Greater Middle East
Sahrawis

Podcast: from the West Bank to Western Sahara

In Episode 184 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address to Congress was happily boycotted by members of the “Squad,” and comes as even establishment voices are calling for a cut-off of US aid in light of the deep political crisis in Israel. Unhappily, Rep. Pramila Jayapal was forced to issue an apology for having called Israel a “racist state”‚ÄĒwhich is a mere statement of political reality. In contrast, Ron DeSantis was not forced to issue any such apology for openly embracing Israel’s illegal annexationist designs on the West Bank‚ÄĒeven as they are¬†protested by UN international law experts. All this comes as Israel has joined the US as the only countries on Earth to recognize Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara, a condition of the so-called Abraham Accords. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo:¬†Kirby Gookin/Western Sahara Resource Center)

Palestine
settlement

Defiant Israel to expand West Bank settlements

Israel’s right-wing nationalist government announced new plans¬†to approve the construction of thousands of new buildings in the occupied West Bank, despite pressure from both the USand EU to halt settlement expansion. Far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has just been granted authority over approval of West Bank settlement construction in a cabinet decision, tweeted in explicitly annexationist language: “The construction boom in Judea and Samaria and all over our country continues.” The Palestinian Foreign Ministry called for US and international action to press the Israeli government to backtrack on the decision. (Photo of settlement outside¬†Za’atara:¬†Ralf Roletschek via Wikimedia Commons)

Palestine
Palestine

Israel’s paramilitary plan advances

The Israeli cabinet¬†authorized plans for a paramilitary “National Guard” sought by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to target violence and unrest in Palestinian communities within Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that a committee comprised of Israel’s existing security forces is to determine the Guard’s responsibilities, and whether it will be subordinate to the Israel Police or take orders directly from Ben-Gvir, as he demands. Opposition leader Yair Lapid responded by calling the plan an “extremist fantasy of delusional people,” and slammed a decision to cut budgets from other ministries “to fund Ben-Gvir’s private militia.” (Photo: RJA1988 via Jurist)

Palestine
khan al ahmar

New Israeli admin in West Bank propaganda ploy

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met in Jerusalem with President Isaac Herzog, signaling continued US support for Israel’s new far-right government‚ÄĒdespite the Biden administration’s supposed opposition to its policies such as settlement expansion and¬†annexation of the West Bank. The trip coincided with Israel’s eviction of a wildcat settler outpost in what Israeli authorities call¬†the “Samaria” region of the West Bank.¬†Simultaneously, the Israeli government announced it is preparing to demolish the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem, home to at least 180 people.¬†Khan al-Ahmar lies within a key corridor stretching to the Jordan Valley, where Israel aims to expand and link¬†settlements, effectively cutting the West Bank into two.¬†(Photo: B’Tselem)

Palestine
tel aviv

Israel: protests mount against far-right government

Anti-government protests have mounted in Israel each week since the new far-right administration led by Benjamin Netanyahu took power at year’s end. The most recent saw over 100,000 march in Tel Aviv, while thousands more filled the streets in Jerusalem, Haifa and other cities. The protests have won support from Israel’s traditional political establishment as well as the left opposition. While Israeli flags and slogans such as “Israel, we have a problem” predominate, some demonstrators have raised the Palestinian flag in defiance of an order from new National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to remove all Palestine flags from public places. The demonstrations have included an “anti-apartheid¬†bloc” calling for a secular state and decolonization of Palestinian lands. (Photo via Twitter)

Palestine
Siloam

Political archaeology amid Jerusalem tensions

Israel’s new National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir made a visit to al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, flanked by by a heavy security detail‚ÄĒeliciting outrage from the Palestinian leadership. The Palestinian Authority called the move “an unprecedented provocation,” with Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accusing Ben-Gvir of staging the visit as part of an agenda to turn the site “into a Jewish temple.” The fracas comes as Israeli authorities have launched another supposed archaeological project in East Jerusalem which critics say masks an ongoing program of “Judaization” of the Old City. This concerns the Pool of Siloam, a small reservoir believed to have served Jerusalem in biblical times. In making the announcement, officials visited the site, accompanied by a large detachment of police‚ÄĒsparking a spontaneous protest from local Palestinian residents. Three members of a Palestinian family that claims rights to the land in question were detained. (Photo: –ö—É–Ņ–į–Ľ—Ć–Ĺ—Ź –°–ł–Ľ–ĺ–į–ľ, –ė–Ķ—Ä—É—Ā–į–Ľ–ł–ľ via Wikimedia Commons)

