A Beginner’s Guide to the Unrecognized Villages of Israel


Aniqa Raihan

It’s no secret that there is an occupation happening in and around Israel.

Most people agree that the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been occupied since 1967. Much less thought and literature is dedicated to the treatment of Palestinians living inside modern-day Israel proper. I decided to head over there and see for myself.

It is commonly believed that Palestinian citizens of Israel — officially known as Arab Israelis — enjoy full equality in the Jewish State. There are Arab members of parliament, the Arab population in Israel has been growing steadily for decades, and the Arab cultural scene is thriving in places like Haifa. While all of these statements are true, Palestinians insist that occupation still exists inside the state of Israel, and nowhere is that fact more apparent than in the unrecognized Bedouin villages of the Negev desert.

Before the creation of modern Israel, the Negev desert, which constitutes the southern half of the country, was almost entirely populated by Arab Bedouins. Nearly 90 percent fled during the Nakba of 1948. 11,000 Bedouins remained, a population which has now grown to over 200,000.

Of the Bedouins still living in the Negev, half live in government-designated towns and cities, much like Native reservations in the United States, and the other half live in unrecognized villages. The Bedouin are Israeli citizens, but because their villages aren’t formally recognized by the state, they have no access to state services including water, electricity, telephones, sewage systems, and roads.

Today, the unrecognized villages of the Negev desert have the highest unemployment and poverty rates in Israel. I visited three villages to understand the effect of occupation.

Be’er Sheva is the largest city in the Negev desert. It is home to 205,000 people, about 10 percent of whom are Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Originally founded in 4,000 BCE, Be’er Sheva has been at times a Bedouin encampment, part of the Ottoman Empire, and now, the fourth most populous metropolitan center in Israel. It is a thriving college town, a growing tech hub, and interestingly, the chess capital of the world.

Less than 5 miles away are unrecognized villages where people live in tents and tin shacks.

The largest of the unrecognized villages is Wadi an-Na’am. It was established in the 1950s by internally displaced Bedouins from surrounding villages who’d been forcibly removed from their homes and lands, but it’s never been officially recognized.

In the 1970s, Israel built Neot Hovav, the country’s primary toxic waste disposal facility, in Wadi an-Na’am. Since its establishment, the facility has experienced frequent accidents, fires, explosions, and leaks, resulting in birth defects and long-term health problems in the Bedouin community.

The village is also surrounded by military firing zones, where the Israeli Defense Forces carry out military drills and trainings using live ammunition. Unexploded shells are often left behind from these exercises. The last accident killed two children aged 8 and 10.

An electric power plant is clearly visible from the village.

This plant generates electricity for Be’er Sheva and surrounding localities, but not for Wadi an-Na’am or the 45 other unrecognized villages like it. People in the villages depend instead on an inconsistent combination of solar panels and generators. Adalah, a human rights and legal organization, currently has three open cases regarding elementary schools in Wadi an-Na’am that lack electricity.

Israel recently announced its intention to relocate the residents of Wadi an-Na’am to the nearby town of Segev Shalom. The villagers oppose this plan because it would destroy their agrarian lifestyle. In 2015 the Association for Civil Rights in Israel presented two alternative options, both of which would allow the villagers to maintain their way of life, but the relocation will move forward as originally proposed.

I also visited Umm al-Hiran, an unrecognized village on the verge of demolition. Like Wadi an-Na’am, Umm al-Hiran was established in the 1950s by order of the Israeli military governor as part of a state-sanctioned effort to relocate and concentrate the Bedouin. Half of the village was briefly granted recognition in 2008, but the decision was reversed two years later.

The state has marked Umm al-Hiran as the site of a future Jewish development to be called Hiran, a project that necessitates the demolition of the entire village. Residents filed appeals and fought back in court, but in 2015, the Supreme Court of Israel rejected a petition to prevent demolition of the village. Construction was briefly halted following protests led by Adalah, but is expected to continue soon.

At 3 a.m. on January 18 of this year, Israeli police arrived at Umm al-Hiran to conduct home demolitions. A local teacher named Yacoub Abu Al-Qia’an got in his car and began to drive away, but was shot at by the police.

One of the bullets hit his right knee, causing him to lose control of his vehicle and accelerate into a group of officers. One officer was killed, as was Yacoub. Israeli authorities initially declared him a terrorist connected to ISIS, but retracted when video evidence surfaced proving that he was shot before his car accelerated.

