April 3, 2006
Constructive discussions or academic talks on Israel need an unbiased attitude, juridical approach and humanist values towards the Arabs particularly the Palestinians who have been losing their campaign for freedom and sovereignty despite the expansion of the United Nations and assertive world community guided by the US, European Union and their liberal partners—Canada and Australia. It is undeniable that the UN has failed over five decades to rescue the Palestinians from the Israeli occupation and related crimes committed on the pretext of security for Israel. It is tragic to note that nations and states claiming to be key partners against war on terrorism have always maintained 'benign neglect’ attitude towards terrorism against the occupied Palestinians since 1948. What is quite disturbing in the Third Millennium is that post-1989 shift in international relations and post-9/11 world order, which seem to institutionalize the phenomenon of giving 'free hands’ to those countries who possess unconventional war machines, influence globalised corporate sectors and members of the UN Security Council.
Denial of ground realities
Such privileges have automacity over their control over information, media and to play with international law. As a result, they have succeeded in numerous manipulations in the field of information with current examples of Iraq, Palestine, Zimbabwe, Iran, Venezuela, Syria, North Korea, Myanmar, etc. In other words, they can produce doctored reports on the issue but they cannot change the ground realities. Israel has always condemned suicide bombings and use of small rockets by the Palestinians for terrorism. It is, however, never said that they retaliated only after Israeli war crimes such as massive air bombings, use of Apache helicopters, target killings, shootings, demolition of houses and business centres, other than military occupation, military checkpoints, illegal arrests, tortures, restrictions over economic activities and freedom of movement.
The moment one raises the question of the Palestinian sovereignty and freedom, Israelis, pro-Israelis and ignorants jump over making the issue of the existence of Israel, Palestinian terrorism and holocaust. The strategy is to shift to 'frightening pretexts’ to silence the call for justice. When Iraq supported the Palestinian cause, it was accused of involvement in Al-Qaeda, 9/11, and weapons of mass destruction and later bombed by the Americans. When Saudi showed their interests in the Palestinians, they were framed in the classified 9/11 Report of 2004. Now Syria and Iran are being maligned and labelled as 'axis of evil’ due to their support for the Palestinian cause. When Europeans want to tighten Israel, they are persuaded and warned on the issue of holocaust. When some Americans criticize Israel, they are accused of being anti-Semitic.
A leading British newspaper reported on March 31, that two prominent American professors challenging the pro-Israel lobby in the United States and its sway over the US foreign policy created a wave of criticism. On March 10, Stephen Walt, the Academic Dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and John Mearsheimer, a Political Science professor at the University of Chicago, published an essay about the impact of Israel Lobby in the United States. To them, the US has been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies to advance Israeli interests. The essay said the US willingness was largely as a result of pressure from Jewish American groups such as the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) allied to pro-Zionist Christian evangelists and influential Jewish neo-conservatives. Two versions of the essay were published in the London Review of Books and on the Kennedy School website.
They wrote: "Other special interest groups have managed to skew US foreign policy in direction they favored, but no lobby has managed to divert US foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US and Israeli interests are essentially identical." They added: "Accordingly, pro-Israel organizations work hard to influence the media, think tanks, and academia, because these institutions are critical in shaping popular opinion." Israeli lobby created its own think tank--Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), where former Middle East peace envoy Dennis Ross now serves as counsellor. They wrote: "Over the past 25 years," they noted, "pro-Israel forces have been establishing a commanding presence at the American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institution, the Centre for Security Policy, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs." They observed that, "The Israeli lobby has made it impossible to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
Situating Palestinians within Israeli Walls
It is in this context we should rethink over the disputes between the Palestinians and Israelis. So far the Palestinians have demanded justice, freedom from occupation and restoration of sovereignty, which are basic principles of international law and the UN. They want freedom from Israeli occupation, resettlement of 5 million refugees, territorial unity and protection of their natural rights—all within international legality. The Palestinian leadership commands a high respect for making numerous compromises with Israelis who never reciprocated correspondingly. He okeyed Madrid and Oslo peace process on the undertakings given by Israel and the US that nothing shall be done to disturb the creation of a viable Palestinian State. Quartets-sponsored Road Map of 2003 also endorsed the same. This viability factor was embedded with the notion of 'sovereignty’. Israelis were obliged to adhere to the principles of peace. On the contrary, they resorted to Illegal settlements of foreign and Israeli Jews in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), constructing Walls deep inside the OPT, no real transfer of power to the Palestinian Authority, demolition of houses, confiscation of Palestinian lands and day-to-day killings of the Palestinians.
