settlement construction

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Could the crisis at Bab al-Shams be the turning-point in the Palestinian struggle for justice?

Despite international opposition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that he will push ahead with more colonialist expansion into the West Bank – the latest act of aggression being the planned ‘E1’ settlement.

This time though, instead of trying to protest through the courts or simply waiting for the inevitable to happen, Palestinian activists took the initiative and created their own ‘fact on the ground’ – a tent-city settlement of their own in one of the Palestinian areas slated for Israeli settlement construction!

The important thing to realise about the Palestinian ‘settlement’, in contrast with the coming Israelis-only settlement, is that the former is entirely legal. The Palestinians are building on privately-owned Palestinian land with the permission of the owner. Even so, the Israeli courts somehow ruled in favour of the Israeli settlers, and ordered the Palestinian protesters and their international partners to be removed from their land!

I have often said that there are three levels of racism that can infect a community.

  • The first is where racism happens but is not officially tolerated nor accepted by the broader culture.
  • The second level is where racism is culturally acceptable, even if officially frowned upon.
  • The third and most terrible level is where racism receives official sanctioning from the courts and government.

Nazi Germany is probably the most horrible example of this third and final form of a racist state, but if Israeli courts are now so blatantly backing the eviction of Palestinian people from their own land, they are surely on the same terrible path!

Israel mustered 500 armed troops to disperse the Palestinian protesters. As you’ll see from the video, the Palestinians kept to the classic protocols of non-violent resistance. Even so, many of them were brutalised.

It is possible that this valiant act of non-violent resistance could play the same role in the Palestinian struggle as did the ‘Bloody Sunday’ incident of 1965 for the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Can the world really watch this sort of injustice take place and simply say nothing?

Whether this particular act of violence will be the turning point or not, the testimony of Mustafa Barghouthi (recorded below) – that this will be the first of many such non-violent actions – is telling indeed! The Palestinians are tired of waiting for the rest of the world to take action. They have taken the future into their own hands!

Father Dave

If you can’t view this video, click here.

To see some excellent pictures of the protest and response, see this article on the Al Jazeera website

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Father Roy writes: Please see my highlights in AP’s news report.  Is it possible that Obama will go down in history as the President who broke the stranglehold Israel’s lobby has on the US Congress?  If so, Obama will need grassroots support:  Contact the White House.   Peace, Roy 

source: www.google.com…

US hits Israel hard on settlement plans

By MATTHEW LEE

WASHINGTON (AP) — In unusually rare and blunt criticism of its top Mideast ally, the Obama administration on Tuesday slammed Israel for continuing to announce new settlement construction on land claimed by the Palestinians.

The State Department accused Israel of engaging in a “pattern of provocative action” that calls into question statements from Israeli leaders that they are committed to peace. Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said settlement activity only puts the goal of peace “further at risk” and urged both Israel and the Palestinians to halt all provocations and take steps to revive long-stalled peace talks.

“We are deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action,” Nuland told reporters. “These repeated announcements and plans of new construction run counter to the cause of peace. Israel’s leaders continually say that they support a path towards a two-state solution, yet these actions only put that goal further at risk.”

The administration’s questioning of the Israeli leadership’s stated commitment to peace was unexpected, if not unprecedented, and appeared to take Washington’s longstanding opposition to settlements to a new level. However, it was not clear if the tough new words would be matched by actions.

The comments came as Israel’s prime minister rejected international criticism of plans to build thousands more Jewish homes in east Jerusalem, saying construction would move forward. Meanwhile, diplomats said four European nations were moving ahead with plans to condemn Israel at the United Nations for settlement construction.

Despite the strong rhetoric, Nuland said the United States did not believe pursuing condemnation of Israel at the U.N. Security Council would be “helpful” in resurrecting the stalled peace process.

“We again call on Israel and the Palestinians to cease any kinds of counterproductive, unilateral actions and take concrete steps to return to direct negotiations,” she said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced plans to build thousands of homes in settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in response to the U.N. General Assembly’s decision last month to upgrade the Palestinians’ status to non-member observer state.

One diplomat said the proposed European statement of condemnation would be a “political message” distributed to all the other Security Council members but that the Europeans are not asking the council to adopt a formal “presidential statement” or less important “press statement.” Each of those would require approval by all council members.

In such cases, the United States previously has stepped in on the side of Israel on the recurrent issue of settlements.

read the rest of this article here

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Father Roy writes: The Palestinians are seeking a final status solution to the conflict. Israel’s Negotiating Strategies are well-known. Saeb Erekat has emphasized that the Palestinian leadership has allotted six months for the initiative to succeed.   Peace, Roy 

Palestinians to launch 6-month initiative to restart talks with Israel

Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat says initiative, to be launched next month in cooperation with international officials, conditioned on demand to release prisoners, call to halt settlement construction.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Monday that the Palestinian Authority plans to launch a new initiative to renew negotiations with Israel, which would include the release of prisoners and a halt to settlement construction.

Speaking on Ramallah-based Voice of Palestine radio, Erekat said that he will be initiating the move in cooperation with international officials next month, in an effort to renew talks with Israel over a final status solution.

Erekat said the initiative includes the resumption of negotiations from where they were left off, with an insistence on ending the occupation. Erekat emphasized that the Palestinian leadership has allotted solely six months for the initiative.

After the UN General Assembly’s vote to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state last month, Israel immediately announced that in response for what it deemed the “unilateral” move, it will move ahead with the construction of 3,000 new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as with plans to build in the contested E-1 corridor, which links Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the settlement construction plans, specifically those in E-1, a “red line.”

Israel and European states have been embroiled in an unprecedented diplomatic crisis since the plans were announced. Several European countries, including Britain, Germany and France, have been putting heavy diplomatic pressure on Israel to reverse its decision and are considering diplomatic steps against it.

The Obama Administration has also condemned the move. “We reiterate our long-standing opposition to Israeli settlement activity and East Jerusalem construction,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters last week.

Negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians have been at a stalemate since 2010.