A couple of recent reports provide important information on the reality of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and highlight again the imperative of ending that occupation. The first, Unsafe Space: Israeli Authorities’ Failure to Protect Human Rights amid Settlements in East Jerusalem, was published by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), and “draws attention to an alarming reality that is taking hold in East Jerusalem“:
The authorities have sided with well-organized political groups, whose purpose is to “Judaize” Palestinian areas of Jerusalem and especially the Old City and its environs. The result is that Palestinian residents of the city are increasingly subject to hostility and violence, and their rights and needs are disregarded and violated.
Last year, a report from the European Union similarly “accused both the Israeli government and the Jerusalem municipality of working deliberately to alter the city’s demographic balance and sever East Jerusalem from the West Bank.”
Last year, when the Obama administration showed some moral leadership and reprimanded Israel for its evictions of Palestinian families to make way for Jewish settlers, a Congressional delegation led by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) went to Jerusalem — and backed the evictions.
The second, more recent report is from Human Rights Watch. Entitled “Separate and Unequal“, it shows that “Israeli policies in the West Bank harshly discriminate against Palestinian residents, depriving them of basic necessities while providing lavish amenities for Jewish settlements“:
The report identifies discriminatory practices that have no legitimate security or other justification and calls on Israel, in addition to abiding by its international legal obligation to withdraw the settlements, to end these violations of Palestinians’ rights. [...]
Israel operates a two-tier system for the two populations of the West Bank in the large areas where it exercises exclusive control. The report is based on case studies comparing Israel’s starkly different treatment of settlements and next-door Palestinian communities in these areas. It calls on the US and EU member states and on businesses with operations in settlement areas to avoid supporting Israeli settlement policies that are inherently discriminatory and that violate international law.
Predictably, NGO Monitor (an organization created to attack anyone who thinks countries should honor their humanitarian commitments when the country in question is Israel) criticized the HRW report without actually challenging any of its claims, complaining that it “strips away the context of Arab terror.” This suggests that Palestinian violence provides necessary context for Israel denying Palestinians equal access to water and electricity in territory it occupies. But I would suggest that the reverse is true: The systematic denial of equal access to water, electricity, and other basic services by the Israeli occupation provides necessary context for understanding Palestinian violence.
It’s also worth noting that when Palestinians relinquish violence and seek relief through international legal means, they get attacked by NGO Monitor and other right-wing groups for “legal lawfare.” It’s almost like it’s a rigged game or something.
Obviously the best way to deal with this problem would be for Israel to end the occupation and stop ruling over Palestinian subjects for whose well-being it feels no responsibility. But, given his ongoing efforts to both further entrench the Israeli presence in the West Bank and poison negotiations by conditioning them on complete Palestinian acceptance, in advance, of Israel’s “security concept,” this doesn’t seem to be part of Netanyahu’s vision for peace.