Documentaries

When Israel First Occupied the West Bank

A new documentary examines the settlement expansion in the wake of the Six-Day War.

Photo Credit: BOND360

Raja Shehadeh, founder of the human rights organization Al-Haq, can recall the exact moment he first noticed Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

"The first settlement that I became aware of directly was the one closest to where I live in Ramallah, which was Dolev," Shehadeh explains in the new documentary "Settlers". "I was driving... and as we passed, we saw trailers bringing mobile homes."

Over 100 families now live in Dolev. But in 1983, when it was established, there were just five.

"By the time we came back in the afternoon, the mobile homes had been placed on the land," Shehadeh recalled. "And I turned to the passenger, my friend who was driving with me, and I told him, 'You know, anything that is built so quickly can be taken away so quickly and he said, 'I'm not so sure' and these words ring in in my head to this day, because he was right and I was wrong."

Hundreds of thousands have settled in the occupied territories since Six-Day War, in June 1967, when Israel tripled its territory. Today, the number of settlers is half a million

The United Nations began to question the legality of the settlements in 1980. Within the next decade, the two-state solution became a linchpin of American policy in the Middle East. But President Trump could soon cast aside decades of Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy.

“I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like, I can live with either one,” President Trump said on Wednesday, during a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Settlers" Director Shimon Dotan slammed Trump's indifference.   

"Its completely non-secure, to tell Netanyahu and the Palestinians, 'whatever works for you,'" he told AlterNet. "We are already living with a one state strategy, and the settlers who live there enjoy full citizen rights."

According to a recent Oxfam report, "Israel controls 80 percent of Palestinian water resources and the 520,000 Israeli settlers use approximately six times the amount of water that the 2.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank use. Most West Bank settlements are located close to water resources, which Palestinians are restricted from accessing." 

Dotan believes that while a true two-nation state may seem utopic, America must have a say in the region.

"This issue will not resolve itself. The only possible solution is two-state solution," Dotan said. He also characterizes the pressure Obama applied to Israel during his presidency as "mild". 

"Settlers" was nominated for Grand Jury Prize at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. The film opens theatrically in NY (Film Forum) and LA on March 3rd and 17th, with more dates to follow.

Watch: "Settlers": Exclusive Clip

Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.

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