FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Bad Fence

by NEVE GORDON

Jerusalem.

Although Mazmuriah is located less than 20 minutes drive from my Jerusalem apartment, all roads connecting the small village to the city have been blocked off.

Using roundabout roads which wind across the hilly terrain of the southern Jerusalem municipal border, it took us more than an hour to reach the village. The Palestinian residents invited us. They wanted to tell Israeli peace activists about the imminent expulsion, about their fear of being forced to move from their ancestral land. They wanted to tell us about the bad fence.

But first some background. After the 1967 War, Israel annexed some 70 sq. kilometers of land to the municipal boundaries of West Jerusalem, imposing Israeli law on this area. These annexed territories included not only the part of Jerusalem which had been under Jordanian rule but also an additional 64 sq. kilometers, most of which had belonged to 28 villages in the West Bank.

Unlike most of the inhabitants of the annexed villages, who were subsequently registered by the Israeli civil administration as Israeli residents (as opposed to citizens), the inhabitants of Mazmuriah were given West Bank identity cards.

This created a juridical situation taken straight out of a Kafka tale. The Mazmuriah residents and their houses belong to different legal and administrative systems: the houses and land are part of the Jerusalem municipality system, while the inhabitants are residents of the West Bank and therefore subjected to Israeli military rule.

Using its juridical control of the land, in 1992 Israel classified the area in which the village is located as “green land” — land that cannot be built on and is basically a nature reserve. The idea was to strangle the local population, prohibiting them from constructing new houses. Young adults who wished to build a family home were forced to choose between leaving their birthplace or building illegally, knowing that the Israeli authorities would most likely destroy any new house.

Simultaneously, the Jerusalem Municipality also refused to provide basic services to the village like extending water and sewage lines. Later, after the eruption of the second Intifada, all roads between the village and Jerusalem were closed off, thus forcing the residents to become dependant on the West Bank for their livelihood and their children’s education.

What appeared to be a “legal anomaly” slowly became the grim reality of everyday life. Although they live on land annexed by Israel, for all practical purposes the Palestinian residents themselves do not belong to Jerusalem, they are West Bankers. The only “defect” in this grand plan is that they still reside in the annexed area. It is this so-called defect that Israel now intends to fix.

Accompanied by border policemen, a coordinator for the Israeli Housing Ministry, Defense Ministry, and Jerusalem Municipality recently visited the village. He showed the residents a map of where the separation fence will pass, a fence that Israel is building around the West Bank in order to “prevent the uncontrolled entry of Palestinians into Israel.”

The fence, the residents learned, would surround the village on its southern side and thus separate it from the West Bank. No openings or gates have been planned for this section of the fence, meaning that even if the residents are allowed to stay in their village, their water supplies will be cut-off, they will not be able to reach work and their children will be unable to go to school. To make things clear, however, the Israeli official notified the Palestinian residents that due to the village’s proximity to the planned separation fence they would have to move.

Israel’s goal, it appears, is to expropriate the land “uninhabited.” It is highly unlikely, however, that the villagers will actually be forced out of their homes at gunpoint and put on buses. A more intricate strategy will be employed.

Creating a physical barrier between the village and the West Bank and not allowing the inhabitants any contact with either the Palestinian Authority or the Jerusalem Municipality will undermine their infrastructure of existence. They will be living on a virtual island with no possibility to sustain themselves. Ultimately, they will have to leave the village of “their own accord.”

This scheme of expelling a whole population from their land is in blatant violation of basic rights as well as all the agreements Israel has signed, not least the principles laid out in the Road Map. In Israel we call this policy “transfer.”

While the end of this story has yet to be told, the first 145 kilometers of the separation fence will be completed in two months time, violating, according to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem, the rights of more than 210,000 Palestinians residing in sixty-seven villages, towns, and cities.

The crux of the matter is that the fence is not being erected on the 1967 borders, but is being used as a mechanism to expropriate Palestinian land and create facts on the ground that will affect any future arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians. Already in this early stage, thirty-six communities, in which 72,200 Palestinians reside, will be separated from their farmlands that lie west of the fence. More importantly, thirteen communities, home to 11,700 people, have become enclaves imprisoned between the fence and Israel. A recent report published by the World Bank suggests that by the time the fence is completed 95,000 Palestinians will be living in cantons closed off from all sides.

Yehezkel Lein from B’tselem concludes:

“In the past, Israel used ‘imperative military needs’ to establish settlements on expropriated Palestinian land and argued that the action was temporary. The settlements have for some time been facts on the ground and Israel now demands that most of them be annexed to Israel. As in the case of the settlements, it is reasonable to assume that the separation fence will also be used to support Israel’s future claim to annex territories.”

Good fences, Robert Frost once wrote, make good neighbors; the question the Israeli government must ask itself is “what do bad fences make?”

NEVE GORDON teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University, Israel, and is a contributor to The Other Israel: Voices of Refusal and Dissent (New Press 2002). He can be reached at ngordon@bgumail.bgu.ac.il.

 

Neve Gordon is the co-author (with Nicola Perugini) of the newly released The Human Right to Dominate.

More articles by:
June 30, 2016
Richard Moser
Clinton and Trump, Fear and Fascism
Pepe Escobar
The Three Harpies are Back!
Ramzy Baroud
Searching for a ‘Responsible Adult’: ‘Is Brexit Good for Israel?’
Dave Lindorff
What is Bernie Up To?
Thomas Barker
Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members
Jan Oberg
Why is NATO So Irrational Today?
John Stauber
The Debate We Need: Gary Johnson vs Jill Stein
Steve Horn
Obama Administration Approved Over 1,500 Offshore Fracking Permits
Rob Hager
Supreme Court Legalizes Influence Peddling: McDonnell v. United States
Norman Pollack
Economic Nationalism vs. Globalization: Janus-Faced Monopoly Capital
Binoy Kampmark
Railroaded by the Supreme Court: the US Problem with Immigration
Howard Lisnoff
Of Kiddie Crusades and Disregarding the First Amendment in a Public Space
Vijay Prashad
Economic Liberalization Ignores India’s Rural Misery
Caroline Hurley
We Are All Syrians
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail