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Posts Tagged ‘town Sheikh Jarrah

Palestinians in Occupied Land still being evicted of homes: UN recognition not weighting anything to Israel?

With settlements being built in a flurry in and around Jerusalem, and Palestinians still getting evicted from their homes in the flash-point neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, the holy city is off to a bleak start.

The UN upgrade the Palestinian status to non-permanent observer in 2012 , but this year was disastrous in many respect.

Gaza was again attacked, and over 600 killed and thousands injured, costing over one Billion in blasted infrastructure…

By the end of December, Israel had announced a series of settlement expansion plans that reaffirmed its opposition to ceding any parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinians in any future agreement.

Sure the European States expressed their “sorrow” for Israel behaviors, as if the UN does not exist.

Dalia Hatuqa posted on Dec. 30, 2012 on the Monitor:

First there was the announcement that E1, an area stretching from northeast Jerusalem, to the western parts of Ma’ale Adumim, would be flooded with settlements.

Ma’aleh Adumim is a large settlement bloc overlooking a highway deemed a main artery leading to the Dead Sea and beyond to neighboring Jordan.

Built to parallel planned suburban communities in the United States, the settlers of this gargantuan settlement with the red rooftops and palm trees have long been promised by Israeli leaders that they would be part of the Israeli state in any future agreement with the Palestinians.

If E1 is built, that stretch of land would link this third-largest settlement in the West Bank to Jerusalem, effectively blocking off the corridor that would connect the southern and northern parts of the West Bank.

It would also sever East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, and with that banishing any hopes of having it become the capital of any future Palestinian state.

More announcements revealed the expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem, namely Ramat Shlomo, Givat Hamatos and Gilo South, by 6,600 units.

According to the Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, Givat Hamatos will “complete the isolation of East Jerusalem from the southern parts of the West Bank, and specifically isolate the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa.” Givat Hamatos, the first settlement to be built in East Jerusalem since 1997, will also isolate Bethlehem from the holy city by cutting it from Beit Safafa.

Today there are more than 200,000 Israeli settlers living in East Jerusalem — that number goes up to half a million if you include the rest of the West Bank.

Judging by the scale and pace of this new wave of settlement building, the Israeli government is looking to make as many changes on the ground before a political settlement is reached with the Palestinians.

Israeli settlement expert Daniel Seidemann said: “Givat Hamatos is clearly a game changer — it is highly detrimental to the possibility of any kind of political agreement. E1 is very much in your face but they’re both very problematic.”

Even the committee convened to discuss settlement building in certain areas (Jerusalem’s planning and construction committee) “is only established in rare occasions, and it is meant to promote plans that are ‘stuck’ in the pipeline for too long,” according to Peace Now, suggesting that Netanyahu is trying to fast-track settlement building in the Jerusalem area specifically.

At the heels of the East Jerusalem settlement expansion plans came other announcements that more than 1,200 units would be built in the settlement of Gilo in Bethlehem (an expansion spanning some 66 acres).

Israel’s Channel 2 reported that the Israeli housing ministry is expected to issue tenders for hundreds of units in the West Bank settlements of Efrat, Karnei Shomron and Givat Ze’ev.

With the Gilo announcement, Israel will have pushed for plans to build more than 6,600 new settlement units in just over a week, the largest flurry of expansion proposals in recent memory. That number does not include the 3,000 new units in various West Bank settlements and the E1 corridor.

This settlement expansion has drawn an unprecedented series of criticism from many European Union states and even a rare rebuke from the United States.

Despite the many rebukes, Israel has continued to streamline expansion plans at a time when the Israeli media is reporting that Benjamin Netanyahu is under pressure from members of his Likud party to drop a verbal commitment he made (in a 2009 speech) to a two-state solution from its January election platform.

For different reasons, some Israelis and Palestinians are warning that these changes being made to Jerusalem will render partition in any future deal impossible. The holy city and its environs will become part of Israel, drawing it closer to a bi-national state.

And unless a one-man, one-vote system is implemented, a selective democracy based upon racial and ethnic lines will come into place.

