How Israel Is Turning into an Apartheid-Like State

President Donald Trump on Wednesday ended a long-standing U.S. commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state, saying he had no preference for either a one-state or two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The remarks came as Trump welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House, and represented a break from 20 years of official U.S. support for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Glenn Greenwald talking:

I guess I question, first of all, the extent to which it really is such a massive change in U.S. policy. It is, of course, a huge departure rhetorically from what the U.S. government has said for decades, which is that their policy is there ought to be a two-state solution. The reality, though, as any honest person involved in this conflict or who watches it admits, is that the two-state solution has been dying, and, in fact, probably dead for many years. It’s just that nobody wants to admit it. If you look at a map, it’s almost impossible to see where a separate Palestinian state in the West Bank can be created, given the growth of settlements under Prime Minister Netanyahu, growth which, by the way, the United States not only didn’t stop, but abetted by shoveling Israel with money, with weapons, with all kinds of diplomatic support, as they were expanding those settlements. Yes, they objected occasionally, in rhetoric, but, in action, never did.

And so, I think the two-state solution is something that we’re all eager not to give up on, because the alternatives are both so bad. But the reality is that in Israel there is an erosion of support for the two-state solution. There are high-level members of President—Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Cabinet, high ministers, who explicitly oppose it. The reality is that because of the course Israel has taken, the only two options that are real—and it’s essentially what Donald Trump, in his own kind of stumbling, inept, ignorant way, was getting at, was the only two options are: have Israel become an apartheid state, where a minority of Jews have political rights and control a country in which a majority of citizens have no political rights, exactly like was true of apartheid South Africa, or have one state in which all citizens have political rights, in which case Israel would no longer exist as a Jewish state. Neither of those options are good ones, but that is the course that Israel is taking. And what Trump is saying is, essentially, if the Israelis and Palestinians want a certain solution, we, the United States, are not going to prevent them from doing that.

What is really worrying is that Donald Trump is empowering some of the worst extremists in the world when it comes to Israeli policy. His son-in-law, who’s in charge of it, is a supporter of some of the hardest-core settlements in the West Bank. And Congress is taking up this week his nomination of a hardcore pro-settlement lunatic to be the U.S. ambassador to Israel. Just this morning, five ambassadors, former ambassadors to Israel, of both parties, came out and opposed him on the grounds that he’s essentially insane. And so, I do think there’s a dangerous tilting toward extremists in Israel on the part of the Trump administration. But the two-state solution has really only existed in rhetoric for a long time. And on some level, a lot of supporters of Palestinian rights think it’s actually a good thing to finally have that candid admission that a two-state solution is not really possible anymore because of Israeli behavior.

Glenn Greenwald
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept. His recent piece for The Intercept is headlined “The Leakers Who Exposed Gen. Flynn’s Lie Committed Serious—and Wholly Justified—Felonies.”

— source

Europe’s Largest Pension Funds Heavily Invested in Illegal Israeli Settlements

Europe’s five largest pension funds have €7.5 billion invested in companies with business activities in and around illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. This is at odds with United Nations guidelines, clear warnings from 18 European countries, and undermines the two-state solution, experts warn.

European investors have billions of euro invested in companies with activities in and around illegal Israeli settlements, according to a new investigation from Danwatch that screened the investment portfolios of Europe’s top five pension fund managers.

Statens pensjonsfond utland (Oljefondet) (NO), Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP (NE), Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (NE), Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension (DK), and Alecta Pensionsförsäkring (SE) have a total of €7.5 billion invested in 36 Israeli and international publicly-traded companies, most of which have long been under public scrutiny because of their activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Hugh Lovatt, expert on Israel and Palestine at the respected think-tank European Council on Foreign Relations, explains the problem with settlements:

“Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are illegal and have led to the dispossession of Palestinians and the fragmentation of Palestinian land. They infringe on Palestinian rights and exploit Palestinian natural resources.”

Business activities in and around settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are not necessarily against the law, but according to the United Nations, investors are obliged to carry out enhanced due diligence and to demonstrate that their activities do not contribute to negative effects on human rights.
Warning from European governments

In addition, 18 European countries warn their citizens and businesses in no uncertain terms against undertaking financial and economic activities that could support illegal Israeli settlements.

“Financial transactions, investments, purchases, tenders, and other economic activities (including services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements are associated with legal and economic risks due to the fact that, according to international law, the Israeli settlements are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a lawful part of Israel’s territory,” wrote the Danish Foreign Ministry in a 2014 statement similar to statements published by other countries.

