Category Archives: Olive Harvest

Britain and Germany block Palestinian bid to join olive council

Picking olives at Askar

Picking olives at Askar

Britain and Germany have blocked Palestinian member in the International Olive Council. Palestinians wanted to join the council to further development of the Palestinian olive industry. Observers believe that Britain and Germany blocked the Palestinian bid on the basis that it threatened the ‘peace process’ between Palestinians and their Israeli occupiers.  Palestinians argue that the International Olive Council is primarily a technical body, providing opportunities for grants and training, and that in any case ‘peace talks’ are stalled and it is time to move on in some areas. Sectors of Israeli political spectrum oppose the Palestinian Authority joining international organisations, anything that solidifies the idea of a Palestinian nation.

Olive trees are a vital part of Palestinian life. Palestinians produce a surplus of olive oil and struggle to find export sales from inside occupied Palestine. Thousands of olive trees have been destroyed by militant Israeli settlers in the West Bank in 2012 and 2013. Recently the Palestinian Authority announced a plan to plant 750,000 olive seedlings throughout the West Bank, to expand olive production. Solidarity activists in Britain have mounted a campaign to sell Palestinian olive oil outside Palestine to make Palestinians less dependent on local brokers. (To purchase Palestinian olive oil and other Palestinian products in Hastings, call: Gill 01 424 715881)

Write to Amber Rudd and the Foreign Secretary William Hague, asking them to be aware of this issue and to withdraw British objections to the Palestinian Authority being a full member of the International Olive Council.

Amber Rudd contacts

William Hague contacts

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Filed under Olive Harvest, Olive Tree Campaign

Olive Trees Near Yatma Destroyed by Rechelim Settlers

On the 7th November settlers from Rechelim uprooted over 100 olive trees and sprayed racist graffiti in al-Asawiya near Yatma.

The graffiti on the village mosque said “Death to Arabs” and “Price Tag” in Hebrew.

The olive trees were planted on land belonging to Hamad Salih Mahmoud Hijazi, Salih Naser Gazi and Mustafa Ali.

It was only the previous week we, International Women’s Peace Service, had been picking olives with two families from al-Asawiya. Pleasant times (if a bit arduous in the beating sun!), sharing our limited language, drinking chay made on open fires and eating delicious picnics on the ground under the olive trees.

Picking olives

OLIVE INDUSTRY

The olive crop is the main source of income for famers in the West Bank. Nearly half (48%) of the agricultural land in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) is planted with 8 million olive trees; the vast majority are in the West Bank.The olive oil industry makes up 14% of the agricultural income for the oPt and supports the livelihoods of approximately 80,000 families.

OTHER WEST BANK INCIDENTS

870 trees were uprooted or destroyed in the first week of the olive harvest, which starts around 5th October – see www.guardian.co.uk/2012/oct15/israel-olive-trees-settler-attacks.

Destroyed olive tree

I will send complete details of the destruction when OCHA have finished collating the data.

For a fact sheet on the olive harvest see http://www.ochaopt.org

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Filed under Hastings Friends of Yatma, Olive Harvest, Price Tag, Tree destruction, Yatma

Land Grab

How one settlement evolved

One of my fellow olive pickers from a French solidarity group asked me why we call settlements settlements, ‘Zaire colonies’ he said. How true, common parlance has diluted the true essence of the land grab in the West Bank. This was bought to mind an earlier occasion when we were supporting, by olive picking, the deputy mayor of Kafr Qaddom. He gazed over the colony of Qedomim that has appropriated half of his village’s land. He and his brother had been attacked the previous day by around 100 settlers and the army were called. They told him to return the next day and they would offer protection. He asked for assistance from the international solidarity volunteers. As we picked olives I wondered why the soldiers their eyes fixed on us and not the settlement where the potential aggression might come from!

Looking over the settlement

I have been increasingly interested in how the West Bank land grab has happened. Below is a profile of Qedumim.

Overview
Qedumim, also spelt Kedomim, was first ‘settled’ in 1975 by 12 families. It is south west of Nablus. The name in Hebrew means ‘Ancient’ but is also remarkably similar to the Qaddom in Kafr Qaddom, the original Palestinian village. This follows the Israeli pattern of calling settlements with like sounding names. The slogan on their website is: ‘The Vanguard of Jewish Resettlement in Samaria’. Kafr Qaddom (the Palestinian community) has lost 58% of its land to Qedumim

Gush Emumim and the Origins of Qedumim
Gush Emunin was an Israeli messianic and political movements committed to establishing Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Golan Heights. It sprang out of the 1967 War, and was formally organised in the 1974 in the wake of the Yom Kippur war.

