Israel must not divide Jerusalem

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An Israeli flag hangs outside a settler’s home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. (photo: Emil Salman)

Arbitrarily altering a city’s boundaries based on demographic forecasts is hardly the way to manage a municipality. Instead, all of East Jerusalem should be rehabilitated.

By Moshe Arens | Haaretz | Dec 3, 2017


Instead of fiddling with Jerusalem’s boundaries, the ministers and mayor should set in motion a plan to rehabilitate all East Jerusalem’s neighborhoods. That a Palestinian refugee camp, Shoafat, has existed for 50 years within Israel’s sovereign borders is inexcusable.

 


Ministers Zeev Elkin and Naftali Bennett are sponsoring legislation that would let the government change Jerusalem’s borders, making the Kafr Aqab and Shoafat refugee-camp neighborhoods that have been within the city’s  boundaries for 50 years separate municipal entities.

Both ministers have impeccable records regarding their opposition to the division of Jerusalem, but still the legislation they’re trying to move through the Knesset at lightning speed constitutes a shrinking of the municipal boundaries of Israel’s capital by separating off certain neighborhoods. Like it or not, this is a division of Jerusalem. No wonder Mayor Nir Barkat objects.

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Israeli settlers turn archeological sites into political tools

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The Biyar Aqueduct has become a tourist attraction for Israeli settlers. (photo: Duane Vander Klok)

Every year, some 100,000 women, children and men visit the Biyar Aqueduct, built some 2,000 years ago to supply water to Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple.

By Akiva Eldar / Al-Monitor / Oct 3, 2017


“There is clear evidence at the Biyar Aqueduct — as there is at other sites — of the presence of the sons of the Judean Kingdom or of Jews at various periods. The problem is that these sites are being used as propaganda tools to establish the right of Jews to those lands, and the multicultural aspect of thousands of years of history is sidelined or even wiped out of the whole story.”
— Archaeologist Yonathan Mizrachi


The Israeli left made no bones about its glee over the empty bleachers at the September 27 jubilee celebration of the liberation of Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Valley and Golan Heights organized by the settlers in the occupied West Bank. The left views the photos of the empty seats as proof of the settlers’ failure to occupy the hearts and minds of the general Israeli public. The leftists argue that not only did the billions poured by successive Israeli governments into the settlements for 50 years lure fewer than 5% of Israelis to live there — about 400,000 according to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics — the vast majority avoided the wasteful “liberation festival.”

Yet the pleasure taken by the left in the seeming failure of the settlers and their patrons is somewhat pathetic. Granted, the right-wing concept of a return to the land of the forefathers has not created a major demographic shift of Israelis moving to the settlements. Nonetheless, the notion has ingrained itself in the minds of broad swathes of the Israeli public and of tens of thousands of visitors from around the world. It happens daily in Jerusalem’s Old City and throughout the West Bank.

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Human Rights Activist Arrested for Facebook Post

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Human rights activist Issa Amro being apprehended by Israeli security forces in an undated photo. (photo: Mairav Zonszein / +972 Magazine)

Issa Amro declares hunger strike as he remains under detention by the Palestinian Authority because of Facebook post.

By Ariel Gold / Youth Against Settlements, via email
September 5, 2017


“All my writings on social media are part of the freedom of opinion and expression stipulated by the Palestinian Basic Law and are protected by all international laws and conventions. My arrest will not affect my defense of human rights and the rights of journalists to exercise their work freely and without pressure from the government.”
— Issa Amro


Yesterday morning, Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro was arrested by Palestinian Authority police for posting a message on Facebook stating that the PA should respect freedom of expression after it arrested journalist Ayman Qawasmi. That was yesterday morning around 10:00 AM, Palestine time. Issa is still in custody almost 30 hours later. His detention has now been extended and Issa has declared he is on hunger strike, refusing all food, water and medicine until he is released.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups have condemned the PA’s detention of Issa and called for his immediate release. He was arrested under a new law issued by the PA that gives it broad powers to arrest and imprison Palestinians for statements made online that harm “national unity” and to block access to websites. The PA, which was created under the Oslo Accords during the 1990’s and was supposed to be a temporary body on the way to statehood, operates under the overall control of Israel’s occupying army.

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Mr. Friedman, Where Do You Stand on the Demolition of a Palestinian Village and School?

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Students at Khan al Ahmar village school, Palestine (photo: Vento di Terra)

An open letter to Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Israel.

By Donna Baranski-Walker / Mondoweiss.net
March 8, 2017


My question: Do your own donations to support education in the Israeli settlement of Beit El and President Trump’s trust in you put you in a unique position to stop Israel’s demolition of Palestinian communities?


David Friedman, esq.
Nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Israel

Dear Mr. Friedman,

I am writing with urgency. I have asked my Senators Feinstein and Harris to forward my questions to you and request your reply. I am bringing these questions forward because although many speculate about what shape peace between Israelis and Palestinians will take in the future, I am most concerned with how you will assure a future for Palestinians who are being forced from their land right now.

The stakes were always high, but since January 2017, this situation is critical. These past two weeks, I have once again been urging everyone I know to write to their Senators and Representatives to urgently request that they call the Israeli Embassy and the U.S. State Department to prevent the imminent demolition of a West Bank Palestinian school and village, this time the village of Khan al Ahmar. Simultaneously we await word of the State of Israel’s position re the appeal by the Palestinian village of Susiya, calls are arriving from the village of Umm al Kheir about the Israeli Army’s demolition of water catchment cisterns in their area, and more.

