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Study Likens Israel to South African Apartheid; U.S. Pressed to End Gaza Blockade

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2 Jun 09 | PTV, FT, Ha’aretz, CSM and LAT

An expert study concludes that Israel is policing Palestinian territories with an apartheid system that resembles the one which almost fragmented South Africa.


On Monday, the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC) reported that its research into more than 60 years of Israeli encroachment upon the Palestinian lands has proven that the occupation “has become a colonial enterprise that implements a system of apartheid,” the Ma’an news agency reported.

The investigation, conducted by legal scholars and practitioners from South Africa, the United Kingdom, Israel and the West Bank, was launched last year into Middle Eastern politics relevant to South African foreign policy.

Using the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (OHCHR) as its baseline, the research had affirmed that the apartheid South Africa and the current Israeli regime “can be defined by similar dominant features.”

Earlier in the month, an executive summary of the examination said the study has proven that Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT) share the ‘pillars’ of the apartheid namely “fragmenting the OPT for the purposes of segregation and domination.”

The post-World War II military-propelled occupation of the territory of what is now called Israel has been followed by incremental disregard for Palestinian rights and the enforcement of segregation along racial lines.

“Israel has denied the indigenous population the right to self-determination and indicated clear intention to assume sovereignty over portions of its land and natural resources,” the summary had said.

“A policy of apartheid is especially indicated by Israel’s demarcation of geographic ‘reserves’ in the West Bank, to which Palestinian residence are confined, unable to leave without a permit,” it added.

The area has been dotted with Israeli-built dividing walls and checkpoints that severely restrict the Palestinian people’s access to different parts of the West Bank while completely closing off 38 percent of it to them.

In 2002, Israel started erecting a 723-km separation barrier in the West Bank village of Ni’lin, arrogating vast expanses of Palestinian land under the pretext of ‘protecting’ Israeli settlers. In comparison, the Berlin wall was 155 kilometers in length.

Israelis violently defend illegal enlargement

Israeli settlers, angered by a governmental decision to evacuate illegal outposts in the West Bank, have attacked residents in the Palestinian territories.

Masked settlers living in Ramat Gilad, an outpost located near the northern West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron, blocked roads and attacked Palestinian cars near Karnei Shomron, Kedumim and Yitzhar.

Settlers had reportedly obstructed road access by placing boulders in the roadways. The attackers then assaulted drivers who tried to move the stones out of the way.

Palestinians responded by throwing rocks. Four Palestinians were injured in the clashes.

Settlers also torched olive groves and fields in the Palestinian village of Burin, located near Yitzhar. Firefighters seeking access to the areas were also attacked by the settlers.

Although the hard-line administration of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to Washington’s demands to stop the construction of new settlements, it has refused to end building within the confines of established settlements.

This could mean more houses within settlements, which critics argue contributes more broadly to settlement growth.

This is while Palestinians living in the West Bank have essentially been denied permits to build houses in their lands.

The United Nations and Amnesty International say attempts by Palestinians to legally obtain planning permission from the Israeli authorities to build properties in the West Bank is “almost impossible.”

“Usually, the applications are complicated, expensive, take a long time to process and then are refused,” Amnesty Canada says on its website.

Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now in early 2008 reported that from the beginning of 2000 until September 2007, “94% of requests submitted by Palestinians were denied by the Civil Administration.”

This is while “for every construction permit granted to a Palestinian,… 18 other buildings are destroyed and 55 demolition orders are issued,” the group further explains.

During the same period, over 1,663 Palestinian buildings — as opposed to 199 homes in the settlements — have been razed to the ground by Israeli bulldozers.

Obama faces test over Mideast settlements

Barack Obama faces a test of his credibility over his call for a total settlement freeze in the West Bank and Gaza, as U.S. legislators call on him to scale down his demands and Israel maintains its opposition….

The stakes are all the higher because what has become a high-profile confrontation with Israel comes so early in Mr Obama’s tenure. He said in his second day in office that neither the U.S. nor the world could any longer “afford delay” on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mr Obama is due to give a long-awaited address to the Muslim world in Cairo tomorrow. Many Arab and Muslim states hope for a clear U.S. peace plan but U.S. officials have already cautioned against raising expectations too high.

“Right now Obama has a lot of support,” says Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser. But he warns that Mr Obama’s leverage over the Middle East will be reduced “if that credibility were to be dissipated because of its reliance only on rhetoric”.

The test is one previous administrations have tried and failed. For a week the Obama administration has called on Israel to freeze all settlement expansion, so dismissing an Israeli offer that would permit the “natural growth” of existing settlements or expansion in east Jerusalem.

Obama: U.S. will be ‘honest’ with Israel on settlements

The United States will be more blunt in raising objections to Israel’s settlement policies in the Palestinian territories than previous administrations, President Barack Obama told a U.S. radio network in an interview on Monday.

“Part of being a good friend is being honest,” Obama told National Public Radio. “And I think there have been times where we are not as honest as we should be about the fact that the current direction, the current trajectory, in the region is profoundly negative, not only for Israeli interests but also U.S. interests.

“We do have to retain a constant belief in the possibilities of negotiations that will lead to peace,” he added. “I’ve said that a freeze on settlements is part of that.” >>>

Israeli proposal: Make Jordan the official Palestinian homeland

The controversial idea – though not new – could still undermine Netanyahu and erode Israel’s relations with moderate Arab countries.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior members of his cabinet have pushed back hard against a renewed US demand to end settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories. Interior Minister Eli Yishai said Sunday that it amounted to “expulsion.”

But 53 Israeli parliamentarians have moved to explore another kind of expulsion: Under a proposal to be reviewed this week, Jordan would become the official homeland for Palestinians now living in the West Bank.

Among the challenges facing the proposal is this: nobody asked Jordan if it would support such a plan.

Not surprisingly, it doesn’t. >>>

Israel abducts 13 Palestinians from West Bank

In a fresh move, the Israeli armed forces have kidnapped thirteen Palestinians during pre-dawn raids in various parts of the West Bank, the military says.

The operation was carried out Tuesday morning during night and dawn operations in the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Tulkarem.

The campaign came just days after Israeli troops kidnapped 11 Palestinians again in overnight operations carried out in the same areas of the West Bank. Over the last 10 days, Israeli forces have kidnapped at least 50 Palestinians in the West Bank.

Palestinians residing in the West Bank fall victim to overnight kidnapping operations on a regular basis despite a security agreement between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority.

According to the agreement, the P.A. is in charge of security in the West Bank and Israeli service members have no authority in the region.

Palestinians claim that Israel has kidnapped close to 2,400 Gazan citizens from the West Bank and surrounding areas since the start of 2009.

More than 11,500 Palestinians — including women and children — imprisoned by Israel are suffering under harsh conditions in detention facilities.

U.S. advised to end Israeli blockade of Gaza

A fact-finding mission has urged the Obama administration to secure an immediate end to the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The group, which includes an influential line-up of U.S. public figures, former diplomats and analysts, gave an insight into the humanitarian situation in Gaza, in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Harriet Fulbright — the widow of former Senator William J. Fulbright who led the group — called for the entry of emergency supplies and construction materials, which is desperately needed to rebuild the strip after it was ripped to shreds by an Israeli military attack five months ago.

Steve Buck, a retired U.S. diplomat who accompanied the American delegation on their 17-day trip to the Middle East in May, said that Israeli policies toward Gaza show every sign of a “siege”.

He criticized Israel for deliberately preventing the entry of emergency supplies and foodstuff into the Gaza Strip. “We would like to see an increase in the amount of goods going in and out of Gaza,” Buck said.

The Israeli siege is not only making life miserable for a generation, it is also taking away the dream of a nation that see little light at the end of the tunnel.

Close to 1,400 Palestinians — mostly women and children — died during Israel’s three-week-long onslaught against the coastal sliver, and dozens of seriously ill patients are facing imminent death as Gaza’s hospital runs out of medical supplies because Israeli authorities are barring medical supplies from reaching the territory.

Tel Aviv’s operation ‘Cast Lead’ in Gaza greatly exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, inflicting heavy damage on the civilian infrastructure, disrupting the flow of clean water and causing overflow of sewage.

Nearly 20,000 homes and other buildings were damaged, leaving thousands of people homeless. Gaza has also been experiencing harsh conditions due to the shortage of fuel and electricity, which has also affected the performance of medical centers and hospitals.

Tel Aviv has been charged with war crimes during the Gaza war including the use of controversial chemical white phosphorous shells, indiscriminate firing in the densely-populated strip and the shelling of a U.N. school turned refugee camp. Thus far Tel Aviv has avoided accountability for any wrong-doing.

U.N.: Israeli buffer zone eats up 30 percent of Gaza’s arable land

Looking to increase security, Israel dropped leaflets last week warning residents to stay at least 1,000 feet from the border or risk being shot.

Israel’s warning came from the sky, as it often does in the Gaza Strip. But this time warplanes dropped neither bombs nor missiles on the impoverished Palestinian territory, but thousands of tiny leaflets warning Gaza’s residents to keep away from the 30-mile-long border they share with Israel.

Stay at least 300 meters (1,000 feet) from the border, the May 25 pamphlets advised Palestinians, or risk being shot by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). >>>

Obama will try to form a personal connection in Middle East

Aides say the president in his much-awaited speech in Cairo to the Muslim world will emphasize commonalities and mutual respect in an effort to heal a rift that widened in recent years.

When President Obama takes the podium in Cairo this week for his much-anticipated speech to the Muslim world, he’ll stand before them as an American leader born of an African Muslim father and raised partly in Indonesia, as well as a politician who cut his political teeth in an Illinois political culture that has a sizable Muslim population. >>>

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  1. [...] Study Likens Israel to South African Apartheid; U.S. Pressed to End Gaza Blockade (2 Jun 09) [...]


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