Friday, 8 April 2016

Live reports from delegation to Palestine - illegal settlements, demolition and displacement

Fourth report from a delegation to Palestine and Israel by Sam Macartney, UNISON Scotland International Chair: Day 4 Jerusalem: Two scheduled meetings for today and a chance to see the illegal settlements which the Israeli government are helping to build and saying their not.

Furniture tossed on the street
UN you need to see a good optician. Illegal settlements spring up in East Jerusalem at a rapid pace. But these are not settlements. These are massive housing schemes with wall to wall shopping malls, schools and facilities which cover miles of stolen territory, while the Palestinians are forced to live in slum like conditions with no facilities and without proper construction guidelines.

Demolition East Jerusalem
Palestinian homes are being demolished daily and families thrown on the street. And to add insult to injury they have to pay the government for demolishing their homes and removal of the rubble. Israeli settlers quickly move in and have new homes built by the government. This is called colonisation/forced removal without consent. It's ethnic cleansing.

Israeli leaders adopted two basic principles in their rule of East Jerusalem. The first was and is to rapidly increase the Jewish population in East Jerusalem. The second was to hinder growth of the Arab population and force the Arab residents to make their homes elsewhere. The Israeli state is rapidly achieving its goal.

This is the position now as we have seen it today, a position shared by the Coalition for Civil Rights in Jerusalem whom we met with. The factual information they supplied leaves no doubt that this is the Israeli objective.

Evicted resident
We met with a resident of East Jerusalem who was evicted with his family and elderly mother because settlers stated that they owned the land. After a lengthy court case and much hardship they where allowed to move back to half their home. The court kept the keys to the other half and stated that his home had been built illegally. He was heavily fined but allowed to return home only to find settlers had moved into the other half of his home. The court did nothing and his fight goes on.

This is only a brief outline of this case and only one of the many examples we were given by families of the displaced. The civil rights group continues to support families who are displaced but with no assistance from government departments and frustrated by corrupt officials employed by the Israeli state, it's a very difficult task.

We also met with a newish trade union who are making a name for themselves by taking on big firms and government red tape, and more importantly winning compensation and jobs for many women in Jerusalem, (WAC-MANN) workers advice centre. UNISON presently supports the work of this union and from what we saw today it's money well spent.

Their work with the newly employed and those seeking employment or refused benefits is excellent. The delegation were very impressed with their work.

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