Israel demolishes Bedouin village in E1 — that Obama declared was key to two-state solution

Israel/Palestine
on 38 Comments

A week ago today I visited E1, a mountainous patch of land east of Jerusalem that is famous because the Israelis have designated it for more settlements that will further fragment the West Bank and limit Palestinians’ movements, as the State Department has repeatedly stated.

In E1, I witnessed the results of the recent Israeli bulldozing of a Bedouin village in which 47 people lost their homes. You can see Mohamed Odeh S’eedi in the video above, showing me through portions of the devastated village, Az Za’ayyem.

Scores of Israeli soldiers arrived in the village with three bulldozers at 8 AM on Sept. 11. Then Israeli civilian officials in plain clothes went through the homes, removing personal belongings. After that the bulldozers and soldiers moved in, smashing one home and animal shelter after another, 18 in all, folding and warping roofs of corrugated steel. Thirty-two children lost their beds.

In March President Obama went to Ramallah and was asked specifically about E1. He was emphatic:

You mentioned E1, in particular. I think that is an example of at least a public statement by the Israeli government that would be very difficult to square with a two-state solution. And I’ve said that to Prime Minister Netanyahu. I don’t think that’s a secret.

But Obama and the State Department have had nothing to say about this demolition — nor about Israel’s demolition of Mak-hul, a Bedouin village in the Jordan Valley that European diplomats sought to relieve last week.

A week ago in the arid, panoramic terrain of E1, Mohamed Odeh S’eedi took me around his smashed-up village. He pointed out an Israeli police station overseeing the occupied territory from a northern hill. He showed me the reservoir that Israelis are building to bring water to settlers. He pointed out the rocky hillside where the children of the Bedouin village sat, watching their houses being torn down. “They will never forget this.” Three tents had been set up, with bedding for 47 people.

Three camels sat in the sun near us. Az Za’ayyem is a herding community. It depends on goats and camels to produce milk. The Israelis had targeted the heart of the community’s agricultural operation: a 1200-square-meter barn for farm equipment and goats.

We sat under a tree drinking tea, and Odeh S’eedi said he had only one request of me: To bring the demolition of Az Za’ayyem to the attention of the world. He didn’t want money or aid; he seeks fair treatment. In this second video, you can see him showing me documents proving that the S’eedi family owns the lands on which their property was destroyed.

Angela Godfrey Goldstein of the Jahalin Association also accompanied me. The NGO works for thousands of members of a Bedouin tribe, the Jahalin, who were forced out of the Negev during the creation of Israel. More than 2000 of these refugees live in the hills east of Jerusalem.

Chris Gunness of the UN refugee organization UNRWA says his agency witnessed and documented the demolition of Az Za’ayyem. He wrote to me to explain the larger issue:

“There is ongoing pressure being applied by the Israeli authorities to Bedouin communities in the Jerusalem periphery, both in and around the area earmarked for the E1 settlement construction project. As we know, these communities are targeted for transfer to locations outside the so called ‘Ma’ale Adumim bubble’. Administrative demolition has a severe psychological and economic impact on Palestine refugees throughout Area C, and in the case of the periphery where communities face the additional threat of full transfer, stress levels are now high as administrative demolition increases in the area. 

Godfrey-Goldstein and I also visited the Israeli settlement city of Ma’ale Adumim. It is thriving. You walk through an air-conditioned shopping mall past fountains, grassy median strips and date palms being tended by gardeners. Religious families push double-wide strollers alongside late-waking hipsters in flipflops. Ma’ale Adumim has the feeling of a suburban subdivision in the southwest in the U.S.

And day by day it is choking off the Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem, as the settlement builds stronger connections to the city.

It is of course a violation of the Geneva conventions to transfer civilian population into occupied territories. But Israel has been massing Jews into East Jerusalem for more than 40 years, surrounding the Mount of Olives. The indigenous Palestinian communities are separated by high walls topped with barbed wire, and Godfrey-Goldstein pointed out to me a tunnel that was being excavated, connecting the East Jerusalem neighborhoods to a road going north and west to Ramallah. This is the architecture of apartheid.

