Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands and Israeli dominance over Palestinian lives comes in a variety of shapes, forms, and flavors. Understandably, the international community and many Israeli citizens are in an uproar today about the impending Israeli annexation of large swaths of the West Bank, however, their hypocrisy can no longer be concealed.
Not only is this yet another act of de jure annexation by Israel, but the upcoming act of annexation is being made out to be the overarching issue at hand. It is not, per se. For decades, Israel’s actions on the ground have always pointed to the dangerous place we have reached today. For countries of the world or Israeli citizens to be surprised that the U.S-Israeli partnership is about to embark on another catastrophic and illegal act is only evidence that they have been sleeping at the wheel for decades. The time has come for serious stakeholders to hold Israel accountable for all their acts, in Occupied Palestine and Israel, and not only threaten to take action if the next round of annexation materializes.
Palestinians in Israel
The horrendous reality of the Palestinian communities inside Israel—in places like Akka, Haifa, Nazareth, Jaffa, and the Negev—is not about being regulated to sit in the back of the bus; they could only wish for such blatant racism. Here, racism is multilayered, ideological, well-camouflaged, state-sponsored, and non-stop.
Anyone who thinks that stopping the next Israeli annexation of additional parts of the West Bank would bring peace closer would be well-advised to peel away the veneer of democratic façade, one that covers an Israeli plan with only one goal in mind—completing the campaign of ethnically cleansing Palestinians—on both sides of the Green Line—that started with the creation of the State of Israel.
I witnessed the state of Palestinian citizens in Israel on a visit to Northern Israel in 2012. My trip took place on a beautiful fall day, I sat in a friend’s living room in the village of Fassouta at the northern tip of Israel, adjacent to the Lebanese border, in the part of Israel called the Galilee. This is where the Palestinian citizens in Israel are concentrated. Five generations of Palestinians were sitting in the room. As expected in Palestinian society, within no time, politics was the focus of the discussion. But this political discussion had a different twist from what most of those following this conflict are accustomed to. The issues had to do with the Palestinian citizens in Israel and how the Israeli government systematically and structurally discriminates against them.
Bilateral negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, better known as the infamous Middle East (Oslo) Peace Process, began with a model (and accompanying actions on the ground) of Gaza and Jericho First. The idea was that the Palestinian Authority, which the Oslo Accords created, would start by being set up in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank city of Jericho, a sort of pilot phase before subsequently deploying to all of the Palestinian areas defined in the Accords. The standing joke at the time was that what Israel, the military occupying power, really meant was Gaza and Jericho Only!
With two decades of a never-ending “peace process,” Israel diverted the world’s attention, including the Palestinian leadership, away from the discriminatory workings within Israel itself. As the parties quibbled over who violated the Oslo Agreement first and most, Israel never stopped strangulating the Palestinian towns and villages inside it. Even back then, some of the mainstream, international research outfits, such as the International Crisis Group (ICG), were forced to take note. Their March 2012 report titled, “Back to Basics: Israel’s Arab Minority and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” stated:
“World attention remains fixed on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but a distinct, albeit related, conflict smoulders within Israel itself. It might be no less perilous. Jewish-Arab domestic relations have deteriorated steadily for a decade. More and more, the Jewish majority views the Palestinian minority as subversive, disloyal and – due to its birth rates – a demographic threat. Palestinian citizens are politically marginalised, economically underprivileged, ever more unwilling to accept systemic inequality and ever more willing to confront the status quo.”
That’s researcher-talk for a slow and calculated campaign of displacing an entire population in broad daylight—world, take note.