Home demolitions spike ahead of annexation
Maureen Clare Murphy, Electronic Intifada, Jul 7 2020

IOF demolish Palestinian-owned structures in the South Hebron Hills on Jun 3.
Photo: Mosab Shawer/APA

Israel’s formal annexation of occupied land may be put on hold, but the forced displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank marches on. Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the territory spiked last month, according to the human rights group B’Tselem. Nearly 45 homes were destroyed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which Israel has already annexed in contravention of international law. B’Tselem stated:

Eight of the Jerusalem homes destroyed were torn down by their owners, after they received a demolition order from the municipality and wished to avoid paying the cost of the demolition and fines to the municipality.

More than 50 people, including some 30 children, were displaced by the demolitions in East Jerusalem. In the rest of the West Bank, 100 people, half of them children, were left homeless. In addition to the destroyed homes, IOF razed more than 35 non-residential structures last month.

B’Tselem published the above video of Israel’s Civil Administration, actually a unit of its military, demolishing five shelters belonging to the Abu Dahuk family near Jericho in the Jordan Valley on Jun 3. IOF also confiscated solar panels, refrigerators and water containers. In January, the Abu Dahuk family were displaced from a nearby area where they had lived for 30 years on the grounds that it was a closed Israeli military zone. Israel has declared more than half of the West Bank’s Jordan Valley a closed military zone. Palestinians living in those areas, many of them herding communities, are ordered to vacate their homes when Israel conducts military combat exercises. But the true purpose of the closed military zone designation is to expropriate Palestinian land, and ultimately annex it to Israel. Israel’s Civil Administration supervised the razing of six homes in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills in early June:

It used equipment manufactured by Caterpillar and JCB to carry out this war crime. Both corporations, Pindo and British respectively, have come under protest for their long-standing involvement in the destruction of Palestinian homes. The Civil Administration dismantled and confiscated a livestock pen elsewhere in the South Hebron Hills later on in the month. IOF fired stun grenades at residents and activists who protested the confiscation:

So while Israel’s annexation hasn’t been formalized, Palestinians continue to be pushed out to make way for it. As Hagai El-Ad, the director of B’Tselem, recently said, the lack of international action over the de facto annexation of West Bank land sends a permissive message to Israel:

Do what you please with millions of Palestinians for as long as you wish. Almost anything goes, as long as you don’t officially formalize certain aspects so that we can all keep looking away from this injustice and pretend that it is temporary.

So far this year, some 325 Palestinian-owned structures have been demolished in the West Bank, displacing around 370 people.

Canadian MPs urge sanctions over Israeli annexation plans
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, Jul 7 2020

Demonstration in Gaza City against Israeli plans to annex large parts
of the occupied West Bank, Jul 1. Photo: Mohammed Zaanoun/ActiveStills

Dozens of Canadian MPs have signed a pledge urging diplomatic and economic sanctions to prevent Israel annexing large parts of the occupied West Bank. Almost 60 MPs representing four of the five parties in the House of Commons endorsed the statement calling on the government to demonstrate “meaningful opposition to the annexation plans” by considering “all reasonable diplomatic and economic options to stop annexation and prompt Israeli compliance with international law.”

The pledge is backed by MPs from the center-left New Democratic Party, Green Party leader Elizabeth May and the entire caucus of the Bloc Québécois. Just two members of PM Justin Trudeau’s ruling Liberal Party signed on. Thomas Woodley, president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, said:

It is heartening to see strong and vocal parliamentary opposition to annexation. MPs from across the political spectrum have raised their voice to say that Canada must use all the tools available to try to stop Israel’s planned annexation, and to protect the rights of the Palestinian people.

CJPME is among a broad coalition of civil society organizations that launched or endorsed the pledge, including faith groups, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Canadian Federation of Students. Thousands of people have emailed their MPs urging them to back the pledge. Trudeau’s government has expressed verbal opposition to the annexation plans, but remains a staunch ally of Israel, committed to shielding it from any consequences for its illegal acts. Corey Balsam, national coordinator for Independent Jewish Voices, one the groups that endorsed the pledge, said:

If Canada is serious about its opposition to annexation, it needs to do something about it. The Trudeau government has imposed sanctions and spoken out forcefully against Russia for annexing Crimea. It would only be consistent for it to act in a similar way with respect to Israel.

A recent poll commissioned by peace groups and done by the independent firm EKOS found that 74% of Canadians want their government to express opposition to Israeli annexation, and more than two in five want to impose economic or diplomatic sanctions should Israel proceed. CJPME attributes Canada’s embarrassing loss in its recent bid to secure a seat on the UNSC in part to its extreme pro-Israel policies. But if anything Trudeau appears to be doubling down with the appointment of former Ontario premier Bob Rae as Canada’s new ambassador to the UN. According to Canadian analyst Yves Engler:

Rae has long pushed pro-Pindo, militarist and anti-Palestinian positions.

In May, some 130 British MPs signed a letter urging sanctions on Israel as a response to annexation. And last month more than 1000 MEPs from 25 countries across Europe signed a letter demanding “commensurate consequences” for any Israeli annexation. The MEPs state:

Failure to adequately respond would encourage other states with territorial claims to disregard basic principles of international law.

In the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee on Monday, Mick Wallace, a member from Ireland, again pressed EU officials on their failure to hold Israel to account:

Wallace slammed the EU’s “toothless language of urging and concern” and pressed for suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which grants Israel immense political and economic benefits. Wallace has been a consistent voice for Israel to be held accountable. On Monday, he again criticized the EU for continuing to allow imports from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Wallace said:

Does the EU not accept that Israel is operating an apartheid state right now? Do you accept the fact that the apartheid state of South Africa did not change until international recognition and acceptance changed? Because when it did, the regime had to change. As long as we are complicit and silent over the behavior of Israel towards the Palestinians, we can’t possibly expect anything to change.

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