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Middle East Peace Report
Last uploaded : Monday 2nd Jun 2003 at 16:22
Contributed by : Americans for Peace Now


News Americans for Peace Now: Middle East Peace Report

Vol. 4, Issue 45

June 2, 2003

Israelis Occupied With Supporting Peace: In last Friday?s Gal Hehadash/Ma?ariv survey of Israeli opinion, 55% of respondents said they support the cabinet?s decision to approve the plan known as the Road Map, while 33% oppose it and 12% are undecided. Even among Likud voters, 50% support the Road Map. When asked about specific parts of the peace initiative, 56% of Israelis said they support removing all settlement outposts established in the territories since March 2001, 59% support freezing building in settlements (including ?natural increase?), 62% support ending Israeli occupation of the territories, and 57% support establishing a temporary Palestinian state. (Ma?ariv, 5/30/03)

Lines Drawn Outside The Road Map, Part I: In an extensive report in Yedioth Ahronoth, Meron Rappaport apprised readers of the dramatic changes being wrought on the ground by the security fence being erected between Israel and Palestinian communities in the West Bank. According to Rappaport, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is pursuing his own map of the West Bank that splits the area into three parts. One part from Jenin to Ramallah, a second part from Bethlehem to Hebron, and a third part around the city of Jericho. A fence is being put up around these three Palestinian areas, which cover less than half the West Bank. This map is not new for Sharon. ?I haven?t sat with the prime minister recently,? said Ron Nahman, mayor of the West Bank settlement of Ariel, ?but the map of the fence?is the same map I saw during every visit Arik made here since 1978. He told me he has been thinking about it since 1973.? There are some who call this plan of Sharon?s ?the bantustan plan? (according to Ha?aretz, Sharon used this term when talking to the former prime minister of Italy four years ago), there are those who call it the canton plan. But it is clear that this plan is now taking on concrete and barbed wire. Only now it is called the seamline plan. What began as a campaign of the Israeli Left and Center of ?we are here, they are there,? has now become the baby of the Sharon government. The same Sharon who during the unity government opposed building the fence and was dragged into it almost against his will, on any given day has 500 bulldozers at work, paving and building one of the largest projects in the history of Israel. The Bar Lev line, built after the Six Day War on the banks of the Suez Canal, pales beside the first 150 kilometers of the separation fence, which is to be completed in two months. It certainly pales beside the next 500 kilometers left to complete the project. Even the national water carrier or the draining of the Hula swamps look like exercises in sandcastles compared to this colossal project, because what started out as a barrier along the Green Line has steadily expanded east on Palestinian land in order to put as many settlements as possible on the Israeli side of the fence. (Yedioth Ahronoth, 5/23/03)

Lines Drawn Outside The Road Map, Part II: ?The village of Jawis, situated more or less opposite Kochav Yair, numbers around 3,000 people,? wrote Meron Rappaport. ?Before the Intifada, many of the men worked in Israel. Now, obviously, this is all over, and many have gone back to farming. More than half of the breadwinners in the village work the land. Or more correctly, used to. The route of the separation fence flanks the last houses of the village and 9,000 dunam of farm land, almost all of the village?s lands, will remain west of the fence, in the side close to Israel. A short walk from the outer homes of the village, not more than 200 meters, leads suddenly to the edge of a cliff. The view here is marvelous, the air fresh. Below one?s feet is the coastal plain, from Kfar Saba to the sea. The Green Line is discernible with the naked eye. At one point in the plain, relatively far (six kilometers separate the village from the old border) the small and crowded farming plots of the Palestinians are replaced by the open fields of the kibbutzim and moshavim in Israel. You look a bit more and suddenly realize that this cliff, more than 100 meters high, is the work of man. The work of the fence builders. The hill was cut in the middle, and the route of the fence is paved beneath it. The word ?fence? is too paltry to describe the matter. On the eastern side, the Palestinian side, there is barbed wire, then a deep ditch, then a dirt road, then the fence itself, eight meters high, and then another dirt road, then an asphalt road (?wide enough for a tank,? the Defense Ministry explains to me later), and then more barbed wire. You have to be almost insane to think that somebody uprooted mountains, leveled hills and poured billions here in order to build some temporary security barrier ?until the permanent borders are decided.?? (Yedioth Ahronoth, 5/23/03)

