Aerial view of Ariel settlement in West Bank 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
For some weeks, The Jerusalem Post has been running an advertisement under the
title “A Dream Come True,” promoting two Israeli settlements in occupied east
Jerusalem. Beit Orot and Ma’alot David are two illegal colonies established in
the heart of highly populated Palestinian areas.
Far from being a
“dream,” for thousands of Palestinians under Israeli occupation, such
settlements constitute a real-life nightmare.
The “neighborhoods,” as
they are described in the advert, are internationally recognized as illegal
There are over 200 Israeli settlements or colonies
throughout the recently-admitted and internationally- recognized “the occupied”
State of Palestine. These so-called “neighborhoods” qualify in accordance with
international law, to be categorized as a war crime.
thousands of Israelis have become settlers on occupied land by accepting
incentives to move into illegal buildings and compounds like the ones advertised
in this newspaper. As the window of opportunity for the twostate solution
continues to close and Israel’s occupation continues to oppress the Palestinians
within their own country on a daily basis, advertising settlements in occupied
land is morally reprehensible, to say the very least.
THE SETTLEMENTS of
Ma’alot David and Beit Orot are part of a ring of settlements aimed at isolating
the Old City from the rest of occupied east Jerusalem. This ring, which goes
from Sheikh Jarrah to Silwan, is mainly the effort of extremist settler
organizations, backed by Israeli governmental organizations and the so-called
Israeli “Jerusalem Municipality.”
The “success” of Israel’s colonial
enterprise has led to a further displacement of Palestinians from their capital
city. This forced displacement is not “collateral damage,” as Israeli occupation
authorities often claim, but part of the plan to displace Palestinians and
replace them with Israeli settlers.
To achieve this plan, a set of
discriminatory laws has been developed, leading to thousands of ID revocations,
evictions and home demolitions. Israeli laws and policies divide thousands of
families and deny millions of Palestinian Christians and Muslims entry to
occupied east Jerusalem. Regular scenes of people being physically forced to
leave their homes, some seeing their family houses torn down, others stripped of
their right to live in their own home city altogether, all contribute to the
dark reality of the Holy City.
In Hebron, the Jordan Valley and the areas
between the 1967 border and the Israeli annexation wall, we see similar
situations, with thousands of Palestinians being forced from their homes and
land for the benefit of Israeli settlement activities.
This process of
forced displacement has been largely documented by international organizations
including the UN, the EU, several Civil Society organizations and even by some
The recent UN Fact-Finding commission on
settlements makes the situation patently clear in alignment with the will of the
international community. Instead of promoting settlements, Israel should be
withdrawing to the 1967 border.
Instead of fighting for every inch of the
Holy Land, Israel should be going the extra mile toward achieving peace with its
Instead of turning its back on UN resolutions and
international law, Israel should acknowledge a policy of “live and let
Instead of easily dismissing all attempts to make Israel realize
the gravity of its illegal behaviors, Israelis should understand the reality of
what such “neighborhoods” are doing for the future of Palestinians and Israelis
alike. It is the responsibility of Israeli public opinion makers to assume, once
and for all, the responsibilities that any member of the international community
has according to international law and UN resolutions.
Not a single
country, other than Israel, recognizes the legitimacy of Israeli settlements in
Moreover, The Jerusalem Post should not be contributing to the
promotion of Israeli settlements.
Regardless of whether this
advertisement was paid or not, it is unethical to promote colonies in other
people’s land. What is most worrying is that the mere fact that The Jerusalem
Post agreed to place the advert reflects how normalized the presence of Israeli
settlements currently is for Israeli society.
THE OVERARCHING policy of
Israeli colonization, of which settlements are at the heart, is the main
obstacle to peace.To normalize their presence does not help the cause of peace
but the cause of occupation and colonization. Advertising illegal settlements
like Ma’alot David and Beit Orot not only misleads the audience, but contributes
to the acceptance of what, under international law, is a war crime.
hoped that one day soon, advertisements like this will be replaced by those
calling for a just and lasting peace. A real “dream come true” would be for the
internationally recognized rights of everyone to be achieved, and for Palestine
and Israel to live side by side, with east and west Jerusalem as the
internationally recognized capitals of Palestine and Israel: an open and shared
city and the capital of two states. Far from being a dream, the alternative, and
current reality, is a nightmare called apartheid.
The author is an
adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.