Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Do Palestinian Lives Matter?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to fulfil his manifesto pledge to annex illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including parts of the Jordan Valley from July 1st. The move is supported by US President Donald Trump, despite violating international law.

Israeli military officials have expressed concern the move could spark a Palestinian uprising in the area, creating an avoidable security risk. A humanitarian might be concerned about what could happen to Palestinian protesters, given Israel has a track record of reportedly using white phosphorous on civilians, among other alleged war crimes.

Palestinian farmers have expressed concerns about what will happen to their land and indeed their livelihoods, if and when annexation goes ahead, not least because they will be cut off from the rest of the West Bank, depriving them of income.

Under restrictions imposed by Israel, Palestinian farmers have only been allowed to cultivate one eighth of the available farmland in Palestine (about 12,000 hectares). Palestinian farmers are continuously embroiled in court cases just for the right to grow crops and now fear some of their hard won land could be lost for good.

In addition, there is concern Palestinian water supplies are being diverted to illegal Israeli settlements, and if this problem worsens, farming for Palestinians could become unsustainable. Plus Israel has a track record of uprooting crops, even beyond the Jordan valley, claiming they belong to the Israeli state.

Another major concern is home demolition. Israel systematically refuses to allow Palestinians building permission in the Jordan valley for "security concerns" and have so far demolished 800 homes in the last 12 years. 50,000 Palestinians have been forced out of the Jordan Valley since 1967 and 60,000 remain, along with 11,000 Israeli occupiers.

Netanyahu's plan it seems is to make life unsustainable for Palestinians in the West Bank so they are forced to leave, yet there has been near silence from UK politicians and when some, like Lisa Nandy have dared speak up, (in Nandy's case suggesting a ban on imported West Bank goods), they have been labelled antisemitic.

The Labour antisemitism scandal of recent years has scared many politicians into near-silence. They are terrified of speaking up for Palestinian rights, even as children as young as five are imprisoned and civilians are murdered. There are reports of pregnant women being shot in the stomach, men being shot in the genitalia, even clearly marked medics being gunned down while tending to the wounded. Israel is not only illegally occupying land, it is being accused of war crimes by organisations such as the United Nations and Amnesty International.

All any reasonable person should want is a peaceful resolution with Israel and Palestine living side by side, but how can that be accomplished when Israel is not only occupying Palestinian land in flagrant violation of international law, but annexing more land and showing contempt for human rights in the process?

We are duty bound in the west to speak out on these matters and it's a sad state of affairs that we are met with accusations of antisemitism when we do so, as has unfortunately been the case with Lisa Nandy. Antisemitism is one of the great evils of this world and it's horrifying to see it weaponised to further another great evil - anti-Palestinian racism.

We must ask ourselves - do Palestinian lives matter?

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