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Israel plans new settlement on occupied land earmarked for ‘Muslim tourism’ in Trump plan

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Israel is planning to build a new Israeli settlement in the Atarot area of East Jerusalem — the same swath of land that was slated by US President Donald Trump’s peace plan to go to the Palestinians.

According to settlement watchdog Peace Now, the Israeli Ministry of Housing submitted plans a week ago to the Jerusalem Municipality for a new settlement spanning 9,000 hectares (22,239 acres) in Atarot, which is currently an Israeli industrial zone that lies between East Jerusalem and the Palestinian neighborhoods of Qalandiya and Kafr Aqab, on the eastern side of the wall.

“The plan is at the heart of an urban Palestinian continuum built from Ramallah, through Kfar Aqab and Qalandiya, to Beit Hanina and Shu’afat, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians live,” Peace Now noted.

The group claimed the proposed settlement in Atarot “is intended to stick a wedge in the Palestinian succession and become an Israeli enclave that will prevent the Palestinian development of the central and most important metropolis in the future Palestinian state.”

According to Haaretz, the plan includes somewhere between 6,000 – 9,000 housing units, as well as 300,000 square meters of commercial space and 45,000 square meters for businesses, a hotel, and water reservoir.

“The plan does not explicitly state who the neighborhood is intended for, but it includes synagogues and Jewish ritual baths, making it clear that it is intended for a Jewish Israeli population,” Haaretz reported.

Peace Now said the step last week was just the first in a years-long process to approve the settlement and move forward with construction.

If the plan moves forward, it will be the first time a new settlement is built in East Jerusalem since the Har Homa settlement was built in 1997 on the lands of the Palestinain Abu Ghneim mountain.

Additionally, Peace Now noted that due to the fact that much of the land in question was designated as “state land” during the British Mandate, Israel will be able to establish the settlement and seize the land without consent from Palestinians who own significant portions of the land.

According to Haaretz, the construction of the settlement would result in the destruction of at least 15 Palestinian homes.

The proposed settlement in Atarot has gained widespread local and international attention due to the fact that the same area has been slated, under Trump’s peace plan, to become a  “special tourism zone” to “support Muslim tourism to Jerusalem and its holy sites.”

“We envision that this zone will become a thriving and vibrant tourism center that includes state-of-the-art public transportation that provides easy access to and from the holy sites,” the plan says.

And while the plan does stipulate that Israel will maintain control over East Jerusalem and sites like Atarot, it also promises a four-year freeze on settlement construction from the Israeli government so as not to hinder the prospect of negotiations with the Palestinians.

Since its release, the Palestinians have overwhelmingly rejected the plan, and have refused to engage in negotiations with Israel under the auspices of the US government, which they argue is not a fair arbiter of the peace process.

“Netanyahu wants to strike another deadly blow to the prospect of a two-state solution for two nations,” Peace Now said in a statement.

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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7 Responses

  1. eljay on February 19, 2020, 9:54 am

    The greed of Zionists seems utterly insatiable.

  2. Misterioso on February 19, 2020, 4:39 pm

    “Two-state obfuscation”
    By Rod Such The Electronic Intifada, 17 February 2020

    “Paradigm Lost: From Two-State Solution to One-State Reality” by Ian S. Lustick, University of Pennsylvania Press

    “Any American who has asked their representative or senator a question related to Palestinian rights knows that it only seems to auto-generate the following response: ‘I support the two-state solution.’

    “The words spill right out of the box like a mantra, or a Pavlovian reaction, or perhaps, even like a Manchurian Candidate triggered by a post-hypnotic suggestion. The response invariably is also evasive of the actual question asked.

    “Like any paradigm, Ian S. Lustick observes in Paradigm Lost: From Two-State Solution to One-State Reality, the two-state solution has become so ingrained and enshrined that it represents a barrier to critical thinking.