And the demolition of Az Za’ayyem is the latest fruit of a policy of Judaization and colonization, in defiance of American foreign policy.

The State Department is keeping its head in the sand in the face of provocations. Spokesperson Marie Harf’s briefing last week:

QUESTION: Are you aware of the new Israeli settlement activities that are taking place, in fact, today near Hebron?

MS. HARF: I haven’t seen those reports, no.

QUESTION: Do you have any comments on – the Israelis are taking some agricultural land that has been for hundreds of years and so on.

MS. HARF: I’m happy to look into it, and if we – obviously, our position on settlements hasn’t changed. But I’m happy to look into it, and if we have additional comment, to get it to you.

P.S. Today I received an announcement from Jewish Voice for Peace of a protest of a related policy, Israeli expulsion of Bedouin communities in the Negev under the Prawer Plan.

Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston will protest Israel’s planned expulsion of over 40,000 Bedouin people, constructing a ritual “Sukkah” shelter outside the Israeli Consulate to mark the Jewish holiday of Sukkot and to simulate the Bedouin homes facing demolition.  Non-Jewish allies will join the protest as part of a nationwide mobilization to defend the Bedouin homes, villages, and homeland.

On June 14, 2013, the Israeli Knesset passed the first of three votes approving the Prawer  Plan. The plan would displace an indigenous population of Bedouin – Arab Israeli citizens – from their current villages in the Negev desert, which are unrecognized, unregulated, and denied access to water, electricity, and schools. The Israeli government would seize land for new military bases, industrial sites, and communities for Jewish Israelis, forcibly moving Bedouin people to government-sanctioned settlements.

The Prawer Plan has sparked protests throughout Israel, Palestine and the world; United Nations Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay stated that “if this bill becomes law, it will accelerate the demolition of entire Bedouin communities, forcing them to give up their homes, denying them their rights to land ownership, and decimating their traditional cultural and social life in the name of development.” The bill is predicted to go up for a second vote this October.  Bedouin leaders and human rights groups hope to create an alternative plan to address issues pertaining to Bedouin citizens living in the Negev.

Jewish Voice for Peace’s Sukkot demonstrations (taking place in cities across the country) aim to join worldwide activists, including Jewish organization T’ruah, the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, in pressuring the Israeli government to stop the Prawer Plan and associated human rights violations.  Boston activists will also place phone calls to Israeli Consul General Shai Bazak, asking him to pass their concerns to the government of Israel.

September 25th, 2013 is the last day of the seven-day Jewish holiday of Sukkot, when Jews construct temporary dwellings called sukkot (singular: sukkah). The sukkot symbolize the huts in which ancient agricultural workers resided during harvest season. Jewish peace activists will perform a ritual in the sukkah, as is traditional, reflecting on the right to housing for Jews and for Bedouin.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 25th, 2013, at 12:00pm

 

WHERE: Outside the Israeli Consulate at 20 Park Plaza, Boston, MA.

 

WHAT: Jewish peace activists and allies will construct a traditional sukkah and perform a protest in solidarity with Bedouin facing displacement from their homes, incorporating observance of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

 

WHO: Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston

 

VIDEO IMAGES/SOUND: Demonstrators will hold protest signs and Jewish ritual objects, recite traditional Jewish songs and prayers, and engage in a Sukkot ritual in a “Sukkah” dwelling.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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38 Responses

  1. Scott
    September 23, 2013, 2:06 pm

    I’m sure Samantha Power will be right on it.

    • Woody Tanaka
      September 23, 2013, 2:28 pm

      Nonsense. Her employer was the one who did the evil. She’s not saying a word. She knows who pays her salary.

