Press TV has interviewed Kamel Hawwash, vice chairman of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Birmingham, to discuss a new Israeli construction plan that would lead to the displacement of thousands of Palestinian Bedouins in the Negev region.
What follows is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Many Palestinians say that the destruction of their homes is Tel Aviv’s way of ethnically cleansing Palestine and Judaizing the occupied territories. Is that how you see it?
Hawwash: I mean there are lots of villages in the Negev that have been destroyed many, many times. Israel refuses to recognize that they existed since even before 1948. Yes, there is no doubt that its plan is to Judaize both the Negev and then the Galilee. So it [Israel] has already put 700,000 settlers into the West Bank, but they also want to extend the spread of Judaization into these two areas.
But it is really quite unbelievable that governments across the world still support Israel when it builds settlements, if you like towns, villages, for one ethnic or religious group. It is racism, it is apartheid and they continue to support it as if what it is doing is ethical. In fact, they talk about the fact that they share the same values with Israel. In the UK, would they build a town for just whites or just Christians? Of course, they do not.
Press TV: Do you think this is a smart move right now specifically at a time when tensions are so high in the occupied territories, specifically the West Bank?
Hawwash: Israel keeps talking about wanting to calm the situation, but in fact, whether through, first of all ,the demolition of villages in the Negev and the building of Jewish-only settlements on them or whether through its extra-judicial killings and executions in the West Bank, the control through check points and forest areas of the West Bank particularly in East Jerusalem (al-Quds) and limiting access to al-Aqsa mosque to the Palestinians and allowing extremist settlers to go on to the al-Aqsa compact. These are not signs of… [Israelis] want to calm things down. It is one which thinks it can do all of this with impunity because the international community at the moment dare not stand to it and sanction it for what it does which is series of illegal acts. It is a criminal state, a state that exercises terror on the Palestinian people, and we need the world community to start sanctioning it for what it does.
Press TV: It seems that illegal settlement construction on Palestinian land, the demolition of Palestinian homes has become a status quo and a norm which is just condemned by words but no actions are taken by the international community now, aren’t they?
Hawwash: No, because the excuse that they give is ‘we must maintain an opportunity for a two-state solution to happen. So if we sanction Israel that will make it more difficult. But in fact even without sanctions, it’s continued to destroy the so-called two-state solution and any of these officials, including John Kerry, if he genuinely has a tour of the West Bank he would see that there is no prospect for the two-state solution which he supposedly is fighting for and the side that is actually making it impossible to happen is Israel.
So it is a bad time that the United States in particular said to Israel: “You stop building settlements, you begin to give…a plan for evacuating the settlements or we will begin to impose sanctions on you.” Because they really want peace, there is no other way than bringing Israel to account through the International Criminal Court in terms of the Palestinians and what they need to do, but also for the international community to say enough is enough. We have invested many years and millions and millions of pounds into the two-state solution, which you have made impossible.