Lines Drawn Outside The Road Map, Part III: Around 12,000 Palestinians in about 13 villages will be sandwiched between the fence and the Green Line. The fence will separate them from their Palestinian brothers in the West Bank, and in order to go to Jenin to buy something or sell something, they will have to pass a border crossing, which is unclear when and where it will be. It is also not clear how they will receive basic services such as schools or health services from the Palestinian Authority, which will be on the other side of the fence. While there will be no fence between them and Israel, in Israel they will be considered illegal residents, and there is no intention to annex them or turn them into Israeli citizens. More than 30,000 Palestinians are liable to completely lose their livelihood because their lands are on the ?Israeli? side of the fence. This is the most fertile part of the West Bank with almost 40% of the agricultural land of the West Bank. In the Jenin, Tulkarm, and Kalkilya districts?the districts in which the work on the first stage is being done?around a quarter of the residents work in farming, more than twice the percentage in the rest of the West Bank. One square kilometer of farmland in these areas produces income of about $900,000, more than twice the income from a similar area in the rest of the West Bank. Around two-thirds of the water resources in the West Bank are also in this area. Twenty-eight wells will be west of the fence, and it is unclear what will become of them. In short, a blow to agriculture in Jenin, Tulkarm, and Kalkilya is a blow to all the Palestinians in the occupied territories. According to the World Bank, the first stage of the fence will affect the livelihood of over 200,000 Palestinians. IDF officials say that the farmers will be allowed to cross to their land with no problem, ?after they prove they have rights to the land.? Army officials say there is a plan to define clearly who exactly has the right to cross the fence, ?but it is still too early to make this public.? In any case, if it turns out that a Palestinian who has to cross the fence for farming or other matters has a ?security past,? his chances of reaching his destination are nil. (Yedioth Ahronoth, 5/23/03)

Lines Drawn Outside The Road Map, Part IV: Meron Rappaport concluded, ?A look at the map leads to a simple conclusion?the separation fence being built at this time basically overlaps the Sharon map for a Palestinian state. A bit more than 40% of the West Bank, split and sliced into pieces. The northern West Bank is cut off from the southern West Bank and to go from Bethlehem to Ramallah a Palestinian will have to cross two border crossings. The system of internal fences, ?open prisons? the Palestinians call them, will be even more sophisticated in the new section. For example, the fence is meant to go on the eastern side of road 446 and leave the settlements of Ofarim, Beit Aryeh and Nili on the Israeli side. In the middle there will be about ten large Arab villages such as Kibiya and Rantis imprisoned behind another fence in the shape of a loop. These ten villages will have only one exit to the east, to Ramallah, through a control point in the ?main? fence. A similar loop, with another internal fence, will be extended south of road 443, the Modiin-Jerusalem road, and will also include about ten villages. Jamal Juma of the Palestinian Environment Association says that around 50,000 people live in these enclaves alone?The Road Map talks about a Palestinian state by the year 2005 in ?viable? borders. It?s hard to see how anyone can live within such borders. And perhaps that is precisely Sharon?s plan. Just like he initiated the settlements to mark the future borders of Israel, now he is marking them by means of the fence. And it will be very hard to move this fence. ?You leave us no room to grow, you leave us no room to live,? says Jamal Juma. The only thing left the Palestinians is to live in huge pens and to work in industrial zones that will no doubt be built in the settlements, near the opening of these pens. ?You want us to live like slaves. It won?t work. If you had built the fence along the Green Line, there would be no problem. This way perhaps you?ll have quiet for four-five years, but you will create only hatred. Instead of 20% Hamas, you?ll have 60%.?? (Yedioth Ahronoth, 5/23/03)

Suspect Him And Suspect Him, Part I: Commenting on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon?s acceptance of the Road Map, former Meretz Party Chairman Yossi Sarid wrote, ?It is no coincidence that the cabinet issued a foggy resolution. Ariel Sharon likes to walk in the fog, because then no one knows where he is headed?and he can face forwards and backwards, like Janus. Because I have no investments in the Tel Aviv stock exchange, Sharon?s stock did not rise with me [last week] either. As we know, the local stock exchange rises based on indications of oil, or indications with no oil, and all the speculators are willing to benefit even from the indications of political progress, not necessarily actual progress. I know that we are now expected to burst out into a song of praise for Sharon and his leadership. But with Sharon, based on acquired experience, I employ the rule of ?suspect him and suspect him? [a take-off on the Hebrew expression ?suspect him and respect him?]. Not only Abu Mazen and Mohammed Dahlan are subject to the test of deeds, but also Sharon and Mofaz. Abu Mazen says all the right things, and yet Sharon and his ministers say that talk is just talk, that we must not be overly impressed by words, and should only witness what happens on the ground. If this is the correct test, then I am applying it (because of my acceptance of the principle) to Sharon, as well. Plans and maps, and even their approval, are not enough?the change in policy must be carried out and evidenced on the ground. When we see this change with our own eyes, only then will we be able to praise what is happening and not only what is supposed to happen. I set myself a rule, after being burned once too many with groundless approbation. The burden of proof is upon Sharon; Sharon is a warmonger as long as he has not taken even one small practical step towards an agreement; Sharon is a deceiver as long as he has not evacuated even a single illegal settlement outpost between one ?painful concession? and another.? (Yedioth Ahronoth, 5/26/03)

Suspect Him And Suspect Him, Part II: Yossi Sarid continued, ?I do not extend credit to people who have not yet paid their previous debts. We must learn a lesson and not be fooled: About a month ago, Sharon told Ari Shavit in Ha?aretz that Beit El, Shilo and Bethlehem will be left, and only a few days later he already announced that his statements were taken out of context. Let us make no mistake: Not a single settlement outpost is constructed without personal cooperation on Sharon?s part. It is important to draw attention to a worrying fact that has appeared over the past two days in every ministerial interview. Even the ministers who support the map say that they support it since nothing will come of it anyway, and the Palestinians for their part will spoil the dish. Therefore, it is difficult to see how a plan can succeed when so many ministers and perhaps the prime minister himself are praying for it to fail. This leads us to the impression that the ball is merely being passed from one court to another, so that the United States does not accuse us of obstructing the initiative. The truth is that if I had to choose between a ?historical decision? to approve the Road Map and a modest decision to evacuate one actual settlement on the ground, I would prefer the second decision, since it contains actual proof and not only a theoretical statement. However, if we are proved wrong and Sharon has indeed changed his skin, his very character, we will be the first to support and assist him, just as we were the most eager sales persons for Menahem Begin when he brought the first peace with Egypt: Begin did not only speak about the ?painful concession? of giving up all the settlements in Sinai, he made the concession.? (Yedioth Ahronoth, 5/26/03)

And A Good Time Was Had By All: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that there is an understanding with the heads of the Bush Administration that the subject of the settlements and outposts will not be discussed in the framework of the Road Map, but rather separately between Jerusalem and Washington. Asked by Labor Knesset Member Ephraim Sneh when the illegal outposts would be dismantled, Sharon replied, ?They have been, and are being, dismantled.? This caused an outburst of laughter among the committee members. Outside the realm of Sharon?s fantasy enforcement of Israeli settlement laws, settlers established an outpost last week on a hilltop in the southern Hebron hills. The hilltop on which the outpost was established falls under the territory of the Shiva settlement and is located next to a hilltop from which an outpost had previously been evacuated under an agreement with the first Sharon Administration. Further, an agricultural settlement position was established last Wednesday on Maon Farm, also in the Hebron hills, after the previous outpost was evacuated three months ago. Finally, the Jerusalem municipality wants to establish a new Jewish neighborhood on a hill near the village of Abu Dis, where the Palestinian parliament is to be built. The plans, which were submitted for approval to the district committee for planning and construction in the Interior Ministry, call for building the neighborhood on 100 dunams of land located on the eastern border of Jerusalem. The neighborhood would include 230 housing units and two synagogues. The land on which the community would be built belongs mainly to a number of Jewish donors, headed by American Jewish millionaire and settlement financier Irving Moskowitz. Moskowitz made headlines in the late 1980s for his work in ?redeeming assets? in East Jerusalem neighborhoods and in the Old City and for settling members of the Ateret Cohanim and Elad NGOs there. In the past, when Jews took over this property there were riots and disruptions. Arab residents said that they plan to fight the establishment of the Jewish neighborhood. Even after certain outposts may be evacuated by the prime minister, Sharon will ensure the continued existence of other settlement outposts. (Ha?aretz, 5/28-29/03; Ma?ariv, 5/29/03; & Yedioth Ahronoth, 6/2/03)

No One Told The Housing Minister: Israeli Housing Minister Effi Eitam obviously did not get the memo about his government?s approval of the Road Map (with its required freeze on settlement growth) and his Prime Minister?s new revelation about ?occupation that cannot last indefinitely.? The Housing Ministry is currently generating detailed plans for building 11,806 housing units beyond the Green Line. The new plans are to receive all the necessary permits from the planning agencies by the end of the year. Further, in the coming months construction will begin on 2,000 housing apartments in the occupied territories that have already been approved. The figures were presented in a document that Eitam recently submitted to the Prime Minister?s Office. This is a relatively high number of apartments, roughly equivalent to a third of the amount of apartments built in Israel every year. The largest number of apartments is planned for Maale Adumim and Givat Zeev in the Jerusalem area, which are relatively close to the Green Line. Additional apartments will be built in Ariel, Beitar Illit, and Geva Binyamin. According to Interior Ministry data, the number of settlers has increased by 5,000 since the beginning of 2003. Vowing that settlement expansion will continue, Eitam said today that the concept of ?natural growth? as a benchmark for settlement expansion included new housing not only for the children of existing settlers, but also for people who wished to join settlements as residents. (Yedioth Ahronoth, 5/28/03 & Ha?aretz, 6/2/03)

Anti-Zionists On The Hilltops: Professor Shmuel Keniel, a lecturer at Bar Ilan University and himself a settler, recently published the first research on the hilltop settlers. He met with 56 settlers from 27 outposts and hilltops in the occupied territories for a year. He managed to sketch a profile of the new settlers and compared them with their parents? ideals. The conclusions present the younger generation of settlers in a completely different way than most of the settlers. The hilltop settlers, whose age ranges from 18 to the end of their thirties, have laid aside their connection to the secular State of Israel (as opposed to what the members of Gush Emunim believed) and lost interest in Zionism. They believe in working the land and in the Torah of Israel, demand expulsion, revenge and killing of Palestinians, dismiss foreign labor and will resist, actively and passively, the evacuation of outposts and settlements. Most of them scorn the GSS and the police and think that the High Court of Justice and the State Attorney?s Office work against Judaism. The investigation found that 63% of the settlers ascended the hilltops out of a motive of ?realizing the value and divine commandment of settling the Land of Israel.? Most of them are Haredi: 53% described themselves as very religious and Haredi. A few described themselves as Breslav or Habad Hassidim or observant by choice. About 20% did not serve and will not serve in the army ?because it is the long arm of an invalid state.? About half of those researched no longer view the State of Israel as sacred. Professor Keniel wrote that the settlers sanctify the Torah of Israel and the Land of Israel, and have ?lowered the Israeli flag a little,? as he puts it. (Yedioth Ahronoth, 5/25/03)

A Chill Wind Blowing In The Territories? Ma?ariv reported this morning that the Israeli government, by means of the coordinator of activities in the occupied territories, is freezing future construction in the West Bank and Gaza. Coordinator Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad is the person who is supposed to approve construction plans over the Green Line. In recent months, it turns out, Maj. Gen. Gilad has simply not approved these requests. As part of this new policy, more than 180 requests for building permits for about 3,500 housing units which have accumulated in recent months have been frozen. It should be noted that these are only future plans and that the Settlers Council has a large number of construction plans already approved, which enable it to construct over the next two years thousands more new housing units in many settlements. But even when working on projects previously approved, problems arise from time to time which require new permits, which are not being given now. Prime Minister Sharon has tried to calm settlement leaders, saying, ?The settlements have enough signed and legal construction permits for the coming years and there is no reason for panic.? (Ma?ariv, 6/2/03)

Extreme Right Worries Shin Bet: The Shin Bet security service is reevaluating the threat of an attack on Israeli politicians by right-wing extremists following the government?s vote to accept the Road Map. The Shin Bet has predicted for months that if the diplomatic process resumes and settlement outposts are evacuated, the extreme right could turn on their fellow citizens. Security officials were probably not reassured to hear longtime Settlers Council official and former Knesset Member Elyakim Haetzni, a Hebron settler, blast the cabinet vote as ?national treason? and a ?national catastrophe.? It was a historic day ?in the same sense that the Destruction of the Temple was historic,? he said. Former Knesset Member Dalia Rabin-Pelossof said Haetzni?s use of the word ?treason? was chillingly reminiscent of the tempestuous period in which rightists cursed her father, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, as treasonous prior to his 1995 assassination by a far-right Israeli. (Ha?aretz, 5/27-28/03)

Lewis Roth, Assistant Executive Director
Americans for Peace Now



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