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Demolitions and ‘tolerance’: Palestinians in the West Bank express resignation

48 9 1
08.11.2018

Reportage. In the Occupied Territories, the Israeli settlements are expanding at an accelerating pace. Palestinian rights are not on the political agenda, and the sense of stagnation is palpable. ‘The Palestinians are alone.’

written by Chiara Cruciati

Topic Middle East and North Africa

NUAMAN, Palestine

November 8, 2018

The slow, early morning traffic after the Israeli checkpoint that bisects the Palestinian village of Nuaman, north of Bethlehem, means that one has time to note the striking advance of the concrete walls of the Har Homa settlement. It is 20 years old, built in the late 1990s on Abu Ghneim hill, where apartment buildings with six and seven floors replaced a forest where Palestinians used to have picnics during the weekend.

The settlement has grown in recent years and then exploded in size just in the last few months. It occupies the entire hill and is advancing rapidly outward. This advance is an immediate visible sign of how much the Palestinian agenda has been set back. Officially, people talk about the status quo and about unchanging boundaries, but here immobility is wholly one-sided: the Palestinians appear to be staying in place, while Israelis advance.

Further north, along the Israeli wall that surrounds Jerusalem, one can see Ramallah, with its awe-inspiring contradictions. There is construction happening here as well—a lot of it. New buildings made of white stone are sprouting up like mushrooms, featuring vaguely European-style bars without any definite identity. Bank branch after bank branch is opening up—each a concrete step towards debt, a new phenomenon for a society previously accustomed to living off savings and to only buy a house or add an extra floor to the family home after the marriage of one of the children. Today, things have changed: loans have become an everyday means to make ends meet with the small salaries, rent an apartment or pay for university studies.

“The first Intifada broke out when there were no walls or checkpoints in the Territories, when we could move freely through all of historic Palestine. We could visit Jaffa and Gaza and go to........

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