This memorial stands at the scene of the shooting.

And finally, I visited the most notorious of the unrecognized villages, al-Araqib. This village, which was once home to 600 people, has been demolished 119 times. Now, only 5 tents and a tribal cemetery remain. There are more graves than villagers.

Amazingly, the demolitions aren’t even the worst past: Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of this yearslong tragedy is the government’s demand that the residents of al-Araqib pay for the cost of demolishing their homes.

I have been part of the movement for Palestinian justice for a year and a half now. I have spent hundreds of hours reading about the blockade of Gaza, the murders of Mahmoud Shaalan and Rachel Corrie, the intifadas, the checkpoints, the BDS movement, and more, but I was still shocked by what I saw in the Negev desert. The Bedouin are continually displaced and disenfranchised by the state — and too often, they are also erased from the mainstream Palestinian narrative.

This is occupation, pure and simple, and it is 70 years past time the world recognizes it.

The post A Beginner’s Guide to the Unrecognized Villages of Israel appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.


I’m a Jewish American Who Wanted to Visit Israel. I Got as Far as the Airport.


Members of the interfaith delegation denied transit to Israel for supporting the BDS movement. (Photo courtesy of Noah Habeeb, second from left.)

A few days ago I prepared to take my first trip to Israel-Palestine as part of an interfaith delegation of human rights activists. I got as far as Dulles Airport.

Four other faith leaders and I — three of us Jewish, one Christian, and one Muslim — were prohibited from checking into our Lufthansa flight at the demand of the Israeli government.

Offered no documentation or explanation by Lufthansa officials, we could only presume this was punishment for our support of Palestinian human rights. This was confirmed when the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs told Haaretz that the travel ban was due to our support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

In my Jewish American family, I learned to engage critically with Israel, and after many years, I was ready to go and see with my own eyes the good and the bad: the land and sites that are holy to many, as well as the realities of Israeli occupation and institutional discrimination.

Unfortunately, the Israeli government wouldn’t let me.

Banned in TLV

I am heartbroken and angry that we’ve been denied this opportunity to travel. But this is far from the first instance of denial of entry, and it comes as no shock to me.

Israel has long enacted travel bans, mostly against Palestinians. Many Palestinian refugees and their descendants, displaced from their homes during the Nakba in 1948 — when over 750,000 Palestinians were made refugees — are not allowed to return. Many of those displaced during the 1967 War are also unable to return, despite the rights of refugees in international law.

Israel has also denied entry to international observers and human rights organizations.

The UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, Makarim Wibisono, was denied entry in 2015. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both been denied access to Gaza — where, according to Robert Piper, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, “the ‘unlivability threshold’ has already been passed.” Gazans currently receive between two to four hours of electricity daily and lack clean drinking water, while living under Israeli occupation and siege.

Like the denial of entry to international observers, the activist ban is part of a “see no evil” strategy to deny access to the reality on the ground, and in doing so chill human rights activism.

Suppression of BDS Activism

The activist ban targets supporters of the BDS movement, a Palestinian-led movement for justice and freedom calling on Israel to end the 1967 occupation, end the institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians living in Israel, and uphold the right of refugees to return. Like all boycott movements — from the American South to South Africa — the goal of BDS is to become obsolete: When Israel stops infringing on Palestinian rights, BDS will end.

Today, the BDS movement counts 200 successes in the United States alone.

Campaigns have successfully targeted corporations like Veolia, G4S, and Sodastream for their complicity in Israeli occupation and apartheid; passed over 50 resolutions at universities and colleges, as well as academic associations like the American Studies Association, Women’s Studies Association, and Peace and Justice Studies Association; and led divestment efforts in faith communities, including major U.S. churches like the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church.

The success of the BDS movement is also evident in the repression faced by activists. In many states, legislation has been passed that punishes or suppresses BDS activism. And pending legislation in the U.S. Congress would criminalize BDS, with penalties as severe as 20 years imprisonment and $ 1 million in fines, which the ACLU deems “civil and criminal punishment on individuals solely because of their political beliefs about Israel and its policies.”

In Israel, an anti-boycott law allows for civil suits to be filed against anybody who supports boycotts, even those that only target illegal settlements. And in March, the Knesset passed a bill forbidding entry or residency to those who advocate for BDS — that’s the law which purportedly prohibits my entry.

