By: Daniel Breslau
Week 2,065 of occupation
21 December 2006 - 27 December 2006
Now Israel is helping Fatah
Israel is actively assisting the Fatah movement, now in the opposition in the Palestinian Authority, by coordinating a flow of money and weaponry to President Mahmoud Abbas and to Fatah-linked security forces. This continues a longstanding Israeli approach of assisting the secular Palestinian national forces when they are fighting for their political lives, in order to extract political concessions, while undermining them whenever they are positioned to consolidate their power.
This time the Israeli government authorized the transfer from Egypt of a shipment of 2000 AK-47 assault rifles and two million rounds of ammunition. The shipment passed through the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is controlled by Israel, and crosses Israeli territory. By arming opposition forces, and encouraging them not to cooperate with the elected government, Israel is fomenting civil war. While the Fatah movement was in power, Israel had demanded the disbanding of some of the security forces that are now receiving the weaponry.
The world reacts to Israel's plans for a new settlement
The 'roadmap' for Middle East peace, to which Israel and the Palestinians agreed over three years ago, requires an immediate freeze on Israel's settlement activity in the occupied territories. The US has guaranteed that this clause will be meaningless by allowing Israel to continually expand existing settlements, even though the text of the agreement specifically states that the freeze also applies to 'natural growth' of settlements. Israel also agreed to dismantle all illegal outposts constructed after March, 2001, but has also been allowed to simply ignore this clause of the roadmap.
Now it appears that even the US has red lines. When Israel announced this week the construction of a new settlement in the Jordan valley, the US State Department said that this move would violate the roadmap. The new settlement, called Maskiot, is located on the site of an abandoned military base and military Hesder religious school. It is intended to serve as a permanent home for some 30 families who were evacuated from the Gaza Strip settlement of Shirat Hayam in 2005. Plans for the settlement have been known since at least June of 2006, and construction has been underway for months. But only last week did the Defense Ministry give the new settlement official approval.
The European Union, through its presidency in Finland, condemned the decision to establish the new settlement, reiterating that the move is illegal under international law. When the EU had approved the withdrawal of Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip, it stated that it would be unacceptable for Israel to relocate any of the evacuees to the occupied West Bank.
Protesting an apartheid road
On Saturday, 23 December, over two hundred Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals, marched in protest of a new settler-only road in the occupied West Bank, that will connect the Etzion settlement bloc with the settlement of Kiryat Arba. The road will be 10 kilometers long and 165 meters wide, and will confiscate 1300 dunums of land from the village of Halhul. The road will also result in the theft of grape and citrus farms, and the demolition of greenhouses belonging to the al Arub agricultural college in Halhul.
Present at the demonstration were the mayors of both Halhul and Beit Omar villages who spoke of the danger of the road and called on the Palestinian people and authorities to halt its building. The march, and rally at the agricultural college, was the largest joint Palestinian-Israeli-International action in the area to date.
Sources: Ha'aretz, IMEMC, Palestine Centre for Human Rights, B'tselem, International Solidarity Movement, Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign