Israel’s construction of its politics on contrasting levels which echo its colonial agenda knows no limits. Now that the international community is largely reluctant to do more than refer to previous statements of colonial expansion as illegal, Israel is more explicit in promoting its state and settler narratives in its appropriation of land ownership.
A news report published on Monday in Haaretz quotes Jewish Home Party MK Moti Yogev: “Our goal is to protect state lands, consistent with decisions by the state not letting their status be determined by construction terror guided by the Palestinian Authority with the intervention of international elements such as the European Union.” He also suggested legal recourse against Palestinians opposing demolition orders.
This is not the first time that such rhetoric has been used. In April 2016 a press release titled “Re-evaluate state’s handling of EU-funded construction in Area C” described Palestinian dwellings in similar terms, accusing the EU of financing “construction and infrastructure terror”.
There is much to be gleaned from Yogev’s comment. First, Israel has achieved a level of comfort in appropriating land and narratives – so much so that it confidently projects its own “construction terror” label upon the indigenous, colonised population. The statement also alleges a comprehensive approach by the Palestinian Authority which is endorsed by the EU, despite the fact that both entities do not exhibit humanitarian concern other than perfunctory requirement. By attempting to discuss the EU-funded dwellings from a legal perspective, Israel is also asserting its violation of Palestinian rights above international law.
Yogev has omitted the strategy which allowed for such a travesty to take place – namely the international consensus, departing from Israel’s narrative, that Palestinians should only be granted a sliver of prominence if it serves colonial interests. The EU-funded dwellings are a case in point. Israel’s persistent demolition of such dwellings has incurred financial losses for the EU, yet it is also the means through which it can sustain its peace-building façade without substantive damage given that its cooperation with Israel remains lucrative.
One of the EU-funded buildings in Area C which is threatened with demolition and ostensibly an example of Yogev’s “construction terror” is a primary school attended by 33 students from the Bedouin community of Al-Muntar. If the demolition order is carried out, these students’ education will be permanently disrupted due to the lack of educational facilities in the vicinity.
Under the pretext of terror – a blatant lie on behalf of Israel – Yogev is preparing the foundations for another phase in the colonial expansion agenda. It is easy to see that the only perpetrators of “construction terror” are Israel and its settler population. The recent funding deficit to UNRWA has created a favourable context for Israel to normalise deprivation and forced displacement of Palestinians.
While Israel benefits from studying sequences and exploiting opportunity, the international community has made a mockery of humanitarian concerns by wilfully neglecting the real needs of the Palestinian population. This has been achieved to the extent that Israel can coin a term such as “construction terror” and rest assured that its absurdity will not be disputed. Neither will there be any permanent embarrassment regarding the fact that the international community could have applied such a label to Israel since 1948. The outcome, however, is predictable. Israel will distinguish between settlement expansion and the purported construction terror and lobby the international community for support in this endeavour. Not to gain explicit recognition of its duplicity, but to gain an extension of silence over the aim of creating more internally displaced Palestinians at a rate which increases the discrepancy between needs and the finance allocated to alleviate symptoms generated by deprivation.