    • thankgodimatheist
      September 24, 2013, 5:38 am

      “I’m sure Samantha Power will be right on it.”
      Good sense of humour, Scott.

  2. eljay
    September 23, 2013, 2:15 pm

    >> In March President Obama went to Ramallah and was asked specifically about E1. He was emphatic:

    You mentioned E1, in particular. I think that is an example of at least a public statement by the Israeli government that would be very difficult to square with a two-state solution. And I’ve said that to Prime Minister Netanyahu. I don’t think that’s a secret.

    He was emphatically non-committal, yes.

    Barry: “Hey, Beebs, your public statement regarding E1 is very difficult to square with a two-state solution.”
    Bibi: “Sure, Barry, whatever you say. Have another beer.”
    Barry: “Don’t mind if I do!”

    • Hostage
      September 23, 2013, 5:45 pm

      It doesn’t matter if Obama is committed or not. Abbas and the Israelis are still only conducting talks about the framework for beginning real talks. It doesn’t look like it will ever get beyond that point. Construction in the E1 corridor has always been a red line for the Palestinians:

      According to Asharq al-Awsat, Abbas told Obama that he would wait two months before taking any action at the ICC in hopes that the US could convince Israel to freeze settlement construction as a precondition for relaunching peace talks. He added, however, that should Israel follow through on plans to build in the E1 corridor in the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, he would turn to the ICC immediately.

      http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Obama-asks-Abbas-not-to-go-to-ICC-over-settlements-307472

      These are simply continuing provocations by the lunatics in the Netanyahu regime. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has already issued a call for international legal action on the issue:

      Road 9 Will Destroy Two-State Solution, says Ministry of Foreign Affairs
      RAMALLAH, July 22, 2013 (WAFA) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Monday said that the establishment of ‘Road 9’ will destroy the two-state solution and prevent the establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state.
      The ministry condemned, in a press release, the new Israeli plan to build a road network which will connect illegal settlements in the West Bank with Israel.
      The ministry considered such decision to be a declaration on the Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank and a confiscation of thousands of dunums that belong to Palestinians.
      It held the Israeli government responsible for the repercussions of such plan especially its effects on the resumption of negotiations.
      The Ministry called on all countries to immediately intervene and stop this project, take measures to ensure not implementing it and provide legal assistance to review these crimes at the specialized courts.

      http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=22860

      The Palestinians can’t limit the jurisdiction of the international criminal court by attempting to refer only the specific case in E1. It has already accepted the Court’s jurisdiction in 2009 for any and all crimes committed on the Palestinian side of the Green Line. If it decides to join the Court, the same rule applies. Any crime listed in the Rome Statute will be subject to investigation and prosecution. Netanyahu & company should give that a great deal of thought before they give the Prosecutor enough rope to hang them out to dry.

  3. Walid
    September 23, 2013, 2:38 pm

    Get rid of that translator; he was translating Phil’s questions wrong if at all and totally mistranslating what the Palestinian was answering. A lady’s voice in the background kept correcting the translator.

  4. Mike_Konrad
    September 23, 2013, 2:38 pm

    I have no problem with Israel annexing Jerusalem if they do not ethnically cleanse the Arabs on it, which is what they seem to be doing. This is sad.

    I would have hoped they would have given these people Jerusalem residency, and some housing inside Jeruslaem. Maybe they could not remain Bedouins, but they could have remained in Jerusalem.

    • Annie Robbins
      September 23, 2013, 3:06 pm

      Maybe they could not remain Bedouins

      what is this supposed to mean?

      • Woody Tanaka
        September 23, 2013, 3:49 pm

        “what is this supposed to mean?”

        It means that Mike Konrad is okay with israelis crapping all over the civil and human rights of these people.

      • Citizen
        September 23, 2013, 5:04 pm

        I guess he means they couldn’t do what they’ve done all their lives, and their ancestors before them, to survive and make their daily bread.

