Ramona Wadi – Informed Comment https://www.juancole.com Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Sun, 28 Nov 2021 06:27:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.18 Belgium has decided to Label Squatter-Settler goods from Occupied Palestine as Not from Israel — Will it start a Wave? https://www.juancole.com/2021/11/squatter-occupied-palestine.html https://www.juancole.com/2021/11/squatter-occupied-palestine.html#respond Fri, 26 Nov 2021 05:04:38 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=201450 ( Middle East Monitor ) – Labelling Israeli settlement products “strengthens extremists, does not help promote peace in the region, and shows Belgium as not contributing to regional stability,” according to Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll. He lashed out at Belgium’s announcement that it would start applying more restrictive measures on goods produced by Israeli companies based on occupied Palestinian territory. Following the 2019 EU Court of Justice ruling that settlement products must be labelled as such, the EU Commission has so far left the decision to implement this legal requirement up to individual countries.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh had urged the EU to move beyond its usual condemnations and prevent settlement products from reaching markets across the bloc. This is simply unacceptable for Israel. “It is inconsistent with the Israeli government policy focused on improving the lives of Palestinians and strengthening the Palestinian Authority, and with improving Israel’s relations with European countries,” said the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Since the US has indirectly tasked Israel with helping the PA to regain some degree of control, following the damage that it brought on itself by cancelling the Palestinian elections and killing activist Nizar Banat earlier this year, the Israeli government is now attempting to create an image of itself being shackled as it tries to “improve the lives of Palestinians”.

The claim by the ministry is, of course, ludicrous. If settlements violate international law and are deemed a war crime by the International Criminal Court (ICC), any products derived from settlements are tainted. The use of cheap Palestinian labour by Israeli companies in illegal settlements is one way in which the state profits from settlement produce; the Palestinian labourers are simply struggling to survive. It is worth noting that the UN’s Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk agreed with the ICC’s designation of settlements as a war crime.

Belgium’s decision is a tiny step in comparison with what the EU should be advocating for and implementing: sanctions against Israel for its colonial violence. Yet that step was enough for Israel to strike an aggressively defensive posture, even though the EU is far from making such policies mandatory upon its member state, as it should be if the Court of Justice has any credibility.

If Israel is intent on continuing its de facto annexation of Palestinian land, why should Belgium — or anyone else — not draw attention to Israel’s violations of international law? Far from singling out Israel, Belgium’s decision merely points out the politics of colonial violence so that its citizens can make informed decisions as consumers. The repercussions that Israel might face as a consequence of Belgium’s clarification about colonial expansion are related directly to Israel’s actions. If Belgium sets a precedent for other EU countries to follow, which is unlikely at a regional level given the EU’s ties to Israel, the settler-colonial state is not in a position to criticise other countries for trying to adhere to international law.

The EU has regularly expressed “concern” over Israel’s settlement expansion, yet it has continued to work closely with the apartheid state and strengthen its diplomatic ties. Belgium’s decision, however, has proved to other EU member states that they do not require the bloc to mandate action that is in line with international law. So far, non-binding rulings regarding Israel have largely lain dormant, if not dead in the water. The labelling move by Belgium is thus to be welcomed. If it does set a precedent and is followed by other EU countries, there may well be a significant challenge to Israel’s colonial violence as well as ongoing EU complacency.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.

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Belgium to start labelling goods made in illegal Israeli settlements”

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“The Israeli settlements are a presumptive war crime under the Rome Statute:” Will the UN listen to its own Rapporteurs? https://www.juancole.com/2021/11/settlements-presumptive-rapporteurs.html Thu, 11 Nov 2021 05:06:19 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=201136 ( Middle East Monitor) – “The Israeli settlements are a presumptive war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and should be treated as such by the international community,” UN Special Rapporteurs, Michael Lynk and Balakrishan Rajagopal declared in a statement earlier this month. This goes a step further than the non-binding resolutions which UN officials usually rely on when chiding Israel for its settlement expansion.

So far, the international community has only spoken out about settlement expansion as infringing international law. When the ICC clarified its position regarding Israel’s colonial expansion, the UN kept its distance and issued the usual perfunctory statements which did nothing to back up the war crimes statement.

