Sunday, March 02, 2008

Meanwhile, Back at the West Bank ...

According to a press release from Badil:

Since the beginning of 2008, over 200 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank have become internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a result of home demolitions and evictions. As Israel continues to expand Jewish-only settlements and related infrastructure Palestinians are left with nowhere to go.

Since January 1st 2008, the Israeli army demolished the homes of and evicted from their lands 208 persons in the occupied West Bank. Over half of those who have been forcibly displaced are registered refugees with UNRWA. Bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley (Area C), many of whom have already been displaced a number of times since the 1948, have been especially targetted. The home demolitions and evictions have affected the communities of al Baqaa (55 persons lost their homes on 2 January), Furush Beit Dajan (39 persons on 3 January), Fasayil (83 persons on 3 January), Jiftlik (one person on 3 January) and Jahalin Bedouin (30 persons on 16 January). Livestock and personal belongings were damaged because some families were not given time to remove them. While many families were able to seek temporary shelter with family and friends, some slept outside during some of the coldest winter nights in years. More families (Al Baqaa and Jahalin Bedouin) are at risk of imminent displacement as further demolition and eviction orders are pending.

Is this illegal and immoral? Don't all governments have the right of eminent domain to seize land for the public good. Don't all governments have the right to clear public lands of squatters.

No. Governments of occupation do not. They are not the government of the occupied people. They do not represent them nor have their interests at heart. They are merely temporarily hold in the land until its status can be settled.

But Israel, does not behave as an occupier. It behaves as if it is already the legitimate governmnet of the areas. Trouble is, it acts as the governmnet of only some of the people, and has only the interests of some of the people - the Jews - at heart. Palestinians in the West Bank can neither vote for this government nor can they expect it to act in their interests nor protect their rights.

Israel can not have it both ways. Either it acts like a legal occupation power, denying the local population the vote, but at the same time not expropriating land or expelling people, nor diverting natural resources, nor engaging in major construction initiatives, nor moving its own people into the territories; or it can annex the West Bank and give all it residence a vote. To claim to rule all the land, while representing the interests of only some of the people, is the essence of apartheid. If Israel want to stop being called an apartheid state, it should stop acting like one in the occupied territories.

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