Trump crushes Palestinian hopes — again

A Palestinian boy sits on a chair as Israeli authorities demolish a school in the village of Yatta, south of Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, Jul 11, 2018. (photo: Hazem Bader / AFP / Getty Images)
The U.S. Middle East peace plan may be in a coma. But that hasn’t stopped Washington from handing major diplomatic victories to Israel.

By Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer | Foreign Policy | Nov 18, 2019

‘You now have a complete package of efforts to make a traditional solution . . . to the Israeli-Palestinian problem virtually impossible, at least for the remainder of the Trump administration.’
— Carnegie Endowment for International Peace scholar Aaron David Miller

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Monday that the United States no longer considers civilian Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands a violation of international law. The move represents a historic decision that reverses decades of U.S. policy and represents the latest in a raft of pro-Israeli moves that could effectively quash hopes for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The conclusion that we will no longer recognize as per se inconsistent with international law is based on the unique facts, history, and circumstances prevented by the establishment of civilian settlements in the West Bank,” Pompeo told reporters on Monday. He said that the decision does not mean the U.S. government is expressing views on the legal status of any individual settlement or “prejudging the ultimate status of the West Bank.”

Pompeo’s statement rolls back a 1978 State Department opinion that formed the bedrock of U.S. legal opinion on Israeli settlements, asserting that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.”

The decision marks the latest way in which the Trump administration has undercut Palestinian claims of statehood in favor of its closest historic ally in the Middle East, handing another political victory to embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he struggles to stay afloat after failing to form a coalition government.
Continue reading “Trump crushes Palestinian hopes — again”

Trump is systematically ending the viability of a future Palestinian state

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An Israeli settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. (photo: Hazem Bader / AFP / Getty Images)
The Trump administration’s announcement about Israeli settlements was just the latest draconian measure targeting Palestinians.

By Joshua Leifer | The Guardian | Nov 19, 2019

This kind of refusal to enforce the overwhelming international legal consensus on Israeli settlements has been a hallmark of US policy on Israel-Palestine. Pompeo’s announcement is, without doubt, a step beyond what previous administrations were willing to consider. But the difference between this decision and previous US decisions to disregard international law is a difference of degree, not kind.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement on Monday — that the US will no longer consider Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories a violation of international law — is, in many ways, a near-perfect encapsulation of the Trump administration’s approach to Israel-Palestine.

Couched in grotesque doublespeak, it claims to advance “the cause of peace” while signaling US approval of Israel’s brutal, perpetual military rule over the roughly 3 million Palestinians living in the West Bank. It is part and parcel of the Trump administration’s ongoing, concerted efforts to undermine international legal frameworks for addressing human rights violations (and not just in Israel-Palestine). And it is yet more proof, not that more was needed, that the Trump administration is actively pursuing a post-two-state-solution agenda. Continue reading “Trump is systematically ending the viability of a future Palestinian state”

Israel’s growing settlements force stark choices about its future

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(Graphic: The Economist)
The country cannot remain Jewish and democratic while controlling the entire Holy Land.

By Staff | The Economist | Feb 2, 2019

As Palestinians lose hope for a state of their own, some favor a ‘one-state’ deal: a single state on all the land with equal rights for Jews and Arabs. Israel would have to give up its predominantly Jewish identity. That is because, between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river, the overall number of Arabs has caught up with that of Jews, and may soon exceed them.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are frozen. President Donald Trump’s plan for the “deal of the century” has been put off. The subject is absent in campaigning for the Israeli election in April, which focuses on looming corruption charges against Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister.

The Oslo accords of 1993 created a crazy quilt of autonomous zones in the lands that Israel captured in 1967. They also kindled the hope of creating a Palestinian state in most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with its capital in East Jerusalem. After much bloodshed, though, most Israelis are wary of this “two-state solution.” Today Palestinians are mostly shut off by security barriers, and divided. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank refuses to negotiate with Israel but co-operates on security. Its Islamist rival, Hamas, which runs Gaza, dares not risk another war, for now.

Besides, the growth of Jewish settlements makes a two-state deal ever harder. Establishing a Palestinian state would probably require the removal of settlers in its territory. Israel had trouble enough evicting 8,000 Jews from Gaza in 2005. There are more than fifty times as many in the West Bank. Even excluding East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel, the number of Jews east of the “green line” (the pre-1967 border) has risen from 110,000 in 1993 to 425,000. New home approvals nearly quadrupled from 5,000 in 2015–16 to 19,000 in 2017–18, according to Peace Now, a pressure group.

Continue reading “Israel’s growing settlements force stark choices about its future”

What if . . . ?

Construction of a new Israeli settlement is seen through barbed wire in Kiryat Arba near the West Bank city of Hebron, Feb 7, 2017. (photo: EPA Photos)

What if Oregon were subjected to military occupation?

By Catherine Alder | Za’atar | Spring 2018


Oregon: A land without a people for a people without a land.


I was asked to speak about my international work at Ainsworth UCC. This piece is what I shared. I want to share with you in an unusual way. Imagine with me. Step into another’s experience. Let’s play “What if . . . ?”

What if the state of Oregon suddenly was designated by other countries as the place to come for hundreds of thousands of people in trouble in Europe?

