The Zionist state of Israel has always worked hard to put a spin on events which falsifies reality and covers-up the facts. An objective observer, however, can discern the truth and find contradictions between Israeli propaganda and the real facts on the ground. One such contradiction is the official claim that the Israeli government and the actions of the illegal settlers it allows to colonise the occupied West Bank are not linked. That claim is a lie; there is full coordination and cooperation between the government and settlers’ groups. The plan to train West Bank settlers to use new weapons including tear gas and stun grenades, which settlers’ leaders and rabbis say will help them to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, has been followed by the Israeli occupation army standing aside while settlers have attacked mosques, educational institutions and Palestinian homes across the West Bank. Tear gas has been fired by the army, not at the settlers committing these crimes, but at the victims as they protest.
Settlers have already organised marches to counter Palestinian demonstrations in the occupied territories in support of the bid for recognition by the UN of an independent Palestinian state within the June 1967 borders. Shaul Goldstein, the Regional Chairman of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc near Jerusalem, said that the settlers will be responsible for security in the West Bank, working with the army in this task. “We must affirm our right in this land,” he added, “and the Palestinians must stop thinking of establishing their own state, because we will prevent it by force.” Goldstein is a member of the Central Committee of the Likud Party, led by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Another Likud member, Ze’ev Alken, who lives in Gush Etzion, said, “The settlers must put pressure on the Israeli authorities in order to send a message to the Palestinians that they will lose a lot by asking for UN recognition.” Alken’s statement constitutes a direct threat of force to be used against the Palestinians.
Ultra-right wing Knesset member Michael Ben-Ari, meanwhile, convened a parliamentary forum to discuss “transforming the [Palestinian] threat into an opportunity to change the rules of the game”. Ben-Ari told participants, “The time has come to announce that we are here [in the occupied West Bank] forever; we need to get out of our homes with our women, our children and elderly to respond on the ground to the rallies the Arabs want to organise.” Extremist Rabbi Don Lior of Kiryat Arba settlement near Hebron, home to ultra-extreme Zionists, has blessed the participants to convey a message to the world that “there will never be another national entity in ‘Judea and Samaria’ other than the Jewish people”. It was suggested at the forum that Israel should “formally annex the West Bank” and settlers should receive intensive self-defence [sic] training and implement tighter security measures, striking hard against the Palestinians. Jonathan Joseph, a spokesman for the illegal settlers in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem, told the group, “We are not Christians [we will not ‘turn the other cheek’], and we will respond to each strike with many painful strikes.”
Such is the atmosphere in the illegal settlements in the run up to the Palestinian move at the UN. There is a clear and very public alliance between the Israeli military and West Bank settlers, which is producing plans to use force to stop Palestinian rallies in support of the UN bid.
The settlers in the West Bank are ultra-Zionist extremists who have been armed with light weapons up until now. There is a clear and present danger of massacres being committed against the Palestinian community if the settlers attack peaceful demonstrations calling upon the world to back the efforts to gain recognition of an independent state.
We can but issue a warning about the collusion between the Israeli authorities and the illegal settler militias (for that is what they have become); it is up to the Palestinian Authority to take such warnings seriously. Popular committees must be formed to protect the people of Palestine from settler attacks, and the Palestinian police force should be deployed to good effect in this regard. A practical strategy has to be prepared.
It is important to gain international recognition of a Palestinian state in the United Nations; that much is obvious. In the meantime, the Palestinian Authority must be aware of the danger that the settlers pose in terms of security. This issue also needs to be raised in the relevant international bodies and human rights groups as a matter of great urgency.
Khaleej Times Newspaper
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.