Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Israeli Imperialism in Microcosm

Aggressive expansion of illegal settlements involving the forcing of Palestinians out of their homes and the theft of further Palestinian land make clear Israel's response to Washington's call for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reflect a 60-year-long policy of ethnic cleansing.

Actions by the Israeli Interior Ministry are making crystal clear the attitude of the Israeli government toward the U.S. concept of a two-state solution:

The Palestinian caretaker cabinet condemned a proposed expansion of the illegal Israeli West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim on Monday as a step that could cause the region to “explode.”

The cabinet, led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, issued a declaration saying that the proposal would sever the West Bank into two sections, denying any possibility of the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.

The statement was in reference to a decision by a special committee of the Israeli Interior Ministry, which approved a merger between Ma’ale Adumim and the much smaller settlement of Qedar. Under the plan, 12,000 dunums of land in between the two settlements would be seized and the entire area, a swath of the central West Bank, would be surrounded by the separation wall.

The rapidly expanding illegal Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumim:

The neighboring Palestinian city of Ramallah:

[Both photos from Wikipedia Commons.]

As Jordan’s Petra News Agency explained:

The special committee of Israel's Housing Ministry concluded preparing a plan to expand Ma'ale Adumim settlement built on the lands of Al-Eizariya town, east of Jerusalem. Head of Al-Eizariya municipality Ahmad Farun told (Petra) reporter in Ramallah, that this move comes as a part of besieging the towns east of the holy city, and connecting east and west Jerusalem together. "Since 67 until today Israel had seized nearly two-thirds of the town's land", Farun added.

Peace Now reviews the legal situation before the courts in Israel and points out the key issue: that this comes as “part of a larger master plan to expand Ma'ale Adumim on a large scale” with “the intention to construct in this area 6,000 new housing units, to house 25,000 new settlers.”

Comments by Benjamin Kasriel the mayor of Ma'ale Adumim in 1998 make clear the longstanding expansionist plans of Israel, which we are now seeing the latest step, noting that Ma’ale Adumim:

functions as a corridor between the Palestinian communities, preventing them from creating continuity of Arab construction around Jerusalem. In addition, Ma’ale Adumim, together with the [settlement] communities around us--Kedar, Kfar Adumim, Mitzpe Jericho, Vered Jericho, Nofei Prat, Adam, and Kochav Ya'acov--is located exactly in the center of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. All of our development, in the direction of the Dead Sea, or Jerusalem in the west, will create a buffer that will prevent the creation of a Palestinian state, because every state requires [territorial] continuity.

The mayor continued:

When we were a smaller community we spoke of Ma'ale Adumim as a place located on conquered land. But as we developed….Slowly, slowly, we entered the national consciousness as a part of Greater Jerusalem.

The mayor spoke of “a master plan for 60,000 residents” and admitted that by 2020 the city would have a population of 80,000.

What this means for Palestinians was reported by an American Episcopal priest who visited in 2005:

The "facts on the ground" of Israeli settlements, settler bypass roads, checkpoints, land confiscations, and the separation barrier are destroying the possibility of an econom ically viable, contiguous Palestinian state. Already, Palestinian farmers cannot travel to care for their olive and fruit trees and harvest their crops. The weeds growing in Palestinian groves are absorbing precious water. Laborers cannot get to their jobs. Commercial traffic faces rising costs because of movement restrictions within the West Bank.

The development plans for Ma'ale Adumim are cutting off Ramallah from Bethlehem, and both of these Palestinian cities from Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a holy city to three world religions, and it is also presently the economic hub of the Palestinian territories, accounting for one-third of the economic activity. Without free access to Jerusalem, and especially its tourism industry, a future Palestinian state will face continuing

unemployment rates approaching 80%, nutrition and health care crises, and political anger rooted in economic desolation.

The continuing efforts of Israel to seize Palestinian homes and land to make room for Jews is simply the contemporary form of the ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by the Zionist leadership under David Ben-Gurion between December 1947 and late 1948. (To be quite clear, I use the word “Zionist” to distinguish between the Zionist movement that led the drive for the establishment of a racist state cleansed of Palestinians and the broader Jewish community, which included numerous groups of Jews quite willing to live in integrated communities with their Palestinian neighbors.) The massacres of peaceful Palestinian villagers during that ethnic cleansing campaign were the precursors of such events as the Israeli attack on Jenin and, in December 2008, on Gaza. The mass expulsions of Palestinians from their homes were the precursors of today’s illegal settlement program in such places as Ma’ale Adumim.

After 60 years of a consistent policy, it does not seem that Israel has within it the moral fortitude to change this 60-year-long pattern of behavior of its own accord; it must be guided. It is time for Washington to state clearly that the U.S. does not support policies by any state based on discrimination against ethnic groups.

No comments: