It's Israeli Racism, Not "Development" of the Galilee and Naqab (Negev) sign now

Ittijah the Union of Arab Community Based Associations, calls for a complete and halt to any international financial support for Israels Plan for the Development of the Naqab (Negev) and the Galilee, which is intimately connected to Sharons disengagement plan.

We the undersigned declare:

The development plan furthers the confiscation of Palestinian Arab land, the demolition of thousands of homes and the forced evacuation of the Arab unrecognized villages, encourages step-by-step ethnic cleansing and reinforces the State of Israels racially discriminatory policies.

Development in the Israeli lexicon means racism expressed through policies designed to destroy the presence of the Palestinian Arab citizens of the state. The primary purpose of the development plan is not development, in the literal sense of improving the space for the benefit of those living in it, but the complete removal of the Arab population from the space. This is clearly evident in government programs encouraging individual Israeli Jewish citizens to establish enormous ranches far larger than are necessary for any conceivable purpose on land adjacent to the Arab unrecognized villages. This policy serves no possible purpose other than to deny use of the lands to Arabs.

The most recent example of Israeli development is the destruction of 1,500 dunam of wheat belonging to residents of Saawa village in the Naqab on Sunday 17 April 2005. Israeli security forces destroyed these crops without even obtaining a court order for such action. Only two weeks before harvest, this destruction has deprived the villagers of their most important source of income.

The disengagement from Gaza will be an excuse to justify further destruction and confiscation of Palestinian land. One of the purposes of Ariel Sharons visit to George Bushs ranch on 11 April 2005 was to ensure American support for the development plan of the Naqab and the Galilee.

Every dollar and Euro in support of the disengagement plan is support for Israeli racism, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs from their homes and the confiscation of their lands and property. The Palestinians living in Israel who make up almost 20\% of the Israeli citizenry will pay the price for Sharons disengagement.

The Palestinians in Israel know, from our experience with development in the Galilee, that for Israel development means destruction of the Palestinian presence and Judaization of the space. Did the past development plan for the Galilee allow the residents of Biraam and Iqrit to return to their villages, rectifying a five-decades-old dispossession? Has it returned Muslim religious property to its rightful collective ownership? Did it reverse the massive land confiscations, or allow the establishment of even one new Palestinian Arab town or village since 1948?

The treatment of the Palestinians in Israel is not an internal Israeli issue to be dealt with in the confines of the sovereignty of the Israeli state. It requires immediate international attention.

These crimes are ongoing, and as such the international community is obligated not to participate in them. Financial support for the disengagement from Gaza and the development of the Naqab and Galilee is support for further attacks on the Palestinian citizens of Israel, their existence and their collective rights.

We call for a refusal of international financial support for the Development Plan of the Naqab and Galilee, and for the international community to protect the Palestinian community in Israel from the development plan by ensuring that it receives no financial backing. This call is directed primarily to the governments of the United States of America and the European Union, and to the United Nations. Without the support of these three international actors, the Israeli state cannot continue its illegal and destructive actions, especially not the development plans.

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Mai YoderBy:
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Governments of United States and European Union, and the United Nations

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