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Since 1967 countless artifacts have been unearthed and removed from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Many are displayed in Israeli museums and private collections, while others are sold to tourists.
For Israel, archeology has been a key tool in buttressing its territorial claims to historic Palestine. Archeological findings are used to assert ownership and to rename the territories they occupy.
Palestinians see the cultural heritage of the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza as a central part of their ancestral birthright and ownership is key to building an economy based on pilgrimage and tourism.
Is the removal of historic treasures from the occupied territories a case of cultural preservation or stealing a heritage? What role has the science of archeology played in the Arab-Israeli dispute?
Al Jazeera searches through the evidence, unearthing the facts and exposing a power struggle in which every stone has meaning.
More than just property, the control of a cultural legacy is at stake.
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“For 17 years they [Palestinians] negotiated with the Israeli government during settlement construction … ”
– Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 1 October 2010
The United States-brokered peace talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas are in suspended animation.
Abbas is deciding whether to continue to partake in them despite the expiration of a 10-month moratorium on new Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank. Although his inclination appears not to do so, he also believes the opinion of Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Libya this Friday is first worth taking.
It is remarkable that those representing the Palestinian people would waiver in the slightest about quitting the talks in the face of ongoing land seizure. If this is not a red line, what is? It suggests a leadership which has not only failed to stand for the basic rights of its people, but a further reminder of Abbas’ illegitimacy as a spokesperson for those rights.
Two incontrovertible, overlooked facts:
The presence of even a single Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank or East Jerusalem is illegal. Articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention, reaffirmed by numerous United Nations resolutions and the principles of the U.N. Charter, prohibit an occupying power from transferring its population into forcibly acquired territory.
Second, Abbas’ presidential term ended on Jan. 9, 2009. In the absence of elections, the Palestine Liberation Organization—of which Abbas’ Fatah faction is the largest party—extended his tenure indefinitely (a move not recognized by Hamas, the decisive winner of the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections). His authority as PA president is therefore in question.
But could Israel find a better “partner” with whom to conduct peace talks than Abbas? His protestations against Israel’s December 2008 onslaught of Gaza were noticeably muted. The PA also endorsed a recent vote by the U.N. Human Rights Council postponing action on the Goldstone Report which alleged Israeli war crimes in the conflict.
Maysa Zorob of the Palestinian rights group Al-Haq characterized the resolution as “a betrayal of victims’ rights” and the PA’s support of shelving it reflective of “a lack of genuine commitment to justice.”
The price of clinging to power and remaining in the good graces of the U.S. State Department has been forsaking Gaza. The Israeli government seized on this, bolstering Abbas’ stature by pretending they had found a trusted negotiating partner—all while the quiet annexation of land continued.
But it is hard to solely blame Abbas. As Netanyahu stated, Israel has mastered the art of entering empty dialogue with Palestinians as new East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements are built.
Five hundred thousand settlers in 120 West Bank settlements and counting; the expropriation of territory and expulsion of Palestinians is rendering a one-state, two-state or any-state solution moot.
“Everyone knows that measured and restrained building in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank and Jerusalem] in the coming year will have no influence on the peace map,” Netanyahu said.
Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, when no map remains. The “measured” and “restrained” qualifiers used to describe robust, relentless settlement activity are typical of the doublespeak employed by Israeli prime ministers.
As Abbas seeks outside opinion, consults Arab foreign ministers and holds cabinet sessions to decide the wisdom of pulling out of talks, Palestine is being whittled away … as the PA whittles away time.
Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator.
Filed under: A MUST READ, ANTI-ISRAEL, imperialism, ISRAEL, ISRAELI-APARTHEID POLICY, neo liberalism & neo capitalism, occupation, palestine, proIsrael thinktanks, Racism/hate, reflections, Resistance, settlers, shoah, zionism | Tagged: Abbas, Arab League, East Jerusalem, fatah, Fourth Geneva Convention, Goldstone report, illegal, Netanyahu, settler, west bank | Leave a comment »
Here’s the roll-call [from delphiforums] on who introduced terrorism (along with biological, chemical and nuclear weapons) to the Middle East:
- Bombs in cafés: first used by Zionists in Palestine on 17 March 1937 in Jaffa (they were grenades)
- Bombs on buses: first used by Zionists in Palestine on 20 August- 26 September 1937
- Drive-by shootings with automatic weapons: IZL and LHI in 1937-38 and 1947-48 (Morris, Righteous Victims, p681.)
- Bombs in market places: first used by Zionists on 6 July 1938 in Haifa. (delayed-action, electrically detonated)
- Bombing of a passenger ship: first used by the Zionists in Haifa on 25 November 1940, killing over 200 of their own fellows.
- Bombing of hotels: first used by Zionists on 22 July 1946 in Jerusalem (Menachem Begin went on to become prime minister of Israel).
- Suitcase bombing: first used by Zionists on 1 October 1946 against British embassy in Rome.
- Mining of ambulances: first used by Zionists on 31 October 1946 in Petah Tikvah
- Car-bomb: first used by Zionists against the British near Jaffa on 5 December 1946.