Next Year in Jerusalem?

As my fellow delegate Shakeel Sayed said, “The holy land does not belong to any one group of people. All people belong to the holy land.”

My denial of entry makes even clearer what I already knew: Israel is not a democratic state where true dissent is allowed. Of course, a true democracy doesn’t keep millions of people under military occupation for decades or discriminate against them under apartheid either.

But perhaps just as significant is what my denial says about Israel as a Jewish state.

There’s no denying that barring Jews, including a rabbi, from the “Jewish state” is significant. As many have documented, Israel has always been for some Jews at the expense of Palestinians and other Jews. For example, many Mizrahim, or “Oriental” Jews, were settled in ma’abarot — transit camps consisting mostly of Mizrahim like themselves, who were expected to assimilate to European Jewish customs before becoming a part of Israel. A few resisted by demanding resettlement in the countries they’d come from.

Once again, as one Israeli minister warned recently, the “rules of the game have changed.” Israel is now only for Jews who don’t dissent.

“I promise that my activism to restore the dignity and honor of the people in Palestine will not stop, but will double down,” Shakeel vowed. And I promise that, too — so that if not next year, some day soon, all people will have access to justice and peace in Israel-Palestine.

Follow along with our #JustFaith17 delegation here to see what Israel was so afraid for the #interfaith5 see.


Nearly 50 Senators Want to Make It a Felony to Boycott Israel


(Photo: Kate Ausburn / Flickr)

In 1966, the NAACP of Claiborne County, Mississippi launched a boycott of several white-owned local businesses on the basis of racial discrimination.

It was so impactful that the local hardware store filed a lawsuit against the individuals and organizations who coordinated the boycott. After 10 long years of litigation, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in favor of the white businesses and ordered the NAACP to pay for all their lost earnings.

Years later, in 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-0 to overturn the lower court’s decision on the basis that nonviolent boycotts are a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment. In announcing the unanimous decision, Justice John Paul Stevens said, “One of the foundations of our society is the right of individuals to combine with other persons in pursuit of a common goal by lawful means.”

That should have been the end of it. But now, Americans’ right to boycott is under attack once again — thanks to a vicious anti-boycott bill making its way through the Senate.

In particular, it appears to target the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS is an international movement calling on individuals, institutions, and governments to boycott Israeli products until it ends its occupation of Palestinian lands. The boycott is explicitly nonviolent and is supported by activists, celebrities, faith-based groups, and political and social justice organizations around the world.

The proposed Israel Anti-Boycott Act would make it a felony for Americans to support BDS, with a penalty of up to $ 1 million and 20 years in prison.

Unfortunately, the bill enjoys bipartisan support: 32 Republicans and 15 Democrats are currently signed on as cosponsors, including party leaders like Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Ted Cruz (R-TX). In response, the ACLU issued a letter urging members of the Senate to oppose the bill based on its “direct violation of the First Amendment.” (Following the publication of the ACLU’s letter, several members of Congress have agreed to review their sponsorship, but so far none have removed their names.)

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act would function by amending an earlier law from 1979, which prohibits American citizens and corporations from complying with boycotts called for by foreign nations against U.S. allies. The new law would include boycotts “fostered and imposed by international governmental organizations” like the United Nations. In this, it’s a direct response to the 2016 UN Human Rights Council resolution discouraging businesses from operating in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In one way, it’s genius. By claiming a connection between BDS and the UN — a connection the UN has never embraced, in that resolution or any other — the bill attempts to work around NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co.

But the BDS movement is not a product of the UN — it has nothing to do with it at all, except to the degree that it’s based on international law. The BDS call to action was issued in 2005 by a coalition of 170 Palestinian political parties, professional associations, refugee networks, and civil society organizations. BDS is a tactic, not an organization, and the boycott has always been grassroots and decentralized, meaning anyone anywhere can partake in BDS by making the simple decision to do so.

Whether the congressional supporters of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act misunderstand or are intentionally misrepresenting BDS is uncertain, but the Supreme Court decision of 1982 is clear as crystal: Americans’ right to peaceful boycott with the aim to “bring about political, social, and economic change” is protected by the First Amendment. That means this bill is more than egregiously immoral — it’s unconstitutional.

The bill’s language also lumps Israel’s settlements in with the country’s internationally recognized borders.

