Palestinian journalist Ali Abunimah on Israel’s slow-motion land grab

Palestinian journalist Ali Abunimah is co-founder and director of The Electronic Intifada, an independent nonprofit publication focusing on Palestine. He is also the author of One Country, A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse and The Battle for Justice in Palestine.

Speaking with independent journalist Katie Halper, he describes how the Israeli government is now in the process of confiscating his family’s land in the West Bank village of Battir, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is nothing unusual, Abunimah explains. It’s just what Israel does: “No Palestinian is safe from a criminal entity whose whole existence is based on theft.”

Battir is a beautiful place, Abunimah says, but:

“The whole area, the whole village is surrounded by Israeli settlements, you know, like any other Palestinian village in the West Bank. Any time the Israelis could show up and establish or expand another settlement, this is what any Palestinian can go through, any time, and so literally, you know, you can be killed with impunity, your land can be taken with impunity, your home can be demolished with impunity; that’s the reality and it’s a slow grind year after year, day after day, month after month, and that’s why Israel gets away with it. Because it’s like ‘yeah, well just one more house’, but it’s one house and another house and another house, day after day, week after week, month after month, and all of a sudden there goes the neighbourhood – all Palestinian neighbourhood in Jerusalem – demolished, depopulated and new settlements put in its place.”

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A full transcript of the interview is provided below:

Israel is smart. You know when they want to take over a Palestinian neighbourhood in Jerusalem they don’t go in and do it all at once. You know they don’t go in on Wednesday and demolish a hundred houses at the same time, because that will generate unwanted international attention. They do it house by house, street by street, and they wear Palestinians down. They make it impossible.

If you’re a Palestinian in your native Jerusalem, it’s impossible for you to get a permit to build a house on your own land; land your family may have owned for generations. My family is experiencing this right now – not in Jerusalem – I tweeted about this a couple of weeks ago.

My father’s family is from a village in the West Bank called Battir, south of Jerusalem. It’s actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site: you can look it up because it’s been continuously farmed; it has this incredible irrigation system (this ancient irrigation system) that goes back two thousand years: that the people there, the people of Battir, including my family, still tend and still look after.

About three weeks ago, one of my cousins showed up at the piece of land we have, and have had for generations; we have Ottoman records for it. He showed up – it’s an area where we have olive trees planted – and found a notice from the Israeli army saying that we have 45 days to vacate the land, and that we are illegally occupying the land. So that’s something I can attest to, but we’re not special. This is something that is happening to Palestinians across the occupied West Bank every single day.

There is a legal process. We have lawyers looking into it. I don’t want to say too much about that, but I will say that you’re dealing with – you’re under military occupation – so you’re going to courts that are not there to provide you justice. They’re there to justify the crimes of the occupier.

So you are put in a position where it’s like you may well have to go through the process simply so as not to relinquish your rights, but you’re not going to any kind of court which is part of a fair system. It’s occupiers’ justice. It’s a military occupation. But what do you do, do you let them take the land without a fight, or do you try to fight?

That’s the dilemma that every Palestinian is in, and in Jerusalem this morning they – the Israelis – demolished a home, a family home, in a tour, and put a family out on the street. A couple of days ago they did the same in Sheikh Jarrah. And they can get away with it, because you know US doesn’t do anything – we’re happy, you know even some of our so-called ‘progressives’ are voting to give Israel, the Israeli military, more money – the European Union is fine with it right, even some of the Arab dictatorships that are clients of the United States are, you know, embracing Israel: the Saudis, the Emiratis and others.

So what’s the incentive for Israel to stop doing this to us?

*

Additional: Amnesty International calls Israel an apartheid state

The video report embedded above was uploaded yesterday [Feb 1st] by Amnesty International on their official Youtube channel. The notes below have been reproduced in full and with capitals retained as they appear attached to the video upload:

DEMOLISH APARTHEID NOT PALESTINIAN HOMES TAKE ACTION HERE

http://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/camp…

Millions of Palestinians live under Israel’s system of apartheid, and at the heart of this violently racist system, is the Palestinian experience of being denied a home.

For over 73 years, Israel has forcibly displaced entire Palestinian communities and demolished hundreds of thousands of Palestinians’ homes causing terrible trauma & suffering. Over 6 million Palestinians remain as refugees and today at least another 150,000 are at real risk of losing their homes.

Israel has created and maintains laws, policies, and practices that deliberately oppress Palestinians and work to ensure Jewish Israeli domination across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). This includes racist seizures of property and planning laws and policies that make it impossible for many Palestinians to build homes. It also allows for mass demolitions of homes built without a permit, something that is routinely denied for Palestinians.

Apartheid is a crime against humanity and is committed with the specific intent of maintaining a cruel system of control by one racial group over another. Every week, the Israeli authorities displace Palestinians through demolitions or forced evictions, which shows how Israel deliberately disadvantages Palestinians, giving them inferior status to Israeli Jews.

With more stories coming to light and more people around the world mobilising against these injustices, now is the time for us to work together. As a first step, we must speak out for Palestinians living under Israel’s apartheid. We have the power to demolish this system even if it means one pillar at a time.

Take action against demolitions and forced evictions now by writing to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Call on him to immediately cancel all orders for forced evictions and home demolitions against Palestinians in Israel/OPT and to end the forced displacement of Palestinians.

TAKE ACTION AGAINST APARTHIED

HELP US DISMANTLE THIS OPPRESSIVE SYSTEM

FIND OUT MORE http://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/camp…

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