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New Israeli train line with station named after Trump was built on stolen Palestinian land

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On a windy winter day back in 2013 Palestinians from the West Bank town of Beit Iksa broke the law. They laid cement bricks in a rectangular foundation, assembled some tents, and hoisted a few flags. All of this was illegal and the villagers knew that, but they erected the encampment and gave it the prideful name, “Bab al-Karamah,” Gate of Dignity in English. The villagers made the ramshackle town as a form of protest against the convoluted military laws governing how Palestinians can use land in the West Bank,

I went to report from Bab al-Karamah for the few days it thrived prior to the Israeli military dismantling it and a group of teenagers from the village pulled my attention to the valley below. There, a team of construction workers were laboring on a tunnel for a high-speed rail line from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. Unlike the “village” we were standing in, the train line had permits from the Israeli government, but lacked permission from the Palestinian owners of the land who reside in Beit Iksa.

Palestinians will tell you that Israeli restrictions on construction is causing cramped conditions, even in small towns like Beit Iksa that have acres upon acres of open space. Israelis will tell you that traffic is really bad between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem during rush hour, and so the idea of a fast train that runs through the West Bank was popularly supported. Given this equation Palestinians were powerless to prevent the train from being built. The villagers petitioned Israel’s high court to stop the construction on the grounds that the land was illegally taken from them, and lost. 

A Palestinian activist holds a banner near a tent in the new “outpost” named Bab al-Karama (“gate of the honor”) in the village of Beit Iksa, northwest of Jerusalem, January 18, 2013. The Palestinian activists built the outpost on a disputed area where Israel plans to construct part of the separation fence in the Jerusalem vicinity. (Photo: APA Images)

The train line was first announced in 2008 and its opening has been delayed because of this six kilometers of track that runs through the occupied Palestinian territory in Beit Iksa and two nearby villages (Yalu and Beit Surik). Pressure from groups that boycott Israel caused a German company to cut out of the project early, and an Italian firm that took over has faced harsh questions about violating international law by participating in a project in occupied territory–both are explained in detail in a 2010 report by the Israeli human rights group Who Profits.

This line was planned for the exclusive use of Israeli citizens; it is imposed on the local Palestinian residents by the dictates of a military regime, in which they have no representation; and it would be completely inaccessible to the local residents,” wrote Who Profits. 

Now, this train line is back in the news, but this time for an all-together different reason: a stop on the route will be named after Donald Trump, according to a statement made by Israel’s traffic minister yesterday, reported the Jerusalem Post. The station will be near the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, notably in occupied East Jerusalem.

Trump, no stranger to having his name embossed on the facade of feats of construction, received the honor following his December announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“The Western Wall is the holiest place for the Jewish people, and I decided to name the train station that leads to it after president Trump – following his historic and brave decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel,” said transportation minister Israel Katz.

In both the U.S. and Israel, the Trump station is breaking news. The Guardian reported Israel’s transportation minister pulled strings to get the project expedited, yet the depot will not open for at least another four years. When it does, commuters will be able to shuttle between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in just 28-minutes on train departing every 20 or 30 minutes. Right now the drive can take up to two hours during peak congestion and there is no rail line between these cities.

(Map: Shai Efrati/Peace Now/Who Profits)

As for Beit Iksa’s residents, the train is but one of many worries.

The town is sealed by an Israeli checkpoint that only allows in registered residents of Beit Iksa and internationals. Other Palestinians are prohibited from accessing the village. The hassle this brings to Palestinian families who have lived outside of the area, or have jobs in other towns was recorded by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem in 2016. One woman, Shahinaz ‘Abdallah, 46, said she gets held up at the checkpoint regularly:

“I’m afraid to leave the village alone, because on my way back in I’m detained and questioned – why did I come, to whom am I related in the village, and so on. They check on the phone that I really live there. I’m usually kept at the checkpoint about fifteen to thirty minutes, supposedly for inspection. I have to argue with them until they let me in.”

Additionally the town has lost 60 percent of its land to surrounding Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem. The settlement of Ramot built houses, a playground and a 9/11 memorial on lands that belong to Beit Iksa. At this year’s memorial ceremony commemorating Americans killed in the terrorist attack, the U.S Ambassador David Friedman was present. Outlets covering the ceremony failed to mention the monument, which includes a piece of debris from Ground Zero, is located in East Jerusalem. Similarly, reporting on the Trump train in this news cycle did not note the rail line darts across a swath of the West Bank.

