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Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
UK architects, planners and other construction industry professionals campaigning for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.

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Wednesday
Jan082014

The Prawer Law is being implemented even before it has been legislated

Minister Yair Shamir has received the Prawer Law – What can we expect?

Early in December it seemed that justice had prevailed, as Minister Beni Begin announced that he has recommended to the Prime Minister to stop the Prawer Law, and the Prime Minister agreed. However, only four days later the Knesset continued to deliberate the law, as if nothing had happened. Now we know that the Law is still on the table, and that the Minister that has been assigned to forward it is Yair Shamir, a member in Liberman's party, the right-winged partners of our right-winged government.
 
The Prawer law, officially named "The Law for the Settlement of the Bedouin", in fact does not have any settlement component in it. Of this long and convoluted law, the first 2/3rds are about how to bring to an end the process of land claims the government started in the early 1970s and had never continued: the law in effect will erase most of the land claims presented by the Bedouin, while allowing some meager compensation for few of the Bedouin land owners. The last part of the Prawer law is a mechanism for village evacuation and destruction that bypasses the regular legal system and the judicial system. All in all – a horrific law.
 
It is no wonder that such a law has brought about massive and intense resistance – and that the police is being used to crush this resistance. The violence of the police in the demonstration of November 30th has brought the conflicts in the Negev to a new level of aggression. After the demonstration the police continued to arrest youngsters, trying to instill fear in the community, hoping this will stop the demonstrations.
 
Moreover, even though the law has not yet completed the process of legislation, the government has already created the manpower to implement the law. New police forces – commando trained, new police cars – that can easily traverse the desert terrain and are armored, a bureaucracy of over 60 managers and employees (all Jewish), along with scores of freelance lawyers and "mediators", have been employed in the two offices created to implement the law: "The Authority for the Settlement of the Bedouin", and "The Implementation Unit for the Prawer Law". Both headed by ex-security high ranking officers – as the Bedouin are not seen as civil issue, but rather as a security issue.
 
The law is being implemented even before it has been legislated: weekly home demolitions all around the Negev. The village of Im-El-Hiran, which is one of the first slotted for erasure, is being "measured" in preparation of the building of the Jewish settlement to replace the existing Bedouin village. The new and combat trained police forces are itching for action, and this can be seen in every opportunity that they receive. Even if the Prawer law is halted in the Knesset, this massive apparatus already has a life of its own…
 
The government map for the Bedouin settlement was presented in the Knesset. It completely ignores the existence of several Bedouin villages – not surprisingly  it ignores Im el Hiran. It also ignores the Wadi Naam – with its 10,000 residents. Then it goes on to claim that the lands of another 10-15 villages will be "returned to the government". These lands have never been owned by the government, as they are the lands claimed by the Bedouin in the 1970's and that the government never processed. These 15 villages are to be erased, and their inhabitants are to be settled in urban neighborhoods of other villages and towns. The remaining villages (about 15) are to be concentrated on a fraction of the land available to them today – in effect – to become neighborhoods of the close by towns. The Bedouin villages now are sitting on less than 3% of the Negev lands, and this is very minimal land for an agrarian community. After the implementation of this map – they will be allowed to live on only 1% of the Negev lands – with no access to the land so necessary for the income and wellbeing of the community. The "cleared out" 2% of Negev (desert) lands are to remain clear – clean of Bedouins.
 
The RCUV together with Bimkom (planners for human rights) and Sidreh (Bedouin women's empowerment organization) and headed by Prof. Oren Yiftahel are at the final stages of creating a Bedouin settlement master plan. This plan was created in the manner the government should have created its plans for the Bedouin: basing it on the community needs as well as the principals of planning accepted in Israel. Furthermore, if follows the principles of equality. This master plan shows that there is no need to remove, erase or concentrate any of the Bedouin villages. We call upon Minister Shamir and the Government of Israel to adopt this master plan and to implement policies that are based on equality and human dignity, and that will begin the process of healing from the 60 years of harmful policies towards its Bedouin citizens.

 
You can help! Contact Minister Shamir and call on him to discontinue the Prawer Law and to begin a just and inclusive process that will bring about prosperity for the Bedouin community and the entire Negev people. Write to him: fax - +972-3-9485835 <tel:%2B972-3-9485835>  email: yairs@moag.gov.il  or on facebook: https://he-il.facebook.com/Shamir.Yair

Join us in our demonstration tomorrow in front of the "Authority for the Settlement of the Bedouin" in Beer Sheva at 10:00am.
 

For more information: Atia el-Asam, RCUV chair. 050-570-2064; Yeela Raanan, RCUV: 054-748-7005 or yallylivnat@gmail.com

Thursday
Jan022014

APARTHEID BULLDOZERS THREATEN RAMIYA’S HOUSES IN KARMIEL THURSDAY, JANUARY 2, 2014 AT 11:26PM

 Come to visit Ramiya, learn about the place and show solidarity

To coordinate your visit please call in advance Mr. Salah Sawa’ed 054-5975958

·        Join Ramiya’s Friends on Facebook

The Friends of Ramiya group on Facebook was established to help organize solidarity activities.

·        Share information

You may publish and share this publication, as well as invitations to different activities.

This publication is available also in Arabic and Hebrew.

·        Send letters

You can start by sending the attached protest letter (or anything you like to write) to the Israel Lands Authority, which is responsible for the racist policy against Ramiya’s residents, through its site:

www.mmi.gov.il

And to the Mayor of Karmiel, Adi Eldar:

Adie@karmiel.muni.il

Please send a copy to us too (the Friend of Ramiya group):ramiya4ever@gmail.com

******************************************************************

Monday
Oct282013

Gaza to run out of drinking water by 2016: Please sign the petition!


Gaza to run out of drinking water by 2016
Gaza to run out of drinking water by 2016

Gaza’s population of 1.6 million Palestinians are without clean drinking water. The only source of water they can access—the underground water aquifer—is being over-utilized and is now highly polluted with sea water and sewage intrusion. The UN warns that unless a solution is found to provide Gaza with safe and affordable water, Gaza’s aquifer will become unusable by 2016, and irreversibly damaged by 2020.[1]

Today, only 5% of the water Gazans extract from the Coastal aquifer is now safe to drink. Most families in Gaza are forced to buy drinking water from private companies at high cost, with some paying as much as a third of their income on water.

The portion of the Coastal aquifer running beneath Gaza represents only a small percentage of the total freshwater resources available to Israelis and Palestinians. Israel continues to exploit 90% of the available freshwater for exclusive Israeli use – particularly the underground Mountain aquifer in the occupied West Bank – while Palestinians have access to less than 10%. It does so in violation of international water law, which calls for these resources to be shared “equitably and reasonably” between Palestinians and Israelis.

There is a solution, and it starts with the implementation of Palestinian water rights. If Palestinians have access to their rightful share of the available water resources, and if Israel lifts its blockade over the Gaza Strip, which restricts water imports as well as the entry of materials and goods needed to upgrade and repair its deteriorating water infrastructure, many of Gaza’s water problems would be solved.

[1] United Nations Country Team in the oPt, Gaza in 2020: A liveable place?, August 2012, retrievable at: http://www.unrwa.org/userfiles/file/publications/gaza/Gaza%20in%202020.pdf


http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Gaza_to_run_out_of_drinking_water_by_2016/?tPyxaab

Sent by Avaaz on behalf of Jovita's petition


The water is running out in Gaza: Humanitarian catastrophe looms as territory’s only aquifer fails

By Reuters/The Independent
June 30, 2013

The Gaza Strip, a tiny wedge of land jammed between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean sea, is heading inexorably into a water crisis that the United Nations says could make the Palestinian enclave uninhabitable in just a few years.

