In the seven decades of its independence, Israel has developed a unique model of statehood. This model can be understood in various ways, and these have evolved over the years, but any description of it always comes back to two terms: Jewish and democratic.
There is no consensus on what it means for a state to be a “Jewish state,” partly because only one state has ever made such a claim. At the same time, there is no practical consensus on what it means for a state to be “democratic”: Many have put the word — knowing it false — in their official names.… Seguir leyendo »
When Vice President Mike Pence spoke to the Knesset on Jan. 22, legislators who oppose a two-state solution sent a clear signal that they have taken President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as a green light to proceed with initiatives to annex portions of the West Bank.
The signal came in two parts: As Mr. Pence reiterated America’s commitment to Israeli-Palestinian peace, every member of the governing right-wing coalition stayed silent while opposition legislators rose to applaud. More stunningly, the Knesset’s speaker, Yuli Edelstein, declared that Israel will “develop the whole of the country, including Judea and Samaria,” referring to the biblical names for the entire West Bank.… Seguir leyendo »
On December 6, while President Trump was announcing his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, several Palestinian communities on the occupied West Bank and in the Jordan Valley were awaiting the army bulldozers coming to destroy their villages. There is an intimate and sinister link between these two concurrent events.
For many years, house demolitions have been routine in what is known, since the Oslo agreements, as Area C—that is, over 60 percent of the West Bank, where nearly all Israeli settlements in the territories are located. Palestinians living there have virtually no chance of getting a building permit from the committee, dominated by Israeli settlers, that reviews applications; families tend to be large and, in desperation, they end up building illegally.… Seguir leyendo »
Although once commonplace, military occupation is rare in today’s world. A half-century-long occupation, like Israel’s control of Palestinian territories captured in 1967, is even rarer.
In public, Israeli governments have described the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “disputed” rather than occupied territories, justifying their actions under the branch of international humanitarian law (IHL) that regulates belligerent military occupations. A main requirement of this law is that occupation be temporary. But can a 50-year-long occupation be considered temporary?
In my new book (A Half Century of Occupation), I describe how the “Shamgar Doctrine” — which I name after Meir Shamgar, the military’s general advocate during the 1967 war and the president of the Israeli Supreme Court in the 1980s — justifies and legalizes this apparent contradiction.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week, Israel’s Parliament passed a controversial bill that allows the government to retroactively authorize contested West Bank Jewish communities by compensating previous Palestinian land claimants. Opposition parties warn that this law could open Israel to prosecution at The Hague, and the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said, “Israel’s Parliament has just approved a law to legalize theft of Palestinian land.” This theme has been echoed recently at the Paris peace conference, in a United Nations Security Council resolution and by a major policy speech by then Secretary of State John Kerry, which all condemned settlements.
Israel never seems to have a good answer to accusations against the settlement enterprise.… Seguir leyendo »
What aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are Trump and Netanyahu likely to discuss at their meeting in Washington on 15 February?
The meeting will be crucial for the future of the peace process and the remaining prospect of a two-state solution.
It seems that Trump’s policy views on the conflict are evolving, though it’s not clear from what, to what. Initially it seemed that his administration might not continue to support the two-state solution: the Republican Party platform pointedly omitted any mention of it; Trump’s nominated Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, rejects it as a “scam”; the family of Trump’s son-in-law and peace process envoy, Jared Kushner, has donated money to settlements; and the White House issued a statement saying, “we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace”.… Seguir leyendo »
During the months after President Trump’s election, Israel and many of its supporters in the United States cheered as he promised a new, warmer relationship, such as a more lenient approach to settlements in the West Bank and moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
But as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel travels to Washington for the leaders’ first official meeting on Wednesday, things have grown cloudier: Sounding like his predecessors, Mr. Trump has said that settlements “don’t help” the peace process, and he has cast doubt on his campaign commitment to move the embassy.
