Israel - Palestine news this week
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Israel-Palestine News 6th -12th August 2016
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Purpose: to provide a varied selection of articles from Arabic, Hebrew and English mainstream media outlets so readers get a flavour of what is being said about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from different perspectives. We do not currently have the capacity to provide translations of actual Hebrew and Arabic media, so bear in mind that news agencies that issue articles in those languages may not produce the same content as the English versions of their outlets provided here (e.g. Aljazeera Arabic and Aljazeera English do not simply produce the same content in both languages). The content and opinions of these articles do not reflect our aims or opinions. Please BE RESOURCEFUL and research for yourself a diversity of sources for everything you read or hear about Israel-Palestine. 
Hebrew News Sources (English versions)

The Times of Israel, Jerusalem Police act to end neglect of city’s East
The Jerusalem Police announced on Tuesday a massive reform of its East Jerusalem district, including the deployment of at least 1,200 new officers and the opening of six additional police stations in areas of the capital that have been virtually unserved by police. Despite Israel’s official annexation of the city’s neighbourhoods over the Green Line, a move not recognized by the international community, East Jerusalem’s Arab neighbourhoods suffer from neglect and poor infrastructure. Palestinian residents refuse to vote in Jerusalem’s municipal elections so as not to de facto recognize Israeli annexation of areas they hope to see as the future capital of a Palestinian state. Deputy Commissioner Yoram Halevy, who commands the Jerusalem Police, has led a major restructuring of the force that seeks to correct the police’s part in the disconnect between east and west. The purpose, a police statement said Tuesday, is to “strengthen and deepen the rule of law throughout Jerusalem and in the villages of East Jerusalem, enhance accessibility to police services and provide quality police services to all residents of the city, with an emphasis on strengthening the shared day-to-day life of the public as a whole.” The six new stations will be tasked not only with counter-terrorism efforts against extremists living in the neighbourhoods — a function already fulfilled by the Jerusalem Police’s intelligence and elite combat units — but primarily to serve local residents and push back against rampant crime. The stations will open in the neighborhoods of Issawiya, a-Tur, Beit Safafa, Jabel Mukaber and Sur Baher. The plan is expected to cost some NIS 1 billion ($262 million) in the first four years. Halevy’s plan recognizes and acknowledges the neglect that characterized the state’s relationship with those neighbourhoods, and includes appointing municipal officials from various public services in the new police stations. In an effort to convince residents of the police’s good intentions, the stations will focus during their first two years of operations on providing these services, rather than upping enforcement.

The Jerusalem Post, 13 Jews and Arabs arrested as violence flares in Ashkelon over Palestinian hunger-striker
Jewish and Arab demonstrators clashed in Ashkelon Tuesday night in front of the Barzilai Medical Center where Palestinian hunger-striker Bilal Kayyid is entering the 57th (August 10th) day of his hunger strike. According to police, 10 Jews and 3 Arabs were arrested; among those were six juveniles and two adults who allegedly assaulted police officers. Dozens of pro-Palestinian demonstrators including Joint List MKs, Haneen Zoabi, Taleb Abu Arar, and Ahmad Tibi were present with a few Jewish supporters in order to show support for Bilal Kayyid, who was placed under administrative detention on June 15. Under administrative detention, Palestinians are detained based on undisclosed evidence without charge or trial. According to the IDF, administrative detention is only used when necessary for imperative security reasons, while Palestinians and human rights groups criticize the policy as illegal and inhumane. Jewish Ashkelon residents organized a counter-protest, which included members of the extreme-right Lehava organization and the Director of Lehava, Ben-Zion Gopstein. Large police forces were deployed and police created a buffer zone in order to prevent contact between the protests camps. However, police attempts were unsuccessful as protestors on both sides left their designated protest zones and some Jewish protestors threw rocks at police officers. In a statement to The Jerusalem Post, MK Haneen Zoabi criticized the police treatment of pro-Palestinian demonstrators. She told the Post that demonstrators were "imprisoned" behind fences, while counter-protestors "who came to attack and to incite against the demonstrators were allowed to demonstrate at the intersection near the main street with no fences and no restrictions on movement."  A police spokesperson told the Post that the police actions at the event were impartial and without political consideration. "Standing in front of our eyes is only the public interests, while finding the correct balance between the fundamental right of freedom of expression and protest and maintaining public safety," the police stated.

Haaretz, The United States has warned it will respond harshly if Israel demolishes the Palestinian village of Sussia
The United States has warned it will respond harshly if Israel demolishes the Palestinian village of Sussia in the southern Hebron Hills. Israeli and American officials, who asked not to be named, said Tuesday that over the past two weeks U.S. administration officials have informed officials in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Defence Ministry that a severe American reaction would result if Israel destroys the houses in the village. The Israeli officials said similar messages were conveyed by the European Union, the British government and other international bodies. British diplomats conveyed messages to the PMO and the Foreign Ministry that the British Foreign Office in London would find it difficult to support Israel in international forums in the event Sussia were demolished. According to the Israeli officials, the PMO informed the Americans and Europeans that at this stage there is no plan to destroy Sussia, and that the Israeli government would act in accordance with rulings by the High Court of Justice, which is now hearing a petition on the matter. The petition was submitted by the right-wing movement Regavim, which claims the village was built illegally and thus should be demolished by the Civil Administration.
Israel Hayom, PA fires Palestinian who helped Jewish terror victims
A Palestinian man who was first to offer assistance at the scene of the Route 60 terrorist attack that killed Rabbi Michael Mark and injured his wife and daughter last month has been dismissed from his public service job in the Palestinian Authority. J., whose full name has not been made public, was the first of two Palestinians who provided assistance to the Mark family immediately following the attack. Dr. Ali Abu Sherech, a doctor from the Hebron area, also stopped at the scene within minutes of the attack and provided medical care to the family. A relative of J.'s told Israel Hayom that "since it became clear that he was the first to arrive at the scene of the attack and that he helped the victims, he and his family have been subjected to a smear campaign and received threats. "He is not scared, but it bothers him that he and his family have become outcasts since the event. More than anything, it hurts him that he was fired from his job in the public sector of the Palestinian Authority. They told him that he was let go because of budget cuts, but he was the only one who was fired a few days after the incident." The relative stressed that J. does not regret his decision to help the Mark family. "Even in a war, you don't hurt a wounded enemy and you provide assistance, and that is what he did," he said. "If he could go back, he would do the exact same thing." The Palestinian Authority has declined to comment on the incident.

The Times of Israel, Hamas official: Prisoner exchange talks with Israel underway
The Hamas terrorist organization is negotiating a prisoner exchange with Israel that would see the release of two Israeli civilians and the remains of two Israel Defense Forces soldiers held in Gaza in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, an unnamed Hamas official said Wednesday. During an interview with Israel Radio, the official said Hamas would only move forward with the talks after Israel releases hundreds of Palestinians who were rearrested after they were freed in a 2011 deal brokered with the Gaza-based group to secure the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. When asked if Hamas would provide a sign of life from the Israeli civilians, the official said that “everything comes at a price,” and the negotiations would take place out of the media spotlight. Hamas is holding the remains of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in the 2014 Gaza war, as well as 29-year-old Avraham Mengistu and Juma Ibrahim Abu Anima. Israel has only negotiated directly with President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, not with the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip, which it considers a terror group, and any future prisoner exchange deal would likely have to be mediated by a third party. The official also commented on State Comptroller Yosef Shapira’s upcoming report on Israel’s handling of the 2014 war, saying that political infighting in Israel over the state inquiry proves Israel’s 50-day military campaign was not much of a military victory. He went on to say that Hamas is not currently seeking a fresh round of hostilities with Israel, but is preparing for all scenarios, especially after the May appointment of the “insane” Avigdor Liberman as Defense Minister. Hamas’s network of attack and smuggling tunnels are the group’s weapons, he said, adding that the organization’s fighters dig cross-border tunnels just like Israel buys warplanes. Earlier on Wednesday, Palestinian media reported that eight Gazans were injured when a tunnel collapsed near Gaza City, the latest in a series of cave-ins in recent months that have killed over a dozen Palestinians.