- Letter bombs: first used by Zionists in June 1947 against members of the British government, 20 of them.
- Parcel bomb: first used by Zionists against the British in London on 3 September 1947.
- Reprisal murder of hostages: first used by Zionists against the British in Netanya area on 29 July 1947.
- Truck-bombs: first used by Zionists on January 1948 in the centre of Jaffa, killing 26.
- Aircraft hijacking: world-first by Israeli jets December 1954 on a Syrian civilian airliner (random seizure of hostages to recover five spies) – 14 years before any Palestinian hijacking.
The only form of violent terrorism not introduced into Palestine by the Zionists was suicide bombing, a tactic used almost entirely by people fighting occupation of their “homeland” – think 1000s of Japanese in 1945, 100s of Tamils and 38 Lebanese in the 1980s – most of the latter being motivated by socialism/communism, not Islam – see http://amconmag.com/article/2005/jul/18/00017.
- Biological warfare – pathogens used by Zionists in 1948, prior to the seizure of Acre, putting typhus into the water supply.
- Chemical warfare – nerve gas very likely used by Zionists in February/March 2001 in at least eight attacks in Khan Younis and Gharbi refugee camps (Gaza) and the town of Al-Bireh (West Bank).
- Nuclear threats – made by Zionists e.g. 2003: “We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen, before Israel goes under.” – Remarks of Martin Van Creveld, a professor of military history at Israel’s Hebrew University, 1 February 2003.
And, if you think only Muslims need worry, then see http://www.masada2000.org/sharepain.html – “Israel has nuclear weapons and MUST use them and all those arming the Arabs must share the pain!” Comes with cute music.
To these we could add “sofa slaughter” with armed drones. The Israelis use this armchair technique extensively in Gaza, unleashing death and destruction on civilians by remote control at no personal risk to themselves. There are interesting variations too. For example, during the 40-day siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002 the Israeli occupation force set up cranes on which were mounted robotic machine guns under video control. According to eye-witnesses, eight defenders, including the bell-ringer, were murdered, some by armchair button-pushers and some by regular snipers.
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The issue of Israeli settlements has captured attention far beyond the arena of international politics. Several celebrities have now thrown their weight behind what is being termed a “cultural boycott” against further building on Palestinian land. But with Israel’s construction freeze due to expire at the end of the month, there are doubts that these efforts will make any impact. Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports.
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Israeli settlers are reported to have set fire to a mosque in a Palestinian town in the occupied West Bank, damaging prayer rugs and a large number of copies of the Quran, as well as spraying anti-Arab graffiti on the walls.According to witnesses, five Jewish settlers broke into a mosque in Beit Fajjar in the early hours of Monday and set it alight before the morning prayers, Ahmad Thawabteh, the town’s mayor, told Al Jazeera.
The Israeli military told Al Jazeera that primary investigations showed Hebrew graffiti and burnt carpets at the mosque, located south of Bethlehem.
Avital Leibovitch, a spokeswoman for Israel’s military, said Israeli authorities will bring the guilty parties to justice.
“The Israeli police … have opened a very widespread investigation; the other security forces in Israel will be a part of [it], as well as Palestinian information that has some contribution to this investigation,” she told Al Jazeera.
“We see this incident in a very severe manner. We will do the utmost to find these lawbreakers and bring them to court.”
Emotions running high
Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh, reporting from the mosque, said emotions are quite high in the town.
“It was a little before three in the morning when residents saw smoke coming out of the mosque, that they rushed in to put out the fire,” she said.
“We heard residents [break] into chants about revenge. Much of the talk here is [calling this a] religious type of attack rather than a politically motivated one.”
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from Jerusalem, said: “Certainly this is something that is ratcheting up tensions at a time when the Israeli cabinet are meeting to decide on extending the settlement freeze.
“A mosque was burned in the West Bank earlier this year by settlers who say it was on their land – land that they claim and occupy.
“There is certainly a pattern here. There will be a settler demonstration north of the West Bank today which is also linked to a mosque that the settlers want destroyed.”
Vandals occasionally spray-paint the words “price tag” on buildings and cars, suggesting that the attacks are the “price” for any attempt by the Israeli government to curb the growth of illegal settlements.
Human-rights groups say the Israeli government does not take the attacks seriously enough.
A report by Amnesty International, the London-based rights group, found that “impunity remains the norm” for settlers accused of vandalism and physical attacks on Palestinians.
The incident in Beit Fajjar comes as Israeli and Palestinian officials prepare to resume indirect negotiations.
Palestinian leaders are pushing for a complete freeze in new Israeli construction in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, approved last year a temporary halt in West Bank settlement growth – but it does not apply to East Jerusalem.
Many communities in the West Bank have ignored the order and continued new construction.
Filed under: BLOGISM | Tagged: annexation, apartheid, appropriation, colonalism, colonialism, ethnic cleansing, gaza, hatred, IDF, imperialism, israeli banality, ISRAHELL, mosque blaze, occupation, palestine, propaganda, racism, settlers, shoah, west bank, west bank palestine, zionism, zionist | Leave a comment »
Documentary about Israeli peace activists. For more information – join on Facebook > http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=134111073300491
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