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A Vision for Palestinian Womens Rights Organizations based on the Global Study on the Implementation of UNSCR 1325
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Date posted: October 24, 2003
By MIFTAH

Since Israel began implementing the separation wall, it has embarked on a public relations campaign to convince the international community, especially the Americans, that this in no way is intended to set up de facto permanent borders with significant land grabs, but rather simply provide security to their people. Accustomed to having its views adopted sans argument, Israel probably received a shock as international condemnation of the wall continues to mount.

Accusing the 144 nations in the UN General Assembly who voted to pass the resolution, including all 15 European Union nations, of sharing a history of bias in favor of the Palestinians, Israel vowed to defy the overwhelmingly supported non-binding resolution demanding Israel to "stop and reverse the construction of the wall, which is in contradiction to international law. Palestinians wanted a Security Council resolution condemning the wall, which is binding in nature, but were blocked by the US, which consequently also voted against this resolution.

Apathetic to world opinion, Israel seems no longer concerned with hiding its intentions, as Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, in a televised interview with Israels Channel Two, at this moment, because we do not have an arrangement with the other side, we are making a unilateral arrangement. He further went on to say that the fence along the Jordan Valley would fit Sharon's concept of permanent Israeli control over the valley.

Israel disclosed this week that a security barrier being built along the West Bank would become a unilaterally imposed border annexing the strategic Jordan River Valley to Israel. A senior Israeli official said the plan for the wall that would cut the Jordan River Valley off from the rest of West Bank has been approved. Nineteen small illegal Israeli settlements dot the Jordan River Valley, a parched, hot strip of barren land punctuated by two main oases the Palestinian towns of Jericho and Jiftliq.

Most of the attention has not been focused on the Jordan River Valley, but on the other side of the West Bank, where Israel has completed the first section of the barrier. Rather than following the internationally recognized Green Line border between the West Bank and Israel, the separation wall cuts deep into the West Bank to encompass illegal Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian territory. This has lead international observers, including Condoleezza Rice, to opine that Israel appears to be creating a new border that constitutes a land-grab of much of the West Bank by Israel.

Palestinians and the international community, including the US, fear the partition's route will harden into a de facto border and prejudice negotiations. This of course has always been Sharon's intention. His long-standing concept of a permanent arrangement with the Palestinians would give the Palestinians control over populated enclaves around the West Bank, while Israel would maintain control over the entire periphery.

The wall, a combination of high concrete walls, barbed-wire fencing, electronic sensors and deep moats is rising at immense cost to the Palestinians, separating them from hospitals, schools, public services, and agricultural fields that provide their livelihood. It is estimated by various Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights groups that the first 140km-long (90 miles) section of the wall, which was completed in August 2003, directly affects some 210,000 Palestinians.

Adding insult to injury, Israel disclosed plans Thursday to build hundreds of homes in West Bank illegal Israeli settlements. Israel's Housing Ministry, the fanatical Effi Eitam, published in an Israeli newspaper an ad inviting contractors to bid on the construction of 143 new apartments in the Karnei Shomron settlement deep in the northern West Bank and 180 in the Givat Zeev settlement, on the outskirts of Jerusalem. "The Housing Ministry builds all over Israel, including the West Bank," ministry spokesman Kobi Bleich said. "This tender is in line with a decision taken by the government of Israel."

Earlier this month Israel unveiled plans to build more than 600 new homes in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, drawing international and Palestinian condemnation. The Israeli settlement monitoring group Peace Now said the government had published 1,627 tenders for new homes in the settlements this year. It accused Israel of paying lip service to the road map, while pressing on at an unprecedented rate the building of settlements.

The international community, including the US, regards settlements on occupied Palestinian land seized in the 1967 Middle East war as illegal under international law. Further, the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan requires a blanket freeze on construction in the roughly 150 Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said on Thursday, "we have made our policy clear, which is that, under the road map, Israel has made a commitment to stop settlement activity. Sticking to that commitment is important."

Despite its expressed concern regarding the separation wall and its disapproval of Israels plans to continue enlarging and building settlements, the US has yet to take concrete steps, such as enforcing its threat to cut part of a $9 billion loan guarantee, to pressure Israel to recede from its illegal activities. The US seems unwilling to go beyond fluffy criticism and in fact the Bush administration seems to sympathize with Sharons blatant defiance of the international community. If the peace process is to be rescued from the abyss it has sunk into, the US must fulfill its obligation of holding both sides accountable, rather than simply and perpetually blaming the Palestinians.

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