“Netanyahu Wants to Annex 30 Percent of the West Bank with Trump’s Support”: An Interview with Lana Sadeq, a Palestinian Activist
[Note: The following interview was published originally in Issue no. 245 (June 24, 2020) of La Tribune des Travailleurs [Workers’ Tribune], the weekly of the French POID. The July 1 annexation plan has been postponed for now as divisions over how to proceed with its implementation have surfaced at the highest levels of government in Israel.]
Question: What is the July 1 annexation plan?
Answer: The Israeli government is promising to begin the annexation of a large proportion of the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank on July 1, with the support of the Trump administration and the complicit silence of the European Union. Annexing 30 percent of the West Bank, Palestinian territory that has been occupied by Israel for 53 years, would represent a flagrant theft of Palestinian land and a new wave of the ethnic cleansing that the Israeli colonizer has been carrying out against the Palestinian people since 1948.
Boosted by the “Trump Deal of the Century,” the Israeli prime minister is determined to assume full responsibility for his “Greater Israel” project. In 2018, the “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People” had already institutionalized a discriminatory status for the Palestinians and declared that, “The State sees developing Jewish communities as a national value, and will act to encourage, promote, and establish them.”— thus preparing the ground for further annexation. [See sidebar article on Trump’s “Deal of the Century.”
The European Union is sending the wrong signals and encouraging the colonialist policy. Recently, the European Investment Bank granted Israel a US$170 million loan to finance a desalination plant. The European Parliament voted 437 to 102 in favor of ratifying a new air agreement that guarantees even greater access to European destinations for Israeli aviation companies and will give a further boost to the Israeli economy.
Question: What is the situation of the Palestinian people today?
Answer: The colonialist State is pursuing its policy of colonization, ethnic cleansing and Apartheid across the whole of Palestine — colonization and the transfer of the Palestinian population, not only in the West Bank, which has been occupied since 1967, but also in the Palestinian villages that were occupied in 1948. It is continuing the blockade of the Gaza Strip, which it imposed in 2007. Attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian farmers, and arrests and killings of youth and children are almost a permanent occurrence.
More than 250 settlements, housing around 650,000 Israeli settlers, have been established on the West Bank. In the last ten years, some 10,000 Palestinians have been displaced as the result of 6,347 illegal demolitions of houses.
Although a de-facto annexation has been underway for several years, the new annexation will increase significantly the number of violations of human rights. Around 150 Palestinian villages with 140,000 inhabitants could be included in the annexed areas, making them even more vulnerable to forced transfers and the grabbing and expropriation of agricultural land. Access to the annexed areas will be restricted even more, with new checkpoints further limiting freedom of movement for Palestinians.
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Trump’s “Deal” Against the Palestinian People
(excerpts from OCRFI Statement of Feb. 1, 2020)
The “Deal of the Century,” unveiled by Donald Trump on Tuesday, January 28, in Washington in the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, needs to be characterized as what it really is: a plan for the total expulsion of the Palestinian people from their land.
That is the meaning of the authorization that has been given by Washington to the Zionist State to annex the Jordan Valley and all the land of the Israeli settlements which, for years, have been chipping away continuously at the “Palestinian Autonomous Territories” (West Bank and Gaza Strip) established by the 1993 Oslo Accords. All aspects of this plan have one guiding orientation: the Palestinian people must disappear. From this point of view, U.S. imperialism – for its own reasons – is authorizing Zionism to carry its colonizing expulsion project of the Palestinians through to the end.
This “Deal” is being promoted by a significant sector of the U.S. bourgeoisie around Trump. It has, of course, been cheered in Israel, both by Netanyahu and by his main rival in the March 2 elections, Benny Gantz. But the plan could not have seen the light of day without the support of the reactionary Arab regimes in the region, particularly Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, which have promised US$50 billion of so-called “investments” in the plan under the heading of its “economic plan.”
This plan is not the “negation of the two-State solution,” as many are claiming. Rather, it is the culmination of the policy of the partitioning of Palestine that began with the United Nations resolution of November 29, 1947.
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For a Democratic and Secular Palestine
By RALPH SCHOENMAN
In May 1948, the settler-colonial state of Israel was established through the expulsion of the Palestinian people from their homeland. Through sustained massacres, the Palestinians were dispersed in the neighboring Arab states, where they were consigned to refugee camps.
Twenty years after the establishment of the Israeli state, the Palestinian resistance movement formulated its demand for self-determination in the call for the replacement of the Israeli state with an independent, unitary Palestine.
In 1969, the leadership wing of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Fateh, set forth the program for the establishment of a “democratic, secular Palestine.”
This slogan called for the dismantling of the Zionist Israeli state and the establishment of a new state in Palestine in which Jews, Christians, and Muslims would live as equals without discrimination.
What was notable about this brave proposal was that (1) it categorically rejected any accommodation with or recognition of the Zionist state; and (2) it rejected the proposal of a Palestinian “mini-state” on the West Bank and Gaza.
PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat described his proposal as follows in a remarkable biography written by journalist Alan Hart:
“We were saying ‘no’ to the Zionist state, but we were saying ‘yes’ to the Jewish people of Palestine. To them we were saying: ‘You are welcome to live in our land, but on one condition. You must be prepared to live among us as equals, not as dominators.’
“I myself have always said that there is only one guarantee for the safety and security of the Jewish people in Palestine — and that is the friendship of the Arabs among whom they live.” (quoted in “Arafat: Terrorist or Peacemaker,” Sidgwick and Jackson, 1985, p. 275)
A document submitted by Arafat’s Fateh organization to the Second World Congress on Palestine in September 1970 spells out the profile of a democratic and secular Palestine even more clearly. The 1970 Fateh document states:
“‘Pre-1948 Palestine — as defined during the British mandate — is the territory to be liberated. … It should be quite obvious at this stage that the new Palestine discussed here is not the occupied West Bank or the Gaza strip or both. These are areas occupied by the Israelis since June 1967. The homeland of the Palestinians usurped and colonized in 1948 is no less dear or important than the part occupied in 1967.
“‘Besides, the very existence of the racist oppressor state of Israel, based on the expulsion and forced exile of part of its citizens, even from one tiny village, is unacceptable to the revolution. Any arrangement accommodating the aggressor settler-state is unacceptable. …
“‘All the Jews, Muslims and Christians living in Palestine or forcibly exiled from it will have the right to Palestinian citizenship. … This means that all Jewish Palestinians — at the present Israelis — have the same rights provided, of course, that they reject Zionist racist chauvinism and fully agree to live as Palestinians in the new Palestine. … It is the belief of the revolution that the majority of the present Israeli Jews will change their attitudes and will subscribe to the new Palestine, especially after the oligarchic state machinery, economy and military establishment are destroyed.”
The realization of such an objective, one based on democracy and the rights of people to self-determination, can only be the work of the masses themselves. Such an objective, moreover, is incompatible with the preservation of imperialist domination throughout the Middle East.
This is the content of the democratic and revolutionary slogan of a Palestinian Constituent Assembly, which is inextricably linked to the right of return of all the Palestinian people dispersed in the Diaspora and forced into exile. The only “realistic” solution is the creation, on the basis of equal rights for all citizens — be they Jews, Muslims, Christians, or other — of a democratic and secular unitary state on all the historic territory of Palestine.