The UN Special Rapporteurs’ statement discusses the Israeli government’s latest plans for settlement building in occupied East Jerusalem and additional dwellings for settlers in the occupied West Bank. “The very raison d’être of the Israeli settlements in occupied territory—the creation of demographic facts on the ground to solidify a permanent presence, a consolidation of alien political control and an unlawful claim of sovereignty—tramples upon the fundamental precepts of humanitarian and human rights law,” Lynk and Rajagopal stated.

A scathing conclusion draws attention to the international community’s failures in upholding accountability when it comes to Israel: “An international community that does not impose accountability measures on a defiant occupying power, contrary to international law, cannot be serious about its own laws.”

Had the international community been serious about holding Israel accountable, it would have traced its own culpability back to the 1947 Partition Plan, now hypocritically commemorated as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Furthermore, the latest designation of Palestinian civil society organisations as terror groups by Israel’s Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, would have been collectively opposed, as well as understood within the framework of such organisations calling out Israel’s colonial expansion and war crimes.

But the international community’s distinguishing between Israel and its settlement expansion has kept the settler-colonial state immune from repercussions. Settlement expansion has been treated as a phenomenon without a culprit, and largely tied to the humanitarian framework which has substituted Palestinians’ political rights to land for meagre aid.

When the ICC issued its war crimes alert, the UN had a major opportunity to align its purported human rights values with the efforts to establish criminal accountability. Instead, it created a greater discrepancy in refusing to even consider the war crimes accusation against Israel, thus allowing the Israeli government ample space to politicise its opposition to the investigations, as well as lobby against the ICC’s decision.

Will the UN take heed of the latest warning? Probably not. This is not the first time that Lynk has pointed out the international community’s role in Israeli impunity, yet the UN remained entrenched in its self-styled oblivion. The truth is, as Lynk pointed out, that the UN cannot be taken seriously. A strong admission when considering that the Palestinian question, as the UN likes to refer to colonisation, has been in the hands of Israel’s accomplices, and Palestinians have had to resort to the same culpable institutions for resolution.

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TRT World: “UN seeks halt on expansion of illegal Israeli settlements”

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How Israeli Squatter-Settlers attack Palestinians and their Olive Harvests with Impunity https://www.juancole.com/2021/10/squatter-settlers-palestinians.html Thu, 21 Oct 2021 04:08:04 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=200743 ( Middle East Monitor) – As happens each year during the Palestinian olive harvest, Israel’s illegal settlers are destroying olive trees and attacking Palestinian farmers. The International Committee of the Red Cross has said that in the year to August this year, over 9,300 olive trees were destroyed by Israeli settlers; the damage peaked during harvest time.

Palestinian access to agricultural land is seriously hampered by Israel’s restrictions on movement as well as settlement expansion. Settler violence exacerbates an already untenable situation; without access to their land, Palestinian autonomy is reduced. Moreover, settler violence ensures that Palestinians can’t look much beyond the immediate consequence of Israel’s colonial-occupation: the struggle to survive.

Israeli police support Israeli settlers in their theft of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

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Israeli police support Israeli settlers in their theft of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

In response to the predictable settler violence, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh has called upon the UN to monitor attacks, especially during the olive harvest. In his weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah, Shtayyeh suggested that the UN should set up a database listing settlers involved in violent crimes against the Palestinian people.

Individual criminal responsibility, however, is overshadowed by Israel’s responsibility as the occupation state. The link between the colonial entity and its illegal settler population cannot be emphasised enough. Where state institutions prefer not to tread, settlers are well positioned to maintain colonial violence against the Palestinian population, protected by the Israel Defence Forces. How Shtayyeh expects UN monitoring to provide some degree of accountability is unclear. The concept will provide statistics for public and media consumption, as well as periodic UN reports. To hold settlers accountable requires more than a database, though; Israel needs to be held to account for its complicity in maintaining the status quo within which settler violence is allowed — I’d even say encouraged — to continue unchecked.