Allison Deger
About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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33 Responses

  1. JWalters
    JWalters
    December 27, 2017, 9:09 pm

    What in Israel was NOT built on stolen Palestinian land?

    • Talkback
      Talkback
      December 28, 2017, 4:35 am

      Given the fact that the Zionist Apartheid Junta’s state terroritory and beyond was only acquired through war and expulsion: 0%.

      Different picture when it comes to Jewish PRIVATE property. That was up to 6% including about 3% purchased by the Jewish National Fund.

      • m1945
        m1945
        December 28, 2017, 11:10 pm

        What percent of Palestine was owned by Palestinians & what percent of Palestinians owned land when the first Zionists arrived in 1882?

      • ritzl
        ritzl
        December 29, 2017, 1:44 am

        Right. Since you brought it up, what percent of Palestine was owned by Zionists when the “first” Zionists arrived in 1882?

        I’m guessing ZERO, by definition.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        December 29, 2017, 4:29 am

        How many times has the clueless thing parading as “Jack Green” been told that individual land ownership is not the only social order, and even if it were the only one it has Jack Sh|t to do with territorial sovereignty?

        No need to be creative in insulting people when one feels like it: it’s enough to call them Zionists.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        December 29, 2017, 1:31 pm

        “How many times has the clueless”

        They all do it, “Echin”. They say a little prayer, sit down at the keyboard, shoot their cuffs, and say “Today is MY day! Today is the day I will change everything with my words…”

    • amigo
      amigo
      December 28, 2017, 4:55 pm

      “What in Israel was NOT built on stolen Palestinian land?” J walters

      Well , Jon S would claim his squat in Beersheba is not on stolen land and is in his historic Homeland.

    • annie
      annie
      December 30, 2017, 11:19 am

      exceptional coverage allison.

  2. Naftush
    Naftush
    December 28, 2017, 7:54 am

    The purported “Trump station” isn’t part of the existing route; it belongs to an envisaged extension on which no construction has taken place. It has nothing to do with Beit Iksa. As for participation in projects in “occupied territory” being a violation of international law, such participants would easily be brought before the auspice that has jurisdiction in the matter. There is no such auspice, no such jurisdiction, and by all appearances no such violation.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      December 28, 2017, 6:41 pm

      Security Council Resolution 446 (22 March 1979) “[Affirms] once more that the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 is applicable to the Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem,
      “1. Determines that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East;..”

      Security Council Resolution 465 (1 March 1980) “determines that all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity…”

      Israel’s 1980 annexation of East Jerusalem was rejected by the UN Security Council in Resolution 476 (June 30, 1980): “all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the Occupying Power, which purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

      In accordance with the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, ratified by Israel, and further underscoring the illegality of the settlements, Part 2, Article 8, section B, paragraph viii of the Rome Statute of the International Court (1998) defines “the transfer directly or indirectly by the Occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies ” as a War Crime, indictable by the International Criminal Court.

      On 24 February 2004, the U.S. State Department reaffirmed its earlier position in a report entitled Israel and the Occupied Territories, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: “Israel occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights after the 1967 War…. The international community does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over any part of the occupied territories.”

      In its 2004 ruling, the International Court of Justice unanimously ruled that “No territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal.” The World Court denoted this principle a “corollary” of the U.N. Charter and as such “customary international law” and a “customary rule” binding on all member States of the United Nations.

      UN Security Council Resolution 2334, December 23, 2016: “Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,
      “Reaffirming the obligation of Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice,
      “Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions,….”
      “1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;
      “2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard;
      “3. Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;..”

    • Marnie
      Marnie
      December 29, 2017, 12:10 am

      “There is no such auspice, no such jurisdiction, and by all appearances no such violation.”

      Said hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. And you are “fake news”.

  3. Vera Gottlieb
    Vera Gottlieb
    December 28, 2017, 9:25 am

    And the stop to be called “Trump’s Pussy”???

  4. guyn
    guyn
    December 28, 2017, 9:29 am

    Excellent report, thank you Allison.

    “Additionally the town has lost 60 percent of it’s land to surrounding Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem.”

