Occupied: Headlines From Palestine

Blogging From Gaza, Palestine

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Israeli Occupation Orders Demolition Of Palestinian Electricity Network Near Hebron

HEBRON, May 25, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli army Monday ordered the removal of part of the electricity network in the village of al-Kum, west of Hebron, according to local sources.

A local resident told WAFA that an Israeli army force stormed the village and handed a notification to local residents, informing them about the army’s intent to remove 800 meters long of the power network, which would leave several families near the separation wall, built illegally on Palestinian-owned land, without power.

The order came under the pretext of being built in area C, under full Israeli control.

Israel retains full control over Area C, where the Palestinian villagers are prohibited from building and land management unless they obtain permits from the so-called Israeli Civil Administration.

Having no other choice, many Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank, under complete Israeli control, are forced to build without permits to be able to provide a shelter for their families, risking having their buildings demolished in the process.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), between December 30, 2014 and January 12, 2015, the Israeli authorities demolished 27 Palestinian structures in Area C of the West Bank and five in East Jerusalem, in addition to two self demolition incidents, due to lack of Israeli-issued building permits.

OCHA said that, “Among the key drivers of humanitarian vulnerability in Area C are policies and practices applied by the Israeli authorities in the context of the ongoing occupation of the West Bank.”

It said that, “These include settlement activity; a discriminatory planning and zoning regime; and restrictions on Palestinian movement and access, including Barrier construction.”

“These measures combine to impede Palestinian access to livelihoods, shelter and basic services and assistance, including health, education and water and sanitation services. In many cases, they contribute to the forced displacement of Palestinians,” added OCHA.

It said that, “While the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) has heavily restricted Palestinian construction in Area C, it has established parallel practices for Israeli settlements. Though it has failed to sufficiently plan for Palestinian villages in Area C, it has approved detailed plans for almost all Israeli settlements located in the West Bank.”

“The situation for Palestinian communities in Area C stands in stark contrast to that of Israeli settlements, which have been built in violation of international law. These settlements enjoy preferential treatment, particularly in terms of West Bank land and water use and benefit from a range of government incentives.”

As a result, Israeli settlers generally have better access to resources and enjoy superior service infrastructure than do adjacent Palestinian communities. Combined, these factors have facilitated the significant growth of the settler population. This growth, along with patterns of displacement occurring in Area C, raise concerns over demographic shifts and changes to the ethnic make-up of the West Bank as a result of Israeli policy in Area C, said OCHA.

According to residents interviewed by OCHA, “one of the main factors forcing people to leave their communities is the inability to obtain permission for legal construction, both residential construction and that related to service provision, particularly to build schools and service infrastructure.”

“The division of the West Bank into Areas A, B and C was agreed as a temporary measure, pending a final status agreement that was to be reached within five years. The absence of any meaningful changes to the interim arrangements since September 2000 has meant the continued application of a range of Israeli policies to the area, with negative humanitarian consequences for Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank.”

under international human rights law, Israel must ensure that persons under its jurisdiction AUGUST 2011 21 UN OCHA oPt enjoy fulfillment of their human rights, including the right to be free from discrimination, to effective legal remedies, as well as to an adequate standard of living, housing, health, education, and water.


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Palestinian Government Pledges Support For Bedouin Community Facing Ethnic Cleansing By Israel

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Sunday pledged $50,000 to the Bedouin community of Abu Nuwwar east of Jerusalem that is currently facing forced displacement by Israeli forces.

Hamdallah made the pledge during a high-profile visit to the Palestinian community in the company of four government ministers, the EU envoy to the Palestinian Territories John Gatt-Rutter, and UN Humanitarian Coordinator James W. Rawley.”We came to visit you today… to show solidarity and to support our people in the Bedouin dwellings who have shown legendary steadfastness facing (Israel’s) displacement and transfer plans,” Hamdallah said during the visit.

Two weeks ago, dozens of Palestinian families living in Abu Nuwwar were told they would be forced from their land in less than a month to clear way for the expansion of the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim.Abu Nuwwar is one of several Bedouin villages facing evacuation due to plans by Israeli authorities to build thousands of homes for Jewish-only settlements in the so-called E1 corridor.

