Israeli Terrorism Cripples Palestinian Farmers


Mel Frykberg/IPS

Olive harvest season is under way across the occupied Palestinian territories…Traditionally a festive season, this year’s harvest is once again overshadowed by tight Israeli restrictions, settler attacks and a weaker yield due to harsh climatic conditions.

A study published in 2012 by The Applied Research Institute Jerusalem estimated that since 1967, Israeli authorities have uprooted 800,000 Palestinian olive trees in the West Bank.

In the past year alone, more than 9,300 trees were destroyed in the West Bank, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross…

Besides the physical destruction of these olive trees, many Palestinian farmers in the West Bank require Israeli permits to access their land in restricted areas near illegal Israeli settlements.

Israeli settlements are Jewish communities built illegally on Palestinian land. Today, between 600,000 and 750,000 Israeli settlers live in at least 250 illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Both sides of my family come from a farming history…from Scotland and Canada on my father’s side…from Italy and SudTirol on my mother’s side; but, my youth and adult life is urban and industrial. Till retirement, that is. Here I am in semi-rural northern New Mexico. Still, no farming in my life. But, I understand the needs and pride that accompanies farming life. And fightback against illegal colonial settlers doesn’t require a stretch to get my support.

US begs the EU to postpone sanctions against Israel


My bowling partner

US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged the European Union to postpone a planned ban on EU financial assistance to Israeli organisations in the occupied Palestinian territories…

Kerry made the request at a meeting with EU foreign ministers on Saturday at which he also called on them to support Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which resumed on July 29 after a nearly three-year hiatus.

The EU imposed restrictions in July, citing its frustration over the continued expansion of illegal Jewish settlements in territory captured by Israeli forces in the 1967 Middle East War.

Asked about her response to Kerry’s comments about the aid guidelines, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told reporters the guidelines were simply “putting down on paper what is currently the EU position”…

The EU guidelines render Israeli entities operating in the occupied territories ineligible for EU grants, prizes or loans, beginning next year.

They angered Israel’s rightist government, which accused the Europeans of harming Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and responded by announcing curbs on EU aid projects for thousands of West Bank Palestinians.

Palestinians praised the guidelines as a concrete step against illegal settlement construction, which they fear will deny them a viable state…

…Many in Israel worry about possible knock-on effects the EU steps may have on individuals or companies based in Israel that might be involved in business in the settlements, deemed illegal by the international community.

Israeli-Palestinian peace has been Kerry’s main foreign policy initiative since becoming secretary of state on February 1.

Which delineates [1] how little Kerry has achieved since he took up his job as substitute for Hillary and [2] how little anyone expects him to achieve – since the United States doesn’t wish to nudge the apartheid government of Israel into anything like justice or peace.

The issues needing to be sorted after more than six decades of phony negotiations include borders, the fate of Palestinian refugees, the removal of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the status of Jerusalem. That’s all.