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Netanyahu's coalition whip wants to revoke B'Tselem director's citizenship

Senior Likud official, angry that Hagai El-Ad demanded the UN act to end the occupation, admits there’s no legal avenue to strip his citizenship — at the moment. The Israeli human rights organization says threats won’t deter it.

How does the only democracy in the Middle East deal with outspoken human rights activists? By threatening to revoke their citizenship, of course.

“I examined whether, legally speaking, if I can ask the interior minister to revoke the citizenship of B’Tselem’s executive director,” declared the Israeli parliament’s coalition chair, David Bitan, who serves as the whip for Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party.

“I checked, and there’s no legal avenue for doing so today,” Bitan told Israeli television’s Channel 2 on Friday (Hebrew). “But we must strip his citizenship.”

B’Tselem Executive-Director Hagai El-Ad was invited to address a United Nations Security Council special session on Israel’s illegal settlements last week, along with a representative of Americans for Peace Now.

In his speech, published here in full, El-Ad said that international complacency has been a major factor in enabling Israel to maintain its military occupation over millions of Palestinians for nearly 50 years.

“The rights of Palestinians must be realized,” El-Ad’s declared in his Security Council speech, imploring the international body: “The occupation must end; the UN Security Council must act; and the time is now.”

In his call to revoke El-Ad’s citizenship, Coalition Chairman Bitan decried, “an Israeli citizen […] going to the Security Council and demanding sanctions on Israel and Israel’s citizens.”

B’Tselem and its director have been the targets of vicious incitement campaigns in recent years, the most notorious of which labeled El-Ad and others as foreign agents somehow tied to Palestinian stabbing attacks. Another declared that Israeli human rights organizations are serving anti-Semitic European paymasters to the detriment of their own country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself joined the attacks against B’Tselem following El-Ad’s UN speech, saying the organization and its director are part of “a chorus of slander” against Israel.

The prime minister’s attack on Israel’s most prominent human rights organization earned him a rebuke from the United States government, which came out in defense of B’Tselem and other human rights groups.


B’Tselem published the following in response to Bitan’s statement on Friday:

“Bitan is just trying to accrue a little more political capital at the expense of B’Tselem, an organization which for years...

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Trump is reaching into Netanyahu’s election playbook

From race baiting to fear mongering to warning of liberal media conspiracies against him, the Republican presidential candidate is doing exactly what Netanyahu did to get re-elected. But the Israeli prime minister had something Trump doesn’t.

There is a lot about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign that is worryingly reminiscent of Benjamin Netanyahu’s electoral antics, particularly his willingness to say just about anything, regardless of the consequences as long as he thinks it might be politically expedient. Beyond style and personality, however, the tactical similarities in their respective campaigns’ final stretches are even more disturbing.

In particular, Trump’s recent, wildly unspecified warnings of voter fraud in inner-cities closely mimic Netanyahu’s election-day warning that Arab voters were being bussed to the polls in droves. Both warnings were designed to increase turnout among white — or in Israel’s case, Jewish — conservative voters by stoking fears that minorities are attempting to influence the democratic process by voting.

Such warnings play off the fears and resentments of both men’s core voters — the idea that their kind, the traditional face of their respective nations, might lose demographic majorities, and subsequently, political power. In Israel that fear, which most Jews do not consider racist to discuss, is known as “the demographic threat” — that Israel will no longer be able to justify its Jewishness democratically if non-Jews become a majority in its democracy (or even among those it rules undemocratically). In the United States these days, such fears are generally only expressed outside the home by white supremacists, but Trump seems to believe that with this type of rhetoric, he can evoke latent and even sub-conscious racism in mainstream white voters.

Another tactic Donald Trump has been trying out is warning, as a statement of fact, that ISIS will take over the United States if his opponent is elected. Benjamin Netanyahu made almost identical claims in the days and weeks before the Israeli elections last year, publishing television advertisements that quite literally showed ISIS fighters driving toward Jerusalem, and declaring: “The Left will surrender to terrorism. It’s us or them.” The message was that a victory for his opponents meant an invasion by ISIS.

A third (although not the last) tactic that Trump is borrowing from Netanyahu’s playbook is his numerous declarations that there is a widespread liberal media conspiracy to elect his opponent. Just three days before the elections...

