It Empowered Me To Fight Even More: Alaa Massri’s Charges Dropped But She Isn’t Backing Down

The 19-year-old was arrested for protesting and had her hijab unlawfully removed in police custody.

Alaa Massri is a fierce advocate for injustice, and one that isn’t easily rattled – after all, she’s the woman who was arrested for protesting in Miami who had her hijab unlawfully removed. 

 

 

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As her charges have been dropped, Massri says she would like to believe it was her petition—which garnered over 315,000 signatures and counting—and the voice of the people that was heard, that led her to this outcome.

The Lebanese-American pre-med student has been a frequent protestor, attending at least three to four protests weekly since May 30, carrying medical equipment with her to tend to injured folks. Massri is also the leader and organizer of a street medic team for an organization in Miami.

Recalling the first protest she attended on May 30, Massri said, “The police started firing rubber bullets and throwing tear gas at us. I rushed to help one of the protesters who had gotten shot; he was bleeding, very, very badly … and then moments after the tear gas had gotten so bad, I actually passed out in the street, and I was carried away by random strangers.”

However, Massri did say that the majority of protests she has attended have been peaceful, with the exception of the one on May 30 and the one where she got arrested.

She also mentioned how she hadn’t considered the possibility of something happening to her. “It was a very peaceful protest, it was a Wednesday. Everyone was at work … so, we were maybe 60, 70, 80 of us, at most,” she recalls about the day of her arrest. “I knew that arrests were something that may possibly happen at a very violent protest, you know, one that has looting … and actual riots, but I never anticipated for arrests to happen where I was protesting or myself getting arrested at all. It was very unexpected and very traumatizing.”

Massri said her involvement in protests and being at the frontline of them leads her to believe that her arrest was a personal attack on her, and a tactic to scare her and the folks she’s been leading to stop them from continuing the work they’ve been doing — and will continue to do.

 

 

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“For me personally, I think it just empowered me and encouraged me to continue to fight even more because the police are hiding behind their badge, where they get to lie on police reports and blatantly dictate whatever charges they want to press you with,” she explained.

While taking action against the officers involved in her arrest is a possibility, “It’s more important that something like a policy, or a bill would be passed to ensure that this never happens again, at the end of the day, that’s my end goal,” she added.

After an incident in Minnesota in 2013, where a Muslim woman suffered the same fate when she was forced to remove her hijab infront of mail jailers over a traffic offense, Minnesota decided to  implement a new policy on how to treat female Muslim inmates in their state. Massri expressed that while this was a good first step, she believes it is imperative to educate officers and others who are in positions of power and implement some sort of religious learning classes or a cultural training day.

Massri believes stripping Muslim women of their hijabs during the time of their arrest is a humiliation tactic “to prove that their badge has the power, and the ability to do whatever they want and to humiliate you in whatever way that they can, and choose to do so.”

Everyone who was arrested at the time Massri was, were all males who also objected against her treatment and told the officers it was her religious right to wear her hijab, but while she was still in handcuffs, she recalls the officers grabbed her hijab off her head and took it away, and said they dictate what happens in their job.

Massri’s message to all young activists, hijabi or not is to keep going out there and keep fighting in whatever way that you can.

 

 

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“It’s important to recognize your privilege,” she expresses. “No matter what type of privilege you have — whether it’s just skin color, the language that you speak, your socio-economic status, your health — all of these contribute to your privilege and the ability to recognize that and use that voice of privilege to stand up for those who are oppressed and for those who face injustices is vital in changing the world for future generations.”

READ MORE: Muslim Woman Forced To Take Mugshot Without Hijab In Florida

Pakistani Capital To Get Its First Hindu Temple Complex

Under Prime Minister Imran Khan, work on the complex has moved forward with 100 million rupees ($1.32m) in government funding.