Late Yasser Arafat adopted peaceful means for dialogue with Israel, he was called terrorist even at the time of his funeral in November 2004. He compromised over only 22% of the Palestinian Territory against 46% Territory approved by the UN Partition Plan of 29 November 1947 for Palestinians. Construction of illegal Wall by Israel would further reduce land to 12% only (against 100% in 1948). Israel finalised the $2 billion project of Wall construction in April 2002 and soon started the work. It built over 200 kms long Wall by October 2004 and plans to achieve at least 832 kms. There is another estimate that it will cover 1000 kms length. This Israeli Wall is seen as the third most dangerous form of occupation (first in 1949 and 1967 by armed forces, the third one by the Wall 2002 onwards). The UN had separated Israel and the OPT by the Green Line in 1967 in the West Bank. Its total length is 350 kms only. The length of the Berlin Wall was only 155 kms with 3.6 meters height. Israeli Wall is 8 meters high concrete structure with deep trenches up to 4 meters deep, electrified fences, razor wires, electronic sensor, dirt-path, military-only road, firing posts every 200 meters, and watch towers.
The Israeli Wall is being built deep inside the OPT up to 10 kms inside. It would take over about 48% of the West Bank (presently OPT) and encircle about 90% of the illegal Jewish settlements constructed in the OPT which encompass about 500,000 Jews. This is to recall that by 1984, there were only 46000 Jewish settlers in the OPT. Their numbers rose to 200,000 by 1993 and 400,000 by the end of the year 2002. It is also important to note that the voluminous growth of settlers occurred after the peace commitments made by Israel. Over 60 new settlements were made in the West Bank only during March 2001 and July 2003. East Jerusalem (fully Palestinian) is now encircled by 90 kms long Wall. The Israeli Wall would dispossess 500,000 Palestinians of their lands and occupations.
Few examples would show the disastrous effects of the Wall over the Palestinians. In East Jerusalem only, it will incorporate into Israel three major colony blocs—Givon, Adumim and Etzion that eliminate critical areas needed for natural expansion and future Palestinian economic development. The Wall is also meant for further expansion of the Jewish settlements. For example, Adumim colony bloc includes Maale Adumim, Almon, KefarAdumim, Mizpe Yeriho, Alon and Qedar as well Mishor Adumim, an industrial site. The Maale Adumim bloc has an area of 47 km2. Its total municipal area represents an area 15 times larger than its current built-up area. The Adumim bloc lies 14 kms east of the Green Line. The Wall would severe East Jerusalem from neighbouring Bethlehem and Ramallah where historically communities have been interdependent in several spheres. Etzion colonies would control 72.7 km2, which stretches 22 kms inside the northern West Bank (OPT).
The monstrous Wall would not only create truncated and moth-eaten Palestine but would also separate Palestinians from their relations and places of engagements. For examples, it would completely encircle towns like Qalqiliya, Habla, Azun Itma, Bir Nabala and Shufat. The Wall would create three separate enclaves on the West Bank (OPT)—completely cut off from each other without Jordan Valley, without the fertile agricultural lands between Jenin and Qalqiliya, without East Jerusalem. Israel is going to create several 'closed zones’, which will fall between the Wall and the Green Line.
As result, the Palestinians would be trapped. The Wall would have security gates and the trapped Palestinians would have to seek permits (later renewal) from the Israeli state to use the gates for approaching erstwhile accessible holy sites, hospitals, banks, schools, parks, farms, markets etc. Jews from any country would enjoy immunity for the closed zones, gates, permits, etc. For example, the Bethlehem area villages of Wadi Fukin, Walaja, Nahhalin, Battir, Khirbet, Zakariya and Husan—home to 19000 Palestinians will now be trapped between the two walls. There is a possibility that people would be forced to vacate the land due to enclosures. Their exodus would facilitate further expansion of the Etzion bloc. At present, the construction of the Wall and the expansion of the settlements are going on. It would incorporate many of the West Bank’s most valuable water productive zones. Israel is using about 250 bulldozers for its construction. Till early 2005, it uprooted over 102,000 trees and demolished over 124 business establishments. In the closed zone area, 20% of Palestinian homes are under the threat of demolition. Over14% Palestinians would be separated from their lands due to the Wall.
Illegality and crimes of the Wall
In fact the construction of the Wall is the major threat to the Palestinian statehood with special reference to the necessary criteria of 'sovereignty’ and 'territoriality’ factor. Israel is going to create a Palestinian State without sovereignty and real transfer of power. It was the sovereignty factor, which was always raised by late Arafat because he was aware of many Israeli tricks. His fear over sovereignty proved to be a fact after the Gaza disengagement. During the time of the withdrawal of 8500 Jewish settlers from Gaza, Israel settled 16000 settlers on the West Bank. The Israeli Defense Force remains there resulting in the creation of the 'open-air prison’. When the pressure is mounting for the creation of the Palestinian State, Israel is engaged in its projects for creating State without sovereignty.
Disappointed with Israeli irredentism, the Arab League took the issue of illegal wall to the UN Security Council on which the US vetoed on 12 October 2003. The League later took it to the emergency session of the UN General Assembly, which passed a resolution on October 21. The League took it to the UNSC for forwarding the case to the International Court of Justice (World Court, Hague) on December 8. The ICJ began hearing session on 23 February 2004 and gave verdict on July 9 by 15-1 majority Members. So it was almost a unanimous judgement. Earlier the UN and the ICJ called the Jewish expansion in the OPT as illegal. This time, the ICJ called the Wall as illegal and demanded halt over construction. It asked Israel to compensate the Palestinian sufferers. It called on the UNSC to terminate the Wall and asked Israel to terminate all its regulations related to Wall.