Ultimately, such violence is directly linked to Palestinian dispossession. The UN will likely dissociate settler violence from Palestinian loss of land; violence, after all, has long become normalised in UN discourse. Its detailed reports have not led to any punitive measures against Israel, not only due to the fact that Israel is untouchable within the international community, but also because the international community expects Israel to uphold international law, and stays silent when it doesn’t. In reality, the occupation state treats international law with contempt on a daily basis.

The Times of Israel‘s report on the recent settler violence describes a cycle which ultimately only benefits the colonial enterprise. While Israel’s Defence Minister Benny Gantz called upon the IDF to intervene in settler attacks, the report also included IDF troops as victims, given the rare clashes that they have with settlers. “The Israeli army has been hesitant to take action against the radical settlers,” explains the newspaper, ironically, “in part because it could lead to violent clashes.”

If the IDF is subject to settler demands, as Gantz implies, then how can the IDF ever protect Palestinians? In fact, the IDF targets Palestinians and always has done; Zionist terrorist gangs were, after all, incorporated into the IDF post-1948. Israel’s armed forces, which could round up settlers if ordered to do so, are duty bound to protect the individuals behind the colonial violence.

So what accountability is Shtayyeh hoping for when the IDF protects settlers at the behest of the state, and the UN protects Israel’s colonial structure? He knows more than most that Israel operates with an impenetrable web of impunity. No database of criminal settlers or pleas to the UN will ever change that.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.

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New China TV: “Palestinian farmers start olive harvest season against multiple challenges”

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UN: Removal of Indigenous Population – 2020 saw the highest number of displaced Palestinians registered in Years https://www.juancole.com/2021/10/indigenous-palestinians-registered.html Fri, 01 Oct 2021 04:08:33 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=200357 ( Middle East Monitor) – Each year, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) provides proof of the fallacy upon which the two-state compromise in Palestine-Israel is based. Palestine’s economy is tied perpetually to donor funding and Israel’s existence. “Recovery in 2021 and beyond hinges on actions that will be taken (or not) by the occupying power and the scale of donor support,” UNCTAD’s recent report points out.

While the coronavirus pandemic contributed to the economic contraction in Palestine, of course, the report clarifies that the deterioration was exacerbated, not caused, by the closures and restrictions imposed by the efforts to curb the spread of the virus. The truth is that Israel’s colonial enterprise is primarily to blame, and the international community is equally complicit in the farcical use of financial assistance to maintain a crippled economy. It should instead change the politics that crippled that economy in the first place and have forced the Palestinians into a life of perpetual aid dependence.

Yet UNCTAD does not advocate for a change in the neoliberal model which governs the Palestinian economy, despite describing its ramifications. “For international support to translate into genuine progress, all of the restrictions imposed by the occupying Power on the Occupied Palestinian Territory should be lifted,” the report’s summary explains. The restrictions are indeed a problem, particularly in terms of free movement, the lack of infrastructure development, the illegal blockade of Gaza, and the exploitation of land and resources. But the restrictions are imposed by a colonial framework which thrives upon the dispossession, removal and replacement of the indigenous population. According to UNCTAD, 2020 saw the highest number of displaced Palestinians registered in recent years. So how does it think that lifting restrictions can happen within a colonial context, when Israel needs the self-same restrictions to be in place in order for it to thrive?

For all the truths contained within UNCTAD’s observations, those things which are unsaid have even more substance when the UN refuses to address them. Analysing the ramifications of Israel’s colonial enterprise without holding Israel accountable for its colonialism is one way to preserve the two-state diplomacy which exists solely to preserve the status quo for Israel, while allowing ample freedom for annexation of Palestinian land. “The occupying power continues to treat settlements as practically part of its sovereign territory, as evidenced by the intensification of the construction of settlements to levels not seen in a decade,” says UNCTAD.

De-facto annexation has not been put on hold. There is no need for UNCTAD to use language that gives Israel the benefit of the doubt, as it does when it states that investment in settlement and infrastructure “may suggest” that annexation will happen either way. For UN institutions, however, mentioning a possibility in the place of stating unequivocal facts gives the illusion that two-state politics still have relevance in terms of a purported solution.