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What Clinton gets so wrong about Israel-Palestine

The façade of a peace process is an obstacle to achieving a just peace, for which there can be no alternative.

Hillary Clinton believes that the façade of an Israeli-Palestinian peace process is preferable to no peace process at all, we learned this week from the presidential candidate’s private emails, hacked by Russia and published by WikiLeaks.

It’s hard to imagine a more troubling statement about Israel/Palestine from a politician who will in all likelihood be the next president of the United States, even if it represents only part of her thinking on the region.

Let’s examine the logic behind what the former secretary of state meant when she wrote of managing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that, “[a] Potemkin process is better than nothing.”

The absence of a peace process is what we already have today. It is a reality in which hundreds, sometimes thousands of (mostly Palestinian, but also Israeli) lives are stolen every year. It is a reality in which millions of people live under a foreign military regime and are denied the most basic human and civil rights. It is a reality in which constantly expanding Israeli settlements make the possibility of a sovereign Palestinian state less and less likely with each new home illegally built on Palestinian land. It is intolerable.

Things have gotten worse in the absence of a peace process, which has been the case for the majority of the past decade. But with no process to provide a horizon for change or hope, global demands for change have also increased. That has manifested primarily though international pressure on Israel to end the occupation, ranging from a boycott movement to small steps in the direction of very limited sanctions, like the European Union’s settlement product labels. None of those steps, alone or together, are a game-changer, but they are a strong signal from the world to Israel that it will not tolerate the status quo of occupation.

Alternatively, the façade of a peace process, or a peace process for the sake of the process itself, serves to deflect much of that international pressure on Israel. We saw that happen in real time just a few years ago when the European Union delayed the implementation of settlement product labels because there was a peace process taking place. Similarly, during the same round of peace talks, the Palestinian government was very open...

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The U.S. isn't going to do a damn thing to end the occupation

As long as Washington views ending the occupation as an Israeli problem instead of a Palestinian problem, it will never even consider using its leverage to do so.

The United States issued an unusually sharp rebuke on Wednesday to news that Israel is building a brand new settlement in the West Bank. The State Department sounded mad. The White House sounded mad. Nobody is going to do anything about it.

It’s not that the United States is powerless in the face of an Israeli government that for nearly four decades has refused to heed Washington’s and the entire international community’s demands to stop building and populating settlements. Both the United States and the United Nations have tools for compelling belligerent states into compliance.

The problem is a matter of perception will. The United States does not perceive the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — or rather, the Israel occupation of Palestinian land and the denial of basic Palestinian rights — as a Palestinian problem. To the United States, and much of the West, the impetus for ending the occupation and achieving a two-state solution is preserving Israel’s strategic interests, not protecting Palestinian rights.

“It is deeply troubling, in the wake of Israel and the U.S. concluding an unprecedented agreement on military assistance designed to further strengthen Israel’s security, that Israel would take a decision so contrary to its long term security interest in a peaceful resolution of its conflict with the Palestinians,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement Wednesday.

“Israelis must ultimately decide between expanding settlements and preserving the possibility of a peaceful two state solution,” Toner continued. “Proceeding with this new settlement is another step towards cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation that is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.”

That state of affairs is framed as an Israeli decision. But Israelis do not have the right — whether exercised through seemingly democratic means or unabashed military might — to choose to keep millions of people disenfranchised, living under a discriminatory and brutal military regime that maintains two sets of laws for people living side by side depending on their religion or ethnicity.

Nowhere does Toner, or the nearly identical statement issued by the White House, suggest that Israel’s perpetuation of the occupation, largely via its settlement enterprise, should be halted immediately because it systematically robs Palestinian men, women and...

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Abbas had to ask the Israeli army for permission to attend Peres's funeral

While leaders around the world coordinated their visits with the Foreign Ministry, the Palestinian president was forced to ask permission from an occupying army. The irony.

As a matter of diplomatic protocol, visits by heads of state are handled by the Foreign Ministry. The issue is so immutable that when the Israeli Foreign Ministry staff went on strike a few years, even a strategically important visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had to be canceled.