    Beit Iksa is some distance of East Jerusalem, they had land there?

  5. Elizabeth Block
    Elizabeth Block
    December 28, 2017, 12:19 pm

    Let’s hope that by the time the station is in use, the name will be a disgrace rather than an honour.

  6. amigo
    amigo
    December 28, 2017, 3:55 pm

    Clearly , Nietanyahu and co are honouring Trump for his impartial handling of negotiations between the parties.

  7. miriam6
    miriam6
    December 29, 2017, 4:43 pm

    And – most of America was built on land stolen from native ppl.

    VAST tracts of land
    Prrsumably all American, Australian, New Zealander Mondoweissers are also keen supporters and actively working for reparations plus returning stolen land to its rightful native owners in all those aforementioned giant colonialist settler states – otherwise I smell HYPOCRISY

    • annie
      annie
      December 29, 2017, 6:56 pm

      oh look miriam’s back. think she’ll snag a few with her whataboutery? been there done that.

    • Kay24
      Kay24
      December 29, 2017, 7:32 pm

      Strange you don’t get the smell of PRESENT DAY occupation, theft of water, demolishing of homes, and on going land grabs, for illegal settlements. It stinks all over the world, especially when Israel decides to “mow the lawn”. Stop the lame justifications, and take a deep breath.

    • eljay
      eljay
      December 29, 2017, 11:06 pm

      || miriam6: And – most of America was built on land stolen from native ppl. … ||

      You can always count on a Zionist to say: Murderers exist, so it’s OK to rape.

    • Talkback
      Talkback
      December 30, 2017, 3:41 am

      miriam6: “And – most of America was built on land stolen from native ppl.”

      Yep. But that was in times when the colonialization of land and dispossessing its native people was not considered to be a crime. That was also the time when genocide was not considered to be a crime against humanity.

      So what is your real position? That settler colonialism and dispossesion of the native population (and even genocide) are ok in the post Nazi era if commited by Jews?

      Are Zionists this racist and backwarded? (Amongst) the lowest of modern civilization?

      I see a pattern. Jon S condones raping but asks if other occupiers raped more. miriam6 doesn’t speak out against settler colonialism and dispossesion, but looks for others who commited more of the same. This is the usual relativization of Zionism and its crimes.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        December 30, 2017, 1:04 pm

        “I see a pattern.”

        The idea that the forces (Zionism, Jewish volunteerism and opportunism ) creating Israel are as vast and powerful as the forces which brought about the settlement of the US?

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      December 30, 2017, 3:52 am

      So what if you do smell hypocrisy? It doesn’t make Israel’s conduct any less evil.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        December 30, 2017, 1:07 pm

        I think that everyone knows and always has known that simply to march into a country from elsewhere, to kill and take possession, is a terrible wrong, though much of the evidence for this comes in the presentation of special reasons why it is after all allowed in some specific case. We can’t undo the past but we can do our best to see that the bad things of past times are not being visited every day on new or continuing victims, in particular that no one remains disfranchised, exiled or part of a that is not sovereign. There were bad things in what is now England during the 500s, my Welsh ancestors having much to resent about my English ones. But there are now no Welsh refugees calling for their right of return, no mass of non-English disfranchised.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      December 30, 2017, 12:55 pm

      “aforementioned giant colonialist settler states – otherwise I smell HYPOCRISY”

      Okay, when Israel gets “giant” Israel can get away with the same hypocrisy. Until then Israel will be singled out.
      What’s your plan to make Israel a “giant colonial state”?

      • amigo
        amigo
        January 7, 2018, 11:18 am

        “Until I see evidence that Kay24 and Annie and other MW ers are all committed to creating a strong campaign for forcing reparations and return of stolen lands to native Americans from you Americans on MW I will continue to see hypocrisy”MI.6

        And if they do . You will ???????.

        What about Non American ,(Irish )MW,ers.Are we not hypocrites.Did we not steal land from the English settlers who made the Irish Bogs bloom and look how we showed our gratitude.We kicked them out of their Hibernian Historic Homeland .

  8. miriam6
    miriam6
    December 30, 2017, 12:38 am

    Where in my comment did I justify Israeli actions?