Arabic News Sources (English versions)

Al Jazeera: Israeli demolitions leave 27 Palestinians homeless
Israel has demolished five homes in the occupied West Bank and left 27 Palestinians homeless, more than half of them children, residents and an Israeli rights group said. Israeli bulldozers flattened the prefabricated shelters in the village of Um Al-Kheir, some of them built with European Union funding, early on Tuesday, said the B'Tselem NGO. Israeli police forcibly evacuated residents who attempted to prevent the demolitions, said the group, which campaigns against Israel's occupation of the West Bank and regularly criticises abuses in the Palestinian territories. B'Tselem said the demolitions had left 16 children homeless.  The structures had been built with EU aid after houses in the village, on the southern tip of the West Bank, were demolished at least eight times, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said in a statement. "Israel is relentlessly destroying Palestinians' homes and livelihoods in order to make way for more illegal settlements," he said. Ramy Abdu, chairman of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, explained that Israeli authorities have "taken harsh measures against these kinds of [EU] projects". "They are trying to impose 'facts on the ground' and get more space for settlement expansion," he told Al Jazeera. In the first three months of 2016, Israeli forces demolished 120 EU-funded structures in the West Bank, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In a report published in June, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor estimates that Israeli demolitions and attacks have resulted in the EU wasting 65 million euros ($72 million) in aid for humanitarian and development projects.   "After [demolitions] there are no real actions taken by the EU and Israel continues its demolition of homes without any actions," Abdu said. "They are wasting their time and money, and there is no political will to stop it."
Ma’an News: ‘Solidarity ships’ to sail to the besieged Gaza Strip
GAZA (Ma’an) -- Two “solidarity ships” are set to sail towards the besieged Gaza Strip from Barcelona, Spain, in mid-September. Named ‘Amal’ and ‘Zaytouna’ -- meaning ‘Hope’ and ‘Olives’ in Arabic, respectively -- the ships will be led by an all-female crew of 24, including Nobel Prize winner Mairead Maguire. According to Issam Yusif, head of the world popular committee for the support of the Gaza Strip, most of the crew members are affiliated with civil society organizations, and will be making the nearly 2,000-mile journey to show solidarity with the Palestinian people against the decade-long “illegal Israeli blockade” on Gaza. In a statement on Sunday, Yusif urged the Palestinian and international communities to support the new all-female “solidarity ships” initiative politically, financially and morally. Yusif emphasized the importance of the initiative, saying it would help to highlight the Palestinian struggle for freedom and an independent state, as well as the everyday Israeli violations of international law and the Palestinian right to freedom of movement. He also expressed hope that the initiative would help to end the increasingly “tragic situation” of the blockade of the Gaza Strip, as the needs of the Gazan people continue to multiply despite the little aid they receive.
Middle East Monitor: Israeli forces uproot 500 olive trees in West Bank
Israeli occupation forces this morning uprooted hundreds of olive trees in the Skaka neighbourhood of the occupied West Bank city of Salfit, Safa news agency reported. This is in line with Israel’s plans to expropriate Palestinian land in the area, the news site said. Safa reported eyewitnesses saying that Israeli military bulldozers uprooted 500 trees in an area spanning 35 dunams (0.035 square kilometres). A curfew was imposed around the neighbourhood and Palestinians were banned from entering or leaving it. Palestinians said Israel plans to include the land in the illegal settlements of Nofei Nehemia and Rechelim.
PNN: 14 Palestinians kidnapped in West Bank IOF Campaigns
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Monday kidnapped 14 Palestinians from their homes in different West Bank areas. A report released by the Israeli army said that its forces arrested 14 wanted Palestinians in the West Bank, 11 of them accused of being involved in activities against the army and settlers. According to the report, the IOF arrested seven Palestinians from Deir Abu Mash’al town near Ramallah and one Hamas activist in Qibya village, northwest of Ramallah. Six others, including two from Hamas, were taken prisoners during IOF campaigns in the towns of Dura, Beit Ummar and Beit Awwa. For its part, Quds Press reported that the IOF stormed Qarawat Bani Hassan town near Salfit and handed ex-detainee Ramzi Mar’ie a summons for interrogation from the Shin Bet. He was released about two months ago after he completed 14 years in prison. According to Quds Press, an Israeli military force raided the house of journalist Qais Abu Samra, who works for Anadolu news agency, in Sanniriya village near Qalqilya and questioned him about the nature of his job and his position on the coup attempt and related events in Turkey. A press in Halhoul town north of al-Khalil was also raided by a group of Israeli troops, who confiscated some of its equipment. In Nablus, Israeli soldiers occupied at dawn several neighborhoods of Aqraba town for a while and then withdrew without making arrests. The IOF also imposed a curfew last night on Huwara town, south of Nablus.