Significantly, it declares the UN Human Rights Council’s 2016 position on Israeli settlements an “action to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel.” Yet that resolution took no position on the boycotting of goods produced in Israel proper — it only took aim at Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, which are illegal under international law.

U.S. policy since 1979 has recognized that the Israeli settlements are “inconsistent with international law.” By contrast, the new bill effectively erases any distinction between Israel and its settlements in the West Bank. If it’s passed, anyone who chooses not to do business with or buy items manufactured in illegal Israeli settlements can be convicted, fined, and even jailed.

Efforts to curb this kind of activism are often touted as efforts to combat anti-Semitism. Yet polls show that only 17 percent of American Jews support the continued construction of settlements. The bill is so controversial, in fact, that the liberal pro-Israel organization J Street, which has long opposed BDS, recently announced its opposition to the proposed law on the basis that it “divides [opponents of the global BDS movement] by making the issue about the settlements.”

It’s difficult to know exactly how broadly the law, if passed, will be enforced. Its intentionally vague language leaves a lot to the imagination, and perhaps that’s exactly what’s intended. The real goal may be to frighten people from engaging in the completely legal act of living out their values in their economic choices.

But we can’t let fear prevent us from exercising our rights and fulfilling our moral obligations. The silver lining is that every effort to quell the BDS movement has served to strengthen it. Each attempt at criminalizing the boycott, whether on the state or federal level, has been met with a spike in Google searches for BDS and related terms.

And with the uproar caused by this new bill, the right-wing pro-Israel lobby just may prove to be the BDS movement’s best ally.


Trump’s Israel Rhetoric Is All Over the Place

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived February 14th for his first meeting with President Donald Trump, a meeting intended to solidify the existing relationship between the two countries in the new Trump administration.

In an interview with The New Indian TV Network, IPS Middle East expert Phyllis Bennis argued that while Trump’s campaign rhetoric suggested a warmer embrace of hardline pro-Israel policies than former president Barack Obama took, the details of Trump’s policy on the region remain unclear.  

“There’s a great deal of uncertainty about what Trump’s foreign policy on Israel-Palestine, like his foreign policy on other issues, is actually going to look like,” Bennis said. But his campaign rhetoric regarding U.S.-Israeli ties has certainly put him farther to the right in the United States, “closer to the extreme right inside Israel,” Bennis explained.

This hardline rhetoric is reflected in Trump’s pick for the new U.S. ambassador to Israel. David Friedman, Trump’s bankruptcy lawyer and a financial supporter of Israeli settlements, has called for the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, an idea that has been internationally condemned.

However, Trump looks to have softened his approach on this issue. While averring that he “could live with one state,” disavowing decades of stated U.S. policy in favor of a two-state solution, he’s also offered a muted condemnation of new Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, saying they “may not be helpful” to achieving peace in the region.

Bennis said that “the possibility of an Ambassador Friedman deciding to move the embassy is greater than we’ve ever seen before.” Yet given the administration’s shifting rhetoric on the issue, she concluded that there’s still no guarantee it will actually happen.

Middle East expert Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies.


The Obama Administration Is Misreading Public Opinion on Israel


Shortly before the New Year, the Obama administration broke with its usual behavior at the United Nations and abstained from a Security Council resolution against Israel’s illegal settlements in Palestinian territory.

By abstaining instead of vetoing the measure, the U.S. effectively allowed it to pass, which raised hackles from Israel’s right-wing government — as well as its defenders in the U.S. Congress, who passed their own resolution condemning the UN vote.

The outcry led U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to give a spirited defense of the Obama administration’s relationship with Israel. Kerry, IPS Middle East expert Phyllis Bennis told MSNBC recently, argued that the Obama administration had been “the most pro-Israeli administration in U.S. history in all the ways that matter.”

The Obama administration, Bennis said, has increased U.S. military aid to Israel to $ 38 billion over the next 10 years and “protected Israel and Israeli officials in the United Nations,” shielding them from “any real accountability for any violations” of international law. In Israel’s 2009 and 2014 assaults on Gaza, she explained, “when the rest of the world said these are war crimes, the U.S. said no, this is Israel’s right of self-defense.”

Bennis speculated that Kerry’s defense of the White House was directed toward critics “inside the Washington bubble.” But that narrow tailoring, she said, “points to a misreading of public opinion.”

