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Occupation magazine - Commentary

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Week 2253 of Occupation
Week 2253 of Occupation
2 August – 8 August, 2010
Daniel Breslau

It`s not the timing

Pisgat Ze`ev is an illegal settlement, built on Palestinian land that Israel occupied in 1967. The jurisdiction of the Jerusalem Municipality over Pisgat Ze`ev is not legitimate, and is not recognized by a single government other than Israel. Nothing that Israel does there is a domestic matter. Every new housing unit built for the settlers is an international incident, an act of aggression, and a fresh violation of the Geneva Conventions.

So when the Jerusalem municipality announced on Monday, 2 August, the construction of 40 more units in the Pisgat Ze`ev settlement, this illegitimate authority was authorizing a violation of international law.
Once again, criticism of the settlement expansion has centered on the timing of the announcement, not the fact of settlement activity that is illegal at any time. Even the member of the local planning committee from the supposedly left-leaning Meretz party, Pepe Alalou, declared that he only objected to the timing of the announcement, not the construction itself.

Meanwhile, the website Mynet has reported that Pisgat Ze`ev residents have set up a fund to subsidize rentals to Jewish families, with a preference for religious nationalist settlers. The purpose of the fund is to displace the small number of Palestinian Arabs who have rented apartments in the settlement, and prevent more Palestinians from doing likewise.

Take part in sham talks, or else...

Israel`s partial freeze on settlement construction expires on 26 September. Settler groups have announced that they have a large wave of construction ready to begin immediately with the lifting of the restrictions. They, and their allies in the state and military bureaucracies, intend to accelerate construction so that the 10 month freeze will have no effect on the long term pace of expansion. The government fully supports this outlook. Israel`s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have both made public statements calling a continuation of the freeze `impossible.` Netanyahu has told the US that a continuation of the settlement freeze would lead to the toppling of the current ruling coalition.

Thus far the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad has resisted US bullying and held firm in its refusal to move to direct negotiations with Israel. The enormous pressure is needed because the US is not asking Israel to agree to a single position that would allow the talks a minimal chance of success. No freeze on the construction of illegal settlements. No dismantling of outposts. No return to the 1967 borders, or even use of that border as a `frame of reference.` Talks under such circumstances are guaranteed to do nothing but help Israel improve its image internationally and help US President Barack Obama to improve his political standing. For the Palestinian Authority they offer only a fresh opportunity to co-opt the Palestinian national struggle and to collaborate in its people`s continuing dispossession. The PA would have to be either self-destructive or subject to debilitating pressure in order to consent to such talks.

The most likely scenario for the talks is that they will break down in a matter of months, if not weeks, as soon as Israel launches a massive wave of illegal settlement construction. In order to avoid the utter humiliation of engaging in peace talks with Israel while more land is being stolen and more settlements built, the PA have to quickly walk away from the table.

Whoever attacks southern Israel - Hamas pays the price

Israel has shown that any attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip or Sinai will be blamed on Hamas, and that Hamas will pay the price for those attacks, despite its role in restraining its own militants as well as those belonging to rival groups. Speculation is rampant as to who fired rockets on the Israeli resort town of Eilat and the Jordanian city of Aqaba on Monday, killing one Jordanian national. Nor has it been proven that the rockets were fired from Egyptian territory. Without producing evidence, Israel`s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, immediately accused Hamas of carrying out the attack from near the Egyptian town of Taba, and vowed retaliation. The Palestinian Authority also said that Hamas ordered the attack. Egypt has released statements blaming Hamas and contradictory statements concurring with Jordan`s view that Palestinian Islamist opposition groups had carried out the attack. Hamas, while denying any involvement, has suggested that Israel fired the rockets in order to create a pretext for new attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Israel is determined to use every violent act against its southern communities as a reason to attack the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. On the previous Saturday morning, Israel launched airstrikes against Hamas targets, killing a commander of the organization`s military wing and wounding 13 others. The attack was retaliation for a rocket attack from Gaza on the Israeli city of Ashkelon, although the Israeli military has stated that it does not believe that Hamas was responsible.

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