    You and annie are merely projecting your hypocritical guilt onto me and I remarked on that hypocrisy

    Until I see evidence that Kay24 and Annie and other MW ers are all committed to creating a strong campaign for forcing reparations and return of stolen lands to native Americans from you Americans on MW I will continue to see hypocrisy

    And how cynical of Annie to call a suggestion that she and her MW fellow travellers campaign for reparations return of stolen lands / properties to native Americans as she campaigns for Palestine – as mere ‘whataboutery’

    Multi tasking is beyond Annie / the rest of you all?

    Between 1776 and the present, the United States seized some 1.5 billion acres from North America’s native peoples, an area 25 times the size of the United Kingdom. Many Americans are only vaguely familiar with the story of how this happened. They perhaps recognise Wounded Knee and the Trail of Tears, but few can recall the details and even fewer think that those events are central to US history.

    https://aeon.co/essays/how-were-1-5-billion-acres-of-land-so-rapidly-stolen

    • eljay
      eljay
      December 30, 2017, 7:05 am

      || miriam6: Where in my comment did I justify Israeli actions? … ||

      In the first sentence, which was pure whataboutery.

      My turn: Where in your comment did you condemn Israeli actions?

      || … Until I see evidence that Kay24 and Annie and other MW ers are all committed to creating a strong campaign for forcing reparations and return of stolen lands to native Americans from you Americans on MW I will continue to see hypocrisy … ||

      Fair enough. Meanwhile, please link to your campaign to force reparations and return geographic Palestine to Palestinians. Thanks.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      December 30, 2017, 12:59 pm

      Sure, “miriam” the world us us Jews some atrocities and a genocide, and a homeland! And here we are to collect on the debt.

      And here’s the beauty part, the fewer Jews there are, the more each one gets!

  9. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    January 6, 2018, 4:53 pm

    It’s surprising to me how deeply Trump is part of the Israeli lobby.
    I am surprised that he moved the embassy. Back before he was elected, when asked about it by a Zionist group, he was noncommittal.

    His ending of the war in Syria does not seem to be something the Israeli lobby wanted, on the other hand. So it’s hard for me to tell how deeply he is in with them.

    There does seem to be a major overlap between:
    Trump, Kushner, The Israeli Lobby, and Breitbart

    All of them seem to want to use the “Alt Right” as a major support base, and it would be interesting to see if Mondoweiss might explore this. Since Phil used to work for Kushner, he might seem to have some insight on this.

    For example, did Trump look at his political options for supporters and then decided that Breitbart would be best as a support base? Or did Breitbart already exist, sending out its appeals to the Alt Right market of audiences, and then decide that some candidate like Trump would be great. Who picked who? Did Breitbart and the Lobby create Trump’s candidacy, or did Trump pick Breitbart and the Lobby? And how close are they really?

    This is from the Wikipedia page for Breitbart News:

    Conceived by Breitbart during a visit to Israel in mid-2007 as a website “that would be unapologetically pro-freedom and pro-Israel”,

    … An article by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in The Hill disputed the allegations [against Breitbart of anti-Semitism], arguing that Breitbart defends Israel against antisemitism. Alexander Marlow denies that Breitbart is a “hate-site”, stating “that we’re consistently called anti-Semitic despite the fact that we are overwhelmingly staffed with Jews and are pro-Israel and pro-Jewish. That is fake news.”

    Breitbart London announced that it would have a staff of 10 along with hundreds of contributors covering Israel and the Middle East from the London office.

    On November 17, 2015, the website launched Breitbart Jerusalem, which covers events in Israel and the wider Middle East. It is edited by Israel-based American reporter Aaron Klein.[116] Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has been an occasional columnist.

    “Friends of Hamas” story
    On February 7, 2013, Ben Shapiro published an article on Breitbart News reporting allegations that former Senator and nominee for United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) may have been paid to speak at an event sponsored by a group called “Friends of Hamas.”[140] Breitbart News said that the story was based on exclusive information from U.S. Senate sources. …

    An investigation by Slate reporter David Weigel failed to confirm the existence of the purported group.[145] On February 19, New York Daily News reporter Dan Friedman said that the story had originated from a sarcastic comment he had made to a congressional staffer. “Friends of Hamas” was one of several groups which Friedman considered to be so over-the-top as to be implausible and obviously fictitious. He was investigating rumors that Hagel had been paid for speaking to “contoversial organizations”, and asked sarcastically whether he had addressed “Friends of Hamas.”

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