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Israel Closes Palestinian Office Tracking Illegal Settlements

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A man takes a photo of the sealed offices of Khalil Tufagji, a prominent Palestinian cartographer, in East Jerusalem. Israeli police raided Tufagji’s office on Mar 14, 2017. His office is to remain closed for six months. (photo: Mahmoud Illean / Associated Press)

Israel briefly detains Palestinian cartographer, confiscates computers and files, and closes his office for six months.

By Joseph Federman / AP and The Washington Post
March 14, 2017


Tufagji is considered the foremost Palestinian expert on Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas claimed by the Palestinians for a future state. . . . More than 200,000 Israelis now live in East Jerusalem, along with a similar number of Palestinians. Israel considers its developments to be neighborhoods of its capital, but the Palestinians and most of the international community label them as illegal settlements.


Israeli police on Tuesday burst into the offices of a Palestinian cartographer who tracks Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and detained him for several hours, accusing him of illegally working for the Palestinian Authority.

It was believed to be the first arrest of its kind since Israel banned the Palestinian Authority from carrying out official business in East Jerusalem in 2001. It also illustrated the deep sensitivities over East Jerusalem, an area with deep religious and strategic significance claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians.

Khalil Tufagji, a former Palestinian negotiator, said police entered his office early Tuesday and confiscated computers and files before taking him away. He was released after several hours. Tufagji denied working for the Palestinian Authority.

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U.N. Says Israeli Settlement Law Crosses “Thick Red Line”

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Laborers work at a new housing project in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem, Feb 7, 2017. (photo: Oded Balilty / AP)

The United Nations condemns a new Israeli law legalizing dozens of unlawful West Bank settler outposts on illegally appropriated Palestinian land.

By Josef Federman / AP News
February 7, 2017


Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N.’s coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said the legislation “opens the floodgates to the potential annexation of the West Bank.” . . . It also marked the first time that the Israeli parliament has imposed Israeli law on Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank. The area, captured by Israel in 1967, is not sovereign Israeli territory and Palestinians there are not Israeli citizens and do not have the right to vote.


The United Nations’ Mideast envoy on Tuesday said a new Israeli law legalizing dozens of unlawful West Bank settler outposts crossed a “very thick red line,” while Israeli rights groups said they would fight to overturn the measure in the Supreme Court.

The explosive law, approved by Israeli lawmakers late Monday night, was the latest in a series of pro-settler steps taken by Israel’s hard-line government since the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. It is expected to trigger a number of challenges in the Supreme Court, while members of the international community have already begun to condemn it.

The law legalized dozens of outposts home built unlawfully on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. According to the law, Palestinian landowners would be compensated either with money or alternative land, even if they did not agree to give up their property.

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Palestine: The End of the Bedouins?

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Abu Rasmi Ayyub amid the ruins of his village, al-Hammeh, demolished by the Israeli army on September 27, 2016. (photo: Giy Hircefeld)

By David Shulman / The New York Review of Books
December 7, 2016


We are simple people. We want to graze our sheep, to feed our families, to educate our children. Only that. In the late 1980s, at the time of the Oslo agreements, there was hope, but in the end the disaster became even more terrible. They are doing whatever they can to drive us out. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the situation here should be frozen, and no more demolitions take place, but the soldiers pay no attention. When a soldier comes to tear down my house, where is the judge?  . . . My daughter was wounded in front of my eyes by an Israeli girl, a soldier. What am I supposed to feel? How am I supposed to live with the Israeli people, in what they claim is the only democracy in the Middle East?


One way to tell the story of the Middle East as a whole is to describe the endemic struggle between peripatetic nomads and settled peasant farmers — a struggle attested already in ancient Mesopotamian documents. For centuries, all the political regimes of the region have tried, with varying success, to get the Bedouin to come to rest on the land. But in Israel and in the occupied territories we see, alongside this familiar policy, persistent attempts to uproot Bedouin populations who have already settled on the land, sometimes generations ago, and who usually have clear claims to ownership of these sites.

Today, most of the Jordan Valley, undoubtedly one of the most ravishing landscapes on the planet, is situated in what is known as Area C of occupied Palestinian territory. This means that, with the exception of the ancient city of Jericho and its surroundings (which are in Area A, under Palestinian rule), the valley is under direct and exclusive Israeli military, legal, and political control, and also that large parts of it are taken up by Israeli settlements or by lands that have been reserved for future Israeli settlement. It also means that a Palestinian population of some 15,000 Bedouins who are settled in the valley is tacitly targeted for expulsion.

According to the Oslo accords, the division of the West Bank into three different zones was intended as a preliminary stage leading eventually to the end of the Israeli occupation and to achieving Palestinian statehood. The policy of the present Israeli government appears to be aimed at eventually annexing to Israel the whole of Area C, which constitutes over half the territory of the West Bank; this goal has been explicitly and repeatedly stated by the minister of education, Naftali Bennett, head of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party and a major force in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. As a result, we are now witnessing in the Jordan Valley an accelerated process of what must, I fear, be called ethnic cleansing. It’s not a term I use lightly.

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