Big corporations are not alone in implementing the Israeli occupation on the ground. Especially in the smaller settlements which do not yet have any industry or commercial outlets, ideological charities and religious groups play a crucial role when it comes to encouraging settlement expansion. This is the case with Maskiot, the first new settlement to be approved in the West Bank for a decade when it was officially established in the middle of 2008.
Located in the Jordan Valley, an area under heavy threat of Israeli annexation, (See, for example, http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3403 ) Maskiot is strongly Zionist and inhabited by ex-Gaza settlers determined to continue to steal Palestinian land and ‘repopulate’ the Valley with Jews. In other words, ethnically cleanse the area of Palestinians. Last week (Sunday the 28thof April), as a clear provocation, armed settlers from Maskiot entered the Bedouin area of Al Maleh and set up a tent only ten meters from the community, preventing the people there from accessing some of their land (see http://www.brightonpalestine.org/node/618). This act follows numerous acts of aggression against the people of Al Maleh during the last few years. The settlers are helped in these pursuits by their supporters. In the case of Maskiot this means The One Israel Fund and Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, who have both contributed to Maskiot’s development.
The One Israel Fund (www.oneisraelfund.org) is a Zionist organisation with charity status in the US and it has as its stated aim to support settler families and promote further settlement expansion both in the West Bank and Gaza. Founded in 1994 by Yechiel Leiter, it works closely with Israeli settler communities and Government, as well as the IDF. New settlements such as Maskiot receive a lot of support from the organisation, which states that they are “… dedicated to helping these former residents of Gush Katif [now evicted settlement in Gaza] become the self-sufficient pioneers of Israel they once were and strive to become again.” The ‘Maskiot Development Fund” has its own project tab on their web-site, indicating that they continue to support the attempted expansion of this Zionist settlement, hence advocating the removal from the area of the indigenous Palestinians.
The organisation Christian Friends of Israeli Communities (www.cfoic.com) is a Zionist Christian group which was established in 1995 as a response to the Oslo Accords. They support a total Israeli takeover of the West Bank and Gaza on supposedly religious grounds, and run an ‘adopt a settlement’ program for their members. They have funded Maskiot’s olive grove, illegally planted on Palestinian land. CFOIC have offices in Israel, the US, Germany, Holland and the UK (www.cfoic.com/pages.jsp?pageID=31).
For a report from Inside Maskiot see: http://www.brightonpalestine.org/node/611