Palestine
settlement

UN seeks World Court opinion on occupation of Palestine

The UN General Assembly passed a resolution referring Israel’s 55-year occupation of Palestinian territories to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a legal advisory. The vote, which followed approval of a draft resolution by the Special Committee on Decolonization, was 87-26, with 53 abstentions. The Palestinian Authority welcomed the vote, saying in a statement: “The time has come for Israel to be a state subject to law, and to be held accountable for its ongoing crimes against our people.”¬†But the response of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who returned to power just two days before the vote, makes clear his government’s annexationist agenda. He stated:¬†“The Jewish people is not occupying its land and is not occupying its eternal capital Jerusalem. No UN resolution can distort this historical truth.”¬†The far-right coalition that now takes power has pledged to expand Israeli settlement of the West Bank. ¬†(Photo: delayed gratification via New Jewish Resistance)

Palestine
Palestine

Chile to open embassy in Palestine

Chile is planning to open an embassy in Palestine, President Gabriel Boric has announced. Speaking at a private ceremony hosted by the local Palestinian community in the capital Santiago, Boric acknowledged that he is “taking a risk” with the move, but added: “We are going to raise our official representation in Palestine from having a charge d’affaires. Now we are going to open an embassy.” The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately commended the decision, saying it¬†“affirms the principled position of Chile and its president in support of international law and the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state.” (Image:¬†Nicolas Raymond via Flickr)

Palestine
Palestine

UN report: occupation of Palestine ‘unlawful’

The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,¬†released its second report, stating there are “reasonable grounds to conclude that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is now unlawful under international law due to its permanence and the Israeli Government’s de-facto annexation policies.” The commission called for the UN Security Council to bring to an end the “illegal situation resulting from the permanent occupation imposed by Israel” and require Israel to bring “its permanent occupation to an end immediately.”¬†(Photo: RJA1988 via Jurist)

Palestine
apartheid

Catalan parliament recognizes Israeli ‘apartheid’

The Parliament of Catalonia passed a resolution recognizing Israel’s actions in the Palestinian Occupied Territory as “against international law and…equivalent to apartheid as defined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.” The resolution was approved with support from all the left parties in the regional body: Esquerra Republicana (ERC), Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP), En Com√ļ Podem (ECP), and the Socialists (PSC). The pro-independence Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) voted against it, while the center-right Ciudadanos and far-right VOX abstained. In a tweet celebrating the resolution, the ECP said that the regional parliament is “the first European institution to recognize that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people, as noted by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.”¬†(Image: HRW)

Palestine
temple mount

Israel high court approves Temple Mount development

The Israeli Supreme Court¬†ruled in favor of the government’s planned cable car over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The ruling was met with approval by proponents such as Jerusalem’s mayor, Moshe Lion, who claimed the project will reduce air pollution and “allow comfortable and efficient access to the Western Wall and the Old City.” However, the project has been met with condemnation by many, including city planners and architects,environmental groups, and Karaite Jews, a minority sect with a cemetery located along the proposed cable car’s path. Palestinian groups have especially criticized the proposed path through East Jerusalem, an area ceded to Arab control in the 1949 armistice but occupied by Israel in 1967. Advocacy group Ir-Amim tweeted: “Folks will hop in in [West Jerusalem] and have no idea they’re cabling over the heads of occupied Palestinians.” (Photo: Adam Teva V’Din)

Palestine
Israeli police

Israel: detention of ‘terror suspects’ without charge

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett instructed security services to hold “terror suspects” in “administrative detention,” even without charge. The order extends to Palestinians in Israel¬†a policy long applied to Palestinians on the West Bank. Bennett cited “a new situation that requires suitable preparations and adjustment by the security services to the circumstances within which extremist elements of Arab society, directed by extremist Islamic ideology, are carrying out terror attacks and taking lives.” The order follows deadly attacks by Israeli citizens who were said to be supporters of the so-called “Islamic State.”¬†(Photo: Wikimedia)