Sunday, June 24, 2007

Displacement in Palestine: Everything is Possible

Everything is possible Yigal Bronner, The Electronic Intifada, 22 June 2007

It feels strange to discuss possible solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Do we prefer a one-state formula or two states, one next to the other? Which of the two solutions is more possible? These questions sound so remote from the harsh reality on the ground, where a resolution of the conflict never seemed so distant. Currently, Israel is dramatically and unilaterally changing the regional landscape. The project misleadingly called the "Security Fence" is perpetuating and vastly expanding the colonies Israel has established in the areas it occupied in 1967, while sacrificing a handful of settlements located in the remote and most populated Palestinian areas. The project also complements the system of Jewish-only roads and numerous checkpoints that already fragment the West Bank -- it concentrates the Palestinians in densely inhabited, impoverished enclaves, and ensures complete Israeli control over the region's most precious resources: open land and water.Many Palestinian communities in the West Bank are already fenced in from all sides (and sometimes also cut in the middle) by a system of trenches, concrete walls and barbed-wire fences. Gaza too is sealed. Movement between the Palestinian pockets is extremely difficult. Access to healthcare, education, and work is limited and in some cases impossible. Poverty is everywhere (60 percent of the population is under the UN poverty line of two dollars of income a day).

In a matter of months, the project will be successfully completed. It will lock the Palestinians in small ghettos, connected by subterranean roads that will be controlled by Israel. There will be no airport, seaport, and the passage by land to neighboring countries will be manned by Israeli soldiers. The end result -- already in place in the Gaza Strip and several West Bank "strips" -- is a system of crowded, open-air prisons. And if the inmates will get out of hand and revolt, the wardens will target them with air raids and artillery shells. Note that what is happening in the territories occupied in 1967 is not essentially new. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not 40 years old but 120 years old. Throughout this period, the Israeli Yeshuv-turned-state used a variety of means to seize as much land as possible and displace or strangle the native population. A major breakthrough in this effort took place during the 1948 War, when at least 700,000 Palestinians either fled in fear or were forced out of their towns and villages at gun-point. Their homes were systematically razed to the ground by the newly founded sate of Israel and they were not allowed to return.

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