“What Kerry missed,” Bennis explained, “was the fact that most people in the United States these days are not so happy about the idea that the U.S. is providing $ 38 billion of our tax money to the Israeli military,” or “protecting Israel so uncritically until this one resolution.”

That resolution may have come too late after “25 years of failed U.S. diplomacy” based on “this idea that there is going to be a two-state solution, but with no significant pressure on Israel to make that happen.”

“A lot of people believe that the two-state solution is over and done, it’s dead,” she said. “It’s been killed by settlements. There’s just no land left for a viable Palestinian state.” Meanwhile, Israel has become “an apartheid state where you have one governing authority” but “two separate legal systems depending on whether you’re Jewish or Palestinian.”

Bennis concluded that while the incoming Trump administration is extremely unlikely to press Israel on settlements, significant new actions may come from Europe in light of the Security Council resolution. “By saying in this resolution that all the settlements are illegal, that they have no valid basis, they’re setting the stage for a whole new initiative by Europe,” she said. “That’s what makes it so important.”

Watch the MSNBC clip here.

The post The Obama Administration Is Misreading Public Opinion on Israel appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Middle East expert Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy  Studies.


Record $38 Billion in Military Aid to Israel is a “Statement of Absolute Support” for Israeli Occupation

“The package is again a statement of absolute support for Israeli occupation, colonization, and apartheid,” Phyllis Bennis told the Real News Network in response to the $ 38 billion package of U.S. military aid promised to Israel.

Bennis said this deal is not about Israeli defenses. The Obama administration has said that Israeli’s occupation of Palestine is not sustainable. But it becomes sustainable, Bennis said, when the U.S. finances billions in American tax dollars, “more than has been given to any other country for military assistance, including even Iraq in the ten years of the Iraq War, from 2003 to 2011.”

Bennis called the amount of money “outrageous,” for the 23rd wealtlhiest country in the world. She also said that to call the stipulation that Israel must spend some of the aid on the U.S. war industry rather than building their own a concession “simply doesn’t stand up,” as that standard applies to all of the other countries the U.S. provides aid to.

As for the provision that Israel is not to ask for more money unless there’s an emergency, Bennis said, “As we know, Israel creates the emergencies. Israel is the one who goes to war against Gaza and then demands that the U.S. send more bullets when they use them up, or more planes or more bombs.”

Independent journalist Rania Khalek said it’s “stunning” that Israel is prioritized over the interests of Americans during a time when “our government seems to be incapable of providing basic services in parts of this country, like clean drinking water and like functioning schools.”

“We’re able to always come up with this money to spend to not only enable but literally fund Israel’s ongoing destruction of Palestinian families and communities,” Khalek said.

This comes at a time when, Khalek said, the current Israeli government is the most racist government that’s been elected in Israel’s history. She said government officials have called for beheadings of disloyal Palestinians, “ISIS language,” and slaughtering  mothers in their beds to prevent them from birthing ‘little snakes,’ “the language of genocide.”

“We’re arming this government and giving them the weapons they need to commit absolute savagery against a totally defenseless population,” Khalek said.

Bennis says Obama is “seriously misreading” where the American people are on the Palestinian question.

“The public discourse on this question has shifted,” she said. “There is massive opposition to Israeli actions in the United States today, particularly importantly in the Jewish community, where there’s been an enormous shift in that discourse.”

Obama has had public confrontations with Netanyahu, Bennis explained, but if the administration continues to give billions in military aid every year to Israel, and continue to “provide absolute impunity at the United Nations, using their veto or a threat of veto or a threat of other punishments to make sure that Israel is never held accountable for its potential war crimes,  that’s what matters in the U.S.-Israeli relationship, and all the rest is just words.”

Watch the full interview on the Real News Network’s website.

The post Record $ 38 Billion in Military Aid to Israel is a “Statement of Absolute Support” for Israeli Occupation appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Phyllis Bennis is the director of the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies.


Amid strong Israeli-Greek ties, Greece’s parliament to recognize Palestinian state – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Jerusalem Post Israel News
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If Israel Wants to Prevent Terrorism, It Should Stop Evicting Palestinians

A bulldozed Palestinian home in the village of Beit Ommar. (Source: Palestine Solidarity Project)

A bulldozed Palestinian home in the village of Beit Ommar. (Source: Palestine Solidarity Project)

Late last year, two Palestinian cousins broke into a Jerusalem synagogue, killing five Israelis before being slain by police.