Settlement construction in E1 would effectively divide the West Bank and make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state — as envisaged by the internationally backed two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — almost impossible.Hamdallah said Sunday that the Palestinian government and President Mahmoud Abbas were making efforts at an international level to prevent the displacement of Palestinian Bedouin families, which he said was “a blatant violation of the principles of human rights.” He added that Israel’s “targeting” of Palestinians in Area C extended to “46 Bedouin communities, 70 percent of whom are refugees.”Also in attendance were Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Adnan al-Husseini, Minister of Endowment Yousif Ideis, Minister of Health Jawad Awwad, and Minister of Local Government Nayif Abu Khalaf. International consuls and heads of diplomatic missions also reportedly took part in the visit.Israeli authorities have tried urging the Palestinian families to move to another location, but the Palestinians have said that they will turn down any Israeli offer and will remain in their land in Abu Nuwwar.Israeli action in E1 has attracted widespread international condemnation, and President Mahmoud Abbas has said that “E1 is a red line that cannot be crossed.”The imminent forced displacement of Abu Nuwwar residents comes as newly elected Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said earlier this week that a High Court ruling to destroy the Bedouin village of Umm Hiran and replace it with Jewish housing was “not discriminatory,” reported Israeli news source Haaretz.Justice Minister Shaked is one of many rightwingers in Netanyahu’s recently formed coalition who promote settlement expansion in occupied East Jerusalem and across the West Bank, and openly oppose the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.Shaked is member to the Habayit Hayehudi party which conditioned joining Netanyahu’s coalition on reinstating the Prawer plan to permanently resettle the Bedouin, which would potentially forcibly displace up to 70,000 Bedouins living in the Negev.

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UN Officials: Israeli Occupation Must Halt Plans To Ethnically Cleanse Palestinian Bedouins

JERUSALEM, May 20, 2015 (WAFA) – The Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, James Rawley, and the Director of UNRWA Operations West Bank, Felipe Sanchez expressed grave concern on Wednesday over recent Israeli plans to transfer Palestinian Bedouins in the central West Bank from their current communities.

The UN Secretary-General has recently expressed concern in a report of March 2015 that ‘plans to transfer thousands of Bedouin and herders… may also be connected with settlement expansion.”

“The Bedouins and herders are at risk of forcible transfer, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as multiple human rights violations.”

On 28 April, residents of Abu Nwar were informed that some families would have to move to the al-Jabal area outside of East Jerusalem, where the Israeli authorities have been preparing the ground for the past months.

‘Israeli practices in Area C, including a marked increase of demolitions and confiscations of donor-funded structures in the first quarter of 2015, have compounded an already untenable situation for Bedouin communities,’ said Rawley.

Abu Nwar is one of 46 Palestinian Bedouin communities (7,000 people, 70 percent of whom are Palestine refugees) in Area C slated for transfer to three proposed ‘relocation’ sites.

‘For Abu Nwar, or any other communities in the immediate E-1 vicinity, this would represent a continuation of developments that commenced in 1997 when Palestine refugees were loaded on trucks and taken to the same urban site in Eizariya, after which an illegal settlement was constructed on their former land,’ said Sanchez.

‘History has shown us that these transfers have not proven to be in the interests of the Bedouin communities,’ he added.

The UNOCHA considered the plan to be part of a “discriminatory zoning and planning regime that facilitates the development of illegal Israeli settlements at the expense of Palestinians, for whom it is almost impossible to obtain permits for construction.”

“Instead, they live in constant fear of eviction and home demolitions. The forced urbanization of Bedouin communities in the three relocation sites would destroy their culture and livelihoods,” said UNOCHA in its statement.

‘There is also concern over the strategic implications of these plans, given that many of the communities are located in areas slated for further Israeli settlement, including the E1 plan, which has long been viewed as an obstacle to the realization of a two-state solution’, said Rawley.

‘We are fast approaching the point of irreparable damage,’ advised Sanchez. ‘As occupying power, Israel is obligated to ensure the wellbeing of these communities and to respect international law.”

He strongly urged the Israeli authorities to halt all plans and practices that will directly or indirectly lead to the forcible transfer of the Bedouin and call on the international community to support the Bedouins’ wish to remain where they are, pending their return to the Negev, and prevent this transfer from occurring.’


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Catholic Peace Movement Deplores Israel’s Refusal To Grant Secretary General Entry To Palestine

BETHLEHEM, May 16, 2015 (WAFA) – Pax Christi International, a global Catholic Peace movement, deeply deplored Israel’s refusal to grant its Secretary General entry to Palestine to attend the World Assembly and 70th Anniversary Celebrations that took place in Bethlehem on May 13.


