During the last three years, Israel formulated the worst governing coalition of its history, throwing out obligations of Israel as an occupying power and failing to heed international diplomatic pressures in this regard. Well represented by extremist settlement movements, the current government has endorsed a mix of policies prioritizing efforts to strengthen Jewish settlements in the West Bank while facilitating measures that forcefully displace Palestinian inhabitants. Indeed, the most prominent features of Israeli politics have aimed at consolidating control over Jerusalem and large segments of the West Bank (i.e. areas classified as “C”) through the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian residents.
Though Israel has urged the Palestinian Authority to hold on to efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement, no moratorium has been offered by the Israeli side rather a rush to augment existing facts on the ground is transpiring. Such only serves to contradict Israel’s alleged commitment to peace negotiations; as existing geographic discontinuities are only further perpetuated and worsened, countermanding the viability of a two-state solution with an independent state of Palestine.
The following policies have significantly impacted JLAC’s scope of intervention in Area “C” of the West Bank;
Fore and foremost, the past several years have witnessed an unprecedented escalation in the demolition of homes, forced displacement, and land confiscation. Second, organized actions by Israeli settlers have come to impose pressure (through their ministers in the government) on the Israeli Civil Administration towards accelerating and expanding settlement activities; as translated by the implementation of discriminatory policies in Area “C” and consequently increased house demolitions and forced displacement of Bedouin communities. Worse yet, the pro-settler Israeli NGO, Regavim, has been permitted to join the Israeli Supreme Court in considering cases of house demolition and forced displacement. This development has served to impact the decisions of the Court in the favor of settlers, as well as to accelerate the pace of implementing decisions of demolition/ displacement. The emergence of the so-called policy of “relocation” of Bedouin communities to concentration camps predesiqnated by the Civil Administration, serves to threaten the Bedouin way of life if implemented. Past experience of Bedouin relocation sites has proved that eventually, small alternative plots afforded do away with herding livelihoods and ultimately turn the sites into slums in which Bedouins have either become a source of cheap settlement labor or are aid dependent. Recent statistics published indicate that Bedouin contribution to the Palestinian GDP has already suffered, with contributions to red meat and dairy supplies to the market Palestinian falling from 25% to 13% over the past five years.
Third, acts of organized violence by settlers against Palestinians in areas classified as “C” have intensified, with aggression (ranging from physically assault to the destruction of properties and sources of livelihood) being carried out under the nose and protection of the Israeli army and police (contradicting all international norms). Last, the Israeli Civil Administration as headed by the Israeli Military Commander, has renewed the majority of the military orders (otherwise expired) involving the closure (and de facto annexation) of large areas of land on account of alleged security or military purposes. Such was done without reevaluating new developments on the ground (as the presence of the Annexation Wall, closure of Military camps in the vicinity, closure of settlements/out-posts). Worse yet, this has rewarded and encouraged settlers to persist in their violent activities and thrown Palestinians into a worse state of despair concerning an eventual peaceful resolution.
In 2014 alone, JLAC served to undertake; 1,327 cases of house (and agriculture facility) demolition, 282 ases of forced displacement, 57 cases of land confiscation, 17 cases of public interest, and, more recently, 38 cases of settler violence.