It has become an expected part of every new round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority: The Israeli government authorizes more home building for Jewish settlers on occupied West Bank land.
This time around, as talks are set to get under way on Wednesday, the green light was given today (Sunday) to constructing some 1,200 residences in East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements including Maaleh Adumim, Efrat and Ariel.
This is happening while Palestinians continue to be greatly restricted in their movements. They’ve lived under heavy restrictions (not to mention violence) enforced by Israel’s army for decades with no end in sight.
There’s little hope for positive change – virtually no chance – because Israeli governments of Likud and Labour persuasions alike have made it clear repeatedly that Israel doesn’t want an independent Palestine. They’ve upheld Israeli apartheid, and indeed celebrated it.
The latest round of settlement construction is yet another slap to Palestinian hopes and dreams for a land of their own. Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestinians, said it’s aimed at sinking negotiations before they even start. “Those who do these things are determined to undermine the peace negotiations, are determined to force people like us to leave the negotiating table.”
He added that “If the Israeli government believes that every week they’re going to cross a red line by settlement activity, if they go with this behavior, what they’re advertising is the unsustainability of the negotiations.”
Palestinian negotiator Mohammad Chtayyeh said, quite accurately, that approval of the new settlement homes “is clear proof that the Israeli government is not serious about the talks.”
The United States will do its usual tut-tutting, saying it’s unfortunate that Israel has done this. The two sides will presumably sit down with the U.S. Secretary of State for talks on Wednesday, but let’s be realistic. After what Israel has done (again), how realistic is it to expect the talks will be successful?
Israel’s defenders and apologists often try to shut up critics by calling them anti-Semites, an odd choice since the Palestinian population is more Semitic than the Israeli Jewish population.
Well, let’s meet that call of anti-Semite with a blunt call of RACIST. What we’re seeing with the casual, shrugging acceptance of Israel’s actions is nothing short of racism, and it is racism in support of the impoverishment, oppression and murder of Palestinians. It is racist for one people to oppress another, isn’t it? South African apartheid was racist, and so is Israeli apartheid.
Washington has been all too silent for all too long in this sad saga of racism. That’s probably because the Israel lobby is very powerful in D.C. Whatever the reason, Washington’s complicity is shameful.