With 90 to 95 per cent of the territory’s only aquifer contaminated by sewage, chemicals and seawater, neighbourhood desalination facilities and their public taps are a lifesaver for some of Gaza’s 1.6 million residents. But these small-scale projects provide water for only about 20 per cent of the population, forcing many more residents in the impoverished territory to buy bottled water at a premium. The UN estimates that more than 80 per cent of Gazans buy their drinking water. “Families are paying as much as a third of their household income for water,” said June Kunugi, a special representative of the UN children’s fund Unicef.

The Gaza Strip, governed by the Islamist group Hamas and in a permanent state of tension with Israel, is not the only place in the Middle East facing water woes. A Nasa study of satellite data released this year showed that between 2003 and 2009 the region lost 144 cubic kilometres of stored freshwater – equivalent to the amount in the Dead Sea – making a bad situation much worse.

But the situation in Gaza is particularly acute, with the UN warning that its sole aquifer might be unusable by 2016, with the damage potentially irreversible by 2020. Between 5 and 10 per cent only of the aquifer’s water is safe to drink, but even this can mix with poor-quality water during distribution, making it good only for washing.

“The tap water from the municipality is not fit to drink, and my husband is a kidney patient,” said Sahar Moussa, a mother of three, who lives in a cramped, ramshackle house in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, near the Egyptian border. She spends 45 shekels (£8.20) each month – a large sum for most Palestinians in the area – to buy filtered water that she stores in a 500L plastic tank.

Further complicating the issue is Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, which activists say has prevented the import of materials needed for repairs on water and waste facilities. Israel says the blockade is necessary to prevent arms from reaching Hamas, which is opposed to the existence of the Jewish state.

With no streams or rivers to speak of, Gaza has historically relied almost exclusively on its coastal aquifer, which receives some 50 to 60 million cubic metres of refill each year thanks to rainfall and run-off from the Hebron hills to the east. But the needs of Gaza’s rapidly growing population, as well as those of the nearby Israeli farmers, means an estimated 160 million cubic metres of water is drawn from the compromised aquifer each year. As the levels sink, seawater seeps in from the nearby Mediterranean. This saline pollution is made worse by untreated waste, with 90,000 cubic metres of raw sewage allowed to flow into the shallow sea waters each day from Gaza, according to UN data.

Even wit
h the aquifer, regular running tap water is a luxury unknown to many Gazans. People living across the territory say that during the summer months water might spurt out of their taps every other day, and the pressure is often so low that those living on upper floors might see just a trickle.



Children queue up for a mouthful of fresh water at a communal tap in Gaza. Photo from Break the Silence Media and Art project.

Many families have opted to drill private wells drawing from water deep underground. Authorisation is required but rigid restrictions mean that most households dig their wells in secret. Hired labourers erect large plastic sheets to try to hide their work from prying neighbours. “As you can see, this is like a crime scene,” said a 45-year-old father of six, who gave his name as Abu Mohammed. A clothes merchant from Gaza city, he paid his clandestine, seven-strong crew £2,300 to drill a well and came across water at a depth of 48 metres. “We begin the work after sunset and… cover the sound of digging with music,” he said. A senior Israeli security official estimates that as many as 6,000 wells have been sunk in Gaza, many without authorisation.

While Israel shares the polluted aquifer, which stretches all the way to Caesarea, about 37 miles north of Tel Aviv, the problem is less acute than in Gaza which is downstream. In addition, Israel can access water from the Sea of Galilee and the mountain aquifer that also spans the West Bank.

As Gaza borders the sea, the obvious answer is desalination. Gaza already hosts 18 small plants, one treating seawater, the others water from brackish wells – most of them supplied by Unicef and Oxfam.