Settlers in the heart of the city

While Israeli plans are being made to encircle Jerusalem with settlements, steps are also being taken to create settler enclaves in the heart of the city’s Palestinian neighborhoods.

In Sheikh Jarrah, north of the Old City, the Shamasneh family is facing eviction from its 50 square meter (164 square feet) home.

Following a three-year lull, Israeli authorities first gave the 10-member family until December 31 to leave its home, which will be turned over to a settler organization.

An appeal has been submitted to the court and a response to be received on March 1 has postponed the imminent eviction and the family awaits a ruling to determine its fate.

Depending on the court ruling, the Shamasnehs, six of whom are children, will be forced to leave the house inhabited by generations of their family since 1964. A court ruling in favor of the Shamasnehs is unlikely.

Other families in the area have been met with a similar fate:

In 2008, the Al-Kurd family was evicted from their Sheikh Jarrah home, followed by two other Palestinian families in 2009. All of the houses are currently occupied by Israeli settlers.

For years, Sheikh Jarrah has been a flash point between Israeli authorities and Palestinian homeowners fighting to stay in their homes, which Jewish groups lay claim to citing pre-1948 ownership.

The irony lies in the fact that Palestinians driven from their homes during the same time period cannot claim the same right.

Residents of the Old City and Silwan are also particularly at risk of forced displacement.

In addition to the threat of house evictions, Israeli authorities have built up many national parks with archaeological and educational sites designed to include Israelis and limit access to Palestinians. An example of this is the City of David, an archaeological site with a museum, built in the middle of Silwan.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) notes that “settler organizations are targeting land and property to create an ‘inner’ layer of settlements within the ‘Holy Basin’ area. The impact includes … restrictions on public space, residential growth and freedom of movement.”

According to OCHA, Israeli measures have altered the status of East Jerusalem and its Palestinian population, which continue to be denied equal access to basic services and the ability to plan and develop their communities.

Since 1967, 2,000 houses have been demolished and more than 14,000 Palestinians have had their Jerusalem residency revoked.

Meanwhile, the separation wall has forced many Palestinians to live in enclaves within the city to which even the Jerusalem municipality does not want to provide services. Many families have found themselves on the “West Bank side” of the Wall of Shame, forced there by economic and bureaucratic needs, compelled to cross military checkpoints on a daily basis for access to health care, education and their livelihoods.

These harassments have created virtual slums in Jerusalem that the Palestinian Authority is not authorized to access and which the Israeli authorities refuse to provide services for, leaving residents to fend for themselves.

Hemmed in by settlements and isolated by the wall, some of Jerusalem’s Palestinians have been forced to divert the political and social aspects of their life to the nearest urban hub — the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The Israeli measures taken are changing Jerusalem’s landscape and demography, and will no doubt define any potential division of the city in any future negotiations.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking for the Shamasneh family and many others like them, victims of the last vestige of Israel’s ‘Greater Jerusalem’ project. Imaginary negotiations on the partition of this place seem light years away from this family’s reality, as they may find themselves homeless in the new year.


Dalia Hatuqa writes that the expansion of Israeli settlements in and around Jerusalem does not bode well for the Holy City in the coming year.

Author: Dalia Hatuqa
posted on: Sun, Dec 30, 2012

Categories : Originals  Palestinian Authority

Dalia Hatuqa is on Twitter: @daliahatuqa

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Israeli Citizens Not Equal: Israeli passport not enough for YOUSEF MUNAYYER

YOUSEF MUNAYYER posted on May 23: Not All Israeli Citizens Are Equal

“I’m a Palestinian who was born in the Israeli town of Lod, and I am an Israeli citizen. My wife is not: she is a Palestinian from Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Despite our towns being just 30 miles apart, we met almost 6,000 miles away in Massachusetts, where we attended neighboring colleges.

A series of walls, checkpoints, settlements and soldiers fill the 30-mile stretch between our hometowns, making it more likely for us to have met on the other side of the planet than in our own backyard.

Never is this reality more profound than on our trips home from our current residence outside Washington.

Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport is on the outskirts of Lod (Lydda in Arabic). Because my wife has a Palestinian ID, she cannot fly there: she is resigned to fly to Amman, Jordan. If we plan a trip together — an enjoyable task for most couples — we must prepare for a logistical nightmare that reminds us of our profound inequality before the law at every turn.

Even if we fly together to Amman, we are forced to take different bridges, two hours apart, and endure often humiliating waiting and questioning just to cross into Israel and the West Bank. The laws conspire to separate us.

If we lived in the region, I would have to forgo my residency, since Israeli law prevents my wife from living with me in Israel. This is to prevent what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once referred to as “demographic spillover.”

Additional Palestinian babies in Israel are considered “demographic threats” by a State constantly battling to keep a Jewish majority. (Of course, Israelis who marry Americans or any non-Palestinian foreigners are not subjected to this treatment.)

Last week marked Israel’s 64th year of independence. It corresponds to the Palestinians commemoration of the Nakba, or “catastrophe of 1948),” during which many of Palestine’s native inhabitants were turned into refugees.

In 1948, the Israeli brigade commander Yitzhak Rabin expelled 19,000 of Lydda’s Palestinians, of the town’s 20,000 native Palestinian population.  My grandparents were among the 1,000 to remain.

They were fortunate to become only internally displaced and not refugees. Years later, my grandfather was able to buy back his own home — a cruel absurdity, but a better fate than that imposed on most of his neighbors, who were never permitted to re-establish their lives in their hometowns.

Three decades later, in October 1979, this newspaper reported that Israel barred Rabin from detailing in his memoir what he conceded was the “expulsion” of the “civilian population of Lod and Ramle, numbering some 50,000.” Rabin, who by then had served as prime minister, sought to describe how “it was essential to drive the inhabitants out.”

Two generations after the Nakba, the effect of discriminatory Israeli policies reverberates. Israel still seeks to safeguard its image by claiming to be a bastion of democracy that treats its Palestinian citizens well, all the while continuing illiberal policies that target this very population. There is a long history of such discrimination.

In the 1950s, new laws permitted the State of Israel to take control over Palestinians’ land by classifying them “absentees.” Of course, it was Israel that made them absentees by either preventing refugees from returning to Israel or barring internally displaced Palestinians from having access to their land. This last group was ironically termed “present absentees” — able to see their land but not to reach it because of military restrictions that ultimately resulted in their watching the state confiscate it.

Until 1966, Palestinian citizens were governed under martial law.

Today, a Jew from any country can move to Israel, while a Palestinian refugee, with a valid claim to property in Israel, cannot. And although Palestinians make up about 20 percent of current Israel’s population, the 2012 budget allocates less than 7 percent for Palestinian citizens.

Tragically for Palestinians, Zionism requires Israel to empower and maintain a Jewish majority even at the expense of its non-Jewish citizens, and the occupation of the West Bank is only one part of it. What exists today between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is therefore essentially one state, under Israeli control, where Palestinians have varying degrees of limited human rights: 1.5 million are second-class citizens, and four million more are not citizens at all. If this is not apartheid, then whatever it is, it’s certainly not democracy.

The failure of Israeli and American leaders to grapple with this undemocratic reality is not helping. Even if a two-State solution was to be achieved, which seems fanciful at this point, a fundamental contradiction would remain: more than 35 laws in ostensibly democratic Israel discriminate against Palestinians who are Israeli citizens.

For all the talk about shared values between Israel and the United States, democracy is sadly not one of them right now, and it will not be until Israel’s leaders are willing to recognize Palestinians as equals, not just in name, but in law.

This photo is of Young Jewish settlers mocking a Palestinian woman whose home was occupied by Israelis. They came to the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah to celebrate Jerusalem Day in May 2010 in the face of those being displaced.
Below photo: Elizabeth Eckford, one of the nine students who mistakenly went to school alone on the morning of September 22, 1957, after attempting to enter Little Rock High School and being turned away by the National Guard with an angry Hazel Massery shouting behind her.

Yousef Munayyer is executive director of the Jerusalem Fund.

Note: For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.




March 2023

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