MIFTAH
Friday, 28 January. 2022
 
Your Key to Palestine
The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy
 
 
 

Introduction:

With the onset of a peace process in the early 1990s, Palestinians hoped that the Two-State Solution would come to fruition and an autonomous, independent Palestine would emerge, forging forward into the new millennium with the enthusiasm and hopefulness that marked the beginning of the Oslo Process and the return of many of the exiles, including late President Yasser Arafat. As time went by the euphoric prospect of peace turned into disillusionment. The beginning of another Intifada in September 2000 was not unexpected but those who failed to read the clear signs that the political situation was headed that way only rode the wave of renewed violence to justify their own ends.

The Segregation and Annexation Wall was one outcome of Israel’s continued aggression towards the Palestinians. It has been documented that the Wall was being planned in the early years of the peace process. Under the guise of security it was actually a deliberate attempt to solidify Israel’s hold on the most fertile lands, the aquifers and other resources in the West Bank. The Wall cuts deeply into the West Bank and only 20 percent of it is being built on the Green Line. It is therefore a clear attempt to include major West Bank settlement clusters in Israeli territory.

In some places the Wall encircles entire towns, such as Qalqiliya, only allowing passage to inhabitants arbitrarily and haphazardly. Much of the Wall has encroached on fertile village land and aquifers necessary for Palestinian sustenance and wellbeing.

The barrier route has had adverse effects on a largely agrarian society, pushing it towards non-traditional labor, such as construction. The loss of land is also a loss of livelihood for many families and has drastically reduced families’ self-sustainability, especially in light of the dire economic conditions in the Palestinian Territories.

Beyond the security/terrorism rhetoric, the route of the Wall proves a statement made by Haim Ramon, the Israeli Minister of Justice, in July 2006 when he said that the Wall had political implications. This was corroborated by a comment issued from the State Attorney’s Office in the lawsuit Dr. Ahamad Bader Miselmani made against the State of Israel. “Unlike the other sections of the barrier, Israel admitted that, regarding the Jerusalem Envelope, the route was not based solely on security considerations, but also, in the words of the State Attorney’s Office, in a way that ‘considers Israel’s political interests.’ Accordingly, the route was set to run along Jerusalem’s post-annexation municipal border.”I

Beginnings:

Actual plans for the wall’s construction began in November 2000, when Ehud Barak, the then Israeli PM approved a plan to establish the Wall in the northern and central West Bank. There are those who consider that the Wall project started with the construction around Gaza in 1994, just as the Oslo Agreements were kicking off and “peace” was on the horizon.

Under the leadership of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the opportunity to go ahead with the plans for the Wall came in April 2002 when a series of suicide attacks occurred inside Israel. The Israeli cabinet called for a barrier and fences around major Palestinian towns, ostensibly to curb these attacks.

In June 2002 Phase I of the Wall begins to include sections of Jerusalem.

Originally the route of the Wall was supposed to be around 670km, but was extended to 703km in its current form. According to the latest statistics 51 percent of the construction has been finished, with 13 percent still under construction while 36 percent remains in the planning phase.II

Despite the fact that the International Court of Justice gave an advisory ruling in July 2004 stating that the Wall is against international law and called for its dismantlement, it did not happen and construction continued unabated, especially since the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled in September 2005 that it was not in contravention to International Law.

Some minor victories were scored by Palestinian families affected by the wall and in very few cases, the route was changed in consideration of the humanitarian impact of the Wall on these areas. However, the major battle for the dismantlement of the Wall continues to this day, as the Wall reaches almost full completion.

Humanitarian Impact:

West Bank:

Although the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled in June 2004 that the route of the Wall must ensure that humanitarian considerations on the Palestinian communities along this route are not affected, it has in fact had adverse consequences on these communities, especially since the most fertile land lies between the Wall and the Green Line.

Largely agrarian, tilling and living off the land for generations, many families have lost not only their livelihood, but also centuries-old traditions. One example is the olive harvest. An annual ritual every October, it has now become a bitter harvest, one where families are subjected to the violence of Jewish settlers, who often physically assault olive pickers, even if they are accompanied by foreign and Israeli peace activists.

