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Human Rights

Discussion: Has Israel effectively annexed the West Bank?

Two leading Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations discuss issues such as the harsh reality facing Palestinians in their everyday lives, the recent Israeli elections, forthcoming Palestinian elections, and what Ireland can do to help end human right violations.

Palestinians farmer Salim Sabah (67) is a landowner from the West Bank. The illegal Israeli settlement of Ma'aleh Rehavam, south of Bethlehem, has been established on his family’s land. Photo: Garry Walsh/Trócaire. Palestinians farmer Salim Sabah (67) is a landowner from the West Bank. The illegal Israeli settlement of Ma'aleh Rehavam, south of Bethlehem, has been established on his family’s land. Photo: Garry Walsh/Trócaire.

In June of last year, 47 UN human rights experts called for urgent action from the international community to prevent the proposed Israeli annexation of large parts of the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

They warned that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s flagship plan to formally annex approximately 30% of the territory would leave behind a “Palestinian Bantustan, islands of disconnected land” cutting people off from each other and the outside world.

More gravely, it would represent “the crystallisation of an already unjust reality: two peoples living in the same space, ruled by the same state, but with profoundly unequal rights. A vision of a 21st-century apartheid.”

In July, amid increasing international pressure, these annexation plans were put on hold. But many have argued that widespread relief at this postponement does not reflect the reality on the ground – that in practice, after over 50 years of occupation, the land has already been effectively and slowly annexed.

Decades of demolition, dispossession and the construction of ever more settlements have brought a system of entrenched discrimination between Israelis and Palestinians, with serious implications for equality and human rights.

To discuss this ongoing annexation of Palestinian land, Trócaire and Christian Aid brought together two of its civil society partners and leading human rights organisations in Palestine and Israel, Al-Haq and B’Tselem, for an online discussion moderated by Irish journalist and Euronews correspondent Shona Murray.

The discussion was wide-ranging, covering issues such as the harsh and brutal reality facing Palestinians in their everyday lives as a result of what both organisations call an apartheid regime, the recent Israeli elections and forthcoming Palestinian elections, and what Ireland can and should do to ensure accountability for ongoing human right violations.

You can watch back the discussion online here:

 

In her reflections Caoimhe de Barra, Trocaire CEO, noted that: it is important to recognise that there is no price to pay for continued human rights violations by Israel, and Ireland with its role on the UN Security Council should use its position to ensure accountability for continued violations of international law in Palestine.

Hagai El-Ad of B’Tselem highlighted that the ongoing forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes and land is due to the policies of the State of Israel, not just some ‘bad Israeli settlers’. It is important that people are aware of how these policies are designed to take more land from Palestinians, to demolish their homes, and to demolish structures that have been funded and provided by the Irish Government and Irish taxpayers.

Shawan Jabarin of Al Haq drew attention to Israel’s exploitation of natural resources and Palestinian land that has been ongoing for years and much of this has been the result of illegal settlement construction. This is why we believe Ireland should pass the Occupied Territories Bill and ensure that we do not continue to sustain economically the illegal settlements.

Learn more about Trócaire’s campaign for justice for Palestine

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