Ma’an News: Israel admits to confiscating privately owned Palestinian lands 'by mistake'
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The state of Israel admitted to the Israeli Supreme Court that it had expropriated privately held Palestinian land for the construction of the Ofra settlement in the north of the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, according to Israeli media. Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Wednesday that the state admitted that it had “mistakenly expropriated” 45 dunams (11 acres) of land privately owned by Palestinians, and claimed the expropriated land would be returned to their Palestinian owners. Last year, the court ordered the demolition of nine already populated Jewish homes in the Ofer settlement on the grounds that the lands were privately held by Palestinians. In 1966, when the Jordanian government was in control of the West Bank, the government decided to declare hundreds of dunams of land as state land. After Israel took control of the West Bank, Israeli authorities allocated the declared state land for the building of the Ofra settlement. Since Israel is an occupying power, under international law it is obliged to act within the confines of the local laws of the occupied territory, which in Palestine refers to the British, Ottoman Empire, and Jordanian legal systems. According to Jordanian law in the West Bank, the state is allowed to declare land “state land” only if it is to be used for the “public benefit.” The public in this context refers to the Palestinian residents of the West Bank, and not Israeli settlers residing in settlements that contravene international law. Despite this, Israel continuously uses already declared state land for the benefit of Israeli settlers, while also declaring 41 percent of land in the West Bank as Israeli state land through a variety of land confiscation strategies implemented after 1967, according to the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ).

US-UK News Sources

BBC: Rio 2016 Olympics: Lebanese athletes refuse to travel with Israel team
Lebanese athletes refused to share a bus with the Israel team to get to Friday's Rio Olympic Games opening ceremony, members of both teams said. Lebanon and Israel are officially at war and have no diplomatic relations. The incident happened as the Lebanon team sat on the bus waiting to head to the Maracana stadium, before demanding the Israeli athletes must not board. Israel's athletes insisted on doing so, but the two teams were eventually taken to the ceremony in different buses. Head of the Lebanese team Salim al-Haj Nicolas told AFP news agency he demanded that the door be closed on the Israeli team, but they "insisted on getting on". Udi Gal, a member of Israel's Olympic sailing team, said on Facebook his compatriots "insisted on boarding the bus" adding that "if the Lebanese refused to stay with us, they were welcome to take another bus". Gal said the decision to travel separately was eventually taken to avoid an "international and physical incident". "How could they let this happen on the eve of the Olympic Games? Isn't this the opposite of what the Olympics represents?" he added.

The Telegraph: Google says Palestine was never on Google Maps after claims it had been ‘airbrushed’ away

Accusations online that Google had deleted Palestine from its Maps facility prompted the internet giant to explain that the country "has never been" on the service. The row came after a glitch caused the West Bank and Gaza to briefly disappear from Google Maps. Palestine, although recognised as a country by the United Nations, has never been on Google Maps. Instead of being demarcated with a solid line that denotes a country border, Google instead defines the Gaza Strip and the West Bank with a dashed border - the mark it uses to outline disputed territories.   Google was forced to explain that it doesn't define Palestine as a country separate from Israel on Maps after a petition signed by 250,000 people described the company's "airbrushing" of Palestine as "deeply offensive" and called for the internet giant to put Palestine on its map.  A glitch that briefly removed the labels for the West Bank and Gaza sparked outrage on social media, with people tweeting under the hashtag #PalestineIsHere.  The petition accused Google of being "complicit in the Israeli government's ethnic cleansing of Palestine" by marking the conflicted area with a dotted line that denotes a problematic border.  "Google Maps is now regarded as definitive by people around the world, including journalists, students and others carrying out research into the Israel-Palestine situation," said the petition. "Recognition of Palestine by Google may even turn out to be as important as recognition by organisations like the UN."  Google said in a response that Palestine had never been marked as a territory on its map, but that a glitch in the software had resulted in Palestinian areas being removed.  "There has never been a 'Palestine' label on Google Maps," said a spokesman for Google. "However, we discovered a bug that removed the labels for 'West Bank' and 'Gaza Strip'. We're working quickly to get these labels back to the area."

NY Times: Israel seeks to deport activists who support boycott

Israel says it will seek to deport or bar the entry of activists calling for a boycott against the country. A statement Sunday from Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan says a team will be set up to find and deport the "hundreds" of boycott activists currently in Israel and work to keep others out. The statement says dozens of organizations work in Israel to "gather information and use it to advance the boycott against Israel." It did not name those groups. An international movement known as BDS calls for boycotts, sanctions and divestment from Israel in what it says is a nonviolent struggle against occupation. Israel says BDS' goal is to destroy the country, and it has identified the movement as a serious threat.