Donor funding supports the two-state compromise, not Palestinian autonomy and economic independence. UNCTAD paints a dire picture, but offers little in terms of recommendations, as no other political option is being considered for the people of occupied Palestine. The Palestinian Authority functions as a key player in the political system which sustains Israel’s colonisation, and the Palestinian economy follows suit, according to the terms dictated from elsewhere. How much longer are the Palestinians expected to suffer simply to keep the illusion of state-building afloat?

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.

Via Middle East Monitor

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Al Jazeera English: “Israeli forces kill several Palestinians during raids in Jenin, Ramallah”

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Palestinians are newly Unified, demonstrating against Israeli Colonial Violence and Expulsion from Jerusalem https://www.juancole.com/2021/09/palestinians-demonstrating-expulsion.html Fri, 03 Sep 2021 04:06:21 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=199848 ( Middle East Monitor) – In terms of state-building and diplomatic negotiations, the occupied West Bank has been perceived in starkly different terms from Gaza. With the international community funnelling financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority in the former, the concept of a fragmented Palestine has been duly enhanced. To the undiscerning, the PA represented pragmatism and progress, while Gaza was synonymous with Hamas, and underdevelopment.

And yet, the Palestinian people have demonstrated otherwise, with new narratives for unity and resistance. Drawing upon a long trajectory of unified resistance against colonial violence, they have been protesting regularly against both Israeli and PA violence, following PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s cancellation of all elections, the impending evictions of Sheikh Jarrah’s residents in occupied Jerusalem, the most recent Israeli bombing of Gaza, and the PA’s extrajudicial killing of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat.

The PA has kept up its charade for far too long. It exploited the Palestinian people’s resistance throughout Trump’s tenure as US president, when the PA needed to capitalise upon the people’s resilience to quell any discontent. Now, the Palestinian people are setting a new political trend in terms of resistance, while the PA flounders, trying to regain control of a population which does not want to be shackled by Israel and its collaborators in Ramallah.

Palestinian refugee camps are edging closer to the prevailing narrative of resistance. As Al Jazeera reported recently, the Jenin and Balata refugee camps are becoming off limits for PA security forces. Israel and the PA have come to understand that Abbas’s weakened political standing has contributed to the emergence of resistance fighters affiliated to several Palestinian political factions. Notably, Al Jazeera reported that the PA “is not only facing resistance from gunmen associated with opposition factions, but also from groups affiliated with Fatah, the faction that dominates the PA.”

When protests erupted in the West Bank after Banat’s murder, the PA staged its own rally in support of Abbas. Such “support” is illusory and delusional. The displays of Palestinian resistance testify to this. Security coordination, described infamously as “sacred” by Abbas, is no longer merely a feared collaboration but part of the colonial structure against which the Palestinian people are rising up.

The past definitions of Gaza and the occupied West Bank no longer hold true. The people of Palestine have ushered in a rethinking of what was perceived as Palestinian fragmentation based upon the politics governing the different territories. In particular, the similarity between Gaza and the Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank must be emphasised. While Gaza has for long epitomised Palestinian resistance, the refugee camps may also inspire similar movements in the occupied West Bank which so far neither the PA nor Israel have had to contend with.

The PA is thus no longer in control of the Palestinian narrative. The Palestinians are now forcing the PA and Israel into a new reckoning, which so far is being contained through appeasement. Abbas’s decision to cancel the elections, as well as the aftermath of the PA’s violence against Palestinian civilians, have written an alternative script and delivered power to the people. This is where it belongs, contrary to what Abbas expected to be the result of his authoritarian measures.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.

Via Middle East Monitor

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United Nations: “Palestine: Concerned by Loss of Life & Injuries in Occupied Palestinian Territory – Security Council”

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Bennett’s “Natural Growth” Rhetoric can’t conceal Israel’s colonial Land Grab https://www.juancole.com/2021/08/bennetts-rhetoric-colonial.html Sat, 28 Aug 2021 04:04:11 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=199741 ( Middle East Monitor) – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is playing with words to advance the colonial state’s de-facto annexation of the occupied West Bank. In an interview with the New York Times, Bennett used spin about compromise which amounted to nothing other than promoting colonial expansion while retreating on formalising another land grab.

“This government will neither annex nor form a Palestinian state, everyone gets that,” Bennett said. “I’m prime minister of all Israelis, and what I’m doing now is finding the middle ground – how we can focus on what we agree upon.”

While diverging political views among Israelis may have prompted Bennett to shift towards a compromise, particularly as his is a coalition government, the issue at stake is still the colonisation of Palestinian land. Moreover, the Palestinians have been removed from the equation.

Bennett’s euphemism for colonial expansion in the occupied West Bank is “natural growth”. Whether annexation happens formally or not, the aim is clear: Israel will not allow a Palestinian state to emerge, and land grabs are the only way to ensure the fragmentation of Palestinian territory. Israel’s collusion with international institutions on this point has made a mockery of the Palestinian Authority’s illusory state-building.

The Chairman of the PA’s Civil Affairs Committee, Hussein Al-Sheikh, took to Twitter to declare, “The establishment of the Palestinian state does not require the permission of the occupiers.” It shouldn’t, but the PA knows that the establishment of a Palestinian state is dependent upon the international community, which accepts Israel’s colonial narrative. Hence, Bennett’s declaration that no Palestinian state will emerge during his tenure is merely a reflection of what the international community has intended all along.

History, however, is excluded by both Israel and the PA, for Israel’s benefit of course. Bennett’s aim is to portray his politics as different from his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu, whose deals with the Trump administration bolstered a series of concessions which culminated in the Abraham Accords.

The PA, on the other hand, is eager to assert an independent political process, but it is unable to do so, given that it is beholden to international donor funding for its existence. And although PA officials will not admit it, history has long decided that a Palestinian state will not come into existence. That is, until history is accounted for and acknowledged, and Palestine is discussed politically from a decolonial perspective.

Bennett is hardly the figure of influence in terms of Palestine’s disappearance, even though the “no Palestinian state” claim emanated from him as Israel’s prime minister. Appeasing the Biden administration is a strategic move for Israel which does not necessarily interrupt Israel’s annexation plans. After all, the formalisation of its colonial land grab was merely postponed, not cancelled altogether. Compromise may be an integral part of Bennett’s rhetoric now, due to Washington’s overtures about the two-state compromise, and the necessity for Israel to appear hypocritically compliant. However, the key term here is “natural growth”, meaning that Bennett’s approach, while not leading directly to formal annexation, will establish the conditions for Palestine’s impending depletion.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.

Via Middle East Monitor

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Btselem: “Israeli settlers attack Palestinians & Soldiers escorting them fire at them, South Hebron Hills”

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European Union, U.S. bear Responsibility for Israel’s Squatter-Settlements on Palestinian Land https://www.juancole.com/2021/07/responsibility-settlements-palestinian.html Sat, 24 Jul 2021 04:03:36 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=199050 ( Middle East Monitor) – When European diplomats visit the occupied Palestinian territories to observe the damage wrought by Israel’s home demolitions and forced displacement, the only response is generally to “urge the Israeli authorities to cease such actions.” As a settler-colonial state based on the ideology of Zionism, Israel was built upon and maintains an expansionist agenda, so such calls are a total waste of time, and the EU knows it.

This year has seen an increase in Palestinian-owned structures destroyed and the level of forced displacement. Recent statistics published by the Office of the European Representative of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip notes a 70 per cent increase in the number of forcibly displaced Palestinians, in comparison with the same period last year. Notably, since the Bennet-Lapid government was sworn in on 13 June, demolitions have increased by 148 per cent when compared with 2020.

The EU’s greatest discrepancy lies in its responses to Israel, as well as its diplomatic relations with the settler-colonial state. Less than two weeks ago, the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell lauded his meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid as an opportunity “to restart relations with Israel,” as if relations with Israel were ever cut, and are not an integral part of EU foreign policy. If the EU chooses to prioritise its diplomatic relations with Israel, then it should clarify its futile responses to Israeli demolitions of Palestinian dwellings, as well as its forced displacement of Palestinian civilians, beholden to the politics that govern EU-Israeli relations.