    • Woody Tanaka
      September 23, 2013, 3:49 pm

      “I have no problem with Israel annexing Jerusalem if they do not ethnically cleanse the Arabs on it”

      Why not one more international crime to add to the tally of the mafia that is zionism?

      • agatharchides
        September 24, 2013, 6:56 am

        If you support a 1SS like a lot of people here seem to, then you technically should want Israel to annex all of the OpT. Jerusalem is a decent first step.

      • Woody Tanaka
        September 24, 2013, 11:29 am

        “If you support a 1SS like a lot of people here seem to, then you technically should want Israel to annex all of the OpT.”

        If it gave the vote, complete equality, and full political, civil and human rights without regard for religion or ethnicity to everyone between the Med and the Jordan, I would be fine with it. But the Judeo-supremacists want to steal the land and ethnically cleanse the people. When zionists stop being evil, then we can talk about favoring annexation.

        “Jerusalem is a decent first step.”

        Nope. It’s more like “releasing” someone from shackles by cutting off their hand.

    • libra
      September 23, 2013, 7:12 pm

      Mike_Konrad: I have no problem with Israel annexing Jerusalem if they do not ethnically cleanse the Arabs on it,…

      Hang on a moment Mike, surely the Konrad Plan is to put the Palestinians on the first ship to Argentina?

    • talknic
      September 23, 2013, 11:51 pm

      Mike_Konrad “I have no problem with Israel annexing Jerusalem “

      Legal annexation is by agreement (see the US legal custom in the annexation of Texas, Hawaii, Alaska et al ) The legal customs of international entities pass into Customary International Law. Given Israel’s track record of ignoring incredibly generous offers http://pages.citebite.com/e9p5s8u2yhcd and disagreeing with everyone even after having agreed with them … go figure …

      “I would have hoped they would have given these people Jerusalem residency”

      Not having legally annexed Jerusalem, it is not Israeli. Israel cannot under International Law give ANYONE legal Israeli residency or citizenship in non-Israeli territories. If they were to accept a citizenship offer made by Israel, it would automatically preclude them from living as Israeli citizens in non-Israeli territories under Israeli occupation http://wp.me/pDB7k-W8 . Furthermore if they are refugees, Israeli citizenship would automatically annul any refugee status, no RoR or compensation if it once applied.

      ” Maybe they could not remain Bedouins, but they could have remained in Jerusalem.”

      Only as illegal Israeli facts on the ground. As Israeli citizens they’d be prohibited under International Law from being in occupied territories.

  5. Annie Robbins
    September 23, 2013, 3:07 pm

    it’s painful watching these videos. painful.

    • Citizen
      September 23, 2013, 5:06 pm

      Mr Obama and Ms Power must have thicker skins than you, Annie Robbins. They never see such a video, and I bet never read this blog or its commenters.

    • just
      September 23, 2013, 5:30 pm

      Yes it is, Annie.

      and now, there’s this after the pitifully sad killing of 2 Israeli soldier– though any Israeli says they are at war…….

      “JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an order late Sunday allowing Jewish families to move into a contested house in a Palestinian neighborhood of Hebron, the West Bank city where an Israeli soldier was fatally shot by a Palestinian sniper hours earlier.

      The controversial order, following the death of the solider in Hebron and the killing Friday of an unarmed air force sergeant who police say was lured to a West Bank village, represented the latest blow to nascent Israeli-Palestinian peace talks being brokered by Secretary of State John F. Kerry. ”

      and

      ““Those who try to uproot us from the City of the Patriarchs will achieve the opposite,” Netanyahu said. “We will continue to fight terrorism and strike at terrorists on the one hand and strengthen settlement with the other.””

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/responding-to-soldier-killings-netanyahu-allows-jewish-families-to-live-in-hebron-house/2013/09/23/656187d6-2436-11e3-b3e9-d97fb087acd6_story.html

      And so, the Israeli PM shuts down the “peace” process………… it’s a cruel charade, anyway.

