He’s defiant. He deplores democratic values. He’s a serial lawbreaker.
International law is clear and unambiguous. Israeli settlements are illegal. Fourth Geneva’s Article 49 states:
“Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”
Israel built illegally for decades. Around 600,000 settlers occupy over half the West Bank and parts of East Jerusalem. Netanyahu plans accelerated construction. Doing so requires stealing Palestinian land, demolishing private homes, and dispossessing residents.
Netanyahu officials said 6,000 new settler homes will be built. Controversial plans call for 2,600 in East Jerusalem. Many more are planned for E1 Ma’aleh Adumin development. More on that below.
Haaretz weighed in. Its December 19 editorial headlined “Building out of spite,” saying:
“The madness of construction in the territories is blinding the government (to) the loss of our country’s” dwindling number of friends.
Controversial building assures “serious crisis” building with important allies. At issue is what’s hard for them to countenance.
East Jerusalem and E1 construction “seem less for….solving housing problems and more” about entirely Judaizing East Jerusalem, spurning Palestinian self-determination, and preventing real conflict resolution.
Doing so punishes Palestinian officials “for daring to ask (and) receive” upgraded UN non-member international recognition.
Pleasure Netanyahu and likeminded hardliners derive comes at the expense of deteriorated international relations. Palestine’s support grows. Boycott calls increase. Spiteful construction assures “colliding with the iceberg hovering over us.”
Netanyahu shows no signs of backing off. He represents the worst of hardline governance. He embraces terror state policies. His rap sheet goes way beyond lawless construction. They’re bad enough.
Planned E1 construction exceeds how far most observers imagined he’d go. His surprises further expose his dark side. A previous article explained the following:
In 1999, Israel approved an E1 master plan. It covers about 12,000 dunams. Israel declared them “state land.” Doing so was illegal.
In 1979, Israel’s High Court Elon Moreh case decision prohibited requisitioning private Palestinian land for settlement construction. Israel ignored the ruling. Straightaway it declared 900,000 dunams state land. It steals Palestinian land with impunity.
Ma’ale Adumim settlement claims jurisdiction over 48,000 dunams. E1 construction involves stealing private Palestinian land.
Israel wants it for residential housing, commerce, tourism, regional services, and other Jews-only development. Detailed plans were approved.
E1 and other settlement construction require land theft, home demolitions, forced dispossessions, and denying Palestinian self-determination.
In 1967, settlement construction began. It never stopped. Washington and other Western allies express rhetorical opposition only. Israel freely does what it wants. It governs with impunity.
Netanyahu dismisses world condemnation he knows has no teeth. Arrogantly he claims the right to keep “building in Jerusalem and (all other places) on the map of Israel’s strategic interests.”
International law and standards be damned. The same goes for world opinion. He considers himself above the law. He governs that way. Most Knesset members support him.
On January 22, reelection looks sure. Why worry when short-term he can do what he pleases. Longer-term becomes someone else’s problem.
Passing it on he hopes lets him off the hook. It also helps Judaize all valued parts of Palestine Israel wants at the expense of displaced residents.
Headlines announced the latest. On December 17, 1,500 new East Jerusalem homes were approved. Netanyahu’s office claimed it’s not new construction. It’s another stage of what’s ongoing.
Jerusalem’s District Planning and Construction Committee approved units in East Jerusalem’s Ramat Shlomo neighborhood.
Additional planning stages remain. Final authorization takes time. Reports said expect additional construction announcements.
Two days later one came. A new Jewish neighborhood will arise, it said. It’ll be built south of East Jerusalem. It’s over the Green Line.
More than 2,600 housing units are slated for what’s called Givat Hamatos. It’s a mobile home site. Unwanted Ethiopian immigrants used it.
It’s near Har Homa. In 1997, it was controversial when Netanyahu approved it. It was during his first prime ministerial term.
Although it’s south of the city, it’s part of greater East Jerusalem because it crosses the Green Line. Discussion about an additional 900 units suggests these and more to come.
