Fascism and the colonisation of Palestine

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The re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu as Israeli president has created turmoil for the Zionist regime. Squeezed between a right-wing electorate and a US government favouring negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu's new Likud government has already been forced to alter its plans, dropping proposals for a racist bus ban for Palestinian citizens in Israel. To maintain the support of US and EU governments, the Israeli colonisation of Palestine must appear more 'liberal' or pro-'peace.' Iran is potentially an important ally for the imperialists and Israel's anti-negotiation stance is unwelcome.

The 17 March Israeli elections were a victory for a new generation of fascist politicians. On 21 May Tzipi Hotovely, the Likud Party's new deputy foreign minister, used her first speech in the Knesset (parliament) to claim that 'This land is ours. All of it is ours’. Using religious arguments to defend Israel's ongoing colonisation of the West Bank, Hotovely called on 'the international community to recognise Israel’s right to build homes for Jews in their homeland, everywhere.' Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev said that Hotovely's views did not reflect government policy. A day before the election, Netanyahu had posed in front of the Har Homa settlement near Beit Sahour and pledged to keep on building. While settlement construction under Likud was slightly below that of the previous 'liberal' Olmert government, 2014 saw a 40% increase in construction starts. New construction plans go deep into the West Bank, along the roads from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea and Bethlehem.

In the week before swearing-in of the new Israeli government, US president Obama admitted that a Palestinian state was 'nearly impossible' in the short term but maintained his call for a two-state solution. He added: 'I know that a government has been formed that contains some folks who don’t necessarily believe in that premise, but that continues to be my premise’. UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon has voiced opposition to settlement construction taking place since the election, saying he 'strongly deplores the advancement of settlement activities on three occasions over the past three consecutive weeks' in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Ban called on Netanyahu to 'halt and reverse' its decisions. Obama’s and Ban's concerns have nothing to do with offering a solution favourable to the Palestinian people and everything to do with pacifying the struggle for real independence. But if the Netanyahu regime will not play ball, Israel will face growing isolation and resistance. In April Israeli leaders attacked the Lausanne negotiations between the EU, US and Iran. Despite Obama's promise of 'consultations' with Israel over a nuclear deal with Iran, this is not a priority for US imperialists struggling to control Iraq and Syria.

On 20 May Netanyahu was forced to shelve a law to ban West Bank Palestinians from travelling on the same buses as Zionist settlers. Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon had claimed the segregation was necessary to allow 'better control of Palestinians and reduce security risks’. The climb-down is symbolic – a minority of Palestinians in the West Bank use Israeli buses to reach remote regions – and has the purpose of showing the international community that the Zionist regime is capable of moderation and compromise. This retreat is clearly significant, but behind the media-publicised politicking, segregation is an everyday part of Palestinian life. In Jerusalem, a slick, modern tram system is used almost exclusively by Jews while Arab citizens travel separately in mini-buses. This is just one aspect of an apartheid transport system which bans Palestinian cars from Zionist-only roads.

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Gaza collapsing under Israeli-Egyptian blockade

A new report by the World Bank on the economy of Gaza shows the devastating social aftermath of Israel's terrorist bombardment in summer 2014, and the crippling effects of Israel's blockade, backed up by the reactionary Sisi regime in Egypt. Gaza now has the equivalent of the world's highest unemployment – 43% of the population or 1.8 million people. By the end of 2014 youth unemployment was 60%. Gaza's economy is now 'on the verge of collapse' says Steen Lau Jorgensen, World Bank director for the West Bank and Gaza, adding, 'The current market in Gaza is not able to offer jobs, leaving a large population in despair, particularly the youth.' Egypt's destruction of over 1,600 tunnels to Gaza led to a 15% fall in Gaza's GDP.

Zionists target archaeological sites

As Isis makes headlines for destroying historic landmarks of civilisation in Syria and Iraq, the Israeli occupation continues to get away with similar crimes in Palestine. Khaled Maali, a researcher in historic Deir Samaan, says 'The settlers are digging around the archaeological site and changing its features.' The mayor of Al Walaja village, Abd Al Rahman Abu Al Teen says that an ancient spring at Ain Al Haniyeh has 'arches, buildings and Byzantine mosaic floors, but the occupation authorities are preparing to implement a plan to establish a public park there. Al Walaja is around 5,000 years old, and the occupation authorities are currently controlling it.' Around 233 archaeological sites fall within Zionist settlements on the West Bank while 1,100 historic landmarks have been destroyed by Israel's apartheid wall.

Louis Brehony