      • Woody Tanaka
        September 23, 2013, 5:49 pm

        ” the pitifully sad killing of 2 Israeli soldier”

        We’ll have to agree to disagree as to whether it was “sad.” It was certainly sad that there is a Palestinian in custody.

      • just
        September 23, 2013, 5:51 pm

        I forgot to thank you Phil. Your grace and obvious compassion are very powerful indeed.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 23, 2013, 6:12 pm

        any excuse to judaize, they even use their own dead for an excuse. it’s disgusting. blatant and disgusting. the body isn’t even warm yet and they use it as an excuse to justify their ethnic land theft. unreal.

        and it’s against international law to appropriate land in war. no different than the fogels, first thing out of the PM’s mouth is we’ll use it to justify more theft. what a criminal state.

      • just
        September 23, 2013, 6:20 pm

        Yes, yes and yes Annie.

        I was thinking along the very same lines………….. desecration of the dead by justifying more theft and abuse in their name– it is truly disgusting. Reading the crazy comments of the Israeli “leaders” in that article is truly barf- worthy.

      • benedict
        September 24, 2013, 4:14 am

        Annie
        The so called Machpela house was not appropriated. It was legally purchased by civilians from Palestinian owner but kept vacant by military order until now.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 24, 2013, 9:17 am

        benedict, according to the judge of the colonial land appropriating rulers the purchase was deemed legal. big dif.

      • Hostage
        September 24, 2013, 1:45 pm

        Annie
        The so called Machpela house was not appropriated. It was legally purchased by civilians from Palestinian owner but kept vacant by military order until now.

        Benedict the obvious defects in your argument are that:
        1) Hebron is located in the State of Palestine;
        2) It’s up to the Palestinian courts to decide whether the sale of property to aliens is unlawful;
        3) Property ownership doesn’t confer the right for aliens to immigrate and take-up residence in any country.
        4) It’s up to the Palestinian Courts, not the Israeli Courts or government, to decide if these Israelis can immigrate to Palestine.

      • benedict
        September 25, 2013, 8:33 am

        annie

        There are plenty of cases when Israeli courts went against jewish settlers in land disputes. The Amona case, for instance. So I think Israeli courts have credibility

      • Hostage
        September 25, 2013, 2:05 pm

        So I think Israeli courts have credibility

        No they don’t. The Court was instrumental in creating the legal fiction that the settlements are only temporary. Everyone knows that the government’s position is that the major settlement blocs are a permanent part of Israel. So the Court has aided and abetted the other branches of government in committing acts that are defined as war crimes by the rest of the world.

        Worse still, by now the Justices know for certain that the State courts that should be exercising territorial jurisdiction over state lands in the OPt are the Palestinian ones recognized by the UN, not the foreign courts in the State of Israel.

      • talknic
        September 25, 2013, 3:15 pm

        benedict “The so called Machpela house was not appropriated. It was legally purchased by civilians from Palestinian owner but kept vacant by military order until now.”

        The purchase of ‘real estate’ does not give territorial rights. For example: Japanese companies own chunks of Australian real estate, they do not own any Australian territory, nor can they give Japanese citizens the right to settle in Australia.

        Furthermore the stupid argument put forward by idiot Israeli propagandists about Palestinians needing to show the deeds to their real estate in order to prove ownership of territory is ignorant and irrelevant. Territory belongs to all its legitimate inhabitants whether they own real estate, rent real estate or live homeless under a bridge. UNSC res 476 one of EIGHT reminders of UNSC res 252, tells us occupied territory simply is not Israeli.

      • benedict
        September 26, 2013, 7:20 pm

        hostage

        Your mixing arranges and apples.

        Annie was talking about ownership. I thing Israeli courts have pretty good track record regarding the determination of private ownership of property both in WB and in Israel.

        The international/political aspect is something else. Israeli courts don’t consider settlements to be illegal by definition. If I’m not wrong, neither does the USA.

        Technically speaking the legally recognized right of Jew to settle in Palestine encompasses the entire territory of mandatorily Palestine. The green line is just an arbitrary armistice line with no legal meaning. The ultimate borderline (assuming a 2SS) is up to both sides to negotiate. In my opinion it may well be that ultimately large chunks of current Israel will end up in Palestine and large parts of Palestine will become Israel.

      • benedict
        September 26, 2013, 7:24 pm

        talknic

        The issue here is real estate rights. Not territorial rights.

      • Hostage
        September 27, 2013, 10:30 am

        talknic

        The issue here is real estate rights. Not territorial rights.

        But you don’t have any. The government of Jordan called the ICJ’s attention to the fact that the Commission appointed by the Council of the League of Nations had determined that the Wailing Wall and pavement in front of it were constituted a Muslim Waqf by Afdal, the son of Saladin, in about the year 1193 A.D. and were under the sole proprietorship of the Supreme Muslim Council of Palestine. See (3) The Ownership of the Wall and of its Surroundings http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/59A92104ED00DC468525625B00527FEA

        The Israeli government signed the 1949 Armistice Agreements and they were adopted under the auspices of two Chapter 7 UN Security Council resolutions, 62 and 73. They stipulated that the parties have to observe the terms until a final agreed upon settlement is negotiated. They also stipulated that enemy civilians and military personnel are prohibited from crossing the lines pending an agreement in accordance with the laws and customs of war. See Articles III and IV http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/arm03.asp

        Israel agreed that the Peace Treaty with Jordan was without prejudice to the status of any territory that came under the control of the armed forces of Israel in 1967. See Article 3(2) http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/peace_1-5.html

      • talknic
        September 27, 2013, 12:39 pm

        benedict “The issue here is real estate rights. Not territorial rights”

        Israeli civil law and courts have no legitimate legal in jurisdiction in non-Israeli territory ( UNSC res 476 ) and Israelis have no residency rights in “territories occupied” or the right to any transactions in breach of the laws of the occupied territory ( GC IV … Laws of War ).

      • Hostage
        September 27, 2013, 4:42 pm

        Annie was talking about ownership. I thing Israeli courts have pretty good track record regarding the determination of private ownership of property both in WB and in Israel.

        Israel has not annexed the West Bank. The Israeli Courts claim they have no jurisdiction other than personam jurisdiction there. But they keep facilitating the legal fiction whereby new “State property” is created and expropriated for use in civilian settlements. The creation of State property is a function of territorial jurisdiction. So they have a very lousy and long criminal record there.

      • Kathleen
        September 24, 2013, 2:03 am

        Netanyahu is the terrorist!

        And as so many have been pointing out for decades this theft of Palestinan land has been going on for decades.

        One state,one vote….

      • ziusudra
        September 24, 2013, 6:26 am

        Greetings just,
        ….Nitwit-jahud issued an oder allowing Jewish Families to move in to a contested house in a Palestianian Neighborhood of Hebron…….
        Wha’ Israel claims Democracy!
        How can a member of the executive go over the work of the judicial branch? This Golem quack is judge, jury & executionor!
        ziusudra

  6. Kathleen
    September 24, 2013, 1:18 am

    Great report Phil. We should all try to honor Odeh S’eedi’s request and link to this story where ever we can because you know Rachel Maddow etc will not be reporting about this. Thanks for putting this story front and center Phil

  7. iResistDe4iAm
    September 24, 2013, 6:10 am

    It is of course a violation of the Geneva conventions to transfer civilian population into occupied territories.

    The civilian population being transferred into occupied territories is both Israel’s second line of colonial conquest (land grabbing marauders), and its first line of defence (human shields) in potential future war zones.

    Israel is the only country in the world that still uses civilian colonists (aka Jewish settlers) as human shields by deliberately placing them in subsidised settlements on stolen land deep inside occupied enemy territories (territories with which it is still technically at war).

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