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Problems with Israeli Settlements in Occupied Palestine


November 15, 2009
Problems with Israeli Settlements in Occupied Palestine
by Arn Specter, Phila. (Twitter)

For years Palestinians have been forced to yield under Israeli's tyranny
in having their homeland and homes damaged, destroyed or confiscated
by the Israeli Police under illegal jurisdiction as declared by the United Nations
and other concerned organizations and peoples. The Palestinians too are suffering from the devastation of Gaza, one of the worst attacks upon innocent civilians in modern times. Now, as the United Nations is giving both Israel and Gaza 3 months to investigate their parts if that horrible conflict, the issue of Jewish settlements is, once again, in the news.

I've put together from a few sources (and there are a great many!) the history
of the "settlements' gleaned from Wikipedia as well as a few articles speaking
about the settlement situation today and the incredible amounts of billions of
dollars given as aid to Israel by the U.S. government (and taxpayers). Despite
international condemnation of Israel's settlement policies and actions (another
400 plus housing units started recently advocated by Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu) Israel continues to displace Palestinians by demolishing, bulldozing their homes and forcing them out onto the streets of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, while in Gaza it is reported 50,000 Palestinians had lost their homes and are suffering severely with winter coming on soon.

It is not too late for Israel to change their attitudes and policies towards the
Palestinian territories, as mandated by the United Nations many years ago.
It is the frustration of so many years of being treated as second class citizens
(not really citizens of Israel at all!); a people without a homeland now living in their former homeland...which has led to so much fighting by Hamas in Gaza against the military and governmental power of the now apartheid Israel.

Groups of people all over the world desire peace between Israel and the Palestinians and a shared State of Israel and palestine between them.
We need to lobby and pursuade Israel to do just that by stopping the construction of housing for Jewish settlers and supporting the stability of housing for the Palestinians in all the territories. Also, we can pressure the United Nations to
further consider violations of international law by Israel, and if neccessary, take legal action against them, as soon as possible. The Palistinians are suffering great deprivations and need outside support and assistance now.

Let's take a look at developments.

In the following article, Frustrated Palestinians to appeal to UN for state,
by Mark Lavie, AP, Nov.15, 2009,
Lavie says, "The Palestinians are upset over continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem and are disappointed with
the U.S. failure to put pressure on Israel to halt the construction."

For some background on the settlement issue I've turned to Wikipedia. the free encyclopedia
Israeli settlements
Israeli settlements are Israeli civilian communities in the Israeli-occupied territories (lands that were captured from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War).[1] Such settlements currently exist in the West Bank[2], East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The latter two areas are governed under Israeli civil law but are considered to be under military occupation by the international community[3][4][5].
Eighteen settlements formerly existed in the Sinai Peninsula and twenty-one in the Gaza Strip. All were abandoned as part of Israel's withdrawal from these areas in 1982 and 2005, respectively.]

As of May 2009, there were 280,000 Israeli citizens living in 121 settlements in the West Bank, and 190,000 in East Jerusalem. Settlements range in their character from farming communities to suburbs to frontier villages, and, in the case of East Jerusalem, city neighborhoods. The three largest settlements, Modi'in Illit, Maale Adumim and Betar Illit, are cities with over 30,000 residents each. Some settlements, such as those of Gush Etzion, are rebuilt on the sites of modern Jewish communities destroyed in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War or prior conflicts.

The United Nations and other major international bodies consider the settlements a violation of international law, though this is disputed by Israel and some legal scholars. The position of the United States has been mixed. Under Israeli law, West Bank settlements must meet specific criteria to be legal; unauthorized communities which do not meet these criteria exist and are called illegal outposts. Israeli policies toward these settlements have ranged from active promotion to removal by force, and their continued existence and expansion since the 1970s is one of the most contentious issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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And to help us understand why the Palestinians are so frustrated, the article,

What is Going on Today in the Settlements by Hagit Ofran, Huffington Post, Oct. 28, 2009, points out that although the U.S. and International Community pressure Israel to stop building houses and apartments they continue to do so.

In fact they have a long-term plan to build around 40,000 new housing units.

Ofran says,

"Similarly, it seems likely that the Netanyahu government has concluded that eventually there will likely have to be some kind of freeze, but the government's actions would indicate a willingness - if not a shared desire with the settlers - to get as much construction going as possible before any freeze is implemented.

How does this square with the freeze on planning? Actually quite easily: the confusion, I think, stems from the fact that there are two stages to the approval process for settlement construction: approval of plans and approval of actual construction. If you want to build in a settlement, you have to get your plans approved, and then, when you are ready to implement the plans, you have to get the actual construction approved. A real settlement freeze would have to apply to both of these stages - no new plans approved, and no new construction approved, even under already-approved plans.

Freezing both of these stages is entirely within the government of Israel's authority, but that is not what has been done. Instead, we have in place a sort of passive freeze - one that applies only to new planning, while permitting a huge amount of new construction to go ahead, since there is a backlog of plans that have already been approved but not yet implemented. Indeed, according to an official report of the Ministry of Defense, published in Ha'aretz newspaper (the Spiegel Report), the settlements have the theoretical potential to build 40,000 new housing units - units that are already in the pipeline in the context of plans that were previously approved."

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To further understand the frustrations of the Palestinians I've posted the following video from the Carter Center, Atlanta, Georgia called:

Israeli Fights for Human Rights of Palestinians:
interview of lawyer, Michael Sfard, who represents Palestinian and Jewish groups in Israel fighting for Palestinian human rights. This 5 min. video is a MUST SEE!

as it presents a comprehensive - though deplorable - picture of the harsh conditions the Palestinians are forced to live under every day - for the past 40 years!

Israel control and domination are all encompassing in the daily life of the Palestinian; from lack of water and decent sanitation, health care, maternity care and services, to regular work, home or apartment ownership or rental, legal rights, education, transportation and transit, mobility in any way being forced to live within the confines of the "wall" or "fence" surrounding and bordering their territory in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Sfard speaks about the past 40 years concluding with the great tragedy of the conflict in Gaza. As an Israeli speaking for human rights and working for justice for the Palestinians earned him great respect in Israel, and the world.

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On www.ifamericansknew.org the article,

U.S. Military Aid and the Israel/Palestine Conflict,

reviews the billions of dollars the U.S. has given to Israel over the years.

Some of this money has supported the vast network of Israel Military and Police that carries out the repressive policies of the Israel government and harms the Palestinian people; such as protecting the settlers in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, protecting the "wall", and enforcing many "illegal" or repressive laws on the part of the state. In effect, the American Taxpayer is an accomplice to Israel in subjugating the Palestinian people to deprivations and violence, both physical and psychological, by providing this large amount of aid to the Israeli government

to be used at their discretion.

"The U.S. is providing Israel with at least $7 miilion each day in military aid and is giving the Palestinians $0 in military aid during Fiscal year 2009."

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Resources:

Settlements in Occupied Palestine (Google SEARCH)

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