Therefore, when former Israeli President Shimon Peres died earlier this week, the Israeli Foreign Ministry opened an emergency situation room to handle the expected flood of foreign leaders and heads of state lining up to attend the state funeral on Friday. All of the logistics of those visits, as is protocol, are being handled by the Foreign Ministry.

Except for one. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had to make his request to the Israeli army. What irony that in order to attend the funeral of the man with whom he negotiated Palestinian autonomy and national self-determination, the Palestinian president had to ask the permission of an occupying army.

COGAT, the Israeli army’s branch dedicated to administering the occupation of Palestinian territories, reportedly passed along the request to the Prime Minister’s Office, which “approved” Abbas’s attendance.

Alternatively, Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh, the highest ranking elected Arab official in Israel, announced on Thursday that he would not be attending Peres’s funeral.

While heaping praising Peres for advancing peace and domestic relations with Palestinian citizens of Israel in the 1990s, Odeh told Army Radio that Peres’s record — including his role in Israel’s nuclear proliferation and Qana Massacre — has been “disastrous for other peoples, and on my people in 1948.”

Peres has a complicated legacy for Palestinians. As Nadia Naser-Najjab wrote here on Thursday:

For many people Peres represents the drive — and at times, hope — for peace. That is something to celebrate. But Shimon Peres’s legacy also embodies all of the reasons that peace appears more out of reach today than any point since he the secret talks he held with the PLO nearly a quarter-century ago in Oslo.

The fact that Abbas had to seek permission from the Israeli military — on...

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Why Netanyahu’s offer to visit the Palestinian parliament is pure BS

The Israeli prime minister tells the UN that he will ‘gladly come to speak’ to the Palestinian legislative body, which he conveniently forgets hasn’t convened in nearly a decade. Outstretched hand for peace or PR ploy?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu loves being dramatic at the UN. From his bag of props to awkward moments of silence to general theatrics, he always makes sure to grab a few headlines when visiting the General Assembly in New York.

This year, one of Netanyahu’s biggest moments was when he invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to speak at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, an ode to the visit by then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat that preceded a peace deal between the two countries. Netanyahu also offered to speak in front of the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah.

“President Abbas, instead of railing against Israel at the United Nations in New York, I invite you to speak to the Israeli people at the Knesset in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said, addressing the Palestinian president directly. “And I would gladly come to speak to the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah.”

There are two major problems with Netanyahu’s otherwise seemingly bold step toward peace. There’s no way it would ever happen under current circumstances.

Firstly, as Chaim Levinson pointed out in Haaretz three years ago, when a grandstanding Netanyahu made a similar invitation to Abbas to speak at the Knesset, the Israeli prime minister simply doesn’t have the authority to make such an invitation.

Likewise, the prime minister’s expressed willingness to address the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah is possible only in the fantasy world of UN speeches and public manipulation.

The Palestinian parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), has not convened in almost a decade. It also happens to be controlled by Hamas, which won an unimpeachable majority of seats — 74 of 132 — in the most elections, which were held in 2006. Israel considers Hamas to be a terrorist group, and refuses to recognize the legitimacy of its democratic mandate.

Which is not to say that Israel could not convene a quorum of Palestinian legislators should Netanyahu wish to give an address. In January of last year, Israel was holding a whopping 15 percent (20 legislators) of the entire Palestinian parliament in its prisons, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer. (As of February 2016, that number was down to six — only 5 percent of the PLC.)

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Strip-searching Arab passengers at Israeli airports is illegal, rights group says

Not only are Arabs profiled at Israeli airports, it turns out the way security personnel search and follow them may also be illegal. Despite dozens of testimonies, Airport Authority denies utilizing strip searches at all.

Israeli airport security is notorious for profiling and discriminating against Arab passengers, from invasive and humiliating questioning and strip searches, assigning security officer to escort them as they walk through the airport after undergoing a security check, and more.

Could it be that authorities don’t actually have the legal authority to do all that?

In a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and Israel Airports Authority (IAA) Director General Yaakov Ganot, civil rights organization Adalah says the strip searches are overtly illegal, and that no existing Israeli law authorizes the practice.