An average tree is said to bear the equivalent of 9kgs of fruit and because it is able to live in arid conditions and can survive in soil of poor quality, it is the perfect crop to grow in the Palestinian climate. III . Settlers have been known to steal the fruit of the trees under the cover of darkness, thereby robbing families of a major source of income. All this occurs under the watch of Israeli soldiers, who either stand idly by or actually aid the settlers in their assaults. Once planted, olive trees can survive for centuries, but it can take a few years for the tree to become productive. The fact that over 450,000 trees IV have been uprooted is a cultural, ecological and economic calamity.

Forty-two villages and towns in the West Bank, where approximately 60,500 people live, will be directly affected by the Wall if it continues to be built as planned and will be sandwiched between it and the Green Line. Around 31,400 Palestinian inhabitants residing in 12 villages in the West Bank will be completely encircled by the Wall. This will make it extremely difficult for residents of these areas to access medical facilities, education services, jobs and markets. All affected sectors will need to apply for Israeli-issued permits in order to access most of the major facilities that offer these basic services.

Families, whose farmland lies on the western side of the wall, are cut off from it, unless they are able to get the necessary permits to get to their fields. The permits system installed for the farmers is a major obstacle towards them reaching their land. In the Qalqiliya governorate for example, 38% of permit requests were rejected by July 2005.V Some of the permits are only granted to the immediate land owner, if he is indeed able to prove ownership, but the workers and other extended family members, who help work the land, are unable to get the necessary permits.

The gates in the Wall are often open for short periods, but if there is a security threat, the gates may be closed for extended periods. They are usually only open at set times of the day and only for a short time. To make matters more challenging for the farmers, they are not allowed to cross with any vehicles or other farming equipment. The more farmers are discouraged from reaching their land, the less likely they will be able to make use of it and maintain proof of ownership. According to an old Ottoman law that still applies, if the land is not cultivated three years in a row, it can be declared as state property and thus confiscated.VI

In Qalqiliya and Tulkarem, two of the more fertile areas of the West Bank, over 85,000 dunums are in the closed off areas beyond the Wall. Nearly 8,400 dunums have been confiscated for the construction of the Wall and land immediately affected by the Wall, which includes the buffer zone areas, totals almost 31,000 dunums. VII

The social fabric of these communities has also been torn, with many unable to maintain normal family and social relations because of the access restrictions that the Wall imposes.

Jerusalem:

The Wall around Jerusalem, which is 162km in length and sometimes up to 25ft high, will cut off around 25 percent of Palestinians holding Jerusalem residency and put them on the West Bank side of the barrier. These inhabitants will find it harder to access some of the services they are entitled to as Jerusalem residents, and may also find their residency rights jeopardized in the future if they are unable to prove residency inside the Israeli self-proclaimed Jerusalem municipality borders.

Specifically, the West Bank residents of Biddu (around 32,500) and of Bir Nabala (approximately 20,000) VIII are now completely cut off from Jerusalem Residents of Biddu will only be able to access Jerusalem through the Qalandia checkpoint, but they will have to travel north in order to go southward to Jerusalem, significantly lengthening their journey to more than an hour, whereas their previous travel time was significantly less. Additionally, these residents must first obtain permits to enter Jerusalem since they hold West Bank IDs.

