At least 750,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes in 1948 Photo credit: AP
In its current formulation, Israel knows only one direction: to deepen its domination over a people whose land it has stolen and continues to steal, wrote renowned British journalist David Hearst in an opinioned published on the Middle East Eye.
According to Hearst, the Nakba is not a past event. The dispossession of lands, homes and the creation of refugees have continued almost without pause since.
In his view, the centrepiece of Israeli Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu’s election campaign and the central legislative purpose of the current Israeli unity government would constitute another chapter of dispossession for Palestinians in 2020. Those are the plans to annex one third - or at worst two thirds - of the West Bank.
He said three scenarios are currently under consideration: the maximalist plan to annex the Jordan Valley and all of what the Oslo Accords referred to as Area C. This is about 61 percent of the territory of the West Bank which is administered directly by Israel and is home to 300,000 Palestinians.
The second scenario is to annex the Jordan Valley alone. According to Israeli and Palestinian surveys conducted in 2017 and 2018, there were 8,100 settlers and 53,000 Palestinians living on this land. Israel split this land into two entities: the Jordan Valley and the Megillot-Dead Sea regional council.
Hearst said the third scenario is to annex the settlements around Jerusalem, the so-called E1 area, which includes Gush Etsion and Maale Adumin. In both cases Palestinians who live in the villages around these settlements are threatened with expulsion or transfer. There are 2600 Palestinians who live in the village of Walaja and parts of Beit Jala who would be affected by the annexation of Gush Etsion, as well as 2000-3000 Bedouins living in 11 communities around Maale Adumin, such as Khan al-Ahmar.
He said such attempts will generate displacement memories sparked by the Nakba, 72 years old today. In Hearst’s terms, the Nakba continues to live and breathe venom. The Nakba is not just about original refugees but their descendants - today some five million of them qualify for the services of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA).
Hearst referred to “My Return” international campaign launched by PRC in which Palestinians sign a declaration refusing to relinquish their right of return.
"My right of return to my homeland is an inalienable, individual and collective right guaranteed by international law. Palestinian refugees will never yield to the 'alternative homeland' projects. Any initiative that strikes at the intrinsic foundations of the right of return and negates it is illegitimate and null, and does not represent me in any possible manner," the declaration says.
Hearst added that most Palestinians see annexation as the climax of the Zionist project to establish a Jewish majority state, and confirmation of their belief that the only way this conflict will end is in its dissolution.
But by the same token, the annexation plans under discussion should be proof to the international community, if one were needed, that far from being a country living in fear, and under permanent attack from irrational and violent rejectionists, Israel is a state which cannot share the land with Palestinians, let alone tolerate Palestinian self-determination in an independent state.
“In its current formulation, Israel knows only one direction: to deepen its domination over a people whose land it has stolen and continues to steal”, concluded Hearst.
To Palestinians, the Nakba is a recurring disaster. At least 750,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes in 1948. A further 280,000 to 325,000 fled their homes in territories captured by Israel in 1967.
Since then, Israel has devised subtler means of trying to force the Palestinians from their homes. One such tool was residency revocations. Between the start of Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967 and the end of 2016, Israel revoked the status of at least 14,595 Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem.
A further 140,000 residents of East Jerusalem have been “silently transferred” from the city, when the construction of the separation wall started in 2002 blocking access to the rest of the city. Almost 300,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem hold permanent residence issued by the Israeli interior ministry.
Another tool of expropriation is the application of the Absentee Property Law, which, when passed in 1950, was intended as the basis for the transfer of Palestinian property to the State of Israel.