“. . . [Palestinian] landscape as a place of ‘drifting sand and exposed rock’ populated by the morally, spiritually and politically degenerate . . .” (Joanna C. Long)

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Ruins of village of Lifta, Jerusalem, with Israeli-planted trees engulfing it. (Photo: Harold Knight, Nov., 2015)

❶ . B’Tselem: ‘Dispossession of Palestinians most consistent trend in Israeli policy’
. . . ― (a) Lieberman: Postpone controversial ‘formalization’ bill until Trump takes over
❷ . Fatah’s seventh congress says people have right to resist occupation
. . . ❷ ― (a) Abbas tells Fatah the greater struggle is to come

  • Background: “Rooting Diaspora, Reviving Nation: Zionist Landscapes Of Palestine–Israel.” Transactions Of The Institute Of British Geographers

❸ . The IDF’s new ‘Visit Palestine’ campaign refuses to say Palestine
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
❶ . B’TSELEM:  ‘DISPOSSESSION  OF  PALESTINIANS  MOST  CONSISTENT  TREND  IN  ISRAELI  POLICY’  
Ma’an News Agency
Dec. 5, 2016
As Israel’s Knesset considers a bill which would retroactively legalize settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank, Israeli authorities have used both official and unofficial means to expropriate Palestinian lands for decades which has “devastasted” the Palestinian territory, according to a report published on Monday by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
___In its latest report, entitled “Expel and Exploit: The Israeli practice of taking over rural Palestinian land,”  B’Tselem used a case study of Azmut, Deir al-Hatab, and Salem — three Palestinian villages in the northern West Bank district of Nablus — to illustrate a number of official and indirect ways used by the Israeli government over the years to slowly isolate Palestinian communities from their lands.       More . . .  
. . . ― (A) LIEBERMAN:  POSTPONE  CONTROVERSIAL  ‘FORMALIZATION’  BILL  UNTIL  TRUMP  TAKES  OVER   
Ma’an News Agency 
Dec. 3, 2016
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman suggested on Friday that the controversial “formalization bill,” which would legalize Israeli settler outposts throughout the occupied West Bank and is set to be voted on this Monday, should be postponed until US President Barack Obama leaves office.
___According to Israeli media, the statement was made in Washington D.C. during the Saban Forum where the right-wing defense minister called for postponing the vote until Jan. 20, when President-Elect Donald Trump will be officially sworn in as the new American president.      More . . .

❷ . FATAH’S  SEVENTH  CONGRESS  SAYS  PEOPLE  HAVE  RIGHT  TO  RESIST  OCCUPATION    
Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA
December 5, 2016
The concluding statement of Fatah’s seventh congress said the Palestinian people have the right to popular resistance to end the Israeli occupation of their land and determine their future.
___The statement, read at the conclusion of six days of Fatah congress held at the Muqata, the presidential headquarters in Ramallah, also underscored the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, to sovereignty, and to having an independent state of their own with East Jerusalem as its capital.       More . . .  
. . . ❷ ― (a) ABBAS TELLS FATAH THE GREATER STRUGGLE IS TO COME        
Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA 
Dec. 5, 2016
President Mahmoud Abbas told members of the seventh Fatah congress on Sunday night that the greater struggle is still ahead of them.
___“When you go back to your towns, villages and camps tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, remember at every moment that what you have accomplished in this conference is the lesser struggle and now we have a mission ahead of us and that is to fight the greater struggle,” Abbas told the members at the closing session of the Fatah congress.        More . . .    

  • Long, Joanna C. “Rooting Diaspora, Reviving Nation: Zionist Landscapes Of Palestine–Israel.” Transactions Of The Institute Of British Geographers 34.1 (2009): 61-77.   SOURCE.

