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Apartheid Israel

Jan 28,2016 - Last updated at Jan 28,2016

The unbending nature of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose extremist policies have crippled any peace negotiations with the Palestinians, has once again emerged this week when he revealed his intention to return Israeli settlers to Hebron, a prominent Palestinian town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

At last Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu arrogantly stressed publicly that his government “supports the settlements”.

The settlers in question were trespassing; they were removed since Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon had withheld his required approval of their occupancy of apartments in Hebron, a largely Palestinian town where tensions between Israelis and Palestinians run high.

In response, Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental US-based organisation that conducts research and human rights advocacy, has in a ground-breaking report, titled “Occupation, Inc.”, recommended, in an unprecedented step, cutting international aid to Israel by an amount equal to what Israel spends on settlements.

As has been evident in the last four months, Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, considered illegal by most countries, including the United States, have expanded, prompting raging, uncoordinated resistance by young Palestinians.

Additionally, an unidentified American is reportedly suing the US Treasury because it is allowing billions of dollars of tax-exempt charitable donations to flow to the Israeli army in support of the expansion of these illegal Israeli settlements. 

There are other lawsuits, discloses the Chicago-based Electronic Intifada; they allege that around 150 non-profit organisations spend about $1 billion a year “to fund the forcible expulsion of all non-Jews” and expand settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Martin McMahon, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, told The Electronic Intifada that he believes the organisations are violating eight federal criminal statutes and up to six Treasury regulations.

One of the three plaintiffs, reported Charlotte Silver, is Palestinian-American author Susan Abulhawa.

“I want a court, somewhere, somehow, to hold accountable those who have financed my pain of dispossession and exile, to hold accountable the financiers of Israel’s wholesale theft of another people’s historic, material, spiritual and emotional presence in the world.”

Israel confirmed this week that it was planning to appropriate a large tract of fertile land in the occupied West Bank, close to Jordan, a move that Reuters says is likely to exacerbate tensions with Western allies and already drawing international condemnation.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon denounced the move and Palestinian officials said they would push for a resolution at the United Nations against Israel’s settlement policies.

Most damaging to Israel’s image this week was a column titled “Only international pressure will end Israeli apartheid” by Amos Schoken, the editor and owner of Haaretz, a liberal Israeli daily.

He wrote: “One people [Israelis] have all the rights and protections, while the other [Palestinians] is deprived of numerous rights and lives under the former’s control. Israel determines the fate and day-to-day life of millions of people who have no influence over its decisions. The government of Israel is the party that will debate whether or not to accept the Israel Defence Forces’ recommendation to ease policies towards the Palestinian Authority and its people. In South Africa, there were similar discussions about easing apartheid for blacks.”

Schoken warned that “this predicament is liable to lead Israel, like South Africa in its time, to banishment from the family of nations”.

He went on to say that this “Israeli apartheid regime is also illegitimate, and it is no surprise that the complete identification which the government is creating between Israeli policy and apartheid is causing the world to question not only Israel’s control of Palestinians without rights, but also the legitimacy of the state itself and the whole Zionist idea”.

Schoken’s column comes at an opportune time for the American voters who are exposed to despicable episodes of racism and sectarianism, especially those voiced by Donald Trump, the Republican front runner and some in his clique.

America needs to wake up.

 

The writer is a Washington-based columnist.

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