“Refused entry into Palestine/Israel by the Israeli authorities, José’s absence is a great sadness to us. We fully support our Secretary General. Knowing him to be a man of integrity, we can think of no reason why he should be refused entry,” stated a press release issued by the global movement.


Speaking from Amman, José expressed his strong disagreement with the decision of the Israeli border officials and added: ‘I am living this experience in deep solidarity with the Palestinian people. This is only a small part of what they have to experience when they are denied access to East Jerusalem for medical care, family reunions and even for religious celebrations.”


“One-hundred and fifty Pax Christi members, from all over the world have gathered in the birthplace of Jesus, a special place of peace and good will to all, a place of deep religious significance for us and for peace in the world. Here, we will renew our commitment to Justice and Forgiveness, Peace and Justice for all,’ concluded the Pax Christi International Board in Bethlehem.


Pax Christi International is a global Catholic peace movement and network that works to help establish Peace, Respect for Human Rights, Justice and Reconciliation in areas of the world that are torn by conflict.



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Discriminatory Housing Policy Is Only Home Palestinian Israeli Citizens Know

In ruling against Bedouin, Israel’s top court ignored years-long institutionalized policy that created serious shortage of housing in Palestinian society.

After 13 years of legal battles, the Supreme Court last week ruled to finally approve the evacuation of the village of Umm al-Hiran, with its thousand residents. The court approved the evacuation based on the ruling that the state — which is the owner of the land and which granted the right to reside on the land — can also revoke the right it granted and remove the residents.

The court’s decision ignored the fact that it was the state that moved the residents to the area 60 years ago, after removing them from their own land during the the 1948 Nakba. During those 60 years, people were born in the village, grew up, married, built houses, gave birth to children and even had grandchildren.

Moreover, the court did not relate to the fact that the state is not planning to use the land for a different purpose. Houses will be built on it and people will live in them, exactly as they do today — but they will be Jewish residents, not the Bedouin of Umm al-Hiran.

It was not just these clear facts that the judges ignored. While they were entangling themselves in the legal exactitudes that allowed the state to change its mind and evacuate the residents legally, they ignored other legal principles, which should have caused the state to reexamine its decision.

Thus, for example, the planning authorities based themselves from the start on the assumption that the original residents had tresspassed on the land. In addition, according to the admission of the state representative in court, the possibility of integrating the residents of the village within the new community was not even considered, as fairness would require.

Joint Arab List Knesset members recently requested that a team of experts be established to provide an overall solution to the housing shortage in the Arab community — and that demolition orders be frozen until a long-term solution can be found. Attorney General Yehudah Weinstein did not accept the proposal. He insisted on enforcement — in the name of the rule of law, of course — with every objection being examined individually.

That is yet another example of how the authorities hide behind the dry letter of the law, without seeing the overall picture. Weinstein’s decision was supposedly based on the principle of “sectoral blindness,” but it ignored the discrimination against Arab society with regard to land and housing that is practised by all state authorities. It is this institutionalized discrimination that leads to construction without permits in Arab communities.

It is convenient to forget that the lack of housing in Arab communities stems to a great extent from their limited municipal boundaries, which do not include state land and have never been expanded. Twenty percent of the population lives on 2.5 percent of the land.

It also stems from the lack of up-to-date master plans in most Arab comunities and from the consistent discrimination in the allocation of resources — only 5 percent of the tenders published by the Israel Lands Authority for new housing in 2014 were for Arab towns.

And it stems from the systematic exclusion of Arabs from government benefits and support. One example is the “target price” plan for affordable housing, which will be implemented in 30 Jewish communities and not a single Arab one.

In such a situation, construction without permit is a necessity in Arab towns. The rule of law, even in its formalistic meaning, assumes that the citizen has been given a reasonable opportunity to act according to the instructions of the law, but chose not to do so. But governmental authorities prevent Arab citizens from building with permits or, at the very least, contribute significantly to making it impossible.

Turning a blind eye to the contribution of official policies in creating sectoral anomolies regarding planning and building laws and the insistence on literal enforcement, have turned the term “rule of law” into no more than a formalistic, bureaucratic cover.

In practice, it contradicts the essence of the rule of law, since it is the obligation of an administrative authority to strive for equality, not just in its meaning as relating to all as equals, but also in terms of relating to different people differently.

Legal formalism serves as an effective tool for the state to avoid its responsibility for the creation of the Arab housing shortage. In its decision on Umm al-Hiran, the court refused to see the human, social, historical and political aspects and ignored the state’s responsibility for the situation it created. Instead, it took advantage of the legal opportunity to remove the residents.

The Attorney General too, in his refusal to find an overall solution to the problem of construction without permit, defends the rule of law in only its formal aspect, while ignoring the years-long institutionalized policy that created the serious shortage of housing in Arab society.

The writer is an attorney in the land and planning rights department of Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.


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Freedom Of Expression Israeli Style:Court Sentences Fatah Leader To 9 Months For Facebook Post


Omar Shalabi, leader of the Fatah political party in East Jerusalem, was sentenced to nine months in prison Tuesday after being convicted of incitement and support of a terrorist organisation through his Facebook postings. This is the first time that a person has been sentenced to jail for social media posts under Israeli law.

Shalabi, age 44 and the father of six children, was arrested in December and charged over ten postings on his Facebook page, which at the time had some 5,000 friends.

Judge Eitan Kornhauser ruled that Shalabi published “harsh and serious incitement, including praise for despicable murders, and words of encouragement for committing similar acts all within a period of several months.” He further determined that the nature of the writings and the inclusion of photos immediately following attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians “testify to the seriousness of the incitement”.

Kornhauser emphasised the “sensitive security situation” in which the postings were made, and accepted Israel’s contentions concerning the extensive dissemination possibilities via social media “There exists the necessity of determining clear and sharp borders of punishment which will provide a warning light for those using a keyboard,” Kornhauser noted.

Shalabi’s lawyer, Tareq Bargouthi, contended that he should not be given prison time as this is a new topic “for which exists the obligation to warn Facebook users before it is determined that they are not within the framework of freedom of expression”.

Speaking to the Israeli news portal Ynet, Barghouti notes that this is a case of selective enforcement by Israeli law officials. “There are numerous Jewish people who upload posts that include real incitement and calls for violence and terror and they are not put on trial and are not even called for interrogation”, he stated. “The punishment is exaggerated as this is the first time a person is put in jail for Facebook postings, such that a policy of gradual punishment should have been adopted.”

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Israeli Supreme Court Confirms: Israel Has Been A Colonialist Entity Since 1948

Israeli colonialism, plain and simple

In two court decisions involving shoving Palestinians off their land, Supreme Court justices have confirmed what Israel’s critics are saying: that Israel has been a colonialist entity since 1948.

There is a straight line connecting the Palestinian village of Sussia in the southern West Bank and Atir/Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin community in the Negev. This was highlighted last week by the justices of the Supreme Court. These are two communities of Palestinians that the Jewish state expelled from their homes and land decades ago, and whose families have lived ever since in “unrecognized” villages in shameful humanitarian conditions, forced on them by the Israeli government. One community settled on its agricultural land and the other in an area that the government moved them to during the early years of the state, when the Arabs citizens were under military rule.

These are two Palestinian communities that Israel is depriving of their planning rights. Instead, it demands of them to crowd in the pales of settlement it has allotted to them, so Jews can fulfill and rejoice and thrive in their new and expanding suburban fantasies.

The justices have allowed the state to demolish these two Palestinian communities, which are just 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) apart, but are separated by Israel’s 1967 border, the Green Line. On May 4, Justice Noam Sohlberg allowed the state, the Israel Defense Forces and the IDF Civil Administration to demolish Sussia’s tents, tin shacks and livestock pens as they see fit. The community petitioned against the Civil Administration’s decision to reject the master plan it had prepared, and what would be more natural than to stop home demolitions while the hearing of its case was still going on? But without a hearing, Sohlberg rejected the request filed by the community’s representatives – lawyers of Rabbis for Human Rights – for an interim injunction suspending implementation of demolition orders.

The Civil Administration is demanding that the residents of Palestinian Sussia relocate close to the West Bank Palestinian town of Yata, purportedly for their own good. Yata is in Area A, an enclave under the control of the Palestinian Authority. In other words, the CA intends to squeeze Sussia in one of the West Bank’s Bantustans, as it does and intends to do with Bedouin and other Palestinians who live in Area C, under total Israeli control.

In good faith?

Next to the tin shacks of today’s Palestinian Sussia (after the army expelled the residents of their ancient village in 1986 and turned it into an archaeological site where Jews could celebrate), Jewish Susya now wallows in its greenery and abundance. After all, it has to grow and doesn’t want to see Arabs living in shacks and buying water at exorbitant prices from tanker trucks.

