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Israelis have put Benjamin Netayahu back in power. Palestinians will likely pay the price

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Israelis Have Put Benjamin Netanyahu Back in Power. Palestinians Will Likely Pay the Price.

Dec. 13, 2022, 5:05 a.m. ET

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By Diana Buttu (New York Times)

Ms. Buttu is a lawyer and former adviser to the negotiating team of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

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HAIFA, Israel — As the prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu finalizes the formation of Israel’s most extreme right-wing government to date, I, along with other Palestinians in Israel and in the occupied territories, am filled with dread about what the next few years will bring.

Every day since the elections, Palestinians wake up with a what-now apprehension, and more often than not, there’s yet another bit of news that adds to our anxiety. The atmosphere of racism is so acute that I hesitate to speak or read Arabic on public transportation. Palestinian rights have been pushed to the back burner.

We Palestinians live knowing that a vast majority of Israeli politicians don’t support an end to Israel’s military rule over the West Bank and Gaza Strip nor equality for all of its citizens. We are made to feel as though we are interlopers whose presence is temporary and simply being tolerated until such time as it is feasible to get rid of us.

According to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 48 percent of Jewish Israelis agree that “Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel.” I look around in my mixed Haifa neighborhood and wonder which of my neighbors voted for the extremist candidates who have voiced similar opinions. “It is only a matter of time before we are gone,” my friends tell me. To add insult to injury, Israelis blame Palestinians for the rise in extremism and racism, rather than looking at how racism has become normalized in Israeli society. It is blaming the victim rather than the aggressor.

Since his recent election, Mr. Netanyahu has been offering important positions in government to vocal anti-Palestinian politicians. The incoming governing coalition includes the extremist and racist Otzma Yehudit, or Jewish Power, party, whose leaders have a history of supporting violence against Palestinians.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, a settler who leads the Jewish Power party, has been convicted of incitement to racism and supporting a terrorist group. Earlier this month, Mr. Ben-Gvir reportedly hailed an Israeli soldier who fatally shot a Palestinian young man in the West Bank during a scuffle — an act caught on video and widely circulated on social media — by remarking, “Precise action, you really fulfilled the honor of all of us and did what was assigned to you.” Israel’s current police chief blamed him for helping ignite the surge in violence in May 2021. He will now be minister for national security, putting him in charge of Israel’s domestic police and border police in the occupied West Bank, home to roughly three million Palestinians.

Over the course of decades, and especially since the erection of the wall along the West Bank, Israelis seem to have become immune to how Palestinians live under Israeli military rule and what it is to be Palestinian in Israel. Conversations with neighbors in Haifa about the nakba — or “catastrophe,” in which hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled or were expelled with the creation of Israel in 1948 — or Israel’s military occupation that amounts to apartheid or even racism in Israel are always met with denial or with justification, so we have learned never to speak to one another.

On Dec. 1, Mr. Netanyahu inked a coalition agreement with Bezalel Smotrich, another settler and head of the Religious Zionism party, naming him minister of finance and giving him control over a Defense Ministry department. Mr. Smotrich has called himself a “proud homophobe” and has said that the 2015 firebombing of a Palestinian home in the West Bank by suspected Jewish militants in which an 18-month-old child and his parents were burned to death was not a terrorist attack. In 2016, he said that he was in favor of segregation between Jewish and Palestinian women in Israeli hospital maternity wards.

Last year, Mr. Smotrich mentioned that David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, didn’t “finish the job” of expelling Palestinians in 1948. He has also promoted a subjugation plan in which Palestinians (who accept the plan) would be considered “resident aliens” while those who do not would be dealt with by the Israeli Army. As part of his Defense Ministry post, Mr. Smotrich will have unprecedented authority over the policy on Israeli settlements in the West Bank and over Palestinian construction, and will be able to appoint the heads of the administration responsible for the government’s civil policy in the West Bank.

Both the Jewish Power and the Religious Zionism party platforms are almost exclusively focused on Palestinians and about ensuring that Jewish supremacy reigns. The Religious Zionism party aims to retroactively legitimize settlements in the West Bank.

