Archive for February 19th, 2014

Occupation forces violently disperse protesters against settlements

Saturday, 15 February 2014

The Israeli authorities’ response on Thursday to competing rallies on the outskirts of East Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank highlights the deep injustices of Israeli occupation and apartheid. While Israeli security forces forcibly prevented Palestinians from gathering to non-violently protest against the colonization and ethnic cleansing of their lands, they allowed illegal settlers to assemble to celebrate their occupation of Palestine.

According to an Anadolu Agency news correspondent, Israeli occupation forces violently dispersed on Thursday a Palestinian protest against the confiscation of Palestinian land in the occupied territories known as E1, adjacent to East Jerusalem.

Israeli forces reportedly arrested one activist.

The protest was organized by the Popular Initiative for Resisting the Barrier and Settlements in Al-Ayzariya village, which is near the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the occupied West Bank. Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.

Although the Israeli authorities refused to grant Palestinians their right to assemble on their own land, the authorities allowed those settlers illegally occupying their land to gather later that same day to declare their unwillingness to cease their criminal activities.

According to the Jerusalem Post newspaper, the pro-settlement event, “which drew over 5,000 participants from across the country, mostly teenagers, began in the afternoon in [the] Maale Adumim [settlement]. Activists then marched 4 km from the built up area of the settlement down to and across Route 1, and then up to the E1 hilltops.”

Israeli Transportation and Road Safety Minister Israel Kat, Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel and coalition leader in the Israeli Knesset Yariv Levin all attended the settler protest.

The newspaper reports that the settlers chanted against US efforts to broker peace and called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to authorize building more settlements and to reject US pressure to give up land in the West Bank, particularly in and around occupied East Jerusalem. One sign read “Kerry = persona non grata,” referring to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to broker an agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis.

MK Levin told the media that he personally told US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, “a true friend of Israel… that there was no mandate, no government and no majority of citizens that could relinquish the rights of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.”

Israeli settlement construction in E1 would divide the occupied West Bank into two territories and thus make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state virtually impossible. In late 2012, the Israeli authorities announced plans to build hundreds of settler homes in E1 after Palestine was granted non-member observer state status at the United Nations. After international pressure the plans were frozen, but never completely shelved.

Despite the Palestinians being denied the same rights as those illegally occupying their lands, Salah Khawaja, the deputy secretary-general of the anti-settlements group, vowed to Anadolu Agency that: “We will continue our struggle against the Israeli occupation.”

Source: Middle East Monitor.


Israeli court discusses anti-boycott law

February 16, 2014

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli rights groups asked the Supreme Court Sunday to overturn a law that bans Israelis from calling for a boycott of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The court is expected to deliver its ruling in the coming months.

The 2011 law does not make a boycott call a criminal offense, but rather a civil issue that could trigger lawsuits demanding compensation. There is no precedent of this happening yet. The collection of rights groups said the law infringes on the right to free speech while defenders of the law say it prohibits discrimination based on geography.

The appeal comes against a backdrop of an international boycott campaign against Israel’s settlement policies in captured territories claimed by the Palestinians. Israel officials have derided the campaign as anti-Semitic since it holds Israel to a double standard.

In recent years, settlement opponents in Israel have joined broader boycotts of products made there. The Palestinians and most of the international community say settlements are illegal because they are built on war-won land that the Palestinians want for their future state.

Haggai El-Ad, head of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, said that a boycott is a legitimate form of protest and that the Israeli law was politically motivated since it only applied to those targeting the settlements.

Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin, who initiated the bill, said the aim was to prevent discrimination against people based on where they lived. He said Israel has to defend itself against those aiming to harm it.

The issue of settlements, and the boycott threat against them, has figured prominently in the recently restarted U.S.-mediated peace talks. More than 550,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, contiguous areas captured in the 1967 war, among roughly 2.5 million Palestinians. Some Israelis see a big security risk in giving up the West Bank, which commands the highland over central Israel. Many religious Jews see it as their biblical heartland.