Deliberations were postponed, not cancelled. Netanyahu plans accelerated construction. Expect new announcements to follow current ones.
They won’t stop until virtually all Palestine is colonized. Israel planned it long ago. Netanyahu’s expediting what most Knesset members approve.
In early December, Israel signaled plans for 3,000 new East Jerusalem and West Bank units. International reaction was harsh.
The State Department’s response was surprising. It accused Israel of engaging in “a pattern of provocative action.” It runs counter to claims about conflict resolution commitments.
Netanyahu dismissed it out of hand. Rhetoric has no teeth. He’s free to do what he pleases. Perhaps one day things will change. Action may back up talk.
What better time than on December 19 after Maan News headlined “Israel presses on with plans for 6,000 new settler homes.”
Israeli officials defied international criticism announcing them. Settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem will be expanded.
Besides numbers already approved, discussions head toward authorizing thousands more. PA unelected Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said:
“Settlement activity is unilateral and is completely adverse to the continued viability of a two-state solution and the possibility for our people to continue to exist. It’s an attack on our people’s right to life.”
Years ago two states were possible. No longer. Fayyad and other PA officials know but won’t say. One state for all its people is today’s only option.
It’s too obvious to ignore. It’s impossible. Perhaps it will become internationally recognized.
Don’t expect acknowledgement enough to shift the dynamic on the ground. Hardline Israeli obstinacy prevents it.
Netanyahu, of course, and most Knesset members reject it. Palestinians are considered sub-human. They’re denied fundamental rights.
Nothing ahead suggests change. Conflict resolution remains distant. Netanyahu and likeminded hardliners stand firm on hidebound obstinancy. International disapproval is dismissed.
A Final Comment
In mid-July 2010, Knesset members stripped MK Hanin Zoabi of key parliamentary rights and privileges. They did so for participating in the May 2010 Freedom Flotilla. It tried bringing vital humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Arab MKs are accustomed to marginalization, threats, abuse, and lawless actions against them.
Zoabi’s called a “traitor. She’s been vilified and threatened. On December 19, Haaretz announced the latest. Israel’s election committee disqualified her from seeking reelection.
Doing so is lawless. Israel’s High Court will have final say. It’s likely to overturn the disgraceful ruling. Ten previous election committee rulings attempted to disqualify parties or candidates. Only three party disqualifications were upheld.
In 1964, the Socialist Party was banned. Kach’s turn came in 1988 and Kahana Chai in 1992. Disqualified candidates were reinstated.
Knesset debate included hardline MK David Rotem claiming:
“To say that a member of Knesset was aboard the Mavi Marmara does not constitute the critical mass equaling support for a terrorist organization reflects a lack of understanding of what happened aboard that ship.”
MK Aryeh Eldad added:
“I am a doctor and believe in preventive medicine. You don’t have to wait for people to be caught spying or committing treason before barring them from running.”
Arab MK Ahmed Tibi’s rejoinder said Israel’s election committee is politically motivated. It’s comprised of “third-rate politicians and frustrated lawyers looking to make headlines at our expense.”
Minutes before the meeting started, Balad party members held a press conference.
Chairman Jamal Zahalks said:
“If Zuabi is disqualified, I will not run in this election and will advise the party to boycott it. Disqualifying me means disqualifying an entire generation of young Arabs.”
The Adalah Legal Center for Arab minority Rights in Israel denounced hardline MKs, saying:
“The petitions are based on isolated and inaccurate quotations published on various websites and therefore do not justify a serious debate.”
Labor and Meretz parties said they won’t support disqualification petitions. Labor MK Isaac Herzog said:
“We view freedom of expression and freedom of opinion as the very lifeblood of Israel’s democracy and we firmly believe in this principle.”
“Any disqualification, whether from the left or the right, is a slippery slope, especially at a time when we must stand firm to ensure the existence of democracy, despite our disgust with many of the statements and positions expressed by various parties and Knesset members whose banning is under discussion.”
“They may be very far from our own philosophy but barring them would be a dangerous mistake.”
Expect High Court reinstatement but no softening in hardline MK views.