26 November 2012

The Israeli Wall




Palestine Peace Not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter, 2006, Excerpts

Israel leaders have embarked on a series of unilateral decisions, bypassing both Washington and the Palestinians. Their presumption is that an encircling barrier will finally resolve the Palestinian problem. Utilizing their political and military dominance, they are imposing a system of partial withdrawal, encapsulation, and apartheid on the Muslim and Christian citizens of the occupied territories. The driving purpose for the forced separation of the two peoples is unlike that in South Africa – not racism, but the acquisition of land. There has been a determined and remarkably effective effort to isolate settlers from Palestinians, so that a Jewish family can commute from Jerusalem to their highly subsidized home deep in the West Bank on roads from which others are excluded, without ever coming in contact with any facet of Arab life.

The governments of Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert have built the fence and wall entirely within Palestinian territory, intruding deeply into the West bank to encompass Israeli settlement blocs and large areas of other Palestinian land. It is projected to be at least three and a half times as long as Israel’s internationally recognized border and already cuts directly through Palestinian villages and divides families from their gardens and farmland. One example is that the wandering wall almost completely surrounds the Palestinian city of Qalqiliya with its 45,000 inhabitants, with most of the citizens’ land and about one-third of their water supply confiscated by the Israelis. Almost the same encirclement has occurred around 170,000 citizens of Bethlehem’s.

A wide swath must be bulldozed through communities before the wall can be built. In addition to the concrete and electrified fencing materials used in the construction of, the barrier includes two-meter-deep trenches, road for patrol vehicles, electronic ground and fence sensors, thermal imaging and video cameras, sniper towers, and razor wire – all on Palestinian land. The area between the segregation barrier and the Israeli border has been designated a closed military region for an indefinite period of time. Israeli directives state that every Palestinian over the age of twelve living in the closed area has to obtain a “permanent resident permit” for the civil administration to enable them to continue to live in their own homes. They are considered to be aliens, without the rights of Israeli citizens.

The wall ravages many places along its devious route that are important to Christians. In addition to enclosing Bethlehem in one of its most notable intrusions, an especially heart breaking division is on the southern slope of the Mount of Olives, a favorite place for Jesus and his disciples, and very near Bethany, where they often visited Mary, Martha, and their brother, Lazarus. There is a church named for one the sisters, Santa Marta monastery, where Israel’s thirty-foot concrete wall cuts through the property. The house of worship is now on the Jerusalem side, and its parishioners are separated from it because they cannot get permits to enter Jerusalem.

In addition of cutting off about 200,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem from their relatives, property, schools, and businesses, the wall is designed to complete the enclosure of a severely truncated Palestine, a small portion of its original size, compartmentalized, divided into cantons, occupied by Israeli forces, and isolated from the outside world. In addition, a network of exclusive highways is being built across even these fragments of the West bank to connect the new Greater Israel in the west with the occupied Jordan river valley in the east, where 7,000 Jews are living in twenty-one heavily protected settlements among 50,000 Palestinians who are still permitted to stay there.

It is obvious that the Palestinians will be left with no territory in which to establish a viable state, but completely enclosed within the barrier and the occupied Jordan River valley. The Palestinians will have a future impossible for them or any responsible portion of the international community to accept, and Israel’s permanent status will be increasingly troubled and uncertain as deprived people fight oppression and the relative number of Jewish citizens decreases demographically [compared to Arabs] both within Israel and in Palestine. This prospect is clear to most Israelis, who also view it as a distortion of their values. Recent events involving Gaza and Lebanon demonstrates the inevitable escalation in tension and violence within Palestine and stronger resentment and animosity from the world community against both Israel and America.



No comments: