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Political farce

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Israeli forces evict settlers in Hebron K818JRB9 x large
Israeli forces evict settlers in Hebron

So much for the showdown accompanied with glaring headlines plastered all over the MSM yesterday. In a political dance that is making my head spin, on orders from Defense Minister Ehud Barak, settlers were evicted from the building in the heart of Hebron yesterday while Netanyahu was announcing new housing tenders for hundreds of new dwellings as well as authorizing retroactive legalization of three illegal outposts! What a set up!

Connecting these illegal outposts to existing settlements solidifies Israel’s clutch on more Palestinian land. With the distraction of the inflammatory settler encroachment into the heart of Hebron and those settlers’ eviction grabbing the world’s attention under the guise of ‘the rule of law,’ are we supposed to not notice who just won out here? The settlers!

Is this an election season gambit? There’s more here than meets the eye.

Isabel Kershner NYT:

Israeli police and border officers swiftly evicted a group of Jewish settlers from a contested house in the volatile West Bank city of Hebron Wednesday on the orders of the minister of defense, officials said, though at the same time, the Israeli government signaled strong support for more Jewish settlement in areas it captured in the 1967 war.

Among the signs of official support, the Ministry of Housing posted new tenders on its website for plots for the construction of more than 800 new apartments in Har Homa, a Jewish development across the 1967 lines in south-east Jerusalem, and in Givat Zeev, a settlement north of Jerusalem in the West Bank.
In a move that appeared aimed at mollifying the settlers, but that is likely to infuriate Palestinians, Netanyahu said shortly before the Hebron eviction that he had asked the attorney general to “find a solution’’ for a neighborhood of the Beit El settlement that was built without proper permits and is supposed to be demolished by court order by May 1.

He said he also intended, together with the defense minister, to see the necessary permits to retroactively legalize three other West Bank settler outposts that went up without authorization.


In a rare note of discord within Mr. Netanyahu’s governing coalition, rightist ministers blamed the defense minister, Ehud Barak, for ordering the eviction, accusing him of trying to set the government’s agenda. Mr. Barak leads a small centrist faction in a government that is otherwise dominated by right-wing and religious parties.

Amos Harel in Haaretz explains the political infighting and maneuvering:

Wednesday’s headlines declared otherwise, but the final countdown has begun. The hullabaloo surrounding the eviction of the house in Hebron reveals that Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition partners sense that elections can’t be far off.

While Netanyahu confidently claims he won’t call early elections, his government is losing control. Likud ministers and MKs were quick to show their solidarity with the settlers in Hebron, and the defense minister wasted no time in sending the police’s Special Patrol Unit to evict the invaders before Passover. Meanwhile, Likud ministers swiftly slammed Defense Minister Ehud Barak, conveniently playing down the prime minister’s role in authorizing the eviction.


Netanyahu was quick to declare his commitment to the rule of law, but in the same breath he said he would legalize three illegal outposts by connecting them to existing settlements. Still, Likud ministers from Limor Livnat to Ya’alon wasted no time in attacking Barak; Ya’alon said the defense minister had manipulated Netanyahu. Barak associates countered by accusing Ya’alon of “very peculiar behavior.”


The problem is that the legal problems with the settlers won’t go away. Barak promised the High Court of Justice to empty several large apartment buildings in Beit El by May 1, while Netanyahu said yesterday he would seek a way to legalize them. And the Migron problem is yet to be solved.

Color me suspicious, but the upshot of this one-week-long dance with the Hebron house settlers is that the world is left with the impression of Israeli forces easily overpowering settlers who bend at the government’s will, as opposed to militant fanatics screaming and clutching in the civil war between military and settlers (we thought was inevitable). But as Israel stages this showpiece of following the rule of law…what do we get but illegal outposts now cloaked in legality.

Had the GOI just announced it was grabbing a whole bunch more land it would have been problematic, it wouldn’t have left the impression there was some kind of ‘balance and compromise’. It almost seems like there was political cooperation going on.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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14 Responses

  1. American
    American on April 5, 2012, 2:13 pm

    I’ve mostly given up paying attention to the Israel ‘first this, then that’ pea shell spin games.
    Just like their re arresting the Palestines of the prisoner swap…as I thought they would.
    They are criminals, I expect and except they will behave as criminals.
    No explanation necessary for criminals …..just reminders of what they are.

  2. kylebisme
    kylebisme on April 5, 2012, 2:21 pm

    Reminiscent of what Netanyahu said here:

    Indeed, Hebron hurts. It hurts. It’s the thing that hurts. One of the famous rabbis, whom I very much respect, a rabbi of Eretz Yisrael, he said to me: “What would your father say?” I went to my father. Do you know a little about my father’s position?

