After 38 years of unwarranted occupation, the Palestinian people deserve to live peacefully in the remaining 22 percent of historic Palestine. The expansion of the Annexation wall is the newest obstacle in the Palestinian’s quest for legitimacy. The Israeli cabinet has finalized plans to surround Jerusalem with this encompassing barrier, a deliberate attempt to secure the “Jewishness” of Jerusalem, while isolating the 200,000 Palestinian residents of the city from the West Bank. In its proposed entirety of nearly 700 km, the Wall will carve out more West Bank land and will dissect Jerusalem to tip the demographic scale in the favor of Israeli Jews, reinforcing Israeli demands for full sovereignty over Jerusalem. The barrier will include 30,000 illegal Jewish settlers from the Maale Adumim settlement in the West Bank.
Keeping out Palestinian neighborhoods and ensuring a Jewish plurality is a tactical ploy to redraw the borders of Israel, rather than a measure to maintain security. Israeli minister for Jerusalem Haim Ramon stated, “The government did well in determining the fence route without including Shuafat and Qalandia in Jerusalem I don’t think anybody is sorry about this.” He also admitted that the barrier “makes [Jerusalem] more Jewish.”
The incendiary design will cut off 55,000 East Jerusalem Palestinians from hospitals, school, work, and farmland in the West Bank. Eleven barriers will be setup in East Jerusalem to strain any consistency and contiguousness in Palestinian life. While the 55,000 Palestinians have residency rights and pay municipal taxes, the consideration of their fate has been absent in the matrix of Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Ehud Barak accelerated the building of illegal settlements before the final negotiations at Camp David. The expansion of the settlements created “human obstacles,” which altered the possibility of a Palestinian state based on the entirety of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. This “necessary accommodation” strengthened Israel’s annexation policy. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is going a step further. Expanding the Wall through Jerusalem, Sharon intends to create “new realities,” making it easier to keep the freshly inhabited land for the Jews of Israel. Keeping the world’s mind off the West Bank with the disengagement of Gaza, Sharon is maximizing the appropriation of lush Palestinian land, while keeping the indigenous population out.
The current situation is a clear example of why justice is a necessity for Palestinian survival. One year after the International Court of Justice found Israeli settlements and the Wall to be illegal, Israel continued its campaign against the Palestinians. The further the Wall expands, and as additional checkpoints and roadblocks are set up, the paralysis of Palestinