Palestinian commentator Daoud Kuttab on recent developments in Israel/Palestine.
While many Palestinians are giving up on a two-state solution because of Israeli intransigence, so too are many Israelis pushing to annex the West Bank, an idea that is now entering mainstream Israeli politics. It won’t of course be a one-state, secular democratic annexation…
Stephane Richard, CEO of telecoms giant Orange is on damage-limitation duty after he said that the firm is pulling out of Israel (via franchise company Partner which operates in settlements). His decision was immediately interpreted as political – causing dismay, anger, embarrassment. Richard insists it was a business decision and that Orange is in Israel to stay. It’s the common interpretation that BDS had claimed another scalp that is interesting.
There is a maxim that no country should intervene in another’s election – but recent polls suggest Israelis would welcome an American intervention by producing a framework for a final status agreement. The poll finds a concern about a 2-state solution on which most Israeli parties are silent.
Akiva Eldar doubts if ‘security’ , or the pursuit of a Greater Israel, will win the election for Likud. These aims have pushed out any chance of improving living standards for poorer Israelis who may not share the mad dreams of their leaders.
About three quarters of illegal settlements are defined by the Israeli state as “national priority areas” and therefore eligible for heavy discounts (house prices in Israel proper are rising steeply). Many move there for the affordable prices – but become political by defending their right to live in such subsidised settlements.
Things are looking difficult for Israel’s current expansionist policy when even its most loyal backer considers action rather than warning words reports Barak Ravid. Israel’s isolation is becoming complete as European parliaments and the White House say they have had enough of Israeli obduracy and contempt for peace, Haaretz editorial.
To define as a ‘strategy’ Netanyahu’s long-standing approach of embanking divisions between Palestinians and stalling at every possible hurdle that must be jumped to get serious negotiations going is a calumny against that serious notion. Under more threat from his own right wing than he is from all Palestinians has pulled a jewel out of his-near empty bag of gains from his Gaza war – a big chunk of Palestinians’ land . With the infrastructure it will bring (water, electricity, roads for settlers) it shows he has no strategy, merely grabbing things here and there to keep the right quiet. Quiet for quiet as he famously explained the war on Gaza.
Prof. Zeev Sternhell, an authority of the rise of fascism in France, defines fascism as a rejection of, an assault on, enlightenment values. In the regime’s treatment of the Palestinians and of Jewish dissidents, in the submission of intellectuals to government orders and the blind following of the masses, Prof. Sternhell sees signs of fascism, and certainly the end of Zionism as he understood it.
Daniel Levy, policy adviser and diplomat, answers Israel’s belligerent question – what would you – by saying self-defence does not include the right to kill civilians and upbraids Israelis for pushing Palestinians into a corner, for offering nothing but more occupation in return for their own demands for ‘security’.
The governments of Spain, Italy and France have now joined those of the UK and Germany warning individuals and companies not to have financial dealings with Israeli settlements. Because of the illegality of Israeli property and entities established there, no trade or investment can be protected by law. A warning from the EC is anticipated.
Perhaps at some point for some Israelis the occupation of Palestinian land was seen as temporary – a situation allowed by the laws of war. The security structure and settlements make it clear beyond doubt that for Israel the occupation is permanent (and thus clearly illegal). New report from B’Tselem.
I want the majority of the land with the minimum of Palestinians on it says Danny Danon. Government policies are moving in the right direction – but not fast or completely enough. With the failure of the peace-talks, the brakes are off. It’s straight out of the South African playbook
The RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) has never been a conservative body since its origin in 1834. It is an influential body of international standing so the decision of its Council this week to pass a resolution for the suspension of the Israeli architects’ association from the international architects’ union (UIA) because of settlements will help to design the future. Desperate editorial from the Jewish Chronicle alleging an antisemitic conspiracy.
Two sharply-worded articles from Haaretz in which the writers, neither of them supporters of BDS, point to the strength of the BDS appeal and the feebleness of the opponents, who claim to support a 2-state solution but do nothing to bring it about. That would mean joining the argument that Israel must respect the law that settlements are illegal.
Responding to Kerry’s pressure, Netanyahu says settlers could stay under Palestinian rule in the West Bank. Bennett says unthinkable – all settlers would be exterminated. Meanwhile, Netanyahu finally takes the threat of BDS seriously and plans a government discussion on it – but the row with Bennett has forced that meeting to be postponed. There’s trouble at the top – and more leeway for the security junta.
In this view from Alon Ben-Meir, the settlements on Palestinian land are an ‘albatross’ round Netanyahu’s neck as he seeks to engage in direct negotiations with Palestinians. This is an odd interpretation (by HuffPost) given Bibi’s enthusiasm for colonising the West Bank – in the name of ‘security’ (King Abdullah ll is about to launch an assault on Israel?). It is true that every new house on Palestinian land is an assault on ‘peace hopes’ – but this would not be a curse if Netanyahu actually wanted to arrive at a just arrangement.
“I don’t expect any progress at all unless there is huge and powerful American pressure, such as the one we are seeing to deal with the Syrian issue,” says Abed Rabbo, one of the two officials authorized to discuss the talks. John Kery will talk with Abbas, London September 9th on his European visit to get backing for the US on Syria.
Sunday’s confirmation that the Israeli government plans to build housing for several thousand Israeli Jews in W. Bank settlements seems a challenge to their American sponsors. But for Netanyahu the pressure comes, not from the Palestinians, but from Jewish Home and his right-wing anti-Palestinian American friends. Perhaps he is gambling on their support, on there now being too much at stake for the talks to founder – there was no reaction to his announcement of new funds for settlements – and on being able to blame the PA if they do.
Ari Shavit and Rachel Shabi both note the scale of settlement building, the only driving force in this Israeli government, and point out that it kills off a two-state solution and international goodwill – if not the future of the Jewish state itself. For the more land Israel claims, the less of a stable and cohesive political entity it is.
Some careful work with maps shows Chaim Levison that there has been a creeping increase in the amount of land given to settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. While both the EU and the US have chastised the Israeli government for its settlement policies, it is the IDF’s Central Command which has the authority over land use in the oPt. Zionism, the system where government and army have but one mind.