Gush Emunim’s platform defined the movement’s mission in the following way: “To bring about a major spiritual reawakening in the Jewish people for the sake of the full realization of the Zionist vision, in the knowledge that this vision’s source and goal in the Jewish heritage and in Judaism’s roots are the total redemption of both the Jewish people and the whole world.”

In 1975 part of Gush Emunim tried to establish itself in Sebastia, north of Nablus. Eventually this was unsuccessful and they were evicted by the IDF and given temporary housing in Kadum a former Jordanian military base. In 1977, under the protection of Shimon Peres, the then Minister of Defence, Qedumim was given official recognition.

Municipalities, ‘Neighbourhoods’
and the Growth of Settlements

Har Hemed is an example of an outpost that has been incorporated into a municipality. After Oslo Accords, it was agreed that settlements should not be expanded except by natural growth (although this was not exactly defined and whether it could include immigrants was never made clear). Outposts were not exactly legal either officially but received funds from governments ministries. By a process of naming them ‘neighbourhoods’ and zoning the area into a regional council the settlement could grow by stealth. All municipal areas are off limits to Palestinians unless issued with a permit and are virtually enclaves.
As the map indicates, if the proposed barrier is built (black dotted line) Qedumim could become parter of a much larger enclave together with the settlements around Wadi Qana, which is already categorised as a ‘natural reserve’. Closed military zones and nature reserves are tools used by the occupation to evict Palestinians and/or curtail agricultural activity.

Map of settlement

Impacts on Kafr Qaddum

Apart from losing more than 50% of their land, this village is cut off from areas of their agricultural land by the settlement. Also, since 2003, access to their land and to Nablus has been affected by the closure of the linking road that passes by the settlement. This makes travel much longer: for a farmer with land the other side of route 60, it means a 10K journey via Al Funduk, it takes double the time to travel to Nablus.

Farmers have suffered multiple incidents of aggression from the settlers. On the edge of the deputy mayor’s land is a house that used to be used by his father when he grazed his animals. He said it was frequently occupied by settlers who left trash and daubed the walls with Hebrew slogans. For more details of settler aggression see http://www.btselem.org, land confiscation and access links.

Present Day Ideology of Qedomim

Gush Emunim has declined as an organisation. However, its influence lives on and its raison d’être made more acceptable. This is encapsulated by one time mayor, Daniella Weiss, a right wing activist instrumental in the settlement’s expansion, who claims the settlement was built on a barren hilltop and is of strategic importance to Israel’s security and ‘must out pace the rapid, often illegal, building by Palestinian Arabs’.

Map of settlements and ‘Area C’

Although land grab can never be condoned, violent Palestine resistance can give the settler movement reason to feel threatened. In 2006, a suicide bomber who had hitched a lift, blew himself up at the gates of Qedomin killing 4 people 3 of whom lived in the settlement. The Al Asqa brigade claimed responsibility.

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Filed under Hastings Friends of Yatma, International volunteers, Israeli occupation forces, Land seizures, Olive Harvest

Boycott – a key part of the Palestinian Resistance

On Monday I went along with the IWPS (International Women’s Peace Service) as it joined in a PARC (Palestine Agricultural Relief Committee) ‘solidarity action’, picking olives with a farmer who had been attacked two days ago by settlers from Bracha. Khaled Mansour, Nablus PARC director and a leader in the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement, gave a clear message that boycott should include all Israeli goods, following the model of the boycott of South Africa. A larger-than-life figure, he lead us in many songs whilst we picked olives, including a rousing ‘We will overcome’! He lives in Al Faraa refugee camp, as his family were ethnically cleansed in 1948 from a village south of Haifa. (for more of his story read www.badil.org/en/al-majal/item/924)

Mansour arrested during olive picking

Non violent BDS demonstration in an Israeli Supermarket

Two days later approximately 100 Palestinians and a small group of internationals demonstrated in a supermarket just outside the Shaar Binayamin settlement, near Ramallah. They left voluntarily when asked but were attacked in the car park by over 40 army and police using sound bombs.

Demonstration in a supermarket

Two Palestinians, including our friend Bassem from Nabi Saleh Popular Committee, one international supporter from Michigan Peace Team, and one from International Solidarity Movement were arrested. All are still being held; the internationals are threatened with deportation by the Ministry of Interior although they have not been charged with anything.

Another arrest of non violent protester

MY OPINION

I am enthused to do more boycott solidarity work on my return…..the EU has legitimised Israel by the recent EU-Israel AACA vote.(Europe agreed to recognise Israeli standards, in effect making trade between Israel and European Union members much easier). 

The Palestinians continue to struggle against the stranglehold of the occupation, we need to do anything we can to support them.

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Filed under Arrests, Hastings Friends of Yatma, Israeli occupation forces, Olive Harvest, Yatma