Additionally, most Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, or any passengers for that matter, likely don’t feel they can refuse such treatment — especially if the consequence is not being allowed to board one’s flight, Adalah added.

“In most cases, therefore, [the passenger’s] consent to a strip search as part of a security check or submitting to the demand to be escorted by security personnel through the airport is consent that is obtained under duress,” explained Adalah attorney Fady Khoury.

The civil rights group is demanding that Israel stop these two specific practices, but also that the state compensate those Arab citizens who have been illegally subject to them in the past.

The Israel Airports Authority, in a response sent to Adalah and seen by +972, vehemently denied that the practices in question even exist.

Ample written testimonies by Arab passengers describing strip searches and security escorts at Israeli airports have been published on Israeli, Palestinian and international websites. A simple Google search for “Israeli airport security bra” delivers years worth of stories of Arab passengers being forced to remove their undergarments at Ben-Gurion Airport.

I have personally witnessed Israeli security officers escorting Arab passengers through the airport after completing “enhanced” security checks, and heard numerous stories of strip searches first hand.

“The Israel Airports Authority is denying the multiple accounts by individuals testifying to use of these practices – including stripping Arab passengers and escorting them to their planes – by its security personnel, and also chooses to ignore the central charge in our letter which holds that these practices lack all legal basis,” Khoury added.

The illegality of the practice is a “callous violation” of passengers’ rights, Khoury said, adding that “a mechanism to allow...

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Nearly half of Israeli Jews support extrajudicial killings, poll finds

One in five self-described ‘leftists’ support the actions of Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier on trial for shooting a disarmed Palestinian attacker in the head.

Nearly half of Jewish Israelis support the extrajudicial killing of Palestinian attackers who no longer pose a threat, according to a poll released by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) on Wednesday.

Forty-seven (47) percent of Jewish respondents said they agree that “any Palestinian who carries out an attack should be killed on the spot, even if he does not pose a threat.” In a poll from October 2015, 53 percent of Jewish respondents gave the same answer to a nearly identical question.

Pollsters also asked Jewish Israelis about the specific case of an Israeli soldier who was filmed shooting a Palestinian attacker in the head long after he had been disarmed, wounded and no longer posed a threat. Sixty-five (65) percent of respondents said they feel the soldier, Sgt. Elor Azaria, was justified in executing the Palestinian man, Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif.

Sgt. Azaria is currently being tried in an Israeli military court for manslaughter. One of his main lines of defense has been that his actions, murdering a Palestinian attacker after he had been disarmed, does not deviate from the acceptable norms of behavior for Israeli security forces.

Azaria has enjoyed widespread public support since his arrest earlier this year, and his trial has become somewhat of a public spectacle. Just this week, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman declared that he would “stand by” the soldier even if he is convicted.

Broken down into various demographic segments, those most likely to justify Azaria’s actions are ultra-Orthodox Jews (95 percent), those between the ages of 18-24 (84 percent), and self-described right-wingers (83 percent). One in five self-describe left-wing Jewish Israelis said they justify Azaria’s action, while half of “centrists” do as well.

The IDI survey was conducted by telephone at the end of August, included 600 respondents, and had a margin of error of ±4.1 percent.

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Why the Abbas KGB ‘revelation’ came out now

Israeli academic who fed the story to the press tells the ‘NY Times’ he wanted to undercut the Kremlin’s efforts to host Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Israel’s Channel 1 News broadcast a story Wednesday night alleging that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was a KGB agent in Damascus 33 years ago. The story, for obvious reasons, was picked up by local and international outlets within minutes of airing. (Watch the full Hebrew report here.)

In every good spy story, however, there’s always a hidden agenda to be uncovered. Or in this case, a not-so-hidden one.

Speaking in the Channel 1 report, the two Israeli academics who discovered the incriminating document and who fed the story to the press made sure the news item included some circumstantial icing on the cake — that Russia’s current Mideast envoy, the one currently trying to arrange a Netanyahu-Abbas meeting in Moscow, was stationed in Damascus at the same time as Abbas. The insinuated allegation: he was Abbas’ handler.

In a follow-up item in the New York Times, one of the academics, Gideon Remez, dropped all pretenses about the timing of the KGB story’s release, and his and his partner’s motivations.