“One should also be aware of possible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights,” the statement warns and refers to OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (2011) and United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights (2011).
Undermining the two-state solution

In addition to the “increased risk of adverse human rights impacts”, as the UN puts it, European investors are also actively undermining the official policy of the EU regarding a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“When European investors finance, fund or facilitate the settlement enterprise and illegal actions in the occupied Palestinian territories, they are contributing to the undermining of the two-state solution and therefore the undermining of the EU’s own foreign policy objectives,” [said] Policy fellow Hugh Lovatt at the European Council for Foreign Relations states to Danwatch.

“And these investments are illegal under international law – or at least very problematic – and exposes European investors to reputational, financial and legal risks,” says Lovatt.

Investments in companies with business activities in and around settlements tie European investors to potential violations of international humanitarian law and Palestinians’ human rights.

Lars Erslev Andersen, a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), agrees that it is problematic when companies have activities in settlements.

“In my opinion, businesses that have branches or factories in the occupied Palestinian territories help to maintain the occupation and facilitate Israel’s continued construction of settlements, infrastructure and security apparatus in the West Bank,” Andersen tells Danwatch.

“This is problematic, because it undermines the two-state solution, which is gradually becoming an illusion for a great number of people,” [said] Lars Erslev Andersen, senior researcher at DIIS.

Norwegian fund biggest investor

The largest single investor by far is Statens Pensjonsfond Utland, the Government Pension Fund of Norway, with €5.2 billion out of the total €7.5 billion invested in all 36 companies on Danwatch’s list.

This includes €135 million in Caterpillar, which supplies bulldozers for the demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories; €286 million in HeidelbergCement, which has been blacklisted by several other European investors due to exploitation of Palestinian natural resources; and €1.5 billion in Siemens, which has installed traffic systems on Israeli roads in the West Bank and placed bids on projects on occupied territory with Israel Railways.

The Norwegian Government Pension Fund also has €233 million in five Israeli banks financing settlement construction and operating in the West Bank in various ways: Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel Ltd, Israel Discount Bank Ltd and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd.

These same banks are blacklisted by Europe’s third largest pension fund Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (PFZW) (NE) which in 2014 ended several years of dialogue.

“Given the day-to-day reality and domestic legal framework they operate in, the banks have limited to no possibilities to end their involvement in the financing of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories,” wrote PFZW (formerly PGGM) about the decision to divest from Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot because they finance settlements and operate branches on occupied territory.

Danwatch asked The Norwegian Government Pension Fund specific questions about each of their investments in the 36 specific companies, but received no specific reply. Instead the fund answers in general terms about how they expect companies they invest in to strive to observe “the G20/OECD Principles of Corporate Governance, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the UN Global Compact.”

“Our expectations are especially relevant for companies with direct operations, supply chains or other business relationships in high-risk sectors, high-risk geographical areas, or otherwise high-risk operational environments,” they explain.

The Norwegian oil fund’s decisions about excluding specific companies is regulated by an independent council appointed by the Norwegian Ministry of Finance.

New findings will be considered

Of the five largest European pension funds, Denmark’s ATP is by far the smallest investor in companies on Danwatch’s list, with about €1 million in total in Siemens and The Priceline Group Inc, the owner of, which facilitates hotels in a number of settlements. However, ATP’s publicly available stock portfolio does not include index futures, which amounts to almost 95% of ATP’s entire foreign holdings.

On the two specific investments, ATP explains that Danwatch’s findings includes new information not covered by their external screening partner, and that they will have to consider this before they can answer specific questions.

Sweden’s largest pension fund, and Europe’s fifth-largest, Alecta Pensionsförsäkring, only has investments in one company on Danwatch’s list: Volvo Group. The Swedish industrial conglomerate partly owns Merkavim, which provides armoured busses for Egged bus lines in the West Bank, where Volvo busses are also used for transport. Two Volvo-certified garages operate in the illegal industrial zones of Mishor Adumim and Atarot in the occupied West Bank. Furthermore, Volvo excavators are used by the Israeli army to demolish Palestinian houses on occupied land, as documented in February, April and October 2016 in the Palestinian villages of Jinba, Halaweh, Um Al Kher and in the Jordan Valley. Danwatch presented these findings to Volvo Group, but received no reply.

On the subject of house demolitions, Volvo Group stated in 2011 that “Volvo neither can nor wants to take a position in international conflicts […] We regret if they are used for destructive purposes, but it does not stop us from believing that our excavators and vehicles largely play a part in making the world a little better.”