Late last month, construction began on the long-awaited Shri Krishna Mandir temple complex in Islamabad’s H-9 area. This will be the first Hindu temple in Pakistan’s capital, coming seven decades after the country’s inception. The complex, which will include a crematorium, a community hall, and boarding for visitors, will serve an estimated 3,000 Hindus living in Islamabad who will no longer need to leave the city in order to perform religious rituals. 

Approved in 2017 under Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif, administrative obstacles postponed construction for some time. Under Prime Minister Imran Khan, work on the complex has moved forward with 100 million rupees ($1.32m) in government funding. Since coming to power in August 2018, PM Khan’s government has stated that it aims to improve living conditions for Pakistani minorities, including but not limited to the restoration of several religious shrines.

The official groundbreaking ceremony took place on June 23rd, and was performed by Parliamentary Secretary on Human Rights, Lal Chand Malhi. 

Although the temple complex is being met with mixed responses, many praise this as a big step for the country’s minority Hindu community. According to the Pakistan Hindu Council, Hindus make up about 4% of Pakistan’s population of 200 million, with a vast majority living in the province of Sindh. However, the building of this temple complex in the country’s capital is intended to send a message of inclusivity in line with the promises of PM Khan.

READ MORE: #HijabisFightBack: Belgian College Students Protest Headscarf Ban Constitutional Ruling

#HijabisFightBack: Belgian College Students Protest Headscarf Ban Constitutional Ruling

Since the Belgian Constitutional Court ruled that a headscarf ban is allowed in higher education, twelve Belgian universities have announced they will not impose such a ban in their classrooms.

 

The Constitutional Court of Belgium made the decision to allow the ban on headscarves imposed by Francisco Ferrer Brussels university college. A group of Muslim women who were studying at Fransisco Ferrer Brussels university college, made a complaint. The Brussels court referred the case to the Constitutional Court of Belgium. At the start of June, the Constitutional Court decided that the possibility of a headscarf ban was not contrary to the Constitution or the European Convention on Human Rights. The possibility of such a ban applies to not only headscarves but all symbols expressing religious or political opinions. 

The ruling sparked backlash on social media. Students, young people and rights organizations say the decision is a violation of a basic human right. People protested the ruling by using hashtags such as, #TouchePasAMesEtudes (Don’t touch my studies) and #HijabisFightBack.

On Sunday afternoon, thousands of Brussels students gathered at the Mont Des Arts for a demonstration against the decision. The legal protest, called “Hijabis Fight Back” was organised by 24-year-old student and documentary filmmaker Fatima-Zohra Ait El-Maâti and her friends. The protest took place in the middle of their final exams.

The campaign has put pressure on Belgian universities to announce whether or not they will choose to uphold the controversial ban on their campus or not. The campaign recently paid off, with 12 Belgian universities and colleges ensuring students they “will not impose such a ban,” stressing that “religious freedom is protected in their classrooms,” according to The Brussels Times.

The Free University of Brussels tweeted a statement stating “Equality and inclusion are central to VUB. Diversity is a fact, at our university as well. So let it be clear that every student is welcome with us regardless of gender, origin or social status. With or without headscarf.”

READ MORE: Hey Instagram, Taking Down Bella Hadid’s Posts Won’t Make Her Less Palestinian

Turkey’s Hagia Sophia Museum Reconverted Into A Mosque

Erdogan has signed a presidential decree which hands over Hagia Sophia to Turkey's Presidency of Religious Affairs.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently announced that the world famous Hagia Sophia museum will be turned into a mosque, and open to Muslims for worship very soon.

This decision was made just an hour after a top administrative court annulled the site’s “museum status.” The court has pointed out that the cabinet’s decision to convert it from a mosque to a museum in 1934 “did not comply with laws” and have subsequently overturned this decision. They also reviewed a petition which was fighting for the right to be able to pray in the building, which up until now was prohibited.

Erdogan has signed a presidential decree which hands over Hagia Sophia to Turkey’s Presidency of Religious Affairs. 

