Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Yaniv Kubovich and Ben Samuels at Haaretz report that far-right extremist Bezalel Smotrich is preparing to send in another half-million Israeli squatters to steal Palestinian land in the West Bank. Smotrich is the leader of the Religious Zionism bloc in parliament and the finance minister in the Netanyahu cabinet, who also was given responsibility for the Palestinian West Bank.
The Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip do not belong to Israel, which seized them for the purposes of military occupation during the 1967 Six Days War. It is illegal for a UN member to usurp neighbors’ land, and it is illegal for an occupying power to settle its own citizens in militarily occupied territory, as Nazi Germany did in Poland in the 1940s.
Israel has already illegally annexed part of the Palestinian West Bank, adding Palestinian East Jerusalem and surrounding areas to the Israeli District [makhoz] of Jerusalem. These annexed regions, with nearly 400,000 Palestinian residents, have been strategically settled by 200,000 Israeli squatters. In the remaining areas of the Palestinian West Bank, there are an additional 450,000 squatters, so if we took into account all Israelis living on land usurped in 1967 it would likely come to 650,000. Smotrich is proposing nearly doubling that number, as a “core mission” of the Israeli government.
The plan was floated in the wake of Thursday’s aggressive “Flag Day” march of Israeli squatters through the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, taunting them that their homes actually belong to Israeli Jews and implicitly threatening to ethnically cleanse them. Indeed, the squatters shouted “Death to Arabs,” lest anyone doubt their genocidal intentions. Smotrich was one of the leaders of the march, along with Jewish Power extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has been known to pull a gun on Palestinians who dare protest their ritual humiliation. Ben-Gvir was caught on camera dancing and shouting. He was made minister of national security by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu despite having been convicted of racist hate speech and “incitement” to racism.
As part of the Flag Day provocation, some 800 Israeli extremists stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque complex, the third holiest site for the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims.
Even the rabidly anti-Palestinian US State Department condemned the Israeli extremists’ call for “Death to Arabs.”