Palestinians resist Israeli plans to steal almost a quarter of the occupied West Bank

Palestinians occupy the roof of a building during a protest on the Dead Sea coast
Tom Anderson

Palestinians protested at the Dead Sea coast on Saturday 28 September. Their action was aimed at showing resistance to Israel’s new plans to annex almost a quarter of the West Bank.

One Palestinian protester told The Canary that the demonstration was violently attacked by the Israeli occupying army.

A statement received by The Canary from the Palestinian Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) reads:

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Joined by dozens of international and Israeli supporters, we the Palestinian activists protested being deprived of our rights to our land, water and natural resources as a colonized people.

The statement goes on to condemn the Israeli state’s annexation plans:

We also resist annexation by enacting Palestinian sovereignty over its borders, land and the water that flows above and beneath the surface, so that basic needs of our people are met and justice for our people as well as for the generations before and for those yet to come is realized.

Jordan Valley communities under existential threat

The Jordan Valley makes up almost a third of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. It stretches the length of its eastern flank along the border with Jordan.

The Israeli state has been supporting the colonisation of the West Bank since the Israeli military occupied it in 1967. There are now almost 50 Israeli colonies in the Jordan Valley, and nearly 13,000 Israeli settlers.

The Jordan Valley is a fertile area, thought of as the ‘breadbasket’ of the West Bank. Israeli settlements are farming dates and other export crops on an industrial scale. Settlement farms benefit from paying low wages to an occupied and captive Palestinian labour force.

The Dead Sea coast to the south is dominated by Israeli settler tourism, and businesses profiting from Dead Sea cosmetics. Interviews carried out in the Jordan Valley by the author show that Palestinian Bedouin communities were forcibly evicted from the Dead Sea area after the 1967 occupation. And these forcible displacements are still going on. According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem:

From January 2013 through September 2017, the military compelled various communities throughout the Jordan Valley to vacate their homes 140 times.

Netanyahu puts his weight behind plans for annexation of the Jordan Valley

Israeli politicians have long been threatening the annexation of the Jordan Valley. In 2013, right-wing Israeli politicians voted for a symbolic motion calling for an annexation of the valley to the state of Israel.

The plans for annexation were given a prime ministerial stamp of approval in a press conference by Benjamin Netanyahu in September 2019. He threatened to annex the valley if he was successful in the next election, saying:

Today I’m announcing my intention, with the establishment of the next government, to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea.

Stealing almost a quarter of the West Bank

Netanyahu’s plan would reportedly annex 1,236,278 hectares of land to the Israeli state. This would amount to 22.3% of the West Bank. A map of the plan shows that it would create Palestinian ghettos, separated from the rest of the West Bank. The biggest of these ghettos would be the city of Jericho.

Israeli anti-occupation group Peace Now has compared the policy to the ‘bantustans’ established by South Africa’s apartheid regime:

The vision presented by the Prime Minister is, in fact, a vision of apartheid, of one country in which one group of civilians has full rights (Israeli) and another (Palestinians) does not. The autonomy and access roads Netanyahu guarantees to the Palestinians in the Valley are alarmingly similar to the Bantustan formula in former Apartheid South Africa.

Preventing Palestinian autonomy

Several commentators have pointed out that the plan will be another nail in the coffin for a future Palestinian state, and for Palestinian hopes of autonomy in the region.

According to Peace Now:

Anyone familiar with the conflict, the geography of the region, and the minimum conditions for establishing a Palestinian state in the Occupied Territories knows that an independent and viable Palestinian state cannot be established with such a large swath of land along the Jordan River taken away.

Netanyahu’s announcement comes one year after Israel’s attempts to demolish the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar. This attempted expulsion, which took place west of the Jordan Valley, was widely seen as part of an attempt to make any future attempt to establish an independent Palestinian state impossible.

‘We will tirelessly march forward’

Palestinians remain steadfast and defiant in the face of Netanyahu’s policies. According to the PSCC’s statement:

We will tirelessly continue to march forward together, rebuilding, where the occupation destroys, preserving life, where the occupier shatters it, and planting, where the settler colonial regime razes and uproots.

Featured image supplied to the author by an International Solidarity Movement activist

Get involved

Tom Anderson is part of the Shoal Collective, a cooperative producing writing for social justice and a world beyond capitalism. Twitter: @shoalcollective

  • Learn more about the Jordan Valley.
  • Read about the campaign to boycott agricultural products from the Jordan Valley settlements.

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    1. The biggest prison on earth. Two things undermine the Israeli attempt to thoroughly ethnically cleanse Palestine: resistance from within and opposition from without. The resistance from within is always used as an excuse for brutality. The Zionists refuse to accept they have done anything wrong. Assassinating Lord Moyne was presumably justified. Maybe he was a terrorist. Maybe Folke Bernadotte was too. The 1948 ethnic cleansing was, in Zionist eyes, a defensive war. The truth is the Israelis have been hit by a problem: what to do with the indigenous population as they install themselves in Biblical Israel. That this is an irrational project goes without saying. That it is closer to psychosis than rationality is beyond doubt. The Israelis have got away with this madness and evil because the outside world has permitted them. Trump is enamoured of madness and evil. Other countries which should no better do nothing. The resistance from within will lead to greater repression. The Israelis would like to be rid of the indigenous population. But this isn’t 1948. They are trying to pass themselves off as a democratic regime. Wholesale killing, as in 1948, would make even Trump wince. Hence, the land grab and the shrinking of the size of the prison. We have to stop this. We the common folk of the democracies. We have to raise such a stink and put the culprits in the dock that worldwide public opinion will make what the Israelis want impossible. The Labour Party has just voted for the right of return. Every democratic party in the world should do the same. 194 is the number. It is the Palestinians right. Demonstrate. Leaflet. Pass motions. Persuade. Write letters. Use social media. Harangue your friends, neighbours, colleagues, family. We have some freedom, the Palestinians are in prison. It is our moral duty to release them.

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