The news of this transformation was met with overjoyed religious Muslim Turks outside the building and on the streets of Istanbul. It now means that people are no longer prohibited from praying inside the building, which has caused outrage over the years. The first prayer is set for July 24 2020.

Since it is one of Turkey’s most visited tourist attractions, with a staggering 3.8 million visitors last year in 2019, it will be open to visitors just like its neighbor the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed). 

This historic site, revered by both Christians and Muslims, marveled at by millions of tourists, and visited by world leaders has undergone many transformations throughout its lifetime. Where to begin?

The building was initially built as a church in Constantinople – modern day Istanbul – in the year 537 under the Byzantine emperor Constantius. 

It was then converted into a mosque in 1453 by the great conqueror of Constantinople and prominent leader of the Ottoman Empire: the young Mehmet II. 

Not too long ago it was converted into a museum in 1943 by the founder of Turkey: Ataturk, who adopted a more secular approach and believed the site would be better as a neutral monument without any religious affiliations. 

While the Muslims of Turkey rejoice over another beautiful mosque which will be used to worship Allah, Erdogan’s decision has also faced backlash from the international community. The Hagia Sophia is in fact a UNESCO World Heritage site, and hence the organization feels it should remain as a museum. 

Countries including the United States, Russia and Greece have publicly criticized Erdogan’s decision. However, in a recent public announcement, Erdogan said: “We of course welcome all ideas from the international community about this issue. However, the issue of deciding the purpose of the Hagia Sophia is about the sovereign rights of Turkey.”

READ MORE: 5 Verses On Justice In The Quran

Muhammad Muhaymin: Bodycam Footage Reveals Detailed Death By Police

“I can’t breathe,” said Muhaymin before he died in custody of the Phoenix police.

Muhammad Muhaymin: Bodycam Footage Reveals Detailed Death By Police

“I can’t breathe,” said Muhaymin before he died in custody of the Phoenix police.

By

Sara S. & Zainab Damji

Photo of Muhammad Muhaymin

MUSLIM.CO HAS PUT TOGETHER A PETITION TO SEEK JUSTICE FOR MUHAMMAD MUHAYMIN THAT CAN BE SIGNED HERE.

In the midst of a movement demanding change and reform, the Black community fights for justice once again as they are reminded of the loss of Muhammad Muhaymin Jr. 

Muhaymin died in custody of the Phoenix Police on January 4, 2017 after he tried to take his emotional support dog into a public restroom with him at a community center. Muhaymin is reported to have suffered from schizophrenia, anxiety and intermittent homelessness.

The manager present at the center prevented Muhaymin from entering the restroom and asked him to leave his dog outside, which resulted in an argument between the two. The manager then directed an employee to call 911, and in minutes  several Phoenix police officers arrived at the scene.

They attempted to alleviate the situation by allowing Muhaymin to use the restroom only to tackle him to the ground minutes later after a background check was done on Muhaymin and a warrant for his arrest was found on his record due to his failure to appear in court over a misdemeanor charge for possession of a marijuana pipe. 

Muhaymin was tackled to the ground outside the facility with four officers on top of him. 

Bodycam footage shows Muhaymin crying out “I can’t breathe” multiple times. 

Muhaymin was tackled to the ground outside the facility with four officers on top of him. In his last eight minutes before he took his final breath, body-cam footage shows Muhaymin crying out “Please Allah” and one of the officers who was trying to place him in cuffs responding, “Allah? He’s not going to help you now, just relax.”

Muhaymin’s shrieks and utterances became groans. His body went limp, and moments later, an officer can be heard saying “He’s dead.”

The circumstances of the deaths of George Floyd and Muhammad Muhaymin are similar. However, while the four officers involved in Floyd’s death were terminated and are now facing criminal charges, in Muhaymin’s case, none of the officers who responded to the call faced any discipline or consequences for their actions.

CNN reports that all of them remain on the force and one is now a detective.

