Monday 2 March 2009



MARCH 2, 2009

It matters little what you call it, so long as it is recognized that what Israel intends, and is working toward, is the erasure of the Palestinian people from the Palestine landscape. Israel most likely does not care about how systematic its efforts at erasure are, or how rapidly they proceed, and in these ways it differs from the Nazis.

"The main difference between Bosnia and Palestine is that ethnic cleansing in the former took place in the form of dramatic massacres and slaughters which caught the world's attention, whereas in Palestine what is taking place is a drop-by-drop tactic in which one or two houses are demolished daily, a few acres are taken here and there every day, a few people are forced to leave." ~ Edward Said.

There are no gas chambers; there is no overriding urgency. Gas chambers are not needed. A round of rockets on a residential housing complex in the middle of the night here, a few million cluster bombs or phosphorous weapons there can, given time, easily meet the UN definition above.

Hebron Graffiti

Inexcusably heavy handed wars provoked by Israel gives them ample opportunity to murder many thousands in their need to "teach Hamas a lesson" or to "break the resistance", as we have seen in past months in Gaza, past years in Lebanon.

Children shot to death sitting in school classrooms here, families murdered while tilling their land there; agricultural land stripped and burned here, farmers cut off from their land there; little girls riddled with bullets here, infants beheaded by shell fire there; a little massacre here, a little starvation there; expulsion here, denial of entry and families torn apart there; dispossession ~ these inhumanities are all part of the game they play.

A Palestinian girl hit with a settler's Molotov cocktail before,
and after her rehabilitation. She was harvesting apricots
with her family at the time of the attack.

By removing all opportunities to earn money, feed themselves, no functioning economy, dwindling food supplies, medical supply shortages, no way to move from one area to another, no access to a capital city, no easy access to education or medical care, no civil service salaries, the people will die, the nation will die without a single gas chamber. Or so the Israelis hope.

The building of the settlements on the West Bank, has been designed to break up the land so that the Palestinians cannot possibly survive. The settlers pose problems to Israel itself but only offer death and destruction to the Palestinians

To quote Ariel Sharon, "We'll make a pastrami sandwich of them. We will insert a strip of Jewish settlements in between the Palestinians, and then another strip of Jewish settlements right across the West Bank, so that in 25 years' time, neither the United Nations nor the United States, nobody, nobody, will be able to tear it apart."

In 1998, Sharon also said, "Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours. Everything we don't grab will go to them."

This is why it is difficult to believe the Israelis EVER planned to honour the idea of a Two State solution. They want it ALL. It is in this spirit that the following article should not cause any surprise to anyone cognizant with the situation in Palestine and, specifically in this case, with the West Bank and Hebron where so many problems are arising with the extremely militant settlers.

WHY THE SETTLEMENTS ARE WRONG: There are overwhelming political, legal, moral, ethical, economic, demographic, military and public relations arguments against the settlements.

Many of the settlements were deliberately established in or near densely populated Palestinian areas in order to foreclose the very possibility of creating a viable Palestinian State, and hence the prospect of a peaceful two-state solution. Their presence has provoked constant conflict and violence between Palestinians and the Israeli army, and caused much unnecessary loss of life on both sides.

These two farmers, above and in picture below,
were skinned alive by Settlers

According to Shlomo Gazit, the former Israeli coordinator of activities in the Territories, the settlements were planned to 'safeguard the Greater Israel vision. Therefore, as many settlements as possible had to be built. They had to be spread throughout the land, leaving no space or possibility of establishing autonomous Palestinian territorial units. They are now, as was intended, the main stumbling block on the way to an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

The American Jewish political theorist Michael Walzer controversially argues that the settlers are the 'functional equivalent' of the Palestinian terrorist groups. The message of settler activity to the Palestinians is, "We want you to leave, or we want you to accept a radically subordinate position in your own country."

The settlements are illegal since they contravene Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which precludes an occupying power from settling its own citizens in territory taken by military force. According to Israeli journalist Tom Segev, this interpretation was confirmed by the Israeli Foreign Minister's own legal counsel, Theodor Meron, as early as September 1967. The settlements also violate the legal sovereign right of the Palestinians to determine the population of their own territory.

The extensive confiscation of private Palestinian land to build settlements involves a second dispossession for the Palestinians, many of whom had previously fled or been forced to leave their original homes inside Israel in 1948.

Further, the settlers regard themselves as the true owners of the territories, and make no attempt to seek the good will of the local population, or to recognize Palestinian national or political rights.

Indeed, the treatment they pour upon the local Palestinian people is criminal. A significant minority of settler extremists engage in vigilante behaviour involving verbal and physical abuse of the Palestinian civilian population. This includes the destruction and theft of olive trees and other property, and some instances of violent assault and murder.

Another victim of Settler violence. This farmer died in his burning home.

