Thursday, 28 September. 2023
Your Key to Palestine
The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy

bitterlemons: There is an almost complete physical separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank at the moment. What are the consequences of this split?

Sourani: You are really talking about two people. We are totally disconnected, humanly, politically, socially, economically and otherwise. This is unprecedented. Even in the darkest days of the occupation this situation never obtained. And it's deepening more and more every day. bitterlemons: Are these two communities then growing apart?

Sourani: Families are disconnected, Gaza students no longer go to West Bank universities and vice versa, intermarriages are no longer happening. It's a very strange relationship. bitterlemons: How big an obstacle does this pose to the possible formation of a Palestinian state?

Sourani: I think it makes it mission impossible. To be disconnected physically makes a state impossible. This is what Israel is aiming for. Israel is deepening the separation exactly to make the creation of a Palestinian state impossible. bitterlemons: There have been suggestions that Israel is seeking to leave Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan. Do you think this is what is happening?

Sourani: No, I think it's much worse. Gaza is disconnected. Israel unilaterally redeployed from Gaza but still exercises 100 percent control over the Strip, over air, sea, and land. It's business as usual.

I think the opening of the Kerem Shalom crossing is indicative of this strategy. Israel is starting a new chapter with this. From Kerem Shalom Israel will exercise full economic control over Gaza. Kerem Shalom is inside Israel and Israeli laws will apply there. Any imports and exports to and from Gaza will have to go through there.

In the West Bank, the situation is completely different. Jerusalem is de facto annexed and being ethnically cleansed. There is a real process of social and economic provocation against the Palestinian people inside Jerusalem and the Judaisation of the city is proceeding apace. The settlements are expanding daily and Jerusalem is almost ruled out from becoming part of any Palestinian state in the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, the wall has de facto annexed nearly 60 percent of the West Bank and what is left are pieces and bantustans, creating a situation where Palestinian life, let alone a state, is impossible. Any Jordanian control over the West Bank will certainly not come to look like the pre-1967 situation. bitterlemons: Are you saying that Israel is quite consciously pre-empting the possibility of the emergence of a Palestinian state?

Sourani: This is clear from the unilateral disengagement plan, which leaves Israel to decide on the fate of the Palestinian people and land.

Israel never believed in a Palestinian state. I think a long time ago, Israel decided it had no Palestinian partner, and even when President Yasser Arafat passed away and Abu Mazen was elected democratically, Israel never recognized him as a partner.

They implemented the disengagement from Gaza without any Palestinian partner. Hamas [after winning Palestinian elections] is an excellent excuse, one more excuse, for Israel to continue its unilateralism.

I must also remind you that though the unilateral plan is three years old, Ehud Olmert came up with the policy long ago. Sharon only adopted it. Olmert will continue this line. This fits with the policy goal of a long-term interim solution, which, as Dov Wesiglass said, will simply disrupt any Palestinian development and make a Palestinian state impossible in the long run.

These two policies, unilateralism and the aim of a prolonged interim solution, are derailing any discussion over the real issues in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, namely Jerusalem, the wall, the settlements and the right of the Palestinian people to be rid of this belligerent occupation. bitterlemons: On the Palestinian side, is this division of Palestinian territory making it hard for any cogent, coherent policy to emerge.

Sourani: I think you can direct suicide bombers through e-mail, fax and mobile telephones, but I don't think you can create and run any political movement. bitterlemons: What can Palestinians do?

Sourani: We are in a time of crisis. I have no recipe for this. But even in prison, nobody can stop Palestinians from thinking of their fate and pining for their freedom. It's very hard when the world, especially Europe, buys into this conspiracy of silence, and abides by the rule of the jungle and not the rule of law.-

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