-Submitted by Mark Hage, Vermonters for Justice in Palestine

Israel approves 7,000 new settlement units in southern West Bank

By Yuma Patel, Excerpted from Mondoweiss,

May 8, 2020

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett has approved the expansion of the mega Efrat settlement in the southern occupied West Bank with 7,000 new housing units — nearly doubling the settlement in size.

According to [the Israel organization] Peace Now, data indicates that since the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, 99.8% of state land in the occupied territory has been allocated for Israeli and settlement use, while less than 0.2% has been given to Palestinians.

Since 1967, Israel has settled an estimated 700,000 Israeli citizens in the West Bank in contravention of international law and the consensus that Israeli settlements are illegal.

Rights groups have noticed a sharp increase in settlement expansion during Trump’s time in office. According to Peace Now, the average annual rate of settlement expansion under Trump was 25 percent higher than during President Obama’s time in office.

 

Friedman: US Ready to Recognize West Bank Annexation ‘Within Weeks’

Excerpted from The Palestine Chronicle,

May 7, 2020

Israel is expected to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank within the coming weeks, the US envoy to Israel said on Wednesday.

US Ambassador David Friedman to Israel said that Washington would be “ready to recognize” the annexation of the Palestinian lands once the Israeli government had “declared sovereignty” over them.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration revealed its long-anticipated ‘Deal of the Century’ plan to counter the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The deal backs Israel’s annexation of more than a third of the occupied West Bank, including illegal settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley.

 

 

‘Apartheid is a Crime’: Former Swedish Diplomat Speaks about His Experiences in Occupied Palestine

 

Mats Svensson is a former Swedish diplomat, author, and photographer. His books include “Crimes, Victims and Witnesses – Apartheid in Palestine.”

His latest volume, “Apartheid is a Crime – Portraits of Israeli Occupation,” was just released by Cunepress in Seattle.

Svensson joined me [Ramzy Baroud] and my co-host Romana Rubeo on “Palestine Chronicle TV,” on May 6, to discuss his fascinating experiences in Palestine and the balancing act of being a diplomat and a conscientious human being who cares deeply about the principles of justice and equality.

“I went to Palestine in 2004; before that, I had been working for many years in Bangladesh, in Congo, (and) in South Africa. They convinced me to go to Palestine. I prepared myself. I read a lot,” he began.

“I spent the first ten days moving around, talking to journalists, to politicians, to UN people. I remember going to Qalqilya (in the northern occupied Palestinian West Bank), where I saw the Wall for the first time. I talked to people that had lost everything because they had the land on the wrong side of the Wall. Then I went to Hebron and I went to Gaza. And something happened inside of me during this time. I was in shock. I understood that I was not prepared at all. Something had manipulated me but I did not know what it was, at the time.”