    “Lustick, a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and a specialist on Israeli politics, abandoned the two-state solution in the early 2010s after nearly 50 years of advocacy. He achieved public attention with a 2013 opinion column in The New York Times titled “Two-State Illusion.”

    “Three obstacles”
    “In this slim new book, Lustick cites three obstacles that inadvertently helped guarantee the demise of the two-state solution, devoting a chapter to each. His concluding chapter, titled ‘One-State Reality and Its Future,’ outlines strategies for a rights-based approach to secure equality and freedom for all – Israeli Jews, non-Jewish immigrants and Palestinians.

    “The author identifies the first obstacle as a ‘flaw’ in the notorious Iron Wall strategy outlined by the revisionist Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky in 1923 and later adopted by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister.

    “The strategy advocated for the complete military defeat of the Palestinians and their Arab allies until Zionist settlement in the ‘Land of Israel’ emerged triumphant and unassailable. Then, and only then, Jabotinsky envisioned, could Israel proceed to a peace arrangement with ‘moderate’ Arabs willing to ‘compromise.’

    “The ‘flaw’ in this strategy, Lustick maintains, is that the resulting military strength only encouraged Israel to remain implacable. Lustick blames the demise of the two-state solution entirely on Israeli leaders who, he argues, failed to recognize the willingness of the Palestine Liberation Organization to compromise when it officially accepted a two-state solution in 1988.

    “Lustick identifies the second obstacle as a distortion of the collective memory of the Holocaust. Zionist leaders categorized Palestinians as ‘Nazis’ as part of a crude propaganda campaign to unite Ashkenazi and Arab Jews and to reinforce the Zionist idea of ‘an unbridgeable abyss that separates Jews and gentiles.’

    “That device has been used to rally Israelis around military adventures, such as when prime minister Menachem Begin invoked the World War II extermination camp at Treblinka to win public approval for the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Or more recently, when Israel’s current head of state, Benjamin Netanyahu, proclaimed that ‘It’s 1938’ and ‘Iran is Germany.’

    “For Lustick, this distortion of Holocaust memory fails to account for Nazi ‘crimes against humanity,’ which included extermination not just of Jews but also of Roma, Slavs, homosexuals and disabled people.

    “The constant invocations of the Holocaust also worked against the Zionist leadership and its separatist goal of an exclusively Jewish state, the author observes.

    “Many Israelis began to understand ‘the universalism’ of the Holocaust, Lustick contends, especially following the publication of Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1963 and the 2008 release of the animated film Waltz with Bashir that invokes the massacres of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut in 1982.

    “Universalism enabled Israelis to appreciate ‘the common humanity of Jews and Palestinian Arabs.’ In doing so, it helped undermine the effort to cast Palestinians as Nazis, although the propaganda nevertheless remained a strong enough factor to prevent a two-state solution.

    “Finally, Lustick indicts the Israel lobby and its ‘disproportionate influence’ in US Congress as the third obstacle and final nail in the coffin of the two-state solution. By successfully pushing year after year for military aid to Israel, the lobby created a ‘cocoon of unconditional American support’ that undermined Israeli moderates and made Israeli hawks more hawkish.

    “As the Israeli electorate shifted increasingly to the right, Israeli leaders saw no need to negotiate for a two-state solution. An attitude of ‘intransigent maximalism’ emerged in the Israeli polity, Lustick writes, and this triumphalist version of Zionism ‘destroyed possibilities’ for a historical compromise.

    “Winning rights for all”
    “The result is a one-state reality without democracy. Lustick embraces the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement as the way forward.

    “He argues that the two-state paradigm is ‘solution based’ whereas BDS relates to a ‘process.’

    “The former focuses on the result – two independent states – whereas BDS deals with the process of winning rights for all, regardless of whether there are two states or one.

    “Under the two-state solution, Israel could continue to discriminate against its Palestinian citizens and Palestinian refugees. BDS, however, asserts the rights of all.