The ICJ criticized the UNSC for 'not functioning its job correctly’ and approved all the apprehensions of the Palestinians with a remarkable note on the Wall—impeding "the exercise by Palestinian people of its right to self-determination", which also violates the Oslo Agreement. Many others have also expressed protests, disappointments, objections and condemnation over the Israeli Wall. They are the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Palestine, late Pope Paul II, French President Jaques Chiraq, former Foreign Minister of France Dominique de Villepin, British Minister Hilary Ben, US Peace Envoy John Wolf, International Solidarity Movement, David Blum of New York city affiliated with Jews Against Occupation, David Link member of the US civil rights movement.
Double occupation strategy
However, it is important to mention that Israel gives security reason for its Wall in the OPT. Very simple answer is that it could have built Walls in its own territory, which were occupied from the Palestinians before 1967. Or adjacent to the Green Line on its side. It is encircling the Palestinians by Walls deep inside the OPT. Israel also maintains that the Wall is a temporary structure. Similar excuses were forwarded by Israel at the time of Jewish settlements in the OPT but many of them have become almost permanent. The Wall is a very notorious and terrifying strategy to give permanency to 90% of its illegal Jewish settlements in the OPT. This is to recall that late Arafat could not accept the Clinton offer in 2000 and later due to Israeli insistence on giving permanency to these settlements along with Israeli bases, etc inside the OPT. In fact, it is not even a bargaining strategy of Israel but an open case of violation of international law. Many scholars have ambiguously maintained that it has violated all 149 articles of the Fourth Geneva Conventions—dealing with the treatment of civilians in war and under occupation. Stephen Lendman of Chicago says that Israel is committing war crimes on occupied land.
Israel has also not conformed to those international law institutions from where it has been gaining supports for its illegalities inside Israel and the in the OPT. There are at least 65 UN resolutions accusing Israel for violations of international law and non-compliance. Israel is still occupying the territories of Syria and Lebanon. It has never complied with the UN. There are about 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in comparison to zero number of Israeli in Palestinian jails. There is a fresh long list of demolitions, confiscation of farms and Israeli measures for collateral punishments for the Palestinians. Israel jailed 650,000 Palestinians of the OPT during 1967-April 2005. There are over 400 military checkpoints in the West bank dividing it into 300 clusters. Israeli state consists of 90 nationalities.
On the other hand, liberal democracy of the West and so-called largest democracy of India continue to prefer special treatment for Israel. There is very conservative estimate that Israel received $150 billion from the US since 1949 but the actual figure is about $12 billion US aid in various forms every year. The European Union has also been supportive of Israel at many levels. Indo-Israeli friendship for a decade has surpassed all the graphs of bilateral relations. The same forces excluding India were engaged in disabling whole of Iraq except the Kurdish area (operational as their spying region) through UN sanction as a punishment for invading Kuwait. Whereas Israel is not only occupying Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese territories but also violating over 65 UN resolutions. They invaded Iraq on the assumptions of WMD and liberation of Iraqis. They refused to intervene on the repeated calls of late Arafat and others for the liberation of the Palestinians. Israel possesses over 200 nuclear bombs with the highest record of Palestinian holocaust. Israel refused to even accept an investigative team to the places of recent massacres.
Israeli Establishment has moved bar beyond the boundaries of Zionism and international law. Early Zionists—A. Haam, A.D.Gordon, Martin Buber, etc., had favoured the idea of 'bi-national state’ with giving rights and privileges to the Palestinians. Haam had said that "rights of Jews did not invalidate the right of the rest of the land’s inhabitants". Gordon had warned Jews not to build themselves at the expense the Arabs. Buber was unhappy with imperialist backing of Jews in Palestine. About 200,000 settlers have shifted back to the US from the West Bank settlements due to their protests over Israeli crimes against the Palestinians. In fact, Israel has never known laws for others. It has never abided by law calling for the liberation of the Palestinians. It has always followed its own choice, its own desire and preference in the context of the occupied people and areas. In other words, its 'unilateralism’ and 'regional dictatorship’ manifest that Israel is immune from all-international obligations and laws defining relations, respect and rights and duties of a sovereign state with another sovereign state and people. The basic purpose of international law is to protect the sovereignty of state and self-determination of occupied nation. Israeli Wall is the product of Israeli defiance of international law and benign neglect of liberal democracies to its crime against humanity. The so-called international community led by oligarchies should be shameful of crying foul over Iraqi resistance, new Palestinian leadership, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and others. They have neither moral rights nor political legitimacy to urge or force them for conformity to their desires. They can only use force till they believe in the rule of 'might is right’.
Arshi Khan, Centre for Federal Studies, Hamdard University, New Delhi-110062.
( email@example.com ), 9818341984
Courtesy and copyright © Arshi Khan