The Palestinian Water Authority has started work on two new seawater desalination plants and is planning a third, larger facility, which is designed to produce 55 million cubic metres of water a year. But with funding for the $450m (£295m) project still uncertain, construction is not due to start until 2017. By that time, cash-strapped Gaza may not have enough electricity available to power the energy-intensive plants. The UN estimates that Gaza needs an additional 100 megawatts of production capacity even before the big water facility is built.

Israel is trying to drum up aid for Gaza, the senior security official said, alarmed at the prospect of a looming water catastrophe and possible humanitarian crisis on its doorstep. “We have talked to everyone we know in the international community because 1.4 million people will be without water in a few years,” he said, asking not to be named because of the issue’s sensitivity. He said Israel, a leader in the desalination industry, was helping to train a few Gazans in the latest water technology, which the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) confirmed.

Rebhi El Sheikh, deputy chairman of the PWA, has called on international donors to help fund energy, water and sewage projects, warning of disaster if nothing happens. “A small investment is needed to avoid a bigger one, and it is a humanitarian issue that has nothing to do with politics or security,” he said.

Water wars

Water scarcity has become a growing problem in the Middle East, East Africa and the US.

Although the Middle East has experienced water scarcity for quite some time, Jay Famiglietti, principal investigator of a recently published Nasa study, has said that there was an “alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently has the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on Earth, after India”. With tensions already high in this region, water scarcity could become another cause of conflict.

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the driest regions in the world. East Africa, in particular the Nile River basin, has seen conflict rise over who controls fresh water supplies. Due to limited resources, the Sudanese civil war between 1983 and 2005 became a struggle over territory which in turn led to conflicts over water supplies. The impact on the population and irrigation of the country would be substantial. After 22 years of fighting, 400,000 people were killed and 2.5 million were displaced from their homes.

Water cleanliness is an issue that is having considerable impact on sub-Saharan Africa. According to the charity WaterAid, 16.4 million people in Kenya and 43.4 million people in Ethiopia don’t have access to safe water.

The US is also facing significant strain on fresh-water supplies. According to WaterSense, a partnership program of the US Environmental Protection Agency: “Nearly every region of the country has experienced water shortages. At least 36 states are anticipating local, regional, or state-wide water shortages” this year, “even under non-drought conditions”.

Water scarcity was recently addressed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who warned that by 2030 nearly half the world’s population could be facing a scarcity of water, with demand outstripping supply by 40 per cent.
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Saturday
Jul272013

Stop the Prawer Plan to evict 70,000 Bedouin from the Negev

Israel plans to ethnically cleanse the Negev of its Bedouin using a distinctly racist law, that will lead to a new Jewish-only settler city being built on the cleansed land, to prevent contiguity with the Bedouin in the West Bank, in South Hebron, who are also being displaced, to allow illegal settlements to expand, and where a thousand olive trees have been burnt, and EU funded solar installations and Bedouin villages are also being demolished.
------------------
Please follow the ACTION alerts to sign petitions and write to your MPs, Elected Representatives or Foreign Secretaries:
Here are the links:
1) Lobby the Foreign Secretary to stop Israel's Prawer Plan: <http://act.palestinecampaign.org/lobby/102>
2) Amnesty Appeal: Israeli lawmakers: Don't evict tens of thousands of Bedouin citizens: <http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=6oJCLQPAJiJUG&b=6645049&aid=519975>
3) Avaaz Petition: <http://www.avaaz.org/en/no_to_forced_eviction_of_negev_bedouins/>

4) Get your MP to sign the EDM 306, "Ethnic Cleansing of Bedouin People in Israel" <http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/306>

 
Israel’s Prawer Plan: New Nakba Hits the Negev
http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/16438/
By Malik Samara, Al Akhbar
July 16, 2013

Bedouin of the Negev desert are facing perhaps the most dangerous attempt yet to cleanse them off and expropriate their land, in what Palestinians are calling a “New Nakba.”