Several petitions have been put together to demand justice for Muhammad Muhaymin including discipline and conviction of the officers involved. You can sign the petition for Muhammad Muhaymin here.

Starbucks Employee Writes “ISIS” On Cup Of Muslim Student In Minneapolis

The incident took place at the Starbucks store inside the Midway Target at 1300 University Ave in St. Paul, MN.

On Wednesday of last week, a 19-year-old Minneapolis college student named Aishah was making a routine stop at a local Starbucks on her way to work. When her order arrived, the word “ISIS” was written on her drink instead of her name. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) is speaking out against this unacceptable behavior, which occurred on July 1.

The incident took place at the Starbucks store inside the Midway Target at 1300 University Ave in St. Paul, MN. Aishah, who declined to give her last name to the media out of concern for her safety, was on her way to her job as a home care worker. 

CAIR-MN is demanding that the Starbucks worker in question be fired, as well as the manager who said it was a “mistake.” When reached for comment by CBS Minnesota, a representative for Starbucks shifted the burden of responsibility, saying that it was actually a Target employee involved and that Target will be conducting an investigation. Technically, the employee is one of Target despite having been wearing a Starbucks uniform due to licensing rights at Target Starbucks locations.

Target provided CBS Minnesota with the following statement regarding the incident:

“At Target, we want everyone who shops with us to feel welcomed, valued and respected and we strictly prohibit discrimination and harassment in any form. We are very sorry for this guest’s experience at our store and immediately apologized to her when she made our store leaders aware of the situation. We have investigated the matter and believe that it was not a deliberate act but an unfortunate mistake that could have been avoided with more clarification. We’re taking appropriate actions with the team member, including additional training, to ensure this does not occur again.”

More information to come.

READ MORE: AOC Pens Letter Against Israel’s Annexation Of Palestinian Territory With Support Of Lawmakers

AOC Pens Letter Against Israel’s Annexation Of Palestinian Territory With Support Of Lawmakers

Ocasio-Cortez’s office says the trigger for conditioning aid includes settlements and other policies that are “laying the groundwork” for annexation.

U.S. representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez penned a letter opposing Israel’s annexation proposals of Palestinian land with the backing of a dozen lawmakers and is gathering legislators’ signatures on a letter urging the Trump administration to take steps to block Israel’s planned annexation. A coalition of progressive Democratic politicians, rights groups and Jewish groups are also calling for withholding US military aid to Israel in response to planned annexation of Palestinian territories by Israel.

The letter addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the annexation would “lay the groundwork for Israel becoming an apartheid state,” and pledges that the lawmakers would work to block future aid to Israel.

Ocasio-Cortez’s office said the trigger for conditioning aid includes settlements and other policies that are “laying the groundwork” for annexation.

 “The United States must remain committed to a future in which all Israelis and Palestinians live with full rights, dignity, and democracy,”  Ocasio-Cortez and a dozen other legislators said in the letter.

“We therefore urge you to make clear to the Israeli government that such a move is unacceptable,” they said in the letter. 

“We will include human rights conditions and the withholding of funds for the offshore procurement of Israeli weapons equal to or exceeding the amount the Israeli government spends annually to fund settlements, as well as the policies and practices that sustain and enable them,” the letter also stated.

“Members of Congress should not be expected to support an undemocratic system in which Israel would permanently rule over a Palestinian people denied self-determination or equal rights.”

The statement was endorsed by more than 20 advocacy groups, including the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Arab American Institute (AAI), CodePink, Jewish Voice for Peace Action and IfNotNow.

Senator Bernie Sanders and other progressives who signed the letter issued statements opposing annexation in strong terms.“I have long believed that the United States needs to engage in an even-handed approach toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Sanders said in a statement. 

Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American, said the Netanyahu government uses aid “to formalize an apartheid system.” 

“Unilateral annexation is a violation of international law, a violation of Palestinian human rights, and directly counter to American values of democracy and self-determination,” Rep. Ilhan Omar said.