In this paper I explore some possibilities of what the trees were for and why they were (and are) so important to the Jewish National Fund. My main concern is with the entanglement of cultures of landscape with a cultural politics of trees and how these have been enrolled in a project of colonisation and nationbuilding . . .  Specifically, I examine how trees have figured in various constructions of Palestine as an aesthetic and embodied landscape, and how both trees and landscapes have been mobilised in pursuit of an Israeli national space and subjectivity.
[. . . .]  In JNF discourse, however, these notions of subjects embedded in the natural environment, and of subjectivities springing from contact with the natural environment, are inseparable from both scenic renderings of the Palestinian homeland-scape as historically verdant and heroically re-forested by Zionist settlers, and pathologised imaginaries of the diasporic landscape as a place of ‘drifting sand and exposed rock’ populated by the morally, spiritually and politically degenerate . . . [the] implications of casting a landscape as political territory in this way are intimately bound up with the planting of trees, as this drew ‘unproductive’ lands under the control of the state . . . enabled the exercise of territorialised sovereignty, in accordance with long-established European traditions of articulating monarchical and colonial power.
[. . . .] There is, of course, nothing natural about the process of Zionist colonisation or the resulting forested landscape. . . these landscape imaginaries and the trees populating them have been mobilised . . . to perform important geopolitical and ideological work towards the establishment and perpetuation of Israeli nationhood. By positing Palestine as a formerly verdant landscape, currently denuded and empty but being rejuvenated and redeemed by Zionist settlers . . . [the myths] now physically exclude Palestinians from the landscape and efface the history of their presence.
[. . . .] The political geographies of Eretz Israel . . .  helped to generate ideological and financial support . . .  for the acquisition and later the seizure of lands, for the ‘development’ of those purchased and captured lands to legally secure Jewish ownership and to prevent Palestinians from returning.
[. . . .] I have deliberately focused on the planting of pines, rather than on the Israeli practice of uprooting Palestinian olive trees . . .   .   [Trees] are also the guardians to another story, this time of expulsion and dispossession, which is inextricably bound to the first.

❸ .  THE  IDF’S  NEW  ‘VISIT  PALESTINE’  CAMPAIGN  REFUSES  TO  SAY  PALESTINE
+972 Magazine
Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man
Dec. 4, 2016
The Israeli army’s new tourism campaign wants you to visit Palestine — just don’t call it that.    ___The Israeli military launched a truly bizarre rendition of a Visit Palestine tourism campaign over the weekend. Except the army couldn’t bring itself to say Palestine, the West Bank, or even mention that Palestinians live there.     ___The video was published on the Facebook page of the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli military government that oversees the occupation of the Palestinian territories.      ___ The video mentions sites like Wadi Qelt, the Mar Saba Monastery and Nabi Musa, sites in the West Bank to which Israel makes no claims. Likewise, while the army’s new tourism initiative advertises the Church of the Nativity as a site in “Judea and Samaria,” the biblical name for the West Bank, there is no mention of Rachel’s Tomb, also in Bethlehem but which Israel claims as its own.     More . . .  

ON THE OCCUPATION – Special Edition “. . . The invaders smile . . .” (Majid Abu Ghoush)

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Founder of the Zionist movement, Theodor Herzl (1860–1904) was also author of the pamphlet “The Jewish State” (Photo: ZETEO, 11.05.2015)

TEL  AVIV  MAYOR  SAYS  THE  OCCUPATION  IS  A  CAUSE  OF  PALESTINIAN  TERROR
+972 Magazine
Edo Konrad
June 9, 2016
Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai shocked many Israelis Thursday morning when he cited Israel’s occupation as one factor that leads Palestinians to turn to terrorism. Speaking on Army Radio about Wednesday’s deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv and reported celebrations of it in the West Bank and Gaza, Huldai argued that Israelis should focus instead on the fact that Israel is “perhaps the only country in the world holding another nation under occupation without civil rights . . . . There is no courage to do what needs to be done in order to reach a [peace] agreement.”
___“There is no way to hold people in a situation of occupation and think that they will reach the conclusion that everything is okay and they will continue to live like that,” Huldai added.      MORE . . . 

❷ HISTORICAL NOTE: 

The vision of Zionism’s founder, Theodor Herzl, became institutionalised in the Jewish National Fund (JNF), the body that today coordinates with the Government of Israel and largely oversees the continuing land acquisition process (n88). By the close of 1937, the JNF-linked Jewish Agency had established the Population Transfer Committee, and in 1940, director of the JNF Lands Department Yosef Weitz wrote:
___“It must be clear that there is no room in the country for both peoples.… If the Arabs leave it, the country will become wide and spacious for us … There is no room for compromises … There is no way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries, to transfer all of them, save perhaps for Bethlehem, Nazareth and old Jerusalem. Not one village must be left, not one [bedouin] tribe … For this goal funds will be found … And only after this transfer will the country be able to absorb millions of our brothers and the Jewish problem will cease to exist. There is no other solution” (n89).