    “Proposals for a two-state solution, Lustick argues, had always put their ’emphasis on the sovereign independence of those states, with almost no consideration of the rights and statuses of the populations they will govern.’

    “Moreover, proponents of the two-state solution had often resorted to chauvinistic arguments heralding separation and instilling fear of an Arab demographic problem, in effect ‘exploiting and even fanning Jewish hatred and fear of Arabs.’

    “The BDS movement, by contrast, focuses on ‘realizing Palestinian rights to equality and nondiscrimination under international law and the laws of the state that governs them,’ Lustick writes.

    “As he probes what the BDS ‘process’ might look like, however, he raises sensitive questions regarding Palestinian national rights. These include whether Palestinians should boycott municipal elections in Israeli-controlled Jerusalem instead of using them to improve conditions there.

    “Similarly, he suggests ‘not opposing annexation per se but rather shaping it.’ Lustick seems to imply that since BDS is a process and since the two-state solution is dead, it may not make sense to oppose all annexation plans.

    “He also seems to reduce Palestinian civil society demands to one: equal rights. In doing so, Lustick neglects that Palestinian civil society’s call for BDS also demands ending the occupation and allowing Palestinian refugees to exercise their right to return.

    “Perhaps because the author is a specialist in Israeli politics, he focuses unduly on what the Israeli left can accomplish within the country and neglects the role of the global BDS movement, particularly in the US and Europe.

    “That movement can influence directly the governments or blocs that play crucial roles in upholding Israeli apartheid, especially the US, UK and the EU. The challenge then is to pressure legislators to recognize that espousing support for a two-state solution is not an answer to the question of Palestinian rights, it’s an obfuscation.”

    Rod Such is a former editor for World Book and Encarta encyclopedias. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and is active with the Occupation-Free Portland campaign.

  3. RoHa on February 19, 2020, 10:40 pm

    I’m sure there will still be a B&B for Muslim tourists somewhere near there.

  4. genesto on February 20, 2020, 12:39 pm

    This is a finger in Trump’s eye. If it was anyone else but the Israelis, I’m sure he would stick his chest out and say something bullyish, even threatening, about it. But, after all, this all ties in with Adelson’s hundreds of millions in campaign donations, which the yellow-haired lunatic certainly doesn’t want to jeopardize. So, he will choose to look the other way, while his ‘Deal of the Century’ is mocked and ignored by BOTH sides.

    This looks to have the makings of a campaign issue for the Dems, i.e. providing clear evidence of Trump’s subservience to a foreign power. But, despite the progress being made on I/P becoming part of the public discourse, I don’t expect it to come up in the debates. Too bad!

    • Tchoupitoulas on February 20, 2020, 6:20 pm

      @Genesto – I don’t think this is a finger in Trump’s eye. I think it’s something he and Netanyahu probably planned on doing a while ago. It’s just more pressure on the Palestinians, a “ticking clock” to force them to accept Kushner’s Apartheid Plan.

  5. CHUCKMAN on February 20, 2020, 5:39 pm

    Just the most grotesquely public theft.

    Israelis want people to like them.

    But there are few people who admire thieves.

  6. Ossinev on February 21, 2020, 6:47 am

    The taking the piss plan is just a box ticking for the moron Trump. He may struggle to get his Wall of the Century started not to mention completed but hey who cares so long as he can get the feel good factor of whipping up his braindead supporters in his hilarious and grotesque political rallies back in the good old US ofA.

    As for the Zios back in the Darkness unto the Nations it is business as usual with the ethnic cleansing and incremental genocide. The latest problem they will have to contend with is exactly where they put their Untermenschen and how to contain them. It used to be all about retaining the Jordan Valley because of potential “security” threats from across the border ROFL but now Herr Gruppenetc Bennett has raised the thorny question of how the poor eternally victimised etc yawn can be protected from the security threat posed by the proximity of the concentration Bantustans.

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