Friday, February 28, 2020

Settlers rally against Palestinian state

By The Palestine Monitor - September 22, 2011
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Settlers] [Beit il] [Palestinian UN bid 2011]

Israeli settlers across the West Bank staged a coordinated day of protest on Tuesday near Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron, in direct response to the coming attempt by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation to gain United Nations recognition of an independent Palestinian state on 23 September.

The largest of the rallies was held at the Itamar settlement, near Nablus, where several hundred children and a handful of adults marched from the house of the Vogeo murders, where five settlers were murdered in March, to the Shomeron Regional Council office several miles away.

Itamar mayor and spokesman, Moshe Goldsmith, said the coordinated action was designed to send the message that settlers were “not going to leave.”

The rally was supervised by a sizeable contingent of Israeli military personnel.  At its conclusion the soldiers allowed demonstrators to sing and dance at a junction on the major Nablus-Ramallah road.  The checkpoints at either side were closed to Palestinian traffic for several hours.

Meanwhile at Kiryat Arba, a settlement near the Palestinian city of Hebron, around 30 people gathered at the bus stop near the settlement’s entrance. The crowd was mostly women and children, who waved Israeli flags and banners.

“We want to show the government that they have to consider there is an active Jewish community here,” said Boaz Haetnzi, Kiryat Arba resident and protest organiser.

“The so-called Palestinians achieved a state in 1988,” Haetnzi remarked, in reference to Yasser Arafat’s declaration of statehood. “So the General Assembly is nothing, just talk. Security Council decisions are much more significant and effective.”

This is our land, every inch is our land,” she said. “Ramallah is ours. Nothing belongs to the Arabs, nothing.”

The UN bid could represent an opportunity for Israel, Haetnzi indicated. The Israeli government should use the possible recognition of statehood to release itself from all its obligations under the Oslo accords.

“This is actually a great gift from Abbas,” he opined.

Responding to questions on the possibility of conflict breaking out after Friday, Haetnzi replied that “a minority of settlers are violent. But [settler violence] is always in response to Arab violence and never in the same proportion as theirs. If the government puts a stop to Arab violence, Jews will do nothing.” However, “if they use violence [on Friday] we won’t offer the other cheek,” he warned. Baruch Marzel, Kiryat Arba local and far-right activist, offered his opinon. “Fifteen to 20 settlements will be attacked [by Palestinians] on Friday,” Marzel said.

The demonstration marked the “start of a long campaign,” he went on. “If we don’t have a right to be here, where Jewish history started, we don’t have a right to be anywhere.”

Later that same day, a small march took place near the Beit El settlement. Roughly thirty to forty settlers, mostly teenagers, marched from Beit El to the DCO (District Community Office) checkpoint on the outskirts of al-Bireh.
A teenage settler, who asked to remain anonymous, trembled with emotion as she chanted. “This is our land, every inch is our land,” she said. “Ramallah is ours. Nothing belongs to the Arabs, nothing.”
A middle-aged settler from Beit El, Leah, agreed. “We need to tell the world that we want to live here on our land in order to succeed in redeeming the identity of Judaism,” she said.

Israeli soldiers linked arms and created a human blockade between the settlers and the DCO checkpoint. There were small scuffles between a small group of teenagers and the soldiers but no reported injuries or arrests. 

Notable attendees included Michael Ben-Ari, Knesset member for the National Union party. Ben-Ari’s message was to tell the people of Israel “to come back home.”

“The Arabs should have a state, but it should be somewhere else,” he continued. “They have no right to establish a terrorist state here.”

The teenage settler agreed. “There are twenty-two other Arab countries,” he said. “Why can’t they go there?”

Leah said, “We’re not against anyone and do not mind living alongside the Arabs, so long as they’re not violent.”

American supporter Moshe Brody concurred, saying, “there have been many polls which show Palestinians would rather live in a Jewish state. We should live together in peace.”

Settlers taunt Israeli soldiers blocking the way to Ramallah.

The protesters burned a Palestinian flag, after which they sang and prayed together.

Attacks by settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank have increased significantly over recent weeks as tension in Israel builds in anticipation of tomorrow’s statehood bid.

Palestinian popular committees initiated a campaign on Monday, called “Refusing to Die in Silence,” to ensure the safety of Palestinian communities from settler attacks. Palestinian, Israeli and international volunteers will patrol villages by car in order to monitor and pre-empt any violent assaults by settlers.

Reporting on this article was contributed by N. Johnson, Sophie Crowe, Steffi Unsleber and Nigel O’Connor.

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