Can a judge who permits demolition work to be carried out as an interim step then in good faith consider a petition challenging the residents’ final expulsion? And is it relevant that Sohlberg is a resident of a West Bank Jewish settlement?

It is no more and no less relevant than the fact that the other justices of the Supreme Court and their families, and every other Jewish Israeli (including myself), are entitled at any time to move to a West Bank Jewish settlement, and that they – we – live on the Israeli side of the Green Line in manicured neighborhoods for Jews only and in some instances on land from which Palestinians were expelled 65 years ago or yesterday.

On May 5, two other Supreme Court justices, Elyakim Rubinstein and Neal Hendel, allowed the authorities to demolish the unrecognized village of Atir/Umm al-Hiran. In the face of opposition from their fellow justice, Daphne Barak-Erez, they dismissed a petition filed by the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel that challenged the state’s decision to expel the residents for a second time, from the location to which they were expelled in the 1950s. Go to Hura, the state tells them, and the justices agree – to that Bedouin township that, like similar townships, was designated to condense Bedouins after their primary expulsion from their land. After all, how can we set up expansive farms for Jews and build pioneering communities such as Hiran if we recognize the Bedouin as citizens with rights, history and heritage?

The honorable justices were ingratiating Habayit Hayehudi even before this party was selected as the fox that guards the hen-house – through its appointment of Uri Ariel as the agriculture minister (who is in also in charge of Bedouin affairs) and Eli Ben-Dahan as a deputy defense minister responsible for the Civil Administration (which carries out the expulsion of Palestinians and the settlement of Jews in the West Bank). Don’t worry, you folks at the Jewish Home, we support the right of Jews to disposes Palestinians in Area C and the Negev, so say the judges. We, like you, are in favor of crowding the Arabs into Bantustans.

Even before the Supreme Court justices knew that Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) would be the next justice minister, even before they knew that her mentor, party leader Naftali Bennett, would be entrusted with the education of our children as education minister, they were telling us in a loud voice that the justices’ reputation was not what people feared, that the right wing has unjustly portrayed them as a monster seeking equality and justice. The justices had proven that their image as defenders of human rights, even if those humans were Palestinians or left-wing, had been totally twisted.

Just weeks before, on April 15, they had enthusiastically embraced the Boycott Law. That’s the law through which the right wing is threatening with financial penalties left-wing Israeli dissidents who publicly support sanctions on Israel and a boycott of its institutions and settlement products, as part of the struggle against institutionalized inequality and discrimination.

That very day, the justices endorsed the law that permits Israel to rob land owned by residents of Bethlehem, Beit Sahur, Beit Jala and Abu Dis. The land is where it has always been since before it was annexed to Israeli-ruled Jerusalem. Its owners remain living where they always did – a few kilometers away from their private land. But now the state declares them “absentees”: beyond the separation barrier.

The justices dismissed the petition challenging the application of the Absentee Property Law in their case, thus continuing the tradition from the 1950s. That is when we coined the oxymoron “present absentees” in order to facilitate the demolition of villages and robbery of land of Palestinians that remained, those that we failed to expel.

In the justices’ consent to the demolition of Sussia and Umm al-Hiran, they have drawn a direct line linking 1948 to today. They have confirmed what Israel’s most virulent critics say about the country – that it is a colonialist, dispossessing entity. The justices have parroted what the state has been screaming all along: It’s my right to dispossess, my right to expel, my right to demolish and crowd people into pens. I have demolished and will continue to do so. I have expelled and will continue to expel. I have crowded people in and will continue to do so. I never gave a damn and never will do.


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13th Anniversary Of Israeli Occupation 40 Day Siege On Bethlehem’s Church Of The Nativity

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Palestinians who were were deported from Bethlehem to the Gaza Strip in 2002 after taking refuge in the city’s Nativity Church on Sunday marked their 13th year in exile with a rally in front of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s offices in Gaza City.

Manger Square, May 2, 2002 , Israeli Siege

Manger Square, May 2, 2002 , Israeli Siege

Taking part in the rally were the 26 deportees who have lived in the Gaza Strip since May 10, 2002, when Israeli forces ended a nearly 40-day siege on the Nativity Church in Bethlehem.Around 220 locals, including several dozen resistance fighters as well as around 40 priests and nuns, sought sanctuary inside the church on April 2, 2002 when Israeli tanks surrounded Bethlehem.The church leaders accepted their request for sanctuary based on an age-old custom, but the Israeli military outraged the world by responding with attacks on the ancient holy place that left eight dead and 27 injured.

