Palestine and Israel in the headlines
Palestine and Israel seem to have been in the news a lot recently. On 23rd December a resolution was adopted by the UN security council for all Israeli settlement in the occupied territories to be halted. This resolution was passed by virtue of the US abstention from voting – as opposed to veto-ing the vote, which was the case in 2011. The resolution is categorical, stating that:
“…Israel’s settlements on Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, have “no legal validity” and demands a halt to “all Israeli settlement activities,” saying this “is essential for salvaging the two-state solution”.”
Needless to say, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not happy about this. Nor was he happy at the verdict passed yesterday, convicting an Israeli soldier of manslaughter. The soldier, Sgt Azaria, had shot dead a Palestinian who had attacked an Israeli soldier in Hebron on 24th March 2016. The Palestinian was wounded and disarmed at the point at which he was shot by Azaria. Netanyahu has expressed the desire to grant Azaria a pardon.
Netanyahu and Trump: echos of each other
The Israeli Prime Minister has been questioned ‘under caution’ this week over suspicion of receiving illicit gifts and favours from wealthy donors and some believe 2017 might see his downfall. However, with Netanyahu or without him, there is still Trump to contend with and he’s shown his unhappiness, in another signature Trump tweet somewhat lacking in dignity, about the UN resolution in which he called for Israel to “stay strong” till he takes office on 20th January. Netanyahu replied via Twitter thanking Trump for his warm friendship.
2017 and a trio of shocking anniversaries
Whatever the implications are for Palestine of Trump moving in to the White House, 2017 is a big year regardless, for all the wrong reasons. It marks a year of terrible anniversaries for Palestinians: 10 years since Gaza’s blockade and closure, 50 years of occupation and 100 years since the signing of the Balfour Declaration in which the UK endorsed the creation of a Jewish state within Palestine.
Comedy and poetry
Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) has organised a fundraising event on 20th February in acknowledgment of these tragic anniversaries. It’s a night of comedy with some big names in the line-up. I’m very glad this event is happening and certainly some light relief is needed. I hope to be in the audience. But when I was in Palestine in October last year for the olive harvest, it was hard to see the funny side.
It was explained to us by people in the village where we were staying that it had become even more difficult for the farmers to reach their trees than it had been since we were there the previous year. This was due to new infrastructure built by Israel that the village had held protests against – to no avail, ultimately – for several months. Some famers were now having to access their land through a storm drain under a busy road.