In that case, statements from the Head of the EU Representative Office Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff can be read within a context that dispels any notion that there might be concerns for the Palestinian people. “As a representative of the EU and a member of the WBPC together with likeminded countries, we continue to demand that Israel ceases forcible transfers, evictions, demolitions and confiscations of homes, all of which constitute violations of international humanitarian law,” von Burgsdorff stated, knowing full well that demands for Israel to cede any scrap of its colonial expansion will not be heeded. The EU official also knows that Israel can operate with impunity, and no sanctions will ever be considered, let alone imposed, by his political bosses.

The EU has also accepted the fact that Israel will demolish structures that the bloc funds as part of its humanitarian support for the Palestinians. If such wilful destruction only elicits a brief reprimand from Brussels, the EU’s humanitarian investment for the people of occupied Palestine, while a necessity due to deprivation, is more about maintaining Israel’s agenda of forced displacement than it is about helping Palestinians to survive the consequences of colonial expansion.

Israel has made the two-state compromise unfeasible, but not without accomplices. Its colonial expansion does not happen in a political vacuum. Hence, the EU’s constant reminders that settlement expansion undermines the two-state compromise must also be contextualised within the parameters established by the EU to keep Palestinians in the loop of Israeli demolitions and forced displacement.

The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, has repeatedly reassured everyone that Israel can go about its business as usual, with statements that do nothing to protect the Palestinian people. A look at the PA’s official news agency, Wafa, illustrates the subservience and dependence upon international institutions to condemn forced displacement and home demolitions, but never produce any policies or remedies that indicate a shard of concern for the Palestinian people’s loss of land. With such a weak and dependent leadership, what the EU does in the absence of political demands from the PA will remain driven by Israel’s settler-colonial agenda.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.

Via Middle East Monitor

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btselem: “Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinians, soldiers raid Palestinian home, in central Hebron.”

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Will the US Stand up to Israeli Theft of Palestinian East Jerusalem? https://www.juancole.com/2021/07/israeli-palestinian-jerusalem.html Fri, 16 Jul 2021 04:03:03 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=198921 ( Middle East Monitor ) – Jerusalem is once again in the diplomatic crosshairs over US President Joe Biden’s intention to reopen the American Consulate in Jerusalem, which was closed by the Trump Administration in 2019. According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, reopening the consulate is “an important way for our country to engage with and provide support to the Palestinian people.” The new Israeli government, however, is intent on delaying, or preventing the consulate from functioning again, upon the pretexts of security concerns.

The Biden Administration’s lethargy in dealing with Palestinian rights may well succumb to Israel’s demands. Likud Knesset member Nir Barakat submitted a bill which would prevent the consulate’s reopening. “We are talking about the unification of Jerusalem,” Barakat declared. “Before we know it, there will be all sorts of European consulates in Jerusalem, and it will turn into the consulate capital for the Palestinians.”

Under former US President Donald Trump, the American Consulate for Palestinians was downgraded to a “Palestinian Affairs Unit” which functioned as part of the new US Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem. So far, Biden has been non-committal over rescinding the most important unilateral decisions taken by Trump, and while he claims to support the defunct two-state compromise, the emphasis on Israel’s security narrative not only emboldens Israel, but also validates the previous administration’s decisions.

While the Biden administration embellished its rhetoric with mentions of rights, it has failed to act upon the rights of Palestinians. Sheikh Jarrah is one recent notable example which highlights the dissociation between diplomacy and the people. The US is not concerned with Israel’s latest round of forced displacement, but considers reopening its diplomatic mission for Palestinians – an act which would thaw the freeze in relations between the US and the Palestinian Authority in the Trump era. But if the rights of Palestinians are not safeguarded, whose interests will the diplomatic mission be serving and who benefits from its re-establishment?

Israel’s concerns with the purported “unification of Jerusalem” and any perceived threats from the Palestinians who, under the terms dictated by the international community, claim East Jerusalem as their capital, are not in contradiction with the US government’s policies. Biden’s decision to retain the embassy in Jerusalem, rather that relocate to Tel Aviv, is more than enough indication that the current administration is not averse to continuing Trump’s policies without alluding to the fact.

The Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, is caught up in magnifying its own diplomatic standing, even though its popularity among Palestinians has long dwindled and what vestiges remained have been lost due to its passive stance over Sheikh Jarrah, Gaza, and the recent extrajudicial killing of Nizar Banat. If Israel and the US reach an agreement, which is doubtful in light of the proposed bill, the PA will not connect the reopening of the US consulate to any of the Palestinian rights which Blinken mentions but never elaborates upon. The diplomatic victory would have scored nothing in terms of benefits for Palestinians, since the US will not challenge Israel’s claims over “unification”.

Via Middle East Monitor

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.

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Al Jazeera English: “What’s next for Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah? | The Stream”

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Israel’s colonial violence and international humanitarian aid https://www.juancole.com/2021/07/colonial-international-humanitarian.html Wed, 07 Jul 2021 04:03:04 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=198760 ( Middle East Monitor ) – Whenever Israel bombs Gaza, donor countries are expected to raid their treasuries and manage the resultant humanitarian crisis. The aftermath of the latest colonial aggression against the enclave is no different. On one hand, the reconstruction of Gaza will probably follow previous mechanisms in which the UN plays a role that is decided by Israel. For the Palestinian people’s immediate needs, now more precarious than ever, the Israeli government is seeking countries willing to stand alongside Qatar to help desperate Palestinian families.

Two European countries have so far been approached, Germany and another one are as yet unnamed. Israel has attempted to exploit reconstruction to demand the release of two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers held by Hamas. Palestinian factions reject this and communicated their decision to the UN in June.

So far the only dilemma raised by the international community is the question of rebuilding Gaza without Hamas involvement, ostensibly to ensure that funds and material are accessed only by the Palestinian people. To implement such a strategy, the Palestinian Authority – a body whose corruption is known to the international donors which continue to fund it — would play a role alongside Israel. The PA has contributed to Gaza’s humanitarian predicament through sanctions of its own imposed with the intention to destabilise Hamas and reduce its political support and influence. It is in no position to guarantee that aid will reach the people most in need without PA officials from the top downwards pocketing their “share” first. It is foolish to believe otherwise.

Since the international community has equated Palestinians with humanitarian aid, there is little questioning of Israel’s expectation that individual countries will provide humanitarian assistance after its bombs have finished destroying Palestinian lives and infrastructure. Equally disturbing is that the international community does not challenge the status quo of tidying up the mess after Israel’s carnage. It’s more of the same: the US pays for the bombs; others pay for the clean-up.

Billions of US dollars in military aid have disfigured Gaza beyond any hope of proper reconstruction, given Israel’s frequent bombing of the enclave. The international community, blinded as it is by Israel’s twisted security narrative, has no qualms about the territory being used as the testing ground for the settler-colonial state’s new weapons because Palestinians are part of a dissociated humanitarian narrative that is profitable for both the coloniser and the donors.

Humanitarian aid is supposed to be a temporary endeavour, not part of Israel’s colonisation plans. When the humanitarian crisis is exacerbated, Israel seeks to keep Palestinians quiet through its European allies. These are the same allies that purportedly champion the establishment of “an independent and viable Palestinian state.”

Meanwhile, through donations to keep Palestinians quiet, humanitarian aid provides more benefits for Israel than incentives for the people. The politics of humanitarian aid focus on preventing the emergence of a Palestinian state. In Gaza, humanitarian aid after the destruction of the infrastructure keeps Palestinians focused on the imminent matter of survival, thus pushing political action by the people further out of the equation.

Without addressing Israel’s culpability and accountability, it seems that it will have no problems in recruiting countries to repair the damage that its bombs and politics inflict upon Palestinians in Gaza. Calls to hold Israel accountable, and for sanctions to be enforced against the settler-colonial state, pass unheeded. When countries step up with their financial assistance for Palestinians in Gaza, let it be known that the humanitarian façade cannot compensate for the political damage inflicted through collaboration with the murderous, rogue state of Israel.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.

Via Middle East Monitor

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

TRT World: “Gaza reconstruction clouded by dispute over Israelis held by Hamas”

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