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After Israel’s high court orders demolition of homes in West Bank village of Khirbet Susiya, Gaza Unsilenced co-editor Refaat Alareer says this reflects a move away from a two-state solution

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JESSICA DESVARIEUX, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore. For the third time in almost 30 years the people of the Palestinian village of Khirbet Susiya are under the threat of forced displacement. After Israel’s high court ordered the demolition of 17 homes, Israel plans to more forward with plans to demolish the village. The demolition plans have been condemned by the U.S. State Department as well as the EU. Here to discuss this is is Refaat Alareer. He is he co-editor of Gaza Unsilenced. Thank you for joining us, Refaat. REFAT ALAREER, CO-EDITOR, GAZA UNSILENCED: Thank you for having me, Jessica. DESVARIEUX: So Refaat, given that the village is in Area C of the West Bank, which is under control of the Israeli government, isn’t this demolition legal under international law? ALAREER: Yeah. Well, like you said, Area C is a Palestinian area that is under full control of the Israeli occupation. Area C is about 75 of the West Bank. Building settlement, according to international law, in Area C it’s illegal. And Palestinians are entitled to have their own land and build their own houses, and make the right, their life easy. So we’re speaking here about an area that Israel, a Palestinian area that Israel controls and does not allow Palestinians to build houses, does not allow Palestinians to have their own farms, water resources. Does not allow Palestinians to build structures to enable their own economy. At the same time, Israeli settlers come from around the world. They enjoy all water resources, they enjoy the housing units and the settlements at the expense of the Palestinians. The indigenous people. DESVARIEUX: What do you make of the argument that Palestine signed on to the Oslo accord and agreed to this arrangement? ALAREER: The Oslo accord is unfair. I personally don’t know what was going on in the minds of the Palestinians who signed the Oslo accord. It’s unfair, it doesn’t do Palestinians justice. Simply, it gives for example the Palestinian Authority full control to Area A which is about 3 percent of the West Bank. And even that full control doesn’t mean that the Israeli occupation does not storm the area, arrest people and even shoot and kill, to kill people. The Oslo accord is not just, again, but even the Oslo accord does not give the land to Israel to own and give to the Jewish people and take it away from the Palestinians who actually own the land and have owned the land for a long time. So that’s why, like I said before, building settlements is illegal in Area C. Even so according to Oslo accords, building settlements, displacing Palestinians, is not legal. DESVARIEUX: Some news is that the United States, which is Israel’s strongest ally, certainly of foreign aid. Israel is the number one recipient of aid from the United States. Why is the U.S. coming out against these plans? ALAREER: Because simply it is–simply is Israel is being given everything by America. The moral support, the financial support, the technological support, the intelligence support. Everything. America has given the Palestinians almost nil, nothing. What John Kirby, the U.S. State Department spokesman said when he described this Israeli act of demolishing Susiya village, he described it as you know as provocative and harmful, and he urged Israel to not demolish any structure in the village. Number one, Israel–America is only paying lip service. It tries to appease to the Palestinians so that we, the Palestinian politicians say Israel is a fair peace broker, or something. So Israel is, America is doing nothing but lip service. And at the same time, America is trying to tell the people that there is a possibility of the two-state solution, which Israel is making impossible. So when even the United States, Israel’s best friend and Israel’s cash cow in so many ways, if I may use the term, when even America criticizes Israel’s move it means that Israel has gone too far. Israel has crossed so many red lines that again, America is slamming this move. But sadly on the ground it means nothing, because Israel goes on destroying and demolishing Palestinian property, destroying Palestinian communities, displacing–forcibly displacing tens of thousands of Palestinians and rebuilding settlements. DESVARIEUX: Refaat, just really quickly, I know there are people who might be watching this saying why should I even take notice to this specific village? Can you just provide some context about this village and its history, and its position as being sort of on the front line of this settlers’ debate? ALAREER: Susiya has been there for a long time. The villagers there have been displaced several times by Israel. But the village is located in Area C like I said, in the West Bank. South of Hebron. For Israel, Susiya is one of tens of villages. Today Susiya, tomorrow another village, and the day after, another village. But luckily we have some activists and some voices that are trying to bring global attention and people’s attention so that we don’t allow Israel to demolish and to displace the people of Susiya and other villages in that area. That area for some people is, it’s also fertile. People have fields there, there is good resources of water that again, Israel is controlling. The people–. I need to say something properly here, very briefly. When we speak about Israel destroying houses, it doesn’t only mean destroying houses. Israel destroys every possible means of living, like water wells. The settlers might attack the houses and they torch the houses, and they cut down the olive trees, making life impossible. When people don’t leave, Israel–the military police with the–the racist [israelilo] come to the people and demolish their houses. And sometimes even they make people destroy their own houses, and also find people, make people pay money because Israel used its own equipment and machinery to destroy these houses. So Susiya is a very, a very [sympotic] village but it is one of tens of villages that Israel is planning to displace and relocate. Those people have no option except to move to Area A or B, maybe, or to build without permission. And by the way, Israel almost never gives Palestinians permission to build houses. So that’s the three options that those people have. And at the end of the day, it’s Israel’s message telling people, leave. You have no place here. Something that Palestinians refuse, because we believe that this is our land. We believe that we have had this land for generations and generations, and there was one old man in the village of Susiya saying that he is older than the state of Israel. He was born four years before Israel was born. DESVARIEUX: Okay. Refaat, thank you so much for that update, and we’ll certainly keep track of this story. Thank you again for joining us. ALAREER: [Thank you, Jessica.] DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.


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Jessica Desvarieux is a multimedia journalist who serves as the Capitol Hill correspondent for the Real News Network. Most recently, Jessica worked as a producer for the ABC Sunday morning program, This Week with Christianne Amanpour. Before moving to Washington DC, Jessica served as the Haiti corespondent for TIME Magazine and Previously, she was as an on-air reporter for New York tri-state cable outlet Regional News Network, where she worked before the 2010 earthquake struck her native country of Haiti. From March 2008 - September 2009, she lived in Egypt, where her work appeared in various media outlets like the Associated Press, Voice of America, and the International Herald Tribune - Daily News Egypt. She graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism with a Master of Science degree in journalism. She is proficient in French, Spanish, Haitian Creole, and has a working knowledge of Egyptian Colloquial Arabic. Follow her @Jessica_Reports.