The rap from those countries about Oregon is that it is perfect. “A place without a people for a people without a place.” Send them there! BUT HEY, WE ARE HERE! WE are the Oregonians! Well, we think, it will be OK. We are good people. We will welcome these strangers who are in trouble. There is plenty of land for the new people to build. We will share.

But, when the new people come from Europe, they come with guns and run out 100‘s of thousands of Oregonians. Now 750,000 Oregonians live in refugee camps in bordering states. The new people set up a government and say Oregonians who ran away are not allowed to come back home. These people are not like other refugees who have come gently and respectfully to live among us. This is very different.

Continue reading “What if . . . ?”

UN Blacklist: Why Israel is doing everything it can to thwart the UN Human Rights Council

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Israeli security forces take aim as a Palestinian protester looks on during clashes in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near Nablus in the occupied West Bank, Nov 24, 2017. (photo: Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP)

About 100 local companies and 50 international companies that operate in the West Bank and east Jerusalem have received warning letters that they will be on the list.

By Haaretz | Nov 26, 2017


“We will do everything we can to ensure that this list does not see the light of day.”
— Israeli UN ambassador, Danny Danon


Weeks ahead of the expected completion of a UN database of companies that operate in Israels West Bank settlements, Israel and the Trump Administration are working feverishly to prevent its publication. . . . [Ed. note: The publication has subsequently been postponed.]

While Israel is usually quick to brush off UN criticism, officials say they are taking the so-called blacklist seriously, fearing its publication could have devastating consequences by driving companies away, deterring others from coming and prompting investors to dump shares of Israeli firms. Dozens of major Israeli companies, as well as multinationals that do business in Israel, are expected to appear on the list.

Continue reading “UN Blacklist: Why Israel is doing everything it can to thwart the UN Human Rights Council”

New US embassy may be in Jerusalem — but not in Israel

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The former Diplomat Hotel, now part of the United States consular compound in Jerusalem, was built on disputed territory. (photo: Thomas Coex / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images)

The site of the US diplomatic compound is in occupied territory that has never been formally incorporated into Israel.

By Isabel Kershner | The New York Times | Mar 7, 2018


“Much more important than what the State Department says, it is what their actions say. You don’t build an embassy in territory that is not sovereign to Israel.”
— Eugene Kontorovich, director of international law at the conservative Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem


In two months, the United States plans to open a new embassy to fulfill President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

There’s just one problem: The embassy may be in Jerusalem, but it may not be fully in Israel.

The diplomatic compound that will serve as the American Embassy until a permanent site is found lies partly in a contested zone known as No Man’s Land.

No Man’s Land encompasses the area between the armistice lines drawn at the end of the 1948–49 war and was claimed by Jordan and Israel. Israel won full control of it in the 1967 war, so the United Nations and much of the world consider it occupied territory.

Continue reading “New US embassy may be in Jerusalem — but not in Israel”

Privatizing the Occupation

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Photo courtesy of Mohamad Torokman / Reuters

 How Israel is privatizing its occupation of Palestine — enriching the security industry and allowing the country to evade accountability for human-rights violations

By Antony Loewenstein and Matt Kennard / The Nation
October 27, 2016


 “Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report, ‘Occupation Inc.,’ that detailed how ‘Israeli and international businesses have helped to build, finance, service, and market settlement communities.’ It added, ‘In many cases, businesses are “settlers” themselves.’”


It is 4:30 a.m. with the moon still high in the sky, but Palestinians from across the West Bank are already disembarking from buses outside the Qalandia checkpoint near Jerusalem. They’re about to begin a day’s work on the other side of the separation wall, in Israel.

Qalandia is one of the busiest checkpoints through which Palestinians with the required work documents can travel from the occupied Palestinian territories to Israel. With unemployment around 26 percent in the West Bank (in Gaza, it’s far worse — among the highest in the world, according to the United Nations), it’s always extremely busy at this early hour, because Palestinians need work, which is more readily available in Israel, especially in construction, manufacturing, and agriculture. . . .

The warehouse-like checkpoint looks like a cattle pen on the inside: Metal bars on either side and above form a narrow chute, enclosing and herding the workers—many of whom have traveled from villages more than an hour away—toward the point where their documents will be checked by Israeli officials. They then wait on the Israeli side for transport from their employers.

For years, these checkpoints were manned by personnel from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israeli Border Police. But starting in January 2006, gun-toting private security guards joined the soldiers and police. Today, there are 12 checkpoints in the West Bank and two on the Gaza border that use such guards. Israel is slowly privatizing its occupation.

[Continue reading here . . . ]

Shepherding under Occupation

By the Jordan Valley team, Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)

“We have been living next to the settlement for many years and we don’t do any harm to anyone, we just want to live and to be able to walk with our sheep and have access to the land”


We arrived early, just after sunrise. We met with Abu Sami [pseudonym] and his family along with members of Ta’yush, an joint Israeli and Palestinian organization. Abu Sami lives close to a settlement in the North of Jordan Valley and his family looked very afraid of the consequences of the land action that was about to take place. Abu Sami and his family were preparing to graze their sheep on land that the settlers have taken control of in Khirbet Tell el Himma. The land is privately owned by a Palestinian family and Abu Sami rents it from them to graze his sheep, however, because of frequent harassment from settlers, the family are no longer able to use it. Today was going to be different. [Continue reading . . .]