Deal of the Century
In reality, this deal was designed to strip millions of Palestinians of their rights, and further entrench Israel’s occupation and apartheid regime of control over Palestinians.
Palestinians are pushing back against these attacks and need our solidarity.
In 2018, the Trump administration launched an attack on the UN agency responsible for the welfare of Palestinian refugees. It stopped US funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), leaving the agency struggling to provide basic services for those in need, and severely impeding its ability to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. This was coupled with an attempt to coerce the UN agency to redefine who could be considered a refugee, in order to strip millions of Palestinians of their political rights.
UNRWA was established in 1949, in the wake of the mass forcible displacement of Palestinians from their historic homeland. It was mandated to provide relief to Palestinian refugees until the restoration of their fundamental rights, including their right of return. Today, over five million Palestinian refugees receive essential services from UNRWA, including healthcare and education.
In April 2021, under new administration, the US restored funding for UNRWA. However, politically motivated attacks on UNRWA, and attempts to reverse this decision, have intensified. Recent attacks have deliberately sought to discredit UNRWA with cynical disinformation, in order to harm its operations and the Palestinian refugees it serves. This is part of a concerted effort by Israel to dismantle UNRWA, and undermine the rights of Palestinian refugees.
The right of return is a core part of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, and is guaranteed under international law. In the face of these threats, Palestinian refugees are calling for international solidarity to protect UNRWA and stand up for the Palestinian right of return.
Illegal settlement expansion through Palestinian dispossession is a defining and ongoing feature of Israel’s settler-colonial regime. Settlement expansion takes place through land grabs, the destruction of Palestinian homes, schools, and other structures, and barring Palestinians from accessing their land. Israeli settlement construction is a war crime according to international law. Today in the West Bank, this is continuing apace.
In 2019, the Trump administration recognised Israel’s illegal annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights, as part of its unprecedented support for Israeli settlements. This emboldened Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to push to formally annex all Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Despite Israel’s announced suspension of this plan, the settlement expansion has continued, and dispossession is a reality facing three million Palestinians in the West Bank. Israeli settlement building in the West Bank accelerated dramatically in the Trump era, with over 9000 homes built throughout the West Bank, and thousands more planned. This illegal construction is continuing still today, constituting a de facto annexation of the West Bank.
Palestinians have been resisting these land grabs, protesting settlement construction and calling for international companies to end their involvement in settlement expansion. They hold peaceful demonstrations against settlements and demolitions, and they collectively plant new trees and crops in areas under threat, showing defiance against the confiscation of their lands. Palestinian farmers and workers provide basic services like water, sanitation, and food to West Bank communities for whom public services are in short supply, and plant crops and trees on land under threat of confiscation.
The Trump administration’s move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem emboldened Israel to accelerate its existing plans to force Palestinians out of Jerusalem. These policies have not abated, and forcible displacement remains an urgent threat to Palestinian existence in Jerusalem.
Since 1967, Israel has forcibly transferred over 14,000 Palestinians from East Jerusalem. In the past year, Palestinians in East Jerusalem faced accelerated home demolitions and a record rate of settlement expansion. These home demolitions are the result of discriminatory city planning, which makes it almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits, leaving 100,000 Palestinians at risk of having their homes demolished.
Israel systematically forces the eviction of Palestinian residents. In the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, Israeli settler organisations are deep in a decades-long process of evicting the 28 Palestinian families that have lived there for generations, through Israeli courts, in order to replace them with Jewish settlers. Many families have already been displaced. Under international law, Israeli courts have no jurisdiction over the occupied Palestinian population, yet this has not stopped the court-mandated seizure of Palestinian property or enforcement of discriminatory laws.
Palestinians in Jerusalem have a long history of resisting attempts to displace them. In April 2021, Israeli security forces erected barriers around Damascus gate during the month of Ramadan, in further suppression of Palestinian life in the city. But Palestinian protests forced the removal of these barriers. Palestinians continue to protest the forced displacement of families from Sheikh Jarrah, in the face of militarised repression by Israeli forces.
Palestinians pushing back to defend their rights and their very existence. They need our solidarity, now more than ever!
War on Want stands alongside Palestinians in their struggle for justice, as we stand in solidarity with our partners around the world fighting human rights violations and oppression.