The final paragraph of the Times story reads:

Their plan doesn’t seem to have worked.

Hours after the KGB story broke, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu had agreed in principle to sit down together in Moscow, the first prospective working meeting in years.

Such plans had been talked about in the press for several weeks, with Abbas initially demanding a settlement freeze and the completion of a prisoner release Israel reneged on, which led to the collapse of last round of peace talks. The Israeli prime minister, for his part, dusted off his own precondition for talks, namely that there be no preconditions to the talks.

While nobody has any reasonable positive expectations for the outcome of the still-unconfirmed Kremlin rendezvous, it appears there are those who would rather not see it happen. The only question is whether these two Israeli historians were acting on their own.

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How Israel is trying to enforce gag orders beyond its borders

At Israel’s request, Twitter is blocking Israelis from viewing certain tweets published overseas. Similar take-down notices have been sent to other international online platforms, the Justice Ministry confirms.

Israeli authorities are taking steps to block their own citizens from reading materials published online in other countries, including the United States.

The Israeli State Attorney’s Office Cyber Division has sent numerous take-down requests to Twitter and other media platforms in recent months, demanding that they remove certain content, or block Israeli users from viewing it.

In an email viewed by +972, dated August 2, 2016, Twitter’s legal department notified American blogger Richard Silverstein that the Israeli State Attorney claimed a tweet of his violates Israeli law. The tweet in question had been published 76 days earlier, on May 18. Silverstein has in the past broken stories that Israeli journalists have been unable to report due to gag orders, including the Anat Kamm case.

Without demanding that he take any specific action, Twitter asked Silverstein to let its lawyers know, “if you decide to voluntarily remove the content.” The American blogger, who says he has not stepped foot in any Israeli jurisdiction for two decades, refused, noting that he is not bound by Israeli law. Twitter is based in California.

Two days later, Twitter sent Silverstein a follow-up email, informing him that it was now blocking Israeli users from viewing the tweet in question. Or in Twitter-talk, “In accordance with applicable law and our policies, Twitter is now withholding the following Tweet(s) in Israel.”

The tweet is still available from American and non-Israeli IP addresses, but viewed from Israel, it looks like this:
Richard Silverstein tweet

Because I am writing this from Israel, I am legally forbidden from telling you what Silverstein’s original tweet said. I can’t even tell you the specific legal reason why I can’t tell you what I can’t tell you.

What I can say is that as the use of military censorship in Israel has become less common and less sweeping over the years, authorities are increasingly using court gag orders to control the flow...

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The Black Lives Matter platform: How the Jewish community got distracted by one word

While numerous major Jewish organizations and leaders have remained silent, many in the U.S. Jewish community have been thrown for a loop by black American solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, and the terminology that sometimes includes.

The Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of more than 50 organizations representing black Americans, published a comprehensive platform this week that addresses the systemic racism, violence, oppression and discrimination faced by their communities.

The document, which is not shy in declaring that not all of its needs can be addressed with policy, also includes six policy briefs — End the War on Black People, Reparations, Invest-Divest, Economic Justice, Community Control, and Political Power — that include diagnoses and prescriptions aimed at making tangible and attainable change in the short term.

The 37,000-word Movement for Black Lives (MBL) document outlines one of the most important issues facing the United States today and how to address it. However, a number of Jewish and pro-Israel individuals and organizations took issue with one sentence, or to be more specific, one word: genocide.

In the policy brief on the need to cut military expenditures — both to end American-funded injustices overseas, but also to redirect billions of dollars to “domestic infrastructure and social programs to meet the needs of Black people and working class communities within the U.S.” — the MBL document states that the United States government, through its funding of the Israeli military and arms industry, “is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.”

A number of Jewish and Israel-related individuals and organizations in the U.S. responded with everything from outrage to disappointment to silence. T’ruah, a coalition of rabbis committed to acting on human rights, published a statement saying it agrees with most of the MBL platform but at the same time calls out its use of the term “genocide” in relation to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and rejects its endorsement of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

“While we agree with many of the policy recommendations, we are extremely dismayed at the decision to refer to the Israeli occupation as genocide,” the T’ruah statement read, adding that while it is committed to ending the occupation, “there is no basis for comparing this situation to the genocides of the 20th century, such as those in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda, or Armenia, or the Nazi Holocaust in Europe, each of which constituted a calculated plan to destroy specific groups, and each...