2002 , The Guardian

2002 , The Guardian

The siege came to an end when the Israelis struck a deal with Palestinian leaders that ultimately saw 39 Palestinians exiled to Gaza and Europe.On Sunday a spokesman for the Nativity Church deportees in Gaza Fahmi Kanan called on President Mahmoud Abbas to pursue Israel at the International Criminal Court and exert pressure on all levels to ensure that the deportees return to their homes in Bethlehem.

Kanan also urged Palestinian resistance factions “starting with Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades” to include their case in any future prisoner exchange deals with Israel.Kanan urged Palestinian factions to close ranks and maintain national unity. In March, the deportees issued a statement to mark five years since one of their members, Abdullah Daoud, died in exile in Algeria.

The statement said: “As the anniversary of his death comes, Nativity Church deportees in the Gaza Strip and European countries still suffer from being banished, eliminated, forgotten and ignored by everyone, without any exceptions, as they cannot see their families, travel and are deprived of their rights of having a decent living.”Last month, Palestinian theater group Freedom Theater opened a play in Jenin entitled “The Siege” that recreated the 39-day siege.The play’s co-director Zoe Lafferty said: “Why do people pick up arms in Palestine? It’s not because they’re crazy religious fanatics as is always said; it’s because there is a deep wish to defend their families.”

Radu Sigheti Reuters

Radu Sigheti Reuters


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Palestine To Press For FIFA Ban On Israel

JERUSALEM (AFP) — The Palestinian Football Association vowed Sunday to push ahead with efforts to have Israel suspended from FIFA following joint talks with the world football body’s president Sepp Blatter in Zurich.

But both sides agreed to continue talking with Blatter, who announced plans to visit the region for top-level talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas on the issue ahead of the upcoming FIFA Congress, in Zurich on May 29.

News of the visit was announced by Blatter on Sunday as he met with Israel Football Association chief Ofer Eini and his Palestinian counterpart Jibril Rajoub.FIFA said the main purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Palestinian FA’s request to suspend their Israeli counterparts at the upcoming FIFA congress which starts on May 28.But the Palestinians said there had been no progress at the meeting, adding they would not be deterred from efforts to have Israel suspended.

“It is clear that the Israeli Football Association is not willing to recognize the PFA as a federation with equal rights and obligations, just as they continue to violate their commitments made before FIFA,” Rajoub said in a statement.”We are therefore determined to continue our path to suspend the Israeli Football Association during the next FIFA Congress.”

Palestine, which has been a member of FIFA since 1998, is currently pressuring world football’s governing body to bar Israel from international competition over its restrictions on the movement of Palestinian players.It is also protesting the participation in the Israeli national championships of five clubs located in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. The clubs play in the third and fourth divisions.The Palestinians want the matter put to a vote at the annual FIFA Congress where it will only pass if it gets the support three-quarters of the 209 member federations. In a statement, the IFA said the parties discussed “various possibilities for cancelling the Palestinian request to hold a vote on Israel’s suspension at the upcoming congress,” with Eini saying he was “a little more optimistic” after the talks.

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Israeli Supreme Court Allows State To Cleanse Non-Jewish Village And Replace It With Jewish One

Court rules that Umm al-Hiran in the northern Negev is built on state land, paving way for construction of Jewish community of Hiran.

Israel’s Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a petition by residents of the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran against their removal and the demolition of the community – in order to construct a new town for Jewish residents in its place. The court ruled the land belongs to the state and the Bedouins have no legal rights to it.

“The state is the owner of the lands in dispute, which were registered in its name in the framework of the arrangement process; the residents have acquired no rights to the land but have settled them [without any authorization], which the state cancelled legally. In such a situation, there is no justification for intervention in the rulings of the previous courts,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein in the majority opinion.

Rubinstein ruled that the appeal should be rejected for two reasons: First, because the petition was an indirect attack against the decisions of the government’s establishment of the new community of Hiran, to be built on the state-owned land – a challenge that should have been raised in other forums. Second, the judges ruled the government’s actions did not in any way violate the petitioners’ legal rights – and even if such rights were harmed, it was a “proportionate harm.”