 

Five other letters are circulating in the US Jewish community demanding accountability for the Israeli government and concrete actions by US Jewish institutions if a planned annexation goes forward. Those letters have drawn more than 3,200 signatures, according to IfNotNow, a US Jewish group that opposes the occupation. “It is time to stop holding America’s number one recipient of military funding – Israel – to a lower standard than we hold all other countries, exempting it from consequences when it violates our most basic values,” said Emily Mayer, political director of IfNotNow.

The letter was condemned by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as harmful to America’s interests before the statement or its signers were finalized.

Netanyahu aims to start the process of annexation by Wednesday, saying he wants to begin annexing West Bank territory in line with President Trump’s plans. But with recent developments and stiff international criticism, it’s uncertain whether Israel will ultimately follow through on the explosive annexation initiative.

READ MORE:  Israel Expected To Move Forward With Annexation Plans, Leaving Palestinians Hopeless

Photo Of Three-Year-Old Kashmiri Child Sitting On Grandfather’s Corpse Creates Outrage

Viral picture of the three-year-old has caused an uproar with the family accusing armed forces of killing the victim.

Photo Of Three-Year-Old Kashmiri Child Sitting On Grandfather’s Corpse Creates Outrage

Viral picture of the three-year-old has caused an uproar with the family accusing armed forces of killing the victim.

By

Mirza Fardeen
Photo from viral video footage, courtesy of witnesses.

A photo showing a three-year old child sitting on his grandpa’s corpse in Sopore town of Indian-administered Kashmir has outraged residents of the region with the family of the deceased accusing the security forces of killing the 65-year old civilian Bashir Ahmed Khan during a clash with the rebels in the world’s most militarized region.

Soon after Ahmed’s death, the photos of his grandson from the encounter site flooded the internet, including a heart-rending shot showing the child sitting and crying on top of his grandfather’s corpse.

A series of pictures by an unidentified person were widely shared on social media shortly after the gun battle. Hundreds of angry people staged anti-India protests, accusing the government forces of using the child’s images as PR stunt. Social media users also slammed a viral video that purportedly showed a member of the security forces standing over Ahmed’s dead body. 

Suhail Ahmed, the victim’s son, said on Thursday that his father, Bashir Ahmed Khan (deceased), was “dragged out of his car and shot in cold blood” in front of his 3-year-old grandson during a gun battle on Wednesday between Indian troops and rebels in northwestern Sopore town. He said troops later placed the child on his father’s chest and reportedly took pictures.

Ahmed’s family has released a video message on social media, accusing Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel of dragging him out of his car and shooting him at point blank range, the Jammu & Kashmir Police denied the claims and said he died in the exchange of fire with rebels. The family said the man was a small-time petty employee who earned 6,000 rupees ($80) per month.

While this photo triggered an uproar on social media, with individuals online demanding justice for the family, accusing security forces for placing a 3-year old at the center of a propaganda war and doing theatrics and PR stunts with 3-year old life. The right-wing and the ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were busy mocking the picture of dead civilians. A spokesman for India’s ruling Hindu nationalist BJP faced criticism for mocking the picture of the dead civilian.

 

 

The right-wing and BJP IT Cell were glorifying the Indian Army for saving the toddler, demeaning the opposition leaders, accusing Pakistan of sponsoring the rebels, accusing leftists of white-washing the terror acts of militants, calling out Islamic-Jihad and terrorism, with anti-Muslim bigots hawking hate against Muslims and spitting their regular communal hatred. But nowhere showing a grain of humanity for the dead civilian and his 3 year old grandson who witnessed such an incident. For them such incidents are all about political gains and demonizing the opposition. 

Hundreds of people in Kashmir staged protests on Wednesday in the wake of the killing. Later on Wednesday, hundreds assembled at the man’s funeral near Srinagar, shouting “We want freedom.”