Most prominent were the Gush Emunim underground in the early 1980s who murdered a number of Palestinian civilians, and the Kiryat Arba resident Baruch Goldstein who slaughtered 29 Muslim worshipers in Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs in 1994.

According to the respected Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, from late September 2000 to the end of 2004, settlers killed 34 Palestinians in the Territories. In few of these cases were the Israelis acting in life-threatening situations. In many cases, it was sheer aggression and an unwarranted sense of Jewish superiority.

The settlements are economically disastrous since they divert resources badly needed by Jews (including many poor Jews) living inside the borders of sovereign Israel. Settlers are provided with a range of financial incentives including a 7 per cent income tax break, large housing grants, subsidized mortgages, free schooling from age three, and grants for business industry, agriculture and tourism. Settlers also are allotted 85% of the water allowance for the area. Many settlements have their sewage and dirtied water placed to flow down into the lands of the Palestinians further down the hill.

Funds are also directed through political parties such as the National Religious Party, and private cultural and religious organizations. Buying or building a home in the settlements is much cheaper than purchasing a home inside Israel.

According to a 2003 report by Haaretz and a more recent study by Israeli Ynetnews, the annual expense is about 2.5 billion shekels amounting to 50 billion since 1967. The government spends about ten times more money on settlers (an average of 8,600 shekels per year) than on the other 97 per cent of Israeli citizens living inside the borders of Israel.

Every day, the US gives Israel $10 Billion! Much of it for these Settlements.

Prior to the withdrawal from Gaza, the government was even spending an estimated quarter of a million dollars per family to protect residents of the two isolated settlements in the middle of the Gaza Strip.

The demographic threat is recognized by the current Ehud Olmert who argued in a November 2007 interview with Ha'aretz that Israel was 'finished' if it forced the Palestinians into a South African-style struggle for democracy and equal voting rights.

The settlements are arguably a military burden rather than an asset. Huge numbers of troops have to be deployed to defend residents. The Israeli political scientist Menachem Klein has estimated that Israel employs 100,000 armed personnel to defend the 100,000 women and children in the settlements.In reality, these military seem to spend as much, if not more time, defending local Palestinians from aggressive settlers.

The continued existence of the settlements is a public relations disaster for Israel. Numerous anti-Zionist propagandists point to the settlements as evidence of Israel's alleged quest for territorial expansion and ethnic domination, rather than its stated preference for territorial compromise and a negotiated peace. The settlements also provide a convenient excuse for the rationalization of Palestinian violence and extremism.

Across the wall is a Palestinian town. This olive tree

rests in plastic grass and cement in an illegal Settlement

built on land stolen from the Palestinian farmers.


Marius Schattner, March 2, 2009

JERUSALEM ~ Israel's housing ministry has plans for West Bank construction that would nearly double the number of settlers in the occupied territory, the anti-settlement group Peace Now said on Monday.The group gave the estimate in research issued on the day that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to visit to Israel on her first trip to the region since taking office.

US President Barack Obama has vowed to vigorously pursue peace efforts in the region, and Israeli settlements on occupied land have long been one of the main obstacles to an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

The ministry of construction and housing is planning to construct at least 73,000 housing units in the West Bank," said the Peace Now study, based on analysis of data on Israeli government websites.

"At least 15,000 housing units have already been approved and plans for an additional 58,000 housing units are yet to be approved," it said.

Out of the units already approved, nearly 9,000 have been built, Peace Now said. "If all the plans are realized, the number of settler in the territories will be doubled," the research document said, saying the estimate is based upon an average of four people in each housing unit.

"The completion of these projects will make the plan of creating a Palestinian state next to Israel totally unrealistic," Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer told army radio.

Peace Now calculates that there are a total of more then 280,000 Israeli settlers living in some 121 settlements in the West Bank. Another estimated 200,000 live in annexed east Jerusalem.

Housing ministry spokesman Eran Sidis insisted "these plans refer only to potential construction" and would yet need to be approved by various government bodies.

"In practice only a very small part of these urbanism projects are implemented," Sidis told AFP.

He claimed Peace Now "mixed together unrelated data," but he did not deny the existence of the project.

Included among the plans are some 17,000 housing units outside existing settlements in the Bethlehem area, the Peace Now study said.

"There are plans for huge construction to double the size of some settlements" including Beitar Illit, Ariel, Maale Adumim and Efrat, it said.

Some 19,000 units are planned to be built to the east of the controversial Israeli separation barrier in the West Bank, and the ministry plans include at least six wildcat outposts ~ settlements not authorized by the Israeli government, Peace Now said.

The plans published are only a small part of the overall housing plans for the occupied territories," the group said. "There are other thousands of housing units in plans of the local authorities, private initiators and other public authorities, all of which we are in the process of collating."

Under the internationally drafted "road map for peace," Israel is committed to dismantle all settlements built since March 2001.

ut construction in Israeli settlements jumped 60 percent in 2008 in the wake of the relaunching of the Middle East peace process at a US conference at which the parties pledged to implement the road map.

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