In the south of occupied Palestine, a vast stretch of desert land has remained largely absent from the Arab consciousness. The Negev, which once made up fully 50 percent of historic Palestine, is home to 300,000 Palestinians today.

If the measure passes, Palestinian Bedouins could see 35 of their villages destroyed in an attempt to squeeze the whole Arab population onto 1 percent of the desert.The largely Bedouin population, which makes up a third of all Palestinians living on the lands occupied by Israel in 1948, have roots in the area that go back to the fifth century BC. The Israeli authorities have subjected the Negev’s people to repeated attempts at “resettlement” and land expropriation, trying to force as many Palestinians as possible to settle within the confines of a small area in order to seize their lands.
The Israeli government has succeeded so far in corralling nearly half the population into an area Palestinians refer to as al-Siyaj (the Fence), while the rest have fought to remain in 45 villages across the Negev unrecognized by Israel, which therefore refuses to provide the most basic services.

In perhaps one of the most dangerous transfer plans adopted by the Israelis since 1948 under the guise of “developing the Negev,” the Netanyahu government signed off on the Prawer Plan in 2011, which seeks to expropriate 800,000 dunams (1 dunam = 1000 square meters), and expel between 30,000 and 50,000 Palestinian Bedouins in the process.

The plan passed its first reading in the Knesset in June and a committee was formed on July 15 to complete the approval process, with a second and third reading scheduled for Fall 2013. If the measure passes, Palestinian Bedouins could see 35 of their villages destroyed in an attempt to squeeze the whole Arab population onto 1 percent of the desert.

This will have a devastating effect on Bedouins and their tribal way of life. In the name of improving their lives by moving them into more developed urban centers – with only modest services such as schools and clinics offered – Israel hopes to break the communities’ ties to their land and culture, so it can be more easily expropriated, either for settling Jews or for military purposes.

In Rahat, one village “recognized” by Israel, local resident Iman al-Sanea explains that nearly 60 percent of the town’s 60,000 residents live under the poverty line. Here, young people have no hope whatsoever of finding work.

Nevertheless, the Bedouins of the Negev are struggling to foil attempts to subject them to another Nakba. On Monday, a national day of rage against the Prawer Plan was organized, leading to protests throughout occupied Palestine, including many areas within the Green Line, including the Galilee and the Triangle area in the country’s center.

Many young people now active in the Negev complain of negligence from their political leaders – including their representatives in the Knesset – who offer little more than one compromise after another.

This has prompted these young activists to pursue fresh ideas to mobilize people against the Prawer Plan, such as organizing simultaneous Nakba events in 10 Negev villages, linking the Palestinian catastrophe to the new expropriation plan.

The activists have made headway in improving ties to Palestinians in other areas who tend to know little about the plight of the Negev. Their latest protest quickly spread to other parts of Palestine, breaking the area’s isolation, which is but a further attempt by Israel to fragment Palestinian national identity into localized ones, be it in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, Akka, or elsewhere.

This article is an edited translation from the Ar
abi
c Edition.

Thursday
Jul112013

Singer Alicia Keys performs in Israel despite boycott, campaigners say new precedent set

http://www.endtheoccupation.org/section.php?id=447
For Immediate Release:
As Alicia Keys performs in Israel despite boycott, campaigners say new precedent set
4 July 2013 – Washington, D.C.- Despite more than a month of global appeals to cancel, music artist Alicia Keys is performing in Israel today.  After it became known that Keys, an international celebrity and a lead supporter of the NGO “Keep a Child Alive,” would be performing in Tel Aviv, thousands of individuals and public figures the world over have asked Keys to hold Israel accountable for its crimes.  Highlights of the campaign include a petition <https://www.change.org/petitions/alicia-keys-don-t-play-apartheid-israel-on-july-4-2013-in-tel-aviv-cancel-apartheid-israel-show-2>  signed by nearly 16,000 individuals, and a statement <http://endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=3630>  by dozens of prominent African-American figures, including authors, academics, artists and clergy comparing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the Jim Crow system of discrimination in the United States.  Keys has also received letters from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker <http://www.usacbi.org/2013/05/open-letter-from-alice-walker-to-alicia-keys/>  and Pink Floyd’Roger Waters <http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=2196> , as well as dozens of video pleas <https://www.facebook.com/No.Fallin.For.Apartheid.AliciaKeys>  from around the world.
Activists, public figures and civil society groups globally have followed the lead of the 171 Palestinian civil society organizations that issued a call <http://www.bdsmovement.net/call>  in 2005 for a global campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.  Israel has been repeatedly condemned for its Apartheid policies against Palestinians, including by South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has stated that the only way to hold Israel accountable for its systematic human rights violations is a concerted, non-violent campaign of BDS modeled on the South African experience.
Keys’ performance comes after persistent efforts to draw comparisons between the struggles of African Americans and South Africans with the present-day experiences of Palestinians.  A columnist at NBC’s African-African news hub, The Grio, heavily criticized <http://thegrio.com/2013/06/06/alicia-keys-planned-israel-concert-inspires-backlash-from-black-peers/>  Keys’ decision to play in Israel, calling into question her right to portray the socially conscious musician Lena Horne in a film.  The statement of African Americans, which included Angela Davis, actress LisaGay Hamilton, Robin Kelley, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and Bill Fletcher Jr., took vocal support of Palestinians by African-Americans to a new level.  ”It was important to us to highlight the similarities we witnessed, and read about, between Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and the experience of African-Americans in the United States under Jim Crow,” said Fletcher Jr., who co-founded the group African Americans for Justice in the Middle East and North Africa.
Ramah Kudaimi of the U.S. Campaign to end the Israeli Occupation states that “Although it is disappointing that Keys has decided to go ahead with her concert in Tel Aviv and lend her name to Israel’s whitewashing of its crimes against Palestinians, the mobilization of so many groups and people to urge her to cancel is a sign of how much the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement for Palestinian right has grown. Keys will look back on this concert and realize that she chose to play in an apartheid state just as so many were deciding to stand for justice and no longer normalize Israel’s actions.”
Calls have also come from within Israel itself, such as from Tali Shapiro of the group Boycott from Within <http://boycottisrael.info/content/alicia-keys-put-spotlight-plight-palestinian-children-boycott-apartheid-israel> .  Ms. Shapiro has stated that “It is highly disappointing that after months of appeals from hundreds of organization and tens of thousands of individuals, Palestinian, Israeli and international, Alicia Keys has decided that ignoring reports, of an obvious humanitarian crisis created by Israel, is the proper response.”
Despite Alicia Keys’ decision to play, Palestinians involved in pushing the boycott said the campaign is bearing fruit.  For example, in 2010, an Israeli producer admitted to the Jewish Daily Forward that he had offered to pay the equivalent of a Madison Square Garden show to 15 artists, and none of them agreed. Now in 2013, artists can rarely perform in Israel unnoticed.
Many were surprised by Keys’ refusal to cancel despite having an image as a socially conscious artist and human being, with particular sensitivity and passion about children. Reports and statistics presented to her and her NGO and a letter <http://www.dci-palestine.org/documents/dci-palestine-and-hwc-urge-alicia-keys-cancel-concert>  from prominent Palestinian child’s rights and health organizations note that some 700 Palestinian children under 18 are prosecuted in Israeli military courts annually after being arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli army.   Since 2000, more than 8,000 Palestinian children have been detained.
Rania Elias, an arts director in occupied East Jerusalem and member of the PACBI Steering Committee said: “When artists crossed the cultural boycott picket line in apartheid South Africa it was out of ignorance, the lure of money, or unconcern over human rights. Which one of these factors motivated Alicia Keys to ignore Israel’s occupation and apartheid and to allow her name to be used to whitewash its human rights violations against Palestinians?”