Posts tagged settlements

EU diplomats to Brussels: Put your money where your mouth is

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At face value, the European Union heads of mission report on the Israeli settlement enterprise is a scathing indictment and call to action against Israel’s illegal settlement activities. In between the lines, however, the report reflects a frustration by European diplomats and bureaucrats at their own governments’ inaction. They are not implementing the existing legislation, decisions and declarations they themselves regularly make against Israel and its settlements.

The EU’s rhetoric against Israel’s settlement policies has always been damning, but its actions have never lived up to its words.

Read the full report here

“The EU and its member states now face the urgent challenge of translating the observations and recommendations of their own senior diplomats into concrete and effective policies that indeed maintain the possibility of the two-state solution,” a document obtained by +972 stated.

Reflecting the (perhaps naïvely optimistic) sense of a closing window for resolving (more…)

Could UNHRC’s settlement report put the ‘S’ back in BDS?

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The UNHRC-sanctioned International Fact Finding Mission’s report on Israeli settlements is by no means the harshest UN document on Israel. But its last paragraph introduces one element that previously existed only in small pro-Palestinian and human rights activist circles. Namely, it puts the “S” back in BDS.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign has had mixed, but limited, success since its official launch in its current iteration nearly seven years ago. Divestment and boycott campaigns have claimed small victories after targeting educational and labor pension investment funds, transportation companies serving Israelis in the occupied Palestinian territories, academic conferences and musical and cultural events. But many “big-picture” observers will admit that its successes have led to little if any change in Israeli policy, and subsequently, in the Palestinian reality.

While former international officials have called for limited sanctions against Israel should it fail to cease its settlement enterprise, and current officials have hinted at limited travel sanctions against violent settlers, the notion of sanctions against Israel has largely taken a back seat to the more constricted and arguably less impactful boycott and divestment campaigns.

Last week’s UN report, however, advanced the prospects of – and possibly laid the beginnings of (more…)

Settling Palestine: The ‘latest colonizing adventure’

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The following is an excerpt from a documentary detailing the tactics employed by Jewish settlers in Palestine:

“When a new settlement is established, it must withstand attack from the very first day of occupation. A system of defense has been evolved, in which these experienced settlers play an important part.

“When the proposed site has been marked out, members of the established settlements in the vicinity move off to congregate in the village nearest the scene of the latest colonizing adventure. From all around they come. Men, who have themselves recently made pioneering history, by cars, lorries and wagons, they all move to the (more…)

‘Down with Oslo’ (and the PA?)

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Nearly two decades have passed since the Oslo Accords first gave the world hope for Mideast peace and an end to Israeli rule over the Palestinian territories; in the West Bank, the failed framework for peace talks has become directly associated with the occupation itself. When hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets last week to protest a (subsequently canceled) visit to Ramallah by Israeli Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz, their chants targeted the former IDF chief, but the calls for an end to Oslo were even louder – an indirect attack on President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.

Eighteen years after the Palestinian Authority’s creation, some Palestinians are questioning whether the Oslo-designed Palestinian quasi-government, which was only ever meant to exist as a five-year interim body, has outlived its raison d’être of achieving Palestinian independence and ending the occupation through diplomatic channels.

As far as a growing number of people are concerned, the Oslo accords, and their byproduct, the Palestinian Authority, have done little more than act as a political and security buffer for maintaining Israel’s (more…)

The vital role of Israel’s endangered NGOs

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In order to comprehensively report on the uglier sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the media relies almost entirely on civil and human rights organizations. Today these organizations are under threat of being crippled by new Israeli legislation targeting their funding. If the laws are passed, the vital information and research NGOs provide on the unaesthetic details of military occupation, settlement growth and human rights abuses may simply disappear, along with the press reports built upon them.

The Israeli media pays little attention to the human plight of Palestinians living under the full civil, administrative, economic and military control of the IDF (Occupation). Without NGOs providing video footage, testimonies and detailed reports, the little coverage that does exist would no longer be possible.

It is true, as right-wing politicians and organizations charge, that Israeli rights groups rarely portray the IDF and the Occupation in a positive light. But they should not be expected to; it is not their role (more…)

Settlers, the Foreign Ministry and the ‘Demographic Demon’

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Earlier this summer, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon put out an English-language video, which was identical to one released by the Yesha Council (the umbrella organization of West Bank settlements) several months earlier. The widely distributed video argued Israel’s right to hold the West Bank and challenged the Palestinian right to establish a state in it.

Utilizing similar slick graphics, the same Yesha producers recently released a new video arguing that the “demographic demon,” the logic behind former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s personal conversion to a supporter of the two-state solution, is no longer a threat – if it ever was.

The new Yesha video is a direct challenge to that narrative, promoted by nearly every recent Israeli prime minister and peace-oriented organization – that in order to maintain an Israeli state in which Jews are the majority, a two-state solution is necessary. (more…)

Palestinian statehood and strategic perceptions of time

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What exactly will Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas bring back with him when he returns from the United Nations in New York later this month? In today’s world of 24-hour news cycles and in a conflict where reality can and does change by the minute, most speculation and analysis tends to focus on what will happen the day after statehood is declared. But while such a short-term analysis is appropriate from the Israeli perspective, looking at the latest diplomatic move from the Palestinian side requires a much longer view.

“We don’t want to raise expectations by saying we are going to come back with full independence,” Abbas said in his much-anticipated speech last week describing his foray in the United Nations. Even if the statehood bid in the UN is successful, he cautioned, it will not “end the occupation.”

Abbas, a protégé and ideological successor of late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, shares the primary strategy of the iconic Palestinian leader and the current move should be understood in the context of (more…)

A Discussion with J Street (Part I): BDS and the Boycott Law

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This piece is the first part of a series of articles exploring the relationship of American Jews with Israel, with a special focus on J Street. The remainder of the series will be published here in the coming days.

Earlier this week, the Knesset passed a law that made calling for boycotts against West Bank settlements a legal cause of action. Prior to the new law, the merits and goals of settlement boycotts and the broader Palestinan-led global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign have become particularly divisive in Diaspora Jewish communities in recent years. Very few American Jews, however, have come out against the tactic of boycott itself. Doing so would be difficult as boycotts represent the successes of many of the last 70 years in American liberal causes.

Boycotts remain one of the most powerful tools in the hands of civil society when engaging in social struggle. From the Montgomery Bus Boycott during the 1960s Civil Rights era, to the César Chavez-led Grape Boycott in the 1980s, to the fall of South African Apartheid in the early 1990s, boycotts have played an integral role in (more…)

Notes on Netanyahu in Congress: A misrepresentation of reality

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A few quick notes on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress on Tuesday:

  • Netanyahu, when making the case for annexing large settlement blocs in the ever-unlikely event that he makes peace, inflated the number of settlers living east of the pre-1967 lines by roughly 150,000. It is not clear where the claim of 650,000 Israelis living beyond the Green Line came from but the motivation for his statistical augmentation is likely driven by his desire to make the prospect of withdrawal appear impossible, as Mondoweiss speculated. (more…)

Are settlers protecting leftist NGOs?

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Two draconian clauses were removed from a controversial law requiring added transparency in the funding of NGOs mere hours before the bill passed its final readings in the Knesset on Monday. The reason? Pressure from an unexpected group: settler organizations.

MK David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) – one of the bill’s most fervent supporters – announced Monday that he was withdrawing two amendments from the bill. The Jerusalem Post reported that he dropped the amendments “at the request of Zionist organizations who told him the amendments would harm them.” So who are these Zionist organizations and why would they be worried by the legislation?

As exposed by The New York Times last year, settler organizations receive a sizable portion of their funding from American charities that enjoy tax-exempt status in the US. Through loopholes and deceptive reporting, (more…)

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