Theodor Herzl, the father of Israel’s foundational Zionist ideology, once said, “If I wish to substitute a new building for an old one, I must demolish before I construct”.
Recent examples of Herzl’s colonial paradigm of displacement and replacement include continuing large-scale home demolitions in Wadi Hummus, a neighbourhood in southeast Jerusalem that is supposed to be under the Palestinian Authority’s control (PA), and threats to demolish 52 West Bank schools, such as the Ras al-Tin primary school near Ramallah. Most recently, the bulldozers and diggers of the Israeli army demolished the Palestinian village of Khirbet Humsa, leaving 74 people, including 41 minors, homeless.
Those actions represent a transgression on the clauses of the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993 and 1995. They are also in violation of a system of international law that has developed in the period of decolonisation much different from the rapacious age of European Imperialism Herzl lived in, which strictly bans demolitions in occupied territories.
Regional normalisation schemes like the Abraham Accords only serve to encourage yet more colonial annexation, and many more Wadi Hummus’s and Khirbet Humsa’s. Normalisation efforts that are not preceded by a determination to hold Israel to account for its colonial policies and illegal occupation will not lead to regional peace, definitely not for millions of Palestinians.
Written by Alaa Tartir & Jeremy Wildeman
Published at Al-Jazeera, 20 November 2020