WATCH: Jeff Halper On Israel Arming Its Settlers In Anticipation Of Palestine Vote
Ha’aretz reports that Israel is now arming its Jewish settlers in the West Bank with riot gear in preparation for Palestinian ‘mass disorder’, which they say will result from a vote in favor of Palestinian Statehood at the UN General Assembly this September.
Palestinian leaders have maintained that any and all September protests will be peaceful, but Israeli leaders — such as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman — are conversely advancing the notion that “Palestinians [are] preparing for ‘bloodshed the likes of which we’ve never seen before’”.
The IDF are being green-lighted to shoot Palestinian protesters in the legs should they cross over an Israeli-imposed ‘red line’ which circles each of the illegal settlements. Settlers are being armed with tear gas and stun grenades, and the Israeli Army Spokesperson refused to state whether they were also being provided with additional arms.
This military buildup and arming of Israel’s most extreme right-winged elements in the occupied territories has peace activists worried:
Hagit Ofran, of Peace Now, an Israeli organisation which monitors settlement activity, said: “We hope the army is making clear that non-violent protest is legitimate and no settlers should use any violence against unarmed demonstrators.”
Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights said there were already “serious questions and problems” with settlement security officials acting outside their designated boundaries. “We’re very concerned that [the IDF move] will not reduce conflict but increase it,” he said.
In an interview with RT News, Jeff Halper, the Co-founder of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, explains why Israel is reacting like a cornered animal in anticipation of the UN General Assembly vote to recognize Palestine:
RT: Are the preparations justified? Is the unrest as inevitable as the Defense Forces are making it out to be?
Halper: I wouldn’t call it ‘unrest’. I would call it a demonstration of Palestinian independence. Because if in fact in September the General Assembly recognizes the state of Palestine within the 1967 borders, it means that the settlements, the checkpoints, the Israeli wall — everything that Israel has is now illegally in the sovereign territory of Palestine. And there is actually no legal justification for stopping Palestinians from walking into settlements and crossing checkpoints.
And that, I think, is a real concern to Israel. That simply, they will ignore the fact the army is there. The army cannot shoot at Palestinians, because it has no legal standing there.
Halper: It is clear that Israel is not going to allow — or gonna try not to allow — September to happen. Israel has no intention of giving up its control of the occupied territory.
Until today, Israel has managed to keep its whole settlement enterprise, because it succeeded in getting the United States to characterize the occupation as ‘disputed territories’ and not real occupation. Once the UN recognizes Palestine within these borders — now there’s no argument: This is occupation. International law applies.
Probably 140 countries will recognize Palestine, and Israel is gonna be under a lot of pressure to try to maintain the occupation.
I don’t think the military resistance to the Palestinians is going to help. I think it is actually going to make the entire international community impose sanctions on Israel. The big campaign will be after September — getting the Israeli presence out of the sovereign state of Palestine.