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Almost a year later, Israel still refuses to return Palestinian bodies

Palestinian rights groups call decision to hold onto the bodies of 13 Palestinian attackers and alleged attackers a ‘violation of the right to dignity.’ Since beginning of recent wave of violence, over 220 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli security forces.

For 300 days Israel has been holding onto the frozen body of Tha’er Abu Ghazaleh, one of 13 East Jerusalem Palestinian attackers and alleged attackers whose bodies Israeli authorities, since October, are refusing to return to their families for burial.

In mid-October 2015, the Israeli security cabinet decided to stop its practice of returning bodies immediately to the deceased’s families. The rationale was that large funerals might lead to public disorder. The ban only exists in Jerusalem. The bodies of West Bank attackers have been returned to their families for burial.

Israeli police committed to returning the bodies as part of a deal reached on the sidelines of a High Court case in early May, which was supposed to be completed by the start of Ramadan a month later.

Before the deal could be fully implemented, however, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan ordered a halt to the transfers after only four bodies were handed over, accusing one family of reneging on the terms that sought to limit the number of attendees at the funeral.

In the latest hearing on the matter, Israel’s High Court of Justice ordered the state to explain by August 15 why it still insists on holding onto the bodies.

Since the beginning of the latest round of violence in September 2015, 36 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in stabbings, shootings, and vehicular attacks, while 223 Palestinians have been shot dead by the army or police during attacks, suspected attacks and in demonstrations.

Many accuse Israeli authorities of extrajudicial killings of Palestinian attackers and suspected attackers, deliberately using deadly force when non-lethal methods of neutralizing and apprehending suspects might be available. In at least one case, a soldier was filmed shooting a disarmed, prone Palestinian attacker in the head. He is currently on trial.

In a letter to European Union officials last week, a coalition of Palestinian rights groups described the current Israeli policy as “political intransigence rather than a concern for public security.”

“According to [international human rights law], failing to return the bodies of the deceased is a violation, inter alia, of the right to dignity, freedom of religion, and the right to practice one’s culture,” wrote the rights groups,...

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Authorities start process of replacing Bedouin town with a Jewish one

Israel moved the residents to the plot of land they lives on today. Decades later, the state wants to displace them again — to build a Jewish town on the ruins of their homes.

Israeli police detained five people Sunday protesting the impending displacement of Umm el-Hiran, an “unrecognized” Bedouin village in southern Israel on top of which authorities plan to build a Jewish town, named Hiran.

Among the detainees were youths from the village, and former Rabbis for Human Rights president Rabbi Arik Ascherman. All of the detainees were released late Sunday night. Another woman was hospitalized for injuries she sustained from police.

Police arrived with a tractor and several surveyors to the village on Sunday in order to start building a fence adjacent to the Bedouin villagers’ homes, presumably in order to begin construction of the Jewish town meant to replace them.

Umm el-Hiran is one of dozens of so-called “unrecognized villages,” in which approximately 100,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel live without electricity, water, and other basic services the state refuses to provide.

Here is a quick summary of this history of Umm el-Hiran: Long before the establishment of the State of Israel, members of the Abu Qi’an family lived in an area called Khirbet Zubaleh.

In 1956, the Israeli military government forcibly moved the Qi’an family to the location where they live today. (Their former land was given to Kibbutz Shoval as agricultural land.)

This forced land “swap” is well documented in state archives, but despite the fact that the Qi’an family was settled in its current location by the state itself, its homes have never been connected to the electricity or water grids.

Last year Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that the state can change its mind and take back the land it gave to the al-Qi’an family. In place of their current village, Umm el-Hiran, from which they are to be expelled, a new township for religious Jews will be established.

For the past few years, Jewish Hiran’s future residents have been waiting for their new homes at an encampment in the adjacent forest of Yatir.

“The government has no problem with Jewish citizens living on this property – so why should they have a problem with us?” Raed Abu al-Qi’an, a resident and activist from the village, told +972 last year. “They allow rural communities to be built for Jews across the...

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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