As Israelis Protest Mounting Authoritarianism, Apartheid Regime Over Palestinians Goes Unchallenged

by Alice Speri, The Intercept

On very clear days, you can follow the rolling hills surrounding the Palestinian city of Yatta all the way to the Dead Sea on one side, the Negev desert on the other. The windswept landscape offers idyllic views, with clusters of olive trees alternating with narrow rows of cultivated land, patches of shrubs, and the occasional grazing sheep. This is also a unique observation point to watch the reality of Israeli apartheid take hold of the land.

sign that reads end the apartheid free Palestine

Masafer Yatta, a collection of hamlets in the pastoral hills surrounding Yatta, is one of several areas across the occupied West Bank where the Israeli state has for decades forced out Palestinians and replaced them with Israeli settlers. The goal, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated plainly after returning to power last year, is to give the state absolute and ultimate control over what he called “all areas of the Land of Israel” including land widely expected to one day form the territory of a Palestinian state.

The Israeli government has deployed an array of legal and policy pretexts to extend its domination of the West Bank, most notably by supporting the more than half million Israeli settlers who illegally moved there. Since a new, far-right coalition took power, Israel has been roiled by mass protests that reached an apex this week, as hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets to oppose plans by Netanyahu — who is currently fighting corruption charges — to severely curtail the independence of the country’s judiciary. But the political crisis means little to Palestinians, including the 1.6 million with Israeli citizenship, who have long viewed Israel’s courts as complicit in their oppression, and the legal system many Israelis are now rushing to defend as an enabler to the regime of racial domination forced upon them.

“Palestinians know that Israel has only ever been a democracy for its Jewish citizens, and never for us,” George Bisharat and Jamil Dakwar wrote in an op-ed for Haaretz this week. “What we are witnessing today is an internal Israeli Jewish struggle over who will administer an apartheid regime over the Palestinians, not a genuine fight for democracy for all.”

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