The Washington Post: Israel charges UN employee in Gaza Strip for assisting Hamas

Israel on Tuesday said it indicted a Palestinian U.N. employee in the Gaza Strip, accusing him of assisting the territory’s Islamic militant Hamas rulers, just days after it charged the Gaza manager of the international charity World Vision for allegedly funneling millions to the group. Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency said 38-year-old Waheed Borsh has worked as an engineer for UNDP, the U.N. development agency, for 13 years. It said he was arrested in July and confessed to using his position to help Hamas. He was indicted two weeks ago, it said. The Shin Bet said Borsh used UNDP resources last year to build a jetty for Hamas’ naval forces and that upon request by Hamas he persuaded his managers to prioritize the reconstruction of houses damaged in conflicts with Israel in areas where Hamas members lived. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it has informed U.N. officials of the arrest and the allegations and expects the U.N. to “take concrete measures to ensure that humanitarian activities actually assist those in need in Gaza instead of assisting the terrorist leaders of Hamas.” Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said he was concerned about a “worrying trend of U.N. exploitation by Hamas.” In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem denied the allegations. “These Israeli claims are baseless and the purpose of these claims is to justify the continued siege on Gaza.” UNDP said in a statement that it is “greatly concerned” by the allegations and that it has “zero tolerance for wrongdoing” in its programs and projects. “UNDP is conducting a thorough internal review of the processes and circumstances surrounding the allegation,” it said.


Haaretz: Rejecting the occupation is not the same as rejecting Israel’s right to exist

Zvi Bar’el argues in this article that rejecting the occupation is not equivalent to rejecting Israel’s right to exist, because if that were true, then one would have to accept that ‘recognizing Israel cannot be separated from recognizing its right to continue occupying the territories, and therefore the occupation must continue’. Bar’el begins by questioning Strategic Affairs Ministry Director General Sima Vaknin’s statement: “Our goal is that in 2025 no one in the world will question Israel’s right to exist”, pledging 128 million shekels to realise this vision. Bar’el asks: “where did this battle over Israel’s “right to exist” and legitimacy spring from? Didn’t the United Nations recognize Israel’s right to exist 67 years ago? Is there a single country, other than Iran, that doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state?” The author then goes on to argue that Vaknin is ‘confusing Israel’s right to exist with rejection of its right to occupy territories that don’t belong to it.’ He explains, she is ‘confusing international recognition — which already exists — of the right of Jews (and Arabs) to live in a distinct territorial entity, with defensible borders, over which a single national flag will fly, with international recognition of the Palestinians’ right to their own state and international non-recognition of the legitimate state’s occupation regime. The author implies that the corollary of Vaknin’s statement is that ‘recognizing the occupation is an inseparable part of recognizing Israel’s right to exist; that Israel’s right to exist and national identity are dependent on recognition of the occupation.’ Bar’el plainly states that if one adheres to Vaknin’s formula, ‘recognition of Israel cannot be separated from recognition of its right to continue occupying the territories. From this, it follows that Israel must continue the occupation, because the day the occupation ends Israel will also lose its legitimacy.’ The author then ends by sharply criticising this ‘formula’, stating that this was exactly the view of ‘colonial empires, which saw their colonies not just as a source of natural resources, money and markets, but also as confirmation of their imperial power and their aspiration to continue being imperial powers.’ He denounces these empires’ eras of occupation as ‘recorded in history’s darker chapters’, implying that Israel cannot continue to see its state as a ‘branch of the occupied territories’.