    …He’s not exactly a lily-white dove, as they say. So my father heard the question and said: “Tell the rabbi that your grandfather, Rabbi Natan Milikowski, was a smart Jew. Tell him it would be better to give two percent than to give a hundred percent. And that’s the choice here. You gave two percent and in that way you stopped the withdrawal. Instead of a hundred percent.” The trick is not to be there and be broken. The trick is to be there and pay a minimal price.

  3. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich on April 5, 2012, 2:45 pm

    It looks like that Palestinian kid [who refused to accept Israel’s rule] was right. Israel is the new mafia.

  4. pabelmont
    pabelmont on April 5, 2012, 2:58 pm

    And the spineless nations see and understand and are silent. The Rule of Law (like Frodo) lives.

    If Israeli elections are to be soon, then, some say, an attack on Iran — even if senseless and criminal and all the rest — may well be the incumbent’s electioneering trick this time as it has been in the past.

    If so, expect the rule of law again to be silent.

  5. yourstruly
    yourstruly on April 5, 2012, 3:25 pm

    …..and as israelis with dual citizenships who have decided to leave prepare for departure what will palestinians be doing? celebrating in the streets, that’s what.

  6. justicewillprevail
    justicewillprevail on April 5, 2012, 4:33 pm

    Hebron expresses everything that is truly ugly about Israel and its inhuman practices. A city in lockdown, ruled by a military junta, all for the benefit of a small bunch of appalling racist zealots who attack the local people with impunity, under the watchful eye of their dumb bodyguards in the IDF. Gideon Levy had it right – anybody who goes there, who has an ounce of decency, will be appalled at the casual violence and deeply unpleasant, phobic, pathological nature of the so-called settlers – what kind of person dedicates their and their family’s lives to rancid hatred, harrassment of innocent, powerless people, a more bitter hateful bunch of racists you won’t find anywhere in the world. And this is Israel’s grand project – to protect and encourage them, to make the local people’s lives unbearable. A noble enterprise? don’t make me laugh.

  7. LanceThruster
    LanceThruster on April 5, 2012, 4:47 pm

    The images of the evicted settlers doing a perp walk is most often meant to elicit sympathy, but to me the connotation that comes to mind is more of a car thief having to relinquish the vehicle they’ve stolen to the rightful owners (with IDF “cops” looking on feeling bad that they actually had to enforce the law).

  8. DaveS
    DaveS on April 5, 2012, 6:45 pm

    Annie, you’re right – it’s like a microcosm of Sharon’s infamous unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. See how we Israelis make painful concessions, with nightly news broadcasts of the agony endured by the Gaza settlers forced out by a moral government guided by the rule of law, blah blah blah. Meanwhile Israel was solidifying its hold on the West Bank, and reaping propaganda points for years to come about Gaza, even though withdrawal of Israeli settlers relieved none of Gaza’s misery and simply made it easier to bomb three years later. This sleight of hand proves once again that Israel’s PR machine is even more potent, and smarter, than its military.

    • annie
      annie on April 5, 2012, 10:08 pm

      This sleight of hand proves once again that Israel’s PR machine is even more potent, and smarter, than its military.

      yeah, and the big announcement came on some anniversary of netanyahu’s premiership or something (tuesday’s political speech). i wouldn’t put it past any of them to have engineered the takeover of the building just to be able to later evict them and ‘soften it’ with the announcement of legalizing the decade old outposts.

      what a sham

      • annie
        annie on April 5, 2012, 10:12 pm
      • MarkF
        MarkF on April 6, 2012, 9:35 am

        “i wouldn’t put it past any of them to have engineered the takeover of the building just to be able to later evict them and ‘soften it’ with the announcement of legalizing the decade old outposts.

        what a sham”

        I know it’s only a snapshot, but it sure doesn’t look like what happened in Gaza when soldiers were dragging settlers out. These folks were walking out without an issue. If it was staged, which it sure seems that way to me, someone will probably talk.

        It would be great if the Israeli press tracks the progress of this “evicted” family too see where they wind up, where they came from, if there was money exchanged, etc.

  9. atime forpeace
    atime forpeace on April 5, 2012, 6:49 pm

    This it could be said is even sad for these settlers who have been made to believe the lie that Zionism taught them.

    Zionism has bred dogs for war, and now the dogs must suffer for the lies their owners taught them.

    This poor settler’s plight is also sad.

    • RoHa
      RoHa on April 6, 2012, 12:23 am

      Bad upbringing and bad education can certainly lead people down the wrong path. But ultimately, adults have to take reponsibility for their beliefs, ideas, and attitudes.

  10. RoHa
    RoHa on April 6, 2012, 12:16 am

    Where I live, “political farce” is regarded as a tautology.

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