READ MORE: UN Removes Saudi Arabia From ‘Blacklist Of Warring Parties’ For War Crimes In Yemen

China Forces Birth Control On Uyghur Women To Suppress Muslim Population, Says New Report

China had initially denied the existence of the detention camps before justifying them as a “necessary measure against terrorism.”

Written by Wali Ahmed & Nawal Qadir

China has allegedly been forcefully subjecting Uyghur women to various birth control methods in an attempt to reduce and eliminate the minority population, according to a report by China specialist Adrian Zenz.  The news comes as Uyghurs continue to be detained in concentration camps in Xinjiang. It is believed that approximately one million Uyghur people, as well as other minority groups, are being held in what China refers to as “re-education” camps.  

China has responded by calling it “fake news,” stating that the allegations are “baseless.” However, China had initially denied the existence of the detention camps before justifying them as a “necessary measure against terrorism.”

Zenz’s report states that since 2016, reproductive autonomy and its associated human rights have continuously been interfered with in Xinjiang. Uyghur women who refuse to abort pregnancies that exceed the quota of two children are threatened to be forced into internment camps. It additionally states that women with fewer than two children were forced to have sterilization surgeries or take intra-uterine devices (IUDs). Formerly detained individuals also say that they were given injections to halt their periods.

However, the Han Chinese population are reportedly spared the various birth control measures forced on Xinjiang’s ethnic minorities.

 

READ MORE: Trump Signs Bill Rebuking China’s Treatment Of Uyghur Muslims

 

An investigation by AP News has found that the humanitarian violations are far more widespread and systemic than previously thought.  The investigation shows that the current treatment of Uyghur Muslims in these camps could amount to “demographic genocide,” meaning that China could successfully and covertly eradicate the Uyghur population in just a few generations.  “This is part of a wider control campaign to subjugate the Uyghurs,” Zenz said. “Overall, it is likely that Xinjiang authorities are engaging in the mass sterilization of women with three or more children.”

Joanne Smith Finley, Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at Newcastle University goes further, saying ““It’s genocide, full stop.” “It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing on the spot type genocide – but it’s slow, painful, creeping genocide.”

Adrian Zenz’s data suggests that the natural population growth in predominantly Uyghur regions  has fallen by more than 60% between 2015 and 2018, a drop which he describes as “unprecedented” and “ruthless.”

“These findings provide the strongest evidence yet that Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang meet one of the genocide criteria cited in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” says Zenz in his report.

One former Uyghur detainee, Zumret Dawut, was forcibly sterilized along with 200 others. Dawut was put into an internment camp for two months for holding an American visa. She had later returned home but was placed under house arrest, was forced to have gynaecological exams on a monthly basis, and was threatened to be placed in a camp again should she not comply.

“They want to eliminate us, but they can’t kill all of us,” she said. “They’re doing it step by step with policies such as sterilization, imprisonment, separating men and women and making them work as forced laborers.” 

Forced sterilization isn’t a new trend for China, which for a long time had a one-child-per-household policy. However, in recent years, and especially under President Xi Jinping, the sterilization programs have been concentrated in the Uyghur minority areas, turning the countryside region of Xinjiang from one of the fastest growing populations in China to the slowest in just a few years. 

 

The news of forced birth control methods come as an addition to the internment and forced labour in Uyghur detention camps, as well as the separation of Uyghur children from their parents in order to indoctrinate them, practices that have been widely criticized by human rights organizations around the world, and which China continues to deny or defend.

 

Israel Expected To Move Forward With Annexation Plans, Leaving Palestinians Hopeless

Israel plans to annex Palestinian territory as part of its 'peace plan', starting July 1st.

Israel’s expulsion of the Palestinian people from their homes and subsequent occupation of their land has been an ongoing tragedy since at least 1948. Now with the latest developments in Israel’s policy of expansion and occupation, this historic land is set to  become even more divided. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to bring new annexation proposals of the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea before the cabinet from 1 July.

So, what is annexation?