Though Israel continuously uses the pretext of security as the major reason for the construction of the Wall, it is obvious in Jerusalem that the barrier has political motivations, as it follows the municipal boundaries that the Israeli Authorities have modified and expanded constantly since the 1967 war and since the illegal Israeli annexation of the city. “A substantial part of the route of the Jerusalem Envelope indeed runs more of less along the municipal border. As a result, it leaves 200,000 Palestinian residents of the East Jerusalem on the ‘Israel’ side of the barrier. In some sections though, the route veers sharply from the municipal border, at times leaving out areas within Jerusalem’s jurisdictional area in which Palestinian live, thus separating the residents from the rest of the city. This is the case with the neighborhoods Kafr ‘Aqeb, ‘Anata Hahadash, Wallaja, and the Shu’afat refugee camp, which are home to at least 30,000 Palestinians. In other sections, the route veers from the municipal boundary in the opposite direction, and ‘annexes’ additional areas in of the city’s jurisdictional area.” IX

The Wall eliminates a large portion of Palestinian Jerusalemites in order to ensure that the demographic balance remains in favor of a Jewish majority. Many of these Palestinian residents will be cut off from basic health services, as Jerusalem has a number of Palestinian-run hospitals that cares for the population, as well as many residents of the West Bank.

In order to access these services, jobs, family and friends, social and cultural events, shopping and normal aspects of every day life, the people who are now on the West Bank side of the Wall are only allowed through an elaborate system of checkpoints and terminals, where heavily armed security personnel, sniffer-dogs, and metal detecting machinery are in place, searching the bags of every woman, man and child.

The Wall & Prospects for a Palestinian State:

The Wall is in part an extension to Israel’s settlement project. At its completion, the Wall will have effectively annexed 56 settlements in the West Bank to Israel. Seventy-five percent of the 170,123 settlers living in these settlements will end up residing between the Wall and the Green Line, making any final status negotiations on settlements impossible, as new facts on the ground are not only created, but concretely drawn into the area of what was supposed to be part of the future Palestinian State.

The settlement project, including the wall, blocks any potential for growth of Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. It also obstructs the contiguity of major West Bank cities, further preventing the possibility of a future Palestinian State.

Most specifically, the wall around the Ma’ale Adumim settlement, built on expropriated private Palestinian land, digs into the West Bank. It swallows a total of 70 square kilometers, an area fifteen times bigger than the settlement itself. The E1 Plan, as it is more generally known, will envelope Jerusalem and block access between the northern governorates of Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqiliya, Nablus and Ramallah and the southern governorates of Bethlehem and Hebron, thus shattering any contiguity between these regions.

Other settlements in the West Bank such as the Ariel and Emmanuel settlements and the Gush Etzion settlement bloc encroach on Palestinian land in order to extend the land for these settlements for future development. X The Wall in those areas has made sure that Palestinians are contained into a limited space with limited resources.

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References and more information:

Preliminary Analysis of the Humanitarian Implications of the April 2006 Barrier Projections, Update 5, OCHA
Territorial Fragmentation of the West Bank, OCHA, May 2006
Separation Barrier Statistics,www.btselem.org, April 2006.
Crossing the Barrier: Palestinian Access to Agricultural Land, UN, Update 6, January 2006
Separation Barrier, Route of the barrier around East Jerusalem,
www.btselem.org/english/Separation_Barrier/Jerusalem.asp
A Wall In Jerusalem: Obstacles to Human Rights in the Holy City, Btselem, Summer 2006
Timeline of the Apartheid Wall and the Resistance Against, it, www.stopthewall.org, June, 2005

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I - Under the Guise of Security: Routing the Separation Barrier to Enable the Expansion of Israeli Settlements in the West Bank, B’Tselem, Bimkom, December 2005, pg. 49
II - Preliminary Analysis of the Humanitarian Implications of the April 2006 Barrier Projections, Update 5, OCHA
III - Olive Tree Campaing keeps hope alive I Palestine, Lewis Turner, 22 November 2005
www.ycareinternational.org/?lid=2176
IV - Ibid.
V - Crossing the Barrier: Palestinian Access to Agricultural Land, UN, Update 6, January 2006
VI - Ibid
VII - Ibid
VIII - Territorial Fragmentation of the West Bank, OCHA, May 2006
IX - Under the Guise of Security: Routing the Separation Barrier to Enable the Expansion of Israeli Settlements in the West Bank, B’Tselem, Bimkom, December 2005, pg. 49
X - Crossing the Barrier: Palestinian Access to Agricultural Land, UN, Update 6, January 2006

 
 
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