The meaning of Mr.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week, Israel’s parliament passed a law allowing the state to seize private Palestinian land on which Jewish settlements have been constructed and transfer it to the settlements’ exclusive use. The law could retroactively legalize several thousand homes of Jewish settlers and suspend any demolition proceedings previously initiated against them. Israel’s legal establishment has announced its opposition to the new law, saying it violates Israeli and international law and could lead to international repercussions. Israel’s president also came out against the law, arguing that it would “make Israel look like an apartheid state.” The law already has come under heavy criticism from several of Israel’s allies and has been challenged in Israel’s High Court, where it could eventually be overturned.… Seguir leyendo »
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is expected to visit Washington this week to meet with President Trump, presumably to discuss the political philosophy they share: power through hate and fear. A government that bars refugees and Muslims from entering the United States has much in common with one that permits Israeli settlers to steal land from Palestinians, as a new law that Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition pushed through Parliament last week did.
Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Netanyahu used blatant race-baiting tactics to win his last election, in 2015. Since then, he has made discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel central to his agenda.… Seguir leyendo »
U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, approved on Dec. 23, condemned the establishment of Israeli settlements outside the 1967 borders as “a flagrant violation under international law.” Though the United States abstained from the vote, Secretary of State John F. Kerry reiterated the U.S. government’s position that settlements remain an obstacle to the peace process in a speech several days later. The Israeli government has widely criticized the resolution and the Security Council’s focus on these settlements as well as the reference to the contested lands as “Palestinian Territory.”
Though this diplomatic disagreement has been widely covered, there has been much less discussion of the Israeli public’s sentiments.… Seguir leyendo »
Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv is always bustling. Youngsters, families and tourists fill its shops, cafes and bars. On Jan. 1, this boulevard became the site of another terrorist attack on Israelis. First, two young men were gunned down in a bar; then, as he fled the scene, the terrorist killed a taxi driver. Several others were injured.
A week later, after a long pursuit, the terrorist, an Israeli-Arab citizen named Nashat Melhem, was encircled by security forces in his hide-out in the town of Arara, and was shot dead after he had opened fire at his pursuers. Nashat Melhem’s rampage in Tel Aviv was not his first attempt at terror, as he had a 2007 conviction for assaulting a soldier and trying to seize his gun.… Seguir leyendo »
An office chair is positioned on the top of Dagan Hill, on the outskirts of Efrat, a thriving West Bank settlement. Someone must like to sit here and take in the changing landscape. Once-bare mountains are losing their shape, carved up by new roads and villas for a growing population of Jewish settlers.
Nadia Matar, one pillar of this community, should be happy. Twenty years ago, as she struggled to make a life on this hill, the success of her mission seemed improbable, if not impossible. Now, from the top of the windy peak, the fruits of her victory are apparent.… Seguir leyendo »
Whatever word you use to describe Israel’s 1967 acquisition of Judea and Samaria — commonly referred to as the West Bank in these pages — will not change the historical facts. Arabs called for Israel’s annihilation in 1967, and Israel legitimately seized the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria in self-defense. Israel’s moral claim to these territories, and the right of Israelis to call them home today, is therefore unassailable. Giving up this land in the name of a hallowed two-state solution would mean rewarding those who’ve historically sought to destroy Israel, a manifestly immoral outcome.
Of course, just because a policy is morally justified doesn’t mean it’s wise.… Seguir leyendo »
Faulty analysis of the Israeli settlement issue is being passed off as fact. Charles Krauthammer’s June 5 column, “The Settlements Myth,” is one example.
Here are the facts: In 2003, the Israeli government accepted, with some reservations, the “road map” for peace, which imposed two requirements on Israel regarding settlements: “GOI [Government of Israel] immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001. Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).”
Today, Israel maintains that three events — namely, draft understandings discussed in 2003 between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and U.S. deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley; President George W.… Seguir leyendo »
Asentamiento: 1. Acción y efecto de asentar o asentarse. 2. Instalación provisional, por la autoridad gubernativa, de colonos o cultivadores en tierras destinadas a expropiarse. (Diccionario de la Real Academia Española).
Soy lo suficientemente viejo para recordar cuando los kibutzim israelíes parecían asentamientos. En los primeros años sesenta, pasé un tiempo en el kibutz Hakuk, una pequeña comunidad fundada por la Haganah, el Ejército judío anterior a la creación del Estado de Israel. Nacido en 1945, Hakuk estaba todavía sin refinar. Las pocas docenas de familias que vivían allí se habían construido un comedor, una guardería, cobertizos y viviendas. Pero más allá de las residencias no había más que colinas cubiertas de rocas y campos a medio limpiar.… Seguir leyendo »