Lebensraum German for “living space”) was a belief in Germany in the early 20th century that Germany needed new land to expand in, especially toward the east. It became a major motivation for Nazi Germany’s territorial aggression after 1937. Lebensraum was a reinterpretation of the by then century-old concept of Drang nach Osten.  In his book Mein Kampf,  Adolf Hitler detailed his belief that the German people needed Lebensraum – for a Großdeutschland, land, and raw materials – and that it should be taken in the East. (FROM)

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Lebensraum in the West Bank

Israel’s latest scheme is ethnic cleansing by any other name, reports Khalid Amayreh from Ramallah

In a new provocative measure aimed at narrowing Palestinian horizons and consolidating the Israeli grip on the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel has issued new military orders that would enable the Israeli occupation army to deport thousands of Palestinians from their homes and places of residence in the West Bank.

The new orders define as “infiltrator” any Palestinian or non-Palestinian living in the West Bank but not bearing an Israeli-issued identity card or special permit issued by the Israeli occupation army.

Thus, even Palestinians who were born in the West Bank and have been living there all their lives, but are not in possession of Israeli documents, would be viewed as “infiltrators” who could be deported at a moment’s notice.

Moreover, under the new rules, violators could face immediate expulsion or be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

A report on the new rules in the Israeli press this week pointed out that Israel would be able to deport tens of thousands of Palestinians. However, the report didn’t reveal the destination to which the prospective expellees would be deported.

In the past, Israel deported many Palestinians to Jordan and Lebanon. However, conditions have become considerably tougher for Israel to do it again, given the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty and the delicate situation on the Israeli-Lebanese borders especially since the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah.

The military order, which has gone into effect on Tuesday, will primarily target thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who have resided in the West Bank.

It also targets Palestinian returnees, many of whom are married to local spouses, who have returned to the occupied territory following the Oslo process and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Furthermore, it might target foreign peace activists who arrive in the West Bank to monitor Israeli violations of international law and encourage non-violent resistance against the Israeli occupation.

So far, Israeli government officials have refrained from commenting on the new rules and confirming or denying their existence. This silence, observers notice, may be intended to test Palestinian, Arab and international reactions before formally adopting the draconian measures on the ground.

Predictably, the new harsh rules have been strongly condemned by Palestinian and Arab officials as well as by human rights groups.

Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic resistance group, called the measure a “continuation of the systematic ethnic cleansing of our people which started in 1948”.

“At a time when Jews are commemorating the German holocaust, Israel is committing a silent holocaust against the Palestinian people,” said one Hamas spokesman in the West Bank, who did not want his identity to be known, apparently for fear that he might be arrested either by the Israelis or the PA regime.

Both Hamas and Fatah vowed to resist the new measures “proactively”, saying that deporting Palestinians from their ancestral homeland was tantamount to “ethnic cleansing”.

Salam Fayyad, the Western-favoured prime minister of the PA government said the new measures contradicted international law as well as UN Security Council decisions which condemn forced deportations. “It is clear that with these measures Israel is trying to deepen the hold of its occupation in the West Bank and facilitating more Israeli land grabs.”

PA official Saeb Ereikat labelled the Israeli move “an assault on ordinary Palestinians, and an affront to the most fundamental principles of human rights. “The Palestinians have been morphed into criminals in their own homes.”

Mahmoud Abbas, the increasingly reticent PA president, has so far remained silent, ostensibly opting to raise the issue with the international community through diplomatic channels.

The Obama administration and the European Union have not reacted to the new Israeli provocations in the West Bank.

A Jordanian government spokesman said this week that Israel had assured Jordan that the new rule wouldn’t go into effect. However, there has been no confirmation of the veracity of the Jordanian spokesman’s statement either by Israel or the PA.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa has also condemned the new Israeli measures, saying that “it is hard to establish peace in the region due to Israeli behaviour. We reject such measure and we call on the international community to bear responsibility.” Moussa said that an Arab League meeting will discuss the situation.

Last month, the Arab League held a summit meeting in Sirte, Libya, which focussed on the Palestinian cause and Israeli provocations, including the Judaising of East Jerusalem and the continued expansion of Jewish settlements. However, the outcome of the meeting was widely viewed as mediocre and generally ineffective, as a number of US regional allies pressed participants for mild resolutions that would allow for the continuation of the “peace process” under American auspices.

The stringent Israeli measure, which human rights activists say amounts to a declaration of war on Palestinian demography, has also been denounced by 10 Israeli civic and human rights groups which urged Defence Minister Ehud Barak to rescind the new rules.

The groups said the military orders in question were so vague and sweeping that virtually all West Bank inhabitants were potentially at risk. The groups argued that the military instructions didn’t define what permits were required to shield against deportation.

The new threatened spate of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians in the West Bank coincides with the holocaust commemoration anniversary in Israel, an annual ritual meant to extort world sympathy and especially divert attention from Israeli crimes against the Palestinians, such as last year’s brutal onslaught against the Gaza Strip.

Some of Israel’s critics have compared the Israeli approach against the Palestinians, including the policy of deportation, with Nazi Germany’s notorious lebensraum policy (German for “living space”), a doctrine which prevailed in Germany in the early 20th century teaching that the country needed new land to expand in, especially towards the east.

Lebensraum became a major motivation for German territorial aggression after 1937. Israel increasingly refers to the West Bank, which the Israeli army occupied in 1967, as Eretz Yisrael (land of Israel). Sometime the same term is applied to Jordan which some Jewish leaders call “the eastern land of Israel”. (see p.6)

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  1. April 16, 2010 at 15:29

    […] In a new provocative measure aimed at narrowing Palestinian horizons and consolidating the Israeli grip on the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel has issued new military orders that would enable the Israeli occupation army to deport thousands of Palestinians from their homes and places of residence in the West Bank… [read more at DesertPeace] […]

  2. April 16, 2010 at 16:39

    […] Here is the original post:  ISRAEL'S NEW GRIP ON PALESTINE « Desertpeace […]

  3. April 16, 2010 at 18:45

    […] Read full story, click here! […]

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