The Supreme Court decision concerns only the evacuation orders. The Kiryat Gat Magistrate’s Court is scheduled to hold a hearing at the end of this month about the demolition orders for the houses in Umm al-Hiran.

Residents fought cabinet decision

In November 2013, a number of families from the Abu Alkiyan clan, who live in the unrecognized community of Umm al-Hiran, filed a petition with the aid of Adalah – Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, to prevent the demolition of their homes and the evacuation of the residents – after the cabinet approved the creation of Hiran and the demolition of their unrecognized village.

The petitioners claimed they did not squat on the land, but were transferred to the area in the Yattir Forest in 1956 by direct order of the military administration of the time. But now, their lands lie within the master plan of the Be’er Sheva metropolitan area. The government has never denied that the residents were moved to Umm al-Hiran by state authorities. Umm al-Hiran is now home to about 700 people, say residents, but like other Bedouin villages that lack official recognition as local municipal communities, it lacks infrastructure and electricity.

The Abu Alkiyan clan now resides in two villages, Atir and Umm al-Hiran, located near Wadi Atir, close to Route 316 and east of the village of Houra. Until 1948, the clan lived on the land now used by Kibbutz Shoval. After the War of Independence, they traveled across the Negev looking for new land, but did not find any, because most of it was already claimed by other tribes. In 1956, it approached the military administration and was transferred to the Wadi Atir area. A classified military administration document dating from 1957 says the clan received 7,000 dunams of land near the wadi. It then split into two hamlets that shared the land. Unlike in many Bedouin communities, the houses in Atir and Umm al-Hiran are built of stone.

Decade of house demolitions

Over the past decade houses in the village were demolished a number of times, and residents were offered a compromise of moving to the nearby town of Hura, where they would be compensated with an 800-square meter plot of land. But the families who petitioned the court refused the offer, saying they will not be removed from their land a third time.

Rubinstein wrote about this claim: “This is not expulsion and not expropriation, but the proposed evacuation involves various proposals of moving, construction, compensation and the possibility of homes, whether in the town of Hura where most of the residents of the illegal villages involved will be moved, or in the community of Hiran, which is to be built.”

In conclusion, Rubinstein said the issue of the Bedouin lands is one of the most difficult and challenging the court has dealt with, and is filled with sensitive emotions and political disputes.

Justice Daphne Barak-Erez, who disagreed with parts of Rubinstein’s opinion, criticized the government’s actions: “The petitioners cannot receive the full support they asked for, but it is also not possible to reconcile oneself with the flaws in the authorities’ actions concerning the decision on the evacuation and compensation involved.” She said the authorities should reconsider the compensation offered, since the residents had lived there for 20 years and were not trespassing. In addition the state should consider offering them a plot to live in the new town to be built on the land, in addition to the previous proposals, she suggested.

In 2012, the National Planning and Building Council approved the master plan for Hiran, the latest in a series of decisions on the matter by the state. Despite being approved, work on the town was delayed following the appeal by the Bedouin residents. Hiran is slated for 2,400 housing units, and the Bedouin can also choose to live there if they want, attorney Moshe Golan, representing the government, told the court in one of the hearings. But he noted the Bedouin residents would not receive the same 800-square meter plot in Hiran they would receive elsewhere, since the plots in Hiran were much smaller. The core group of families slated to move to Hiran are national religious Jews, who are to be joined by secular residents moving to the site from the nearby community of Meitar, along with others.

Salim Abu Alkian of Umm al-Hiran, who led the residents in the court petition, told Haaretz he was disappointed by the decision. “The decision was very disappointing, but we knew beforehand that is what would happen.” He accused the entire Israeli establishment, government and courts of racism.

Residents plan to stay put

Abu Alkian said the residents will go on refusing to be moved to nearby Hura: “I will continue to fight since I am not a criminal, and this is my home.” He said they were considering turning to an international court to protest.

Adalah said that even though the Supreme Court noted in its decision that the residents are living in the area with permission of the state and at its instruction, the “court makes do with the technical authority of the state to act as it pleases with the land on which Umm al-Hiran and Atir sit. In doing so, the court gave legitimacy to the erasing of an entire village off the face of the earth and the expulsion of its residents, while ignoring the entire human, political, social and historical perspective.”

Adalah said that together with the residents, human rights organizations and Arab community representatives, it would in the coming days examine legal and public tactics to protect the village from demolition