Alecta Pensionsförsäkring explains to Danwatch that their due diligence is outsourced to external partner GES, and that GES confirm their knowledge about the issue and have concluded that Volvo Group’s activities is not a breach against international conventions.

“Volvo has limited possibilities to influence how their products are used and we believe that Volvo cannot be directly linked to human rights violations,” Swedish investor Alecta therefore tells Danwatch.

“Alecta has an active and ongoing dialogue with Volvo as well as with our external partner GES and has so far not received any indication pointing towards an exclusion. If necessary we will as a first priority engage further in our dialogue with Volvo to make them comply with international law, rather than exclude them as an investment,” Alecta says.

Danwatch also contacted the two Dutch pension funds Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP and Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (PFZW), but received no reply.

— source By Mikkel Bahl, Hanan Chemlali & Kristoffer Marslev

Denying the Israeli past

3 June 2002

Ethnic cleansing attended the birth of Israel but, more than 50 years later, the country is still in denial about its bloody past. Those who speak out risk their jobs.

Behind the turbulent news from Israel, a struggle for historical truth has passed almost unnoticed outside academic circles; yet its wider significance is epic. In May 1948, more than 200 Palestinians were killed by the advancing Jewish militia in the coastal village of Tantura, south of Haifa. According to the recorded testimony of 40 witnesses, both Arab and Jewish, half the civilians were shot in a “rampage”. The rest were marched to the beach, where the men were separated from the women and children. They were taken to a wall near the mosque where they were shot in the back of the head.

The “cleansing” of Tantura (a term used at the time) was a well-kept secret. When they were interviewed four years ago, several Palestinian witnesses said they feared for their lives if they spoke out. One survivor, who as a child witnessed the murder of his entire family in Tantura, said to the interviewer: “But believe me, one should not mention these things. I do not want them to take revenge against us. You are going to cause us trouble . . .”

Trouble indeed. The researcher, a student called Teddy Katz, has had his masters degree annulled by Haifa University, even though he was awarded a top grade by the Middle Eastern department. When his research was revealed in the Israeli press, Jewish veterans of the attack on Tantura sued him for libel, and several Jewish witnesses recanted.

Katz had breached the taboo of the ethnic cleansing that gave birth to Israel and which the Palestinians mourn as Nakba – the catastrophe.

Without waiting for the case to come to court, the university struck Katz’s name from its honour roll. Whispered to be a traitor, and under pressure from his family and friends, Katz, a devout Zionist who lived on a kibbutz, apologised. Twelve hours later, he retracted his apology.

Professor Ilan Pappe is one of the few to have read all the transcripts of more than 60 hours of Katz’s taping of eyewitness evidence. “They include,” he wrote, “horrific descriptions of executions, of the killing of fathers in front of children, of rape and torture.” He describes Katz’s thesis “as a solid and convincing piece of work whose essential validity is in no way marred by its shortcomings”. The shortcomings, he says, come down to four minor mistakes. But the importance of the Katz research is its illumination of Israel’s history in terms of “the expulsion, direct and indirect, of some 750,000 Palestinians, the systematic destruction of more than 400 villages and scores of urban neighbourhoods, as well as the perpetration of some 40 massacres of unarmed Palestinians.”

Although other prominent scholars supported Katz, a silence and hostility familiar to those who break academic and political ranks in Israel descended on the case. Since the election of Ariel Sharon last year, this hostility is such that not even national heroes are forgiven. Last month, Yaffa Yarkoni, “Israel’s Vera Lynn”, whose emotional, wistful songs have celebrated Zionist triumphalism from 1948 to the present day, lost her huge popularity overnight when she remarked that Israeli soldiers ought not to be writing numbers on the arms of Palestinians. “Isn’t that what the Germans did?” she asked. One newspaper headline called her an “enemy of the people”; an editor said she “has joined the new anti-Semites in Europe”.

In challenging the Zionist version of Israel’s past, Ilan Pappe is one of Israel’s “new historians”, a distinguished and courageous critic. He has likened the Israeli state to apartheid South Africa, with its Palestinian “bantustans” and plethora of humiliating controls which now restrict the movement of people within their own communities. He says that Sharon’s goal is to begin the mass expulsion of Palestinians across the Jordan; only a pretext is required. According to one poll, 44 per cent of Israelis support this latest “cleansing”, known as “transfer”, another euphemism from the past. In 1948, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding prime minister, wrote, “We have accomplished our settlement by transfer of the [Palestinian] population.”