Israel Hayom: Hamas takes all the ‘help’ it can get

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, in this article, highlights the recent cases of Mohammed Halabi and Wahid Abdullah Burash, both of whom diverted money and resources from their respective humanitarian organisations in order to aid Hamas. Halabi, head of the Gaza Strip branch of World Vision, had confessed to ‘diverting charity funds and resources to Hamas' military wing’. Jabotinsky summarises the accusations brought against Halabi, who is said to have ‘funnelled $7.2 million a year, or 60% of the NGO's budget (chiefly foreign donations), to Hamas. These funds were used, among other purposes, to fuel Hamas' military growth, including the construction of underground attack tunnels leading into Israel, procurement of weapons in Gaza and Sinai and building a military base adjacent to Beit Hanoun in northeastern Gaza.’. He also transferred ‘hundreds of tons of iron’ and digging equipment, supposedly for agricultural purposes but in reality, used to ‘build military posts and dig attack tunnels’.  The author then goes on to denounce World Vision as a ‘Christian, anti-Israel charity’, whose website is ‘pro-Palestinian’ and frequently condemns the State of Israel. Jabotinsky then states that, ‘regardless of whether World Vision was aware of these activities or simply turned a blind eye, Halabi was able to funnel $37.5 million to Hamas.’ He contends that a ‘well-run organisation’ like World Vision would have realised after a couple of years that 60% of its funds were being siphoned, yet World Vision did no such thing. The author thus argues that the ‘the assumption that World Vision was complicit in these actions is quite reasonable.’ In the second half of the article, Jabotinsky discusses the case of Wahid Abdullah Burash, an engineer with the U.N. Development Program in Gaza, who allegedly used UNDP resources to help Hamas. Burash is accused of aiding Hamas in several ways: to name two, in 2015, he used UNDP resources to build a marine dock for the use of Hamas' military wing in northern Gaza. He also prioritized rehabilitation efforts in areas where members of Hamas reside. Jabotinsky ends with a sharp critique of Hamas and its exploitation of these humanitarian organisations, stating that ‘anyone who thought Hamas would honour its agreements rather than exploit these humanitarian aid groups, whose aim is to help the suffering civilian population in Gaza, was mistaken.’ In his view, this stems from a wider issue: namely the fact that ‘Hamas does not care for the population it governs..[but rather] sees the civilian population under its boot as just another resource to use in its war against Israel, and does not bat an eyelash when over half a humanitarian organization's budget is used to fund its military needs.’ Jabotinsky ends by applauding Israel’s exposition of such cases, arguing that they are essential in order to ‘block any funding geared toward Hamas' military expansion’.

Middle East Monitor: Britain should apologise for the Balfour Declaration, not ‘celebrate’ it

Professor Kamel Hawwash in this article, presents an analysis of the 1917 Balfour Declaration and finally argues that the idea that Britain should ‘celebrate’ it (November 2017 marks the centenary of the Balfour Declaration) is deeply offensive to British Palestinians. He begins with a general overview of the Balfour Declaration, ‘a letter from the then British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Walter Rothschild, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland’ which expresses ‘His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people’, ensuring that ‘nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.’ Hawwash labels this declaration a display of ‘colonial arrogance’ by which Britain, ‘which was not then in occupation of Palestine, promised the Zionist Federation, which did not represent all Jews, without the consent of the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine, the Palestinians, to facilitate the creation of a homeland for Jews in Palestine’. Mark Regev, Israel’s recently arrived Ambassador, claimed that the centenary of the document is ‘being taken very seriously at the highest levels. We’re hoping to do a public celebration together with the British government.” David Cameron too, stated to Jewish community leaders that he wished to ‘mark [the centenary] together in the most appropriate way’. Hawwash, however, takes issue with the fact Cameron uttered this statement ‘without any consultation with British Palestinians about whether, and how, they would wish to see the Balfour centenary commemorated.’ For Hawwash, if ‘Israel was not established on empty land, but…built on the homeland of the Palestinian people’, how can it be logical for ‘the British government not to consult the Palestinians, either in Palestine or in the UK, about the Balfour centenary?’ The author then states that the ‘notion that Britain should “celebrate” the Balfour Declaration is extremely offensive to every British Palestinian [he has spoken] to and to the Palestinian leadership’, because Balfour ‘perpetuated the lie that Palestine was “a land without a people for a people without a land”. Add to this the ‘injustice felt in the middle East at the creation of Israel’, which expelled many from their homeland, as well as the ‘injustice of the lack of a viable Palestinian state and the continuing refugee catastrophe continues to this day’, and Hawwash questions: ‘how can Britain celebrate this? Even if Britain claims that it is not “celebrating” Balfour, but simply “marking” the document’s centenary, that will also offend Palestinians living under Israel’s military occupation in Palestine, and in the refugee camps of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, as well as the diaspora.’ Hawwash ends by stating that as we approach 2017 with Israel ‘entrenching its military occupation of Palestine’, house demolitions up and ‘senior politicians’ rejecting a Palestinian state, Britain should avoid aggravating the situation by celebrating Balfour. In Hawwash’s view, a more helpful act would be to ‘establish an inquiry into Britain’s role in the creation of Israel and dispossession of the Palestinian people’ in order to ‘assess how justice can be brought to the Holy Land as the Balfour centenary approaches.’
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