or the property. In the other side a legal coverage is on the way to annex the settlements of Adumim and Givat Zeev and Gush Etzion to the city to increase the number of the Jews in it. Finally the incursions to Al Aqsa Mosque by the extremists of the “Temple Mount” calling for the rebuilding of the Temple reached new number of 1410 in the 13th of May, which is called as “The Jerusalem Day”.
The displacement process is also ongoing in area C, for Instance the Israeli High Court approved in 22/5 the evacuation of Al Khan Al Ahmar Bedouins including 40 families, and destroying their houses and a school that serves more than 170 Bedouin pupils. This decision will allow for further expansion of the neighboring settlement of Maale Adumim. The Israeli Journalist Amira Hass wrote in the middle of the month in Haaretz about the two villages of Umm Al Jammal and Ein Helweh In the Jordan Valley, which the Government decided to ask the Israeli High Court to release an order for their evacuation with their 300 persons due to the justification that their houses are build without permits. New in this case was the claim of the Government that the law should be implemented equally for both the settlers and the Palestinians, and therefore demolition orders should not be limited to one party than the other. Further in area C other example is related to the village of Sosya close to Hebron that the government decided also to demolish and evacuate its 400 inhabitants. Also in Al Aqaba village close to Tobas a military’s decision was made to destroy 20 houses in the 27th of May, made few days after the release of a new military order that will make the process of demolition of constructions in area C faster and with less obstacles included. In Hebron 2, the neighborhoods of Salaymeh and Gheith Families were closed by gates in 14/5 which prevents them the right of direct access to Al – Ibrahimi Mosque in the city, in the meantime the nearby settlement of Tal Rmiedeh continues to expand over historical archeological sites.
These practices of displacement are further accompanied by uprooting trees and vineyards. As examples: In Halhoul 500 vineyards were cut owned by Jibril Jahshan a week ago, and yesterday 700-800 vineyards were destroyed owned by Shukri Abu Rajab in East Hebron. In another example the settlers attacked in the 14th of May an initiative to plant trees in Turmos Ayya village close to Ramallah.
In one hand the people in area C are uprooted, but in second hand their means of living are attacked and destroyed. Thirdly their symbols are under attack. For example carrying the Palestinian flag is not prohibited by the Israeli law, but the MK Ahmad Tibi was attacked harshly by the Police when he was carrying this flag during the demonstration of 14/5 close to the new location of the new American Embassy that was opened at that day.
Further ahead, there is also the process of demonization as a fourth component . Look for instance to Avigdor Lieberman description of Hamas as a “ Bunch of Cannibals that treat their children as armaments”. Such a statement reminds of the well-known attack made by the white settlers in the 16th Century against the Red Indians in “ Abya Yala” which was their original name of what became to be known later as America. This logic was followed by making Hamas responsible for the killings that the Israeli Army committed against the demonstrations of the “ Return Marches” in the borders of Gaza, in which the number of casualties reached around 123 killed and more than 13,000 injured since the Marches started in the end of March this year, that all besides 50 who are in the status of coma in the hospitals . In the opposite no single Israeli was killed by these Marches demonstrators, and the Army used the massive force of 11 brigades, and jets shelling from the air against them. Besides that the demonization became comprehensive against all the Palestinians, for instance the demonstators in Haifa in the 18th of May were attacked as being loyal to Hamas and the director of Mosawah Center in Haifa Mr Jafar Farah got his leg broken after he was arrested by the Police. The High Court made again a legal coverage to the killings in Gaza when it decided in the 22nd of May that the killings conducted are “ part of the state of war that exists between Israel and Hamas”. Accordingly the court rejected two petitions for instructing a change in the firing orders by the Army.
Changing the landscape is a fifth component. After the displacement, the new comers who replace start the process of changing the landscape. In a former article here, we quoted Netanyahu speaking about “dissolving the Countryside”. This is of course is conducted on the name of modernity and modernization.
Colonial settlers’ attacks are a sixth component. Like the attacks on Al Aqsa mentioned above, or the example of the “Price Tag” Group night attack in Shufat this month destroying partially 28 cars, and writing racist slogans. Many other settler attacks taking place around Hebron, Nablus, and Ramallah areas can be also mentioned.
A seventh component is about what the Israeli Journalist “Zvi Bar’ el” called as the “Abolishing of the Nakba” (Haaretz, 15th of May”. This abolishment took place legally by the law that criminalize the “ celebration” of the Nakba, and now by the new decisions in the making to prevent taking pictures of the soldiers while they are oppressing or killing Palestinians subject to 5 years imprisonment to those who take these pictures. Haaretz called this new decision in the making as “Leor Azaria law”, referring to the soldier who killed the Palestinian Abdel Fattah Al Sharif while he was injured and can do nothing. Azaria was sentenced for 18 months, which was decreased to 14 months, and then he was released after he spent nine months only in the prison. The abolishing of the Nakaba is also genocidal to the memory. The aim is to prohibit the people their right to remember.
Where we are heading to with these politics of theft of land, changing its landscape ( Spacio- Cide as it was called by Sari Hanafi), demonizing the other and the denial of his/ her equal rights as human being, and use the laws to twist the arm of justice, and as such make the law as a “ law- making violence” as it was called by Walter Benjamin.
These processes express the continuation of the Nakba as Saeb Erekat wrote in the 14th of May. In the same day the Journalist Fatina Dajani described the Nakba as a “ Past- Present”. If these processes continue, then no place, and no space will be left to the Palestinians in their homeland. Striking enough to see Netanyahu calling the Mayor of Maale Adumim settlement to congratulate him for the new government decision few days ago to expand settlements, and to promise him that the Maale Adumim expansion plans are on their way to be approved by the Government. In other hand why the Israeli Government meetings till the end of July were moved to a cave build in the underground close to Jerusalem, where no leaks of the discussions whatsoever will happen. This reminds of Ben Gurion secret meetings with the Zionist leadership before 1948. What the “evils” that they are discussing? And what the upcoming atrocities that they are planning for? In the lack of information, one can only use historical evidence to speculate.
The next columns will analyze the current Israeli proposals about what to do with the Palestinians.
Dr. Walid Salem is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He was born in East Jerusalem in 1957 and teaches democracy and human rights at AlQuds University. He is a writer of thirty books and training manuals, and tens of research papers on Democracy, civil society, citizenship, refugees, and Jerusalem. He is also a consultant, evaluator, and trainer for several public and private bodies. Salem trained more than thirty thousand Palestinians on these issues since 1990, and, since 1993, he is the Director of The Centre for Democracy and Community Development, East Jerusalem. He is the Coordinator of Middle East Citizen Assembly as regional network of experts and activists on citizenship issues that include participants from 19 countries from the region since 2004. He has lectured at several international conferences and seminars about democracy, Jerusalem, refugees, and development in Palestine.
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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 4 Jun 2018.
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