In retaliation, as part of the government’s “counterterrorist deterrence policy,” the homes of these two Palestinians were slated for demolition. Their houses were destroyed on October 6th of this year, displacing six of their family members.

A week later, their cousin Alaa Abu Jamal drove his car into a Jerusalem bus stop and killed a bystander with a cleaver.

This episode is emblematic of a larger phenomenon: Israel’s “punitive housing demolitions” are not only ethically problematic and illegal under international law, which — under the Fourth Geneva Convention — prohibits the “occupying power from destroying private property or forcibly transferring the protected population.” They’re also blatantly counterproductive at deterring terrorism.

Tensions in Jerusalem — as well as in Israel-Palestine more generally — are often boiled down to ethnic rivalry and conflicts over access to the city’s historic places of worship. But media reports often ignore or play down much more concrete grievances like home demolitions, which may have inspired Alaa Abu Jamal and others like him to lash out against Israeli civilians.

In order to better comprehend the recent wave of stabbings, a look at one of Israel’s least discussed policies is necessary. Housing demolitions, both as a military tool of “deterrence” and civil tactic of displacement, create an environment of constant anxiety for Palestinians in the West Bank — conditions that can account for the spate of violence in the past few months.

The precedent for punitive demolitions comes from the Defence Emergency Regulation (DER)119 — a 1945 law established under British colonial rule — which authorized the confiscation and destruction of “any house, structure, or land” owned by an alleged perpetrator of violence.

In the decades since, the Israeli military has used DER 119 to seal up or demolish thousands of Palestinian homes under the pretext of deterring terrorism. In 2005, however, the IDF discontinued the practice after internal studies demonstrated its ineffectiveness at achieving its stated goal. In fact, as one official remarked, “the policy had caused Israel more harm than good by generating hatred among the Palestinians.”

Yet current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been quick to forget the findings of his own military, revitalizing punitive demolitions in response to car bombings in Jerusalem last winter. The decision has sparked a violent backlash this year: at least ten Israelis have been murdered and more than 70 wounded, further undermining the policy’s stated goal of counterterrorism.

Importantly, demolitions aren’t just used to punish the families of suspected terrorists. In fact, Israel regularly demolishes the homes of civilians who have no terrorist affiliations. Between 1988 and 2014, Israel’s Civil Administration issued 14,000 demolition orders in the West Bank, of which 11,000 are still outstanding and can be enforced at any time. Palestinians living in these condemned structures can be displaced at the whims of the ICA, and are often not notified of their demolition date until a bulldozer shows up at their doorstep. These incidents, which occur in East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank, occur when Israeli authorities accuse Palestinians of failing to obtain building permits for their homes.

While this may sound reasonable in theory, the sheer regulatory nightmare Palestinians are subjected to highlights their intentional exclusion from civic services. A study published on December 7th reveals that only 7 percent of building permits in Jerusalem go to Palestinian neighborhoods, despite the fact that they make up 41 percent of the city’s population. Because permits are rarely — if ever — issued to Palestinians, they’re forced to construct homes without them, giving Israel a “justification” for demolishing these structures and displacing their inhabitants.

Laura Wharton, a city councilor in Jerusalem, is unequivocally clear about the link between these demolitions and recent violence: she writes, “’If anyone thinks the Palestinians’ frustration and rage are the result of incitement alone, the numbers and facts on the ground show otherwise.”

Under these conditions, it’s easy to understand the frustration of Jerusalemites; faced by impending demolitions, either as the result of familial ties or discrimination by civic services, Palestinians like Alaa Abu Jamal lash out violently. If Israel truly wants to mitigate civilian deaths going forward, it must cease demolitions immediately.

Otherwise, the cycle of violence will continue unabated.

The post If Israel Wants to Prevent Terrorism, It Should Stop Evicting Palestinians appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Laith Shakir is an alum of the Next Leaders program at the Institute for Policy Studies.


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Will the U.S. Appease Netanyahu and Increase Military Aid to Israel?

U.S. President Barack Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House Monday. It’s the first time the two leaders have met in more than a year.

For more on the significance of this meeting and whether it would help smooth over strained relations between Israel and the U.S., CCTV America’s Asieh Namdar was joined by IPS’s Phyllis Bennis. Watch below:

The post Will the U.S. Appease Netanyahu and Increase Military Aid to Israel? appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.