The Knesset has introduced a draft law to ban Naqba commemorations. At the same time a cat and mouse game is being played out in the occupied West Bank.
Youngsters of the right wing persuasion have arrived en masse and began building illegal outposts on Palestinian lands each time the army vacates them. These youngsters are adorned with the symbolic trappings (kipot, fringes and ear locks) of their faith including their fanatic zeal.
They are treated with kid gloves by the Israeli Authorities. The hilltop youths are not averse to fomenting violence against the Palestinian people living there. Their motivation for constructing make-shift homes is high. The response by Israel is mild. They are cajoled rather gently not to carry on their illegal activities. Punishment is seldom meted out.
However after their illegal activities in building in the occupied territories is stopped by the authorities, they return to continue settlement activity when the coast is clear. A true cat and mouse game has been going on for some years now. As expected, no arrests were made.
One cannot miss thinking of what would happen to Palestinians who carry out similar activities in East Jerusalem. Their homes would be demolished immediately and arrests would be made.
The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, made an "amazing profound" statement. He said that dealing with Iran takes priority over evacuating West Bank settlements. In other words, the innuendo is to turn a blind eye on these illegal outposts and let the illegal settlers carry on undisturbed. After all Iran is priority number one - an excuse for overlooking settler activity and therefore the conflict. By being soft on illegal building of outposts, his right wing coalition partners will not threaten to bolt the government.
Palestinian building without permits is treated more seriously. The tractors move in and demolish the new homes in the guise that these homes are illegal. Many families find themselves without homes. What is illegal for Palestinians is legal for Israelis in the occupied West Bank.
The outposts that are demolished are those that are insignificant and not controversial. These are cosmetic moves only which is not a start to ending of the occupation.
It seems that the right wing kippa-cladded fanatics will be apologetically removed by the Israeli Police or Army. They will receive delicate treatment and praise by Netanyahu's right wing anti-Arab coalition partners. It seems as if Israel subscribes and prides itself on the rule of law whenever it is in the interests of the right wing as far as illegal settlements are concerned.
This cosmetic removal of illegal outposts to confuse the US and the World will not alter the fact that Israel is enlarging existing settlements on the West Bank because of "natural growth". New settlements are still being established by stealth.
Israel's Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who is not considered devoid of anti-Arab sentiments, has given this lawlessness his blessing as it coincides with his racist world view. Lieberman and his Israel Beiteinu Party were elected to the Knesset on a racist ticket of superiority over the Arabs. His brand of racism is popular amongst a large proportion of the Israeli electorate including many Russian immigrants. As far as Lieberman and his ilk are concerned the Arab citizens of Israel are temporary sojourners. The Naqba (catastrophe) commemoration is only one example of what will be declared illegal in order to deny the Arab minority the right to commemorate it. His ilk will dictate what is legal for the Arabs to commemorate.
The Israeli Government prides itself in the rule of law. In practice this rule of law is flawed when it comes to dealing with illegal settler activities. It is amazing how flexible the law is when illegal settlement activity is addressed so lightly. The moment an illegal outpost is demolished within hours it is re-established and the criminal zealots are not even punished apart from a mild reprimand.
If Palestinians were to behave in this manner and build illegally, the full weight of the law is brought down to bear on them by means of demolitions and expulsions. Is this equality before the law Israeli style? The right wing Government with its settlement policies leaves no doubt that they wish to maintain the occupation and increase settlement activities in the West Bank. The facts speak for themselves. Illegal settlements are symbols of the fulfillment of Zionism today which is the monopoly of the right wing and its pseudo-religious zealot allies.
An unfortunate development in Zionism today is the rigor mortis of left wing Zionism. The latter has lost its identity as the Labor Party has become an amorphous mass of spineless MKs in Netanyahu's coalition of macabre specters. Meretz - the scion of left wing humanistic Zionism has become irrelevant as illustrated by their dramatic loss of support to only three mandates.
Israel’s democracy is being threatened by the right wing forces. It starts with the blind eye to increasing settlement activity and ends in the banning of the Naqba commemorations.
Israel with its occupation policies cannot prove to the world that it does not wish to rule another people apart from the sterile lip service it pays to the contrary. Facts on the ground prove that the occupation continues and with it settlement expansion so that new facts on the ground make it more difficult to reach a two-state solution. It is obvious that the more settlement that is established on the West Bank, the less land will be available for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.
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