By: Daniel Breslau
Week 2,011 of occupation
15 December 2005 - 21 December 2005
On Wednesday Morning, 21 December, Palestinian residents of the village of Bil`in established an outpost, by placing a trailer on their land. The trailer has been placed on privately owned Palestinian land, separated from the village of Bil`in by the annexation wall. It is about 100 meters from the illegal ultraorthodox Jewish neighborhood of Matitiyahu East, where 750 housing units have been constructed in violation of Israeli law. The residents of Bil`in have announced their intention of building a new neighborhood on the site, and will petition the Israeli court if their structures are evacuated or demolished while the buildings of Matitiyahu East are allowed to remain.
The IDF has announced that it will evacuate and remove the trailer soon, creating a false and racist distinction between the small trailer and the huge illegal Jewish neighborhood, by saying that the former constitutes a security risk.
Olive harvest again presents an opportunity for massive violations of human rights
The autumn olive harvest is a crucial event in the social, cultural, and economic existence of Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank. As has been the case for the past 38 years, the rights of Palestinians to cultivate and harvest this traditional and essential crop is being systematically violated through violent harrassment, restrictions on movement, and vandalism by settlers and IDF soldiers. Now the annexation wall has made matters much worse, separating many villages from hundreds of thousands of their olive trees. Israel has not honored its commitment to give olive growers access to their trees on the other side of the wall, although this commitment was made in court to secure approval for the wall`s construction. Farmers in the Salfit area were prevented from passing through the wall to harvest their olives. Thousands of dunams of trees belonging to the villages of Mash`a and A Zawiya have not been harvested because permits have not been granted to their owners who live on the other side of the wall.
On Saturday, 17 December, settlers from the Yitzhar settlement attacked olive groves belonging to the village of Bourin, near Nablus, and cut down over 140 trees. On Monday, settlers from the Bracha settlement cut down an additional 100 trees in Burin. The villagers plan to return to their land on Friday, 23 December, accompanied by Israeli and international activists. Earlier in the Fall, settlers from Itamar destroyed hundreds of trees belonging to nearby villages and settlers from Kedumim threatened farmers at gunpoint, preventing them from harvesting their olives.
Hamas support surges in fourth round of municipal elections
Results of the balloting on 15 December show the Hamas movement winning in three of four major cities of the West Bank where elections were held: Nablus, Al Bireh, and Jenin. The Fatah movement still dominates in Ramallah and in the rural towns that were included in this round. The rise of the Islamic movement is generally regarded as the result of the leadership failures of Fatah, in achieving national goals of independence and self rule, and in effective government. Hamas is perceived as a focused, united, and uncorrupted movement, in contrast to the internally divided and ineffectual Fatah. Hamas now controls councils in towns with a combined population of 1.1 million.
Gains by the secular-left Popular Front suggest that it is seen as an alternative to Fatah for those who are not attracted tot he Islamic movement.
Israel plans to prevent elections in East Jerusalem
Israel has stated that it will not let elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council take place in East Jerusalem on December 25, their scheduled date, if the Hamas movement is allowed to participate. The threat is a way for Israel to assert its sovereignty over the Arab neighborhoods of the city, which is not recognized by any government. There are also reports that the Fatah movement may use Israel`s refusal as an excuse to cancel the elections as a whole. Some of the Fatah leadership is apparently pressing Palestinian President Abu Mazen to take such a step, as they fear the split and weakened movement will be defeated by Hamas at the polls.
The U.S. Congress unwittingly gave a large boost to the Hamas election campaign by passing a resolution saying that Hamas should not be allowed to participate in the election. It is not possible to exclude the largest Islamic movement, which represents a large minority of Palestinians, and preserve the democratic character of the election.
A victory for the Shabiba
The young leadership of Fatah, more democratic, less corrupt, and more militant than the veteran leadership that returned from Tunis after the Oslo accords, have won a more secure place within the movement. After the Fatah list for the Palestinian Legislative Council was drawn up, a group of the `Shabiba,` young leaders who grew up under Israeli occupation, formed their own list in protest. The list was headed by Marwan Bargouti, the Tanzim leader jailed in Israel. With the split clearly weakening the movement as a whole in the upcoming elections, the older leadership struck a compromise that allowed many of the young leaders, such as Bargouti, Jibril Rajoub, and Muhamad Dahlan, onto the movement`s national list. Bargouti will be at the top of the list.
Sources: IMEMC, Ha`aretz, Palestine Centre for Human Rights, Machsom Watch, Alternative Information Center, International Solidarity Movement.