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Occupation magazine - Commentary

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Week 2254 of Occupation: 9 August-15 August 2010
By: Daniel Breslau
Occupation Magazine
9 August – 15 August, 2010

The lack of an agreed endpoint to the drawn out Israeli-Palestinian negotiations has been a major reason for their failure. The lack of a framework based on internationally-recognized boundaries and rights of the parties has been an invitation for Israel to unilaterally create new boundaries and rights by force. And Israel has eagerly accepted this invitation, furiously creating facts on the ground while poisoning the continuing negotiations. For instance, almost all of the illegal settlements that Israel now says are `consensus settlements` to remain under its jurisdiction in any final agreement, where post-1993 creations.

Israel`s demand that the next round of direct negotiations also commence without such a framework is a demand to continue chipping away at the Palestinian homeland while talks are underway.

When Benjamin Netanyahu refuses to negotiate borders on the basis of the pre-1967 `green line,` he justifies this position with the mantra of `no preconditions.` The implication is that the final borders should be the outcome, not the starting point, of negotiations. But by rejecting a framework, he is in effect rejecting a negotiated solution in favor of borders that Israel has imposed over the years through settlement expansion backed by military force. There is no doubt that Netanyahu`s vision of borders includes annexing to Israel lands that it colonized since 1967 and even since 1993.

On 16 August, Israel`s security cabinet announced it would reject any preconditions put forth by the Quartet, which consists of the U.S., the United Nations, Russia, and the European Union. But those conditions include terms to which Israel has already committed under the 2003 road map, particularly a freeze on new settlement construction, including `natural growth.`

A demolition campaign against Palestinians, while settler outposts are untouched
Possibly to establish even more facts on the ground before negotiations recommence, and possibly a way of deflecting right-wing pressure over the partial freeze in settlement construction, Israel is conducting a stepped-up demolition campaign directed at Palestinian construction. The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territories has reported that through July, 230 Palestinian structures have been demolished this year. But two thirds of those demolitions were in July, and there is no sign of a break in the demolition campaign. In a grim rerun of a familiar film, nearly the entire village of Al Farisiye was displaced on 19 July, when the army demolished 50 structures belonging to 22 families. The military bulldozers returned on 5 August to destroy 26 homes and 11 additional structures. Many of the structures destroyed in the second wave were temporary shelters provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross to those who lost their homes last month. The Alternative Information Center reports that an additional 170 residents were made homeless in the second wave of demolitions.

The Defense Ministry has ordered the so-called Civil Administration in the territories to step up the demolition of Palestinian buildings constructed without an Israeli building permit, what Israel considers `illegal` structures. It is nearly impossible to obtain a building permit in the West Bank. The area where Al Farisiye is located, a stretch of the Jordan Valley comprising 18% of the West Bank, has been declared a closed military zone, and no new building permits will be issued there.

The peaceful protests - no letup
On the first day of Ramadan the usual Friday protests against the annexation wall were met with the usual routine of shoving, sound grenades, rubber-coated bullets, and copious amounts of tear gas. Only a listing of the numerous protest sites can give a fair picture of the size and energy of this movement.

Al Ma`sara (Bethlehem area). The marchers in this village have the simple goal of reaching their own land, which lies on the other side of the wall. The residents, joined by about 60 internationals including a group of Catalonian, were met with shoving and sound grenades.
Al Walajeh (Bethlehem area). When the procession reached the military barrier, soldiers set upon the demonstrators with rifle buts and batons. Two demonstrators were arrested by occupation forces and three were injured.
Nabi Saleh (North of Ramallah). 35 Palestinians were joined by 15 Israelis and internationals marched toward the village lands that had been confiscated for construction of the settlement of Hallamish. Tear gas, and more tear gas when some kids from the village threw rocks at Israeli jeeps.
Ni`lin (West of Ramallah, near the green line). 60 demonstrators approaching village lands that were stolen as the wall was built to allow the expansion of the huge Modi`in Ilit settlement. The marchers continued until they were overcome by teargas.
Bil`in (West of Ramallah). The usual 100 or so demonstrators -- resident Palestinians, Israeli and international activists -- followed the usual route carrying posters of youth and local organizers who are political prisoners in Israel. Tear gas and rubber-coated bullets.
Beit Ummar (Between Bethlehem and Hebron). 40 demonstrators met with tear gas, and the site of the demonstration, including the villages olive grove, was declared a closed military zone, giving the occupation forces license to use force to disperse the crowd.

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