(n88) For discussion of the legal relationship of the Jewish National Fund to the Israeli government, see Kenneth Lewan and Uri Davis, The Jewish National Fund, London: Kegan Paul, 1989.
(n89) Yosef Weitz, Yomani Ve’igrotai Labanim [My Diary and Letters to the Children] Vol I, entry for 20 December 1940, p181; as quoted in Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987, p 27.

  • Schechla, Joseph. “Ideological Roots of Population Transfer.” Third World Quarterly 14.2 (1993): 239-275.   ONLINE.   

❸ A  DEFINITION  OF  “LEGAL”  OCCUPATION: 

We argue that the legality of the phenomenon of occupation, as it relates to the function of managing the situation, is to be measured in relation to three fundamental legal principles:
(a)          Sovereignty and title in an occupied territory are not vested in the occupying power. The roots of this principle emanate from the principle of the inalienability of sovereignty through actual or threatened use of force. Under contemporary international law, and in view of the principle of self-determination, sovereignty is vested in the population under occupation.
(b)          The occupying power is entrusted with the management of public order and civil life in the territory under control. In view of the principle of self-determination, the people under occupation are the beneficiaries of this trust. The dispossession and subjugation of these people violate this trust.
(c)           Occupation is temporary. It may be neither permanent nor indefinite.
___The violation of any one of these principles, therefore, unlike the violation of a specific norm that reflects them, renders an occupation illegal per se. This is the nature of the Israeli occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

  • Ben-Naftali, Orna, Aeyal M. Gross, and Keren Michaeli. “Illegal Occupation: Framing the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” Berkeley Journal of International Law 23.3 (2005): 551-614.  ONLINE.

Oma Ben-Naftali is a senior lecturer at the Law School, The College of Management, Academic Studies in Tel-Aviv; Aeyal Gross is a senior lecturer at Tel-Aviv University Law Faculty; and Keren Michaeli is a senior research fellow at the Law School, The College of Management, Academic Studies in Tel-Aviv.

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Dheisheh Refugee Camp is a Palestinian refugee camp located just south of Bethlehem. (Photo: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, April 26, 2012)

❹ THE  CONSEQUENCE  OF  OCCUPATION  FOR  THE  PALESTINIANS: 

As a diaspora of over nine million people, Palestinians are everywhere: second-class citizens of Israel, stateless residents of fragmented and walled-in Bantustans in the occupied West Bank, refugees residing inside and outside of camps in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan; and immigrants, students, professionals and nationalised citizens in virtually every country in the world. . . In the framework of international law, however, Palestinians are virtually nowhere. As stateless persons they occupy a liminal and interstitial space in the international legal and political order, an order that . . .  remains founded upon and grounded in the interests of sovereign nation-states rather than in the claims of sub or transnational actors, whether individuals or groups.
[. . . .]
___The defining event of the 1990s for Palestinians was the signing of the Oslo Accords . . .  Oslo, however, was not founded on international law or treaties but, rather, constituted a negotiated agreement between unequal partners. It was an agreement that side-stepped [international agreements emphasising Israel’s duty to uphold International Humanitarian Law] and to abide by all of international treaties it has signed.

  • King-Irani, Laurie. “Exiled To A Liminal Legal Zone: Are We All Palestinians Now?” Third World Quarterly 27.5 (2006): 923-936.  SOURCE.

Laurie King-Irani is Associate Professor of Teaching, Department of Anthropology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC.

OCCUPATION,”  BY  MAJID  ABU  GHOUSH
Occupied Ramallah 17/11/06

Strange days cast dour shadows
Dusk. The fragrance of death
on a windowsill.
In the lingering heat
an impossible burden weighs
down on eyelids and chest;
the throat aches, the spine throbs.

Rose petals all tarnished with foul dust
from the poisoned world.
Black limousines sail past, flying
the skull and crossbones.
The grave yawns open early,
nightmares never leave.
Death squads. Detention camps.

Somewhere, an oud
pronounces its sad chords.
The invaders smile; tap their feet.
―Translated by John Glenday

Majid Abu Ghoush (b. Amwas) is a prolific poet, a member of the secretariat of the General Union of Palestinian Writers, and a founding member of Poets Without Borders, Palestine.
From A BIRD IS NOT A STONE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY PALESTINIAN POETRY. Ed. by Henry Bell and Sarah Irving. (Glasgow: Freight Books, 2014).
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