Annexation describes when one state unilaterally (without permission of the other) incorporates  neighboring territory from another state into its borders. Annexation is usually considered illegal according to international law.

No surprise, Prime Minister Netanyahu made things starkly clear, when on May 28 2020  he explained that if his government goes ahead with unilateral annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, thousands of Palestinian residents would be granted neither citizenship nor equal rights. 

The occupied Palestinian territories have been under Israeli military control since 1967, making it the longest ongoing occupation in modern history. The segmented territories include Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Gaza Strip is a small coastal area bordering Egypt to the south, and the West Bank is the kidney bean-shaped area that lies west of the banks of the Jordan River, from where it gets its name. A total of 5 million people occupy these areas.

 

Photo - Al Jazeera

 

The Illegal Israeli Settlements:

Israeli settlements are Jewish communities built on Palestinian land. There are between 600,000 – 750,000 Israeli settlers living in at least 250 settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem; almost half of these settlements are not officially recognized by the state but have been established regardless

Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its population to the area it occupies.

In 2019, the Trump administration declared that Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land were “not necessarily illegal,” a substantial break from decades of US foreign policy.

 

Photo - Al Jazeera

 

The latest annexation plans to be confirmed by the Israeli prime minister would pose a serious threat to the Palestinians. The annexation of the Jordan Valley would completely surround the Palestinians with Israeli borders.  Currently, Israeli settlers in the Jordan Valley receive 18 times more water on average than Palestinian residents in the West Bank; most Palestinian farmers are not connected to the water grid and have to rely on buying water from tankers. Annexation would mean that Palestinians would be physically cut off from the Jordan River, forcing Palestinians to be without a vital water source. This annexation would also pave the way for more settlements to be built; currently, any new  construction in the West Bank requires the approval of Israel’s defense minister and prime minister which can take months or even years. Following annexation, Israel would consider the Jordan Valley part of its territory and so any construction would become a domestic matter and wouldn’t require such approval.  

 

Photo - Al Jazeera

 

Palestinian views on this annexation plans:

The Palestinian leadership, along with almost 50 experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, say that annexation would formalize a system of “apartheid” in the West Bank – two peoples ruled by one state in the same space with unequal rights. Now, in a bid to increase international pressure to avert annexation, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinian Authority is no longer bound by agreements with Israel and the US, including on security. Some also fear that suspension of such agreements, if fully delivered, could result in  a collapse of the PA and potentially lead to chaos in the West Bank. Amid the bitter divisions in Palestinian politics, the militant group Hamas – the main rival of President Abbas’ Fatah movement – could try to capitalize and is warning of a confrontation with Israel. Abbas said annexation would amount to the “destruction” of a future Palestinian state, and suggests accepting current plans make the PA “a bunch of traitors – that we will not be.”

Annexation will make things worse: short-term risks include the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, a crisis in Israel’s relations with Jordan and Egypt with its de facto allies in the Gulf, and, above all, a resurgence of violence that could make the last intifada look mild. It will also destabilize an already volatile region, offering rich opportunities for Iran and Hezbollah, the Islamist militant party in Lebanon, to further exploit and destabilize the region.

And as usual the Palestinian people will suffer directly. Annexation will lead to massive expropriation – the taking of private property by the state – automatic in some cases, of Palestinian land and property, the subsequent expulsion of individuals, families and entire communities from the annexed territories, in addition to the above listed socio-political threats. And the situation in blockaded Gaza, home to two million Palestinians, will undoubtedly worsen.

If annexation of any territory goes ahead it will flagrantly breach international law and countless UN resolutions, and  cannot be ignored. Israel should and must face sanctions. Worst of all,  it will signal the failure of what for decades has been rightly seen as the only possible solution to the world’s most divisive conflict – two sovereign states for the two peoples who inhabit the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river. And that suggests a future without hope for the Palestinians.

READ MORE: Israeli Forces Kill Young Palestinian Man At A Checkpoint In Occupied West Bank