Not quite. The notion of a “final transfer” is supported by a number of cabinet members in the ruling Likud government, by leading Labour Party members and professors and media commentators. “Very few now dare to condemn it,” says Pappe. “A circle has been closed. When Israel took over almost 80 per cent of Palestine in 1948, it did so through settlement and ethnic cleansing. The country has a prime minister who enjoys wide public support and who wants to determine by force the future of the remaining 20 per cent.”

Now it might be Professor Pappe’s turn to be expelled from Haifa University. In an open letter circulated two weeks ago, he writes that the dean of the humanities department has demanded his expulsion for criticising the university over the Katz case. This runs deeper; Pappe has been a consistent opponent of Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine. He describes the university “court” that threatens to punish him as a “McCarthyite charade”. He has called upon “universities worldwide to debate a boycott of Israeli institutions, given their contempt for basic principles of academic freedom and dispassionate research”. He says that only international shaming, free of the intimidation that equates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, will break the silence about “horrific deeds in 1948, and so prevent their repetition”.

Others in Israel, as courageous as Ilan Pappe, are also under pressure, both crude and insidious. In Ha’eretz, Israel’s equivalent of the Guardian, two outstanding journalists, Amira Hass and Gideon Levy, have consistently reported the unpopular truth about Israel’s occupation of the remaining 22 per cent of the Palestine it conquered in 1967. They live daily with threats and hate mail. Upholding the bravest traditions of Jewish humanity, they need international solidarity.

— source

Boycott Hyundai to end its complicity in Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel (BDS48) calls upon our Palestinian people in the homeland and the Diaspora, the peoples of the Arab world, and people of conscience worldwide to boycott and divest from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), until it ends its involvement in Israel’s violations of our human rights, particularly in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev).

BDS48 is launching this boycott campaign at this particular moment in light of the extensive use of Hyundai equipment by the Israeli authorities in the recent demolitions of many homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Naqab, on 18 January 2017, and in Qalansawa, further north, on 10 January 2017. According to Arabic media reports, the Israeli authorities are planning a second wave of home demolitions in Umm al-Hiran in the coming few days.

Despite being faced with documented evidence of its persistent complicity in Israeli ethnic cleansing policies against Palestinians and Syrians in the territories occupied since 1967, Hyundai has failed to stop its business-as-usual involvement. It has thus forfeited its responsibilities as stated in the UN Global Compact and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

In Umm al-Hiran, Israeli armed forces destroyed many homes in the village, forcibly removing its Bedouin Palestinian population for the second time since the 1948 Nakba, injuring tens of peaceful protestors, and murdering the educator Yaquob Abu al-Qiyan in cold blood. The objective of this bloody conquest is to establish a Jewish-only colony on the ethnically cleansed village’s lands.

This latest crime by Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid comes as part of its ongoing policy of gradual ethnic cleansing since 1948 and that has led to the forcible displacement of most of the indigenous Palestinian people from our ancestral land. Israel today has more than 60 racist laws that legalize and institutionalize its special form of apartheid against its indigenous Palestinian citizens.

Inspired by the massive global solidarity movement that helped to end apartheid in South Africa, and stemming from the moral responsibility that falls on the shoulders of citizens and institutions everywhere to end any involvement in human rights violations, we, as Palestinian human rights defenders in Israel, call on:

People of conscience around the world to boycott Hyundai products;
Institutions, investment funds and churches to divest from Hyundai and local councils to exclude the company from public tenders;
Hyundai workers and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) to stand in solidarity with our peaceful struggle by pressuring the Hyundai management to stop the company’s complicity in Israeli violations of human rights. Our campaign is not intended at all to harm the interests of the company’s workers but to protect the rights of our people as stipulated in international law.

The achievements and impact of the global, Palestinian-led BDS movement for Palestinian rights have grown immensely in recent years, to the extent that Israel has recognized the movement’s “strategic” impact. BDS is today an essential pillar of the nonviolent Palestinian popular struggle for our inalienable rights under international law, most importantly the right to self-determination and the right of our refugees to return to their homes of origin.

Through this campaign to boycott Hyundai and your effective participation in it, we can pressure the company to end its involvement in Israel’s violations of human rights, just as several multinational giants were compelled by effective BDS campaigns to exit the Israeli market.

Veolia was the first to end its complicity in Israel’s human rights violations in 2015, followed by Orange telecommunication, CRH, and most recently G4S, the largest security company in the world, which sold almost all its illegal business in Israel.

Our people have decided to besiege our siege. Our campaign against Hyundai is part of this nonviolent human rights movement that has proven itself to be strategic and effective in isolating Israel’s regime of oppression academically, culturally and economically in order to exercise and protect our right as a people to live on our land in freedom, justice and dignity.

— source

Palestinians call for boycott of Hyundai

Israeli authorities use a Hyundai bulldozer to destroy the home of a Palestinian citizen of Israel in the town of Lydd, 10 February 2015. The house was built with donations from relatives and neighbors, to help a single mother and her four children. It was built on family-owned land, but without a permit that is extremely difficult to obtain due to Israel’s discriminatory policies. Oren Ziv ActiveStills

Palestinians are calling for a boycott of Hyundai over the company’s failure to stop its construction equipment being used by Israel to destroy their homes and communities.

“The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel (BDS48) calls upon our Palestinian people in the homeland and the Diaspora, the peoples of the Arab world, and people of conscience worldwide to boycott and divest from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), until it ends its involvement in Israel’s violations of our human rights, particularly in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev),” says an action alert released on Tuesday.

The alert calls on people around the world “to boycott Hyundai products” and urges institutions, including investment funds and churches, to divest from Hyundai shares.

Municipal bodies should exclude Hyundai from public tenders, the action alert states.
Complicity in ethnic cleansing

While Israel’s abuse of the South Korean company’s products has been documented for years, BDS48 says the campaign comes “at this particular moment in light of the extensive use of Hyundai equipment by the Israeli authorities in the recent demolitions” of many homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the southern Naqab region, and in the town of Qalansawa further north, last month.

Another wave of demolitions in Umm al-Hiran is expected imminently, part of Israel’s plan to destroy the community and replace it with a town for Jews, to be called “Hiran.”

In December, Israel also used Hyundai equipment to demolish a home in the occupied Golan Heights.

The BDS48 action alert, which was disseminated by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), notes that Hyundai has been presented with evidence of its “persistent complicity in Israeli ethnic cleansing policies against Palestinians and Syrians in the territories occupied since 1967.”

But the company “has failed to stop its business-as-usual involvement,” the alert states.

Hyundai “has thus forfeited its responsibilities as stated in the UN Global Compact and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” – standards that are supposed to promote sustainable development and halt corporate complicity in state abuses.
Tarnished brand

Until the early 2000s, Hyundai was a single group encompassing such activities as vehicle production, shipbuilding, construction, steel, finance, retail, aerospace and defense.

It was broken up into five major companies, including Hyundai Heavy Industries, which makes ships and construction equipment, and Hyundai Motor Group.

But all the companies continue to be controlled by a few members of the founding Chung family as part of a complex web of entities.

All the spin-offs trade on the goodwill of the famous Hyundai name, a brand that risks being tarnished by association with Israel’s crimes.

Consumers around the world would be most familiar with cars made by Hyundai Motor Group and its affiliate Kia.

In recent years, Hyundai has shot into the world’s top five automakers.

It is a popular brand in Middle East countries, with Saudi Arabia accounting for more than 40 percent of its regional sales.

In 2016, Hyundai saw its first dip in auto sales in almost two decades. Its workers have also staged widespread strikes over wages.

The BDS48 action alert urges Hyundai workers and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions “to stand in solidarity with our peaceful struggle by pressuring the Hyundai management to stop the company’s complicity in Israeli violations of human rights.”

“Our campaign is not intended at all to harm the interests of the company’s workers but to protect the rights of our people as stipulated in international law,” it states.

— source

Israel demolishes every home in West Bank Bedouin village

Israeli forces have demolished every home in the Bedouin village of Khirbet Taha in the northern West Bank district of Nablus during three separate demolitions since the start of the year.

Unlike most Bedouin villages, the residents in Khirbet Taha own their own land. However that land falls in Area C, territory in the occupied West Bank under full Israeli control.

The village’s only school was also destroyed, leaving children to study in a dilapidated 100-year-old mosque — the only structure left standing in the village.

According the United Nations, Israel has demolished half as many Palestinian buildings in the first few months of 2016, as they had in all of 2015. In February alone, the UN found that more Palestinians homes were destroyed than any other month since 2009, when the organization began its documentation.

— source By Sheren Khalel, Abed Al Qaisi

UN Head’s Resignation Over Israel Apartheid Report

Earlier today, Dr. Rima Khalaf, Director of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), resigned from her post following pressure from the US and Israel over a report issued this week by ESCWA documenting Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Palestinian people and encouraging support for the grassroots boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights and freedom. Dr. Khalaf explained her decision stating: “I resigned because it is my duty not to conceal a clear crime, and I stand by all the conclusions of the report. The crimes that Israel continues to commit against the Palestinian people and in Lebanon amount to war crimes against humanity,” she said.

— source