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(en) Israel-Palestine, Behind the smoke screen of the Gaza pullout by Tanya Reinhart*

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 14 Apr 2005 08:03:48 +0200 (CEST)

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Sharon travelled to the USA as a hero of peace, as if he had already
evacuated Gaza and only the follow-up remained to be worked out. What
has completely disappeared from the public agenda is what is happening
meanwhile in the West Bank. The media continue to deluge us daily with
disengagement storms, like the Nitzanim bubble. But for now the
disengagement the Gaza pullout - exists only on paper. On the ground,
no settler has yet received compensation. Even those who agreed to
accept compensation are now waiting, because if they have a chance to
get Nitzanim - the pearl of Israeli real estate - why hurry? In the
meantime, three and a half months before the projected date of
evacuation, it is still not clear where the evacuees will be housed
until the discussions regarding their final relocation destination are
concluded. Contrary to the prevailing impression, no infrastructure has
been set up even for their temporary dwellings. “The Settlement
Department of the Jewish Agency, responsible for providing the
‘caravillas’[the caravans that were supposed to host the evacuated
settlers temporarily] has so far received no order from the government”.
(Petersburg, “Yediot Ahronot”, 8 April 2005)

If Sharon intends to evacuate the Gaza settlements, he is doing so with
outrageous inefficiency. He is far more efficient in the West Bank.
There, plans are carried out precisely as scheduled. Right from the
start, during the first agreements between Sharon and Netanyahu one year
ago about the disengagement plan, it was agreed that the disengagement
would not be put into effect before the “separation fence” was completed
on the western side of the West Bank(1). Indeed, the construction of the
wall is moving towards completion. In July the announced date for the
beginning of the Gaza evacuation the wall surrounding East Jerusalem
and cutting it off from the West Bank will be in place. The Palestinians
who live there will be able to leave only with permits. The centre of
life in the West Bank will become an enclosed prison. As well, the
northern wall, which has already imprisoned the residents of Tul Karem,
Qalqilya and Mas’ha, and which has robbed them of their lands, continues
to advance southwards. Now the bulldozers are headed for the lands of
Bil’in and Safa, bordering the settlements of Modi’in Elit. The farmers
who are losing their lands are trying to stand their ground, together
with Israeli opponents of the wall. But who would hear about their
sufferings and about their struggle, amid the tumult over the disengagement?

The disengagement plan was born in February 2004, at the height of a
wave of international criticism over the wall project, on the eve of the
opening of deliberations at the international court in The Hague. In the
ruling that was handed down in July, the court determined that the route
of the wall was a blatant and serious violation of international law.
Moreover, the court indicated that there was a danger of “a further
change in the demographic composition as a result of the departure of
the Palestinian population from certain areas” (para. 122). In other
words, the court warned of a process of transfer.

According to UN data 237,000 Palestinians will be trapped between the
wall and the Green Line and 160,000 others will remain on the
Palestinian side, cut off from their land. (The route that was approved
at the government’s meeting in February 2005 reduces their number only
slightly) (2). What is to be expected for those people, for the farmers
who lose their land, for the imprisoned who are cut off from their
families and their livelihoods? In the ghost towns of Tul Karem and
Qualqilya and the villages around Mas’ha, many have already left in
order to seek subsistence on the edges of towns in the centre of the
West Bank. How much longer will the others be able to hold on under
conditions of despair and atrophy, inside villages which have become

“Transfer” is associated in the collective memory with trucks arriving
at night to take Palestinians across the border, as occurred in some
places in 1948. But behind the smoke screen of disengagement, a process
of slow and hidden transfer is being carried out in the West Bank today.
It is not easy to judge which method of “transferring” people from their
land is crueler. Nearly 400,000 people, about half the number of
Palestinians who were forced to leave their land in 1948, are now
candidates for “voluntary emigration” to refugee camps in the West Bank.
And all this is currently being passed over in silence because maybe
Sharon will disengage.

(1) Here, e.g. are some reports from April last year: “The prime
minister took a commitment that the separation fence will be completed
before evacuation starts... Security echelons estimate that the fence
can be completed at the earliest towards the end of 2005. In other
words: It is possible that Israel will not be able to complete the
evacuation at the date that was promised to the U.S.” (Yosi Yehushua,
Yediot Aharonot, April 19, 2004). “Netanyahu announced that he intends
to support the disengagement after the three conditions he posed were
met …[including] completion of the fence before the evacuation” (Itamar
Eichner and Nehama Duek, Yediot Aharonot, April 19, 2004).

(2) The figures are from the ICJ advisory opinion of July 9 that can be
found at http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/idocket/imwp/imwpframe.htm.
Similar figures were given in the Israeli media, e.g.Meron Rappaport,
Yediot Aharonot, May 23, 2003; Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz, February 16,
2004. The new line of the barrier as approved by the Israeli cabinet in
February 20, 2005 reduces the size of Palestinian land to be annexed by
the barrier by 2.5%, mainly in the Southern Hebron area, where work is
only starting (so the barrier route can still change many times, as the
work progresses). There were smaller adjustments in other areas,
dictated by decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court, which means that
some of the encircled villages should get some of their land back. But
this does not effect the total number of Palestinians encircled by the
wall. In Khirbet Jbara in the Tulkarm Governorate, the cabinet approved
moving a 6km section of the Barrier closer to the Green Line. As a
result, the Palestinian population in this area will no longer be
located in a completely closed area, but rather on the West Bank side of
the Barrier. This will reduce the overall Palestinian population
completely isolated from the West Bank by about 340 persons (according
to UN OCHA report of March 2005 on the preliminary analysis of the
effects of the new wall route approved in February 2005. www.ochaopt.org)

The Hebrew article is attached and can be found also in
* [Ed. Note: Professor Tanya Reinhart is a long time anarchist activist
academian. She have a column in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot
most of the Israelis read.

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