Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Israel's impunity

A year after the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that its "separation barrier" in the West Bank was illegal, Israel has announced the continued construction of the wall through Jerusalem, an act that will cut off 55,000 Palestinians from the city. As Arjan El Fassed writes,

With this decision, Israel, once again, defies international law and the advisory of opinion of the ICJ, backed by the General Assembly of the United Nations, which ruled that Israel should not only immediately stop with its construction, but also begin dismantling them and to pay reparations to those who had lost their property as the result of the Wall’s construction.

Once completed, the total length of the new barrier route will be 670 km long. This includes the sections around the Israeli settlement Ma’ale Adumim and Ariel/Emmanuel settlement ‘fingers’. Together these two areas total 108 km or 16 percent of the route or 10.1 percent of the West Bank and East Jerusalem that will lie between the Wall and the 1949 Armistice Line (also referred to as “Green Line” or the 1967 border). This land constitutes some of the most fertile in the West Bank. It is currently home for more than 55,000 Palestinians, living in 38 villages and towns.
Many have pointed out that Israel would have every right to build the wall if it did so on its own land, inside the Green Line. But that's not the case. As a result, critics have charged that the wall is driven by a desire to seize Palestinian land, further cushion Israeli settlements, and alter the demographics around Jerusalem.

Israel has long denied this to be the case, and insists that the wall is constructed solely for security reasons. Recently, however, Haim Ramon, an Israeli Cabinet minister in charge of Jerusalem, let leak reality. According to the AP,
Israel's separation barrier in Jerusalem is meant to ensure a Jewish majority in the city and not just serve as a buffer against bombers, an Israeli Cabinet minister acknowledged Monday.

The statement by Haim Ramon, the minister in charge of Jerusalem, confirmed Palestinian claims that demographics — and not only security — determined the barrier route.

...Ramon said demography was also a main factor for the barrier route in Jerusalem. It encloses Maaleh Adumim, a settlement with nearly 30,000 Jews, while excluding four Arab sections, including a refugee camp, with 55,000 Palestinians altogether. Of Jerusalem's 700,000 residents, about a third are Palestinian.

Besides keeping suicide bombers out, the route of the barrier "also makes Jerusalem more Jewish," Ramon said. "The safer and more Jewish Jerusalem will be, it can serve as a true capital of the state of Israel."
This is the second instance in the past year where a prominent government figure has been a bit too honest in his public assessment of Israeli policy. Last fall, Dov Weisglass, one of Sharon's top aides, admitted that Israel's proposed Gaza withdrawal was a ploy to "freeze the peace process" and "prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state."

Despite such blunt acknowledgements, I'm sure few will bat an eye at this news here in the US. Israel's propaganda claims will remain at full boil, with politicians and commentators on both sides of the political divide applauding as the ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing that is the Zionist project steams ahead.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, as Juan Cole stresses, failing to own up to the clear realities on the ground in Palestine and confront Israel's expansionist designs are major reasons why there is so much animosity towards the United States from Arabs and Muslims, as well as the continued threat of terrorism.