that the poll was conducted without any prior campaign, without
an actual peace agreement, and in the very month that saw more
terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens than ever. A
similar poll published a month earlier in Ha'aretz
yielded similar results: 74% of Jewish Israelis supported dismantling
at least small isolated settlements – in a framework of
"unilateral separation", not even a peace agreement.
the Israeli people knows what it wants: dismantling the settlements
in return for peace. The Arab world also knows what it wants:
full peace for full withdrawal. Never before has peace in the
Middle East been more simple to achieve.
the ruling Israeli junta knows better. That very day (29.3.02),
it launched "Operation Defence Shield", a ruthless total war against
the Palestinian people in the West Bank, destroying every single
symbol, institution and infrastructure of the Palestinian autonomy
(save Arafat's person): killing hundreds, destroying, vandalising
and plundering, securing Palestinian hatred for generations
to come. Towards the end of the Operation (22.4.02) Prime Minister
Sharon announced in cabinet that his government would not dismantle
even a single settlement, and would not even discuss the matter.
pretext for this war was the Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians,
culminating in the Passover massacre in Netanya (27.3.02, 28 civilians
killed). Pretext? Undoubtedly. To stop suicide bombers, a fence
would have been enough.
Achronot has recently published a thorough research on that.
The cover page of its weekend magazine (26.4.02) reads:
a year ago, President Moshe Katzav suggested building a separation
fence to stop suicide bombers. The Prime Minister ignored him.
In December 2001, the Head of the Shin Bet warned: 'a physical
barrier is a security must.' The Prime Minister ignored him. Ever
since, 205 Israeli citizens have been killed and 1.666 injured
in terrorist attacks inside the Green Line. The Prime Minister
ignored it." A subtitle reads: "The Prime Minister's Office
admits: the fence is not built because of 'political aspects'."
And the former Chief of Israeli Police, Asaf Chefetz, spells it
out: "Separation will destroy the concept Sharon has been employing
all his life. He cannot set a fence after he spread the settlements
in a way that makes it impossible to separate them from the rest
of the country."
Achronot also quotes experts estimating the costs of a fence
along the 263 km of the Green Line. The most expensive version,
with a double fence, a wide patrol road, projectors, electronic
detection equipment and cameras, should cost about one hundred
million dollars. The direct military costs of "Operation Defence
Shield" have already exceeded six times this amount. Not counting
indirect economic damage, not counting human lives lost on both
sides, not counting the millions of damage inflicted on the Palestinians,
not counting future hatred.
Lives, Expensive Lives
fence is not my favourite solution for the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict; an open peaceful border is much better than a Chinese
wall. But the fence issue is indicative for the priorities of
Israel's junta, with, at the top, maintaining the occupation and
expanding the settlements.
the junta's eyes, there are three kinds of human beings. First
Palestinians, whose life is a nuisance one should get rid of.
Second Israelis, whose life is a national asset one can liquidate
when necessary. Occupation can be served by sacrificing civilians
in terrorist attacks and using their death to launch a war. The
third kind is settlers: an incarnation of the occupation, hence
sacred. "Our Saviours", as former Prime Minister Yizchak Shamir
once called them.
Achronot (26.4.02) paid a visit to one Gershon Hershkowitz,
a 25 year old settler living alone in a detached caravan on a
hill in the northern West Bank. The journalist "was appalled
to find out that this single settler was protected by several
reserve soldiers. They [ironically] called themselves 'the Unit
for the Protection of One Man'." The soldiers have "no
fence, no detection equipment, no lighting, totally exposed to
the four winds. An Israeli army jeep occasionally came to check
if they were still alive."
is not an exception. In the settlement of Netzarim, in the heart
of the Gaza strip, 50 houses are defended by almost one thousand
soldiers. Analyst Sima Kadmon, who published the story, adds:
the Prime Minister last week promised not to dismantle isolated
settlements, it's those settlements he was referring to."
Sharon came to power, 34 new settlements have been built on occupied
Defence Shield" is over; the next operation, probably in Gaza,
is waiting for a pretext. The Israeli junta is already harvesting
the crop. Ha'aretz (25.4.02) reports of 31 new housing
units to be built in the settlement of Maale Adumim and 480 in
the settlement of Elkana. There is also a new Jewish neighbourhood
at the heart of Hebron, "behind the facades of shops whose
[Palestinian] owners had been evicted after the massacre of Baruch
Yes: in 1994, after a Jewish terrorist massacred scores of Palestinians
in prayer, Israel "evicted" the Palestinian owners of the shops
which are now given to Jewish settlers. That's the junta's game:
heads I win, tails you loose. Israelis killed are a good pretext
to dispossess Palestinians; Palestinians killed are even a better
pretext to dispossess them.
mother of a reserve soldier turned desperately to an Internet
forum for an advice: together with other soldiers, her son was
"ordered to protect surveyors who came to mark Arab olive-woods
for building a road on them and double the area of settlement
Alfe Menashe. Is everything allowed in the name of protecting
the house? Evil is evil. My son is a fighter and serves in reserve,
but he is now on the verge of refusal. What can I do?"
the desperate e-mail message circulated by Fuad Kokaly, Mayor
of the Palestinian town of Beit Sahour:
25 April, I received a visit at Beit Sahour Municipality from
the Israeli Occupation Forces. The visit was to present me with
a new map. This new map shows the new Beit Sahour; a Beit Sahour
with even less land than before. They intend to confiscate yet
more of our property, property belonging to residents of Beit
Sahour. [...] More and more is taken by Israel to build settlements,
bypass roads and to take control of natural assets that legitimately
belong to Palestinians. As a result, we are prevented from building
new homes, farming our land and having access to neighbouring
villages and towns. For how much longer must we have to accept
this plunder of our land?"
you killed and also taken possession?"
when Sharon comes to Washington next week, don't wonder about
his peace plan: he hasn't got one. Don't talk to him about a "peace
conference": he doesn't want peace. Just remind him of the King
of Israel whose blood was licked by dogs for killing just one
man, for taking possession of just one vineyard in Samaria.