I fear that Israel’s violent repression of Palestinians will only increase in the near future as I consider the record of Mr. Netanyahu and his previous coalitions — a history of relentless race-baiting and incitement of prejudice against Palestinians in Israel, the passage of the Jewish Nation-State law (which enshrines the privileging of Jewish citizens), the open fire policy, Israel’s policy of destroying Palestinian homes, its continued colonization of the West Bank and repeated mass bombings of Gaza.

With Mr. Ben-Gvir, Mr. Smotrich and other extremists in his coalition, Mr. Netanyahu will very likely continue in this path, particularly since he has been the enabler of so many of these policies. Jewish Power and Religious Zionism are natural extensions of Mr. Netanyahu’s policies. Failing to recognize this is akin to putting one’s head in the sand.

If there is any silver lining to our grim situation it might be that the rise of Mr. Ben-Gvir and his fellow extremists will open the eyes of more Americans. Some former State Department officials and diplomats have already called upon the Biden administration not to deal with the most extreme members of the new Israeli coalition. American Jewish groups have also expressed alarm at the new coalition. But American policy is unlikely to change in response to these dark tidings. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken of “equal measures of freedom, security, opportunity, justice and dignity” for Israelis and Palestinians, but what guarantees will he be offering to ensure that Palestinians live in freedom and security with this new government?

As Israel lurched further to the right, the United States and other Western governments continued to normalize and legitimize extremists once deemed beyond the pale — from the notorious former general Ariel Sharon, when he became prime minister, to the race-baiting ultranationalist and settler Avigdor Lieberman when Mr. Netanyahu, during his second run as prime minister, made him a cabinet minister in 2009.

At the time, the appointment of Mr. Lieberman — who had called for loyalty oaths for Israel’s Palestinian and Jewish citizens and a redrawing of borders that would strip Palestinians of their Israeli citizenship — was widely criticized. But soon enough American and European officials were meeting with Mr. Leiberman.

There is little hope that this won’t happen this time, too, and what was unthinkable but a few years ago will become a reality, with Palestinians inevitably paying the heaviest price for Israel’s electoral choices.

Diana Buttu is a lawyer and former adviser to the negotiating team of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Article link: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/13/opinion/israel-government-netanyahu-palestinians.html
Article source: New York Times, 13/12/2022

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000
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Palestinian man kills two Israelis in West Bank settlement

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Palestinian man kills two Israelis in West
Bank settlement
Authorities shoot 18-year-old dead after knife and car attack in
territory occupied by Israel
Associated Press/ The Guardian (16/11/2022)
( https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/nov/15/palestinian-man-kills-two-and-wounds-
four-in-west-bank-settlement )
A Palestinian man killed two Israeli people and wounded four others in an
attack at a settlement in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday before he was
shot and killed by Israeli security personnel, Israeli paramedics and
Palestinian officials said.
The Magen David Adom paramedic service said the two were killed in the
settlement of Ariel. The four wounded were taken to hospital in a serious
condition.
It was the latest attack in a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence this year
that has included Palestinian attackers targeting Israeli civilians and near
nightly Israeli arrest raids that have fuelled unrest in the occupied territory.
The Israeli military said the man first attacked people at the entrance to the
settlement’s industrial zone, then stabbed more people at a nearby petrol
station. The army said he then stole a car, intentionally collided with a car
on a nearby highway and struck another person, before fleeing on foot.
It said the attacker was shot by a soldier and that troops were searching the
area for additional suspects.
Amateur video aired on Israeli television appeared to show the suspected
attacker running down a highway and collapsing to the ground after he was
shot. The Palestinian health ministry later identified him as Mohammad
Souf, 18, from the nearby village of Hares.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Gaza’s rulers, the
militant Hamas group, hailed it as “heroic”.
The Israeli prime minister, Yair Lapid, sent condolences to the families of
those killed in the attack and said Israel was “fighting terror nonstop and
[with] full force”.
“Our security forces are working around the clock to protect Israeli citizens
and harm terror infrastructure everywhere, all the time,” he said.

This year’s surge in Israeli-Palestinian violence in the West Bank and East
Jerusalem has resulted in the deaths of at least 25 Israelis and more than
130 Palestinians, making 2022 the deadliest year since 2006.
Israel says its almost nightly arrest raids in the West Bank – which began
after Palestinian attacks killed 19 Israelis last spring – are needed to
dismantle militant networks at a time when Palestinian security forces are
unable or unwilling to do so.
The Palestinians say the raids undermine their security forces and are
aimed at cementing Israel’s open-ended 55-year occupation of lands they
want for their hoped-for state. Hundreds of Palestinians have been rounded
up in such raids, with many placed in “administrative detention”, which
allows Israel to hold them without trial or charge.
Israel captured the West Bank in the war of 1967, along with East
Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians seek those territories for
their hoped-for independent state.

Article link: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/nov/15/palestinian-man-kills-two-and-wounds-four-in-west-bank-settlement
Article source: The Guardian, 16/11/2022

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000
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US opens probe into killing of Palestinian-American journalist

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US opens probe into killing of Palestinian-
American journalist
 By DION NISSENBAUM
( https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/the-wall-street-journal/us-opens-probe-into-
killing-of-palestinianamerican-journalist/news-story/8a02ca1718678ad83aead2637cf58d69 )
The Australian/Wall Street Journal, 16/11/2022)
The US Justice Department has opened an investigation into the killing of a
Palestinian-American journalist shot dead while covering an Israeli miliary
raid in the West Bank, Israeli officials said, vowing not to co-operate with
the probe.
US officials recently notified Israel that the Justice Department was
investigating the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, a veteran Al Jazeera
journalist killed in May. A series of independent investigations concluded
that an Israeli soldier about 200m away likely shot Abu Akleh as she
walked up a road wearing body armour with the word “PRESS” on the front.
Israeli military investigators determined that there was a “high possibility”
that Abu Akleh was shot by an Israeli soldier who mistook her for a
Palestinian militant and opened fire as she walked up the street with other
journalists. But Israeli officials said they couldn’t unequivocally determine
who fired the fatal shot and took no disciplinary action.
The US also concluded that an Israeli soldier most likely shot Abu Akleh,
and the Biden administration called on Israel to hold to account those
responsible for her death.
The Justice Department didn’t immediately comment on the investigation.
Israel’s Justice Ministry and Prime Minister’s office didn’t respond to
requests for comment.
Israeli leaders reacted with outrage to the US investigation, which is
already putting new strains on relations between the two nations.
On Monday (Tuesday AEDT), after news of the US investigation was
reported on Israeli television, Israel Defence Minister Benny Gantz
denounced the move as a “mistake”.
“The [Israel Defence Forces] has conducted a professional, independent
investigation, which was presented to American officials with whom the

case details were shared,” Mr Gantz said. “I have delivered a message to
US representatives that we stand by the IDF’s soldiers, and that we will not
co-operate with an external investigation.”
It isn’t uncommon for the FBI to investigate the deaths or killings of
Americans overseas, usually with the permission and co-operation of local
authorities. But a federal probe into the actions of an ally such as Israel
would be rare.
It couldn’t immediately be determined how such an investigation would
progress without the assistance or co-operation of Israeli officials.
A Justice Department investigation of Israeli military actions is certain to
create new friction between Washington and Jerusalem, where former
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the midst of creating a new right-
leaning coalition government he is expected to lead in the coming weeks.
The State Department called Abu Akleh’s death “a tremendous loss” and
referred questions to the Justice Department.
“Not only was Shireen an American citizen, she was a fearless reporter
whose journalism and pursuit of truth earned her the respect of audiences
around the world,” the State Department said.
Abu Akleh, 51, was killed on May 11 while covering an Israeli military raid
in the West Bank city of Jenin. Israeli leaders initially suggested that Abu
Akleh might have been mistakenly shot by Palestinian militants engaged in
clashes with Israeli forces. But witnesses told The Wall Street Journal at
the time that no nearby firefight was going on and that no militants were
close to Abu Akleh when she was shot.
After protracted negotiations, Palestinian officials provided the bullet that
killed Abu Akleh to Israeli investigators via the US for testing, but
investigators were unable to determine which gun fired the fatal round.
Senator Chris Van Hollen, who has led efforts in congress to get answers
about Abu Akleh’s death, praised the news as an “overdue but necessary
and important step in the pursuit of justice and accountability”.
The Wall Street Journal

Article link: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/the-wall-street-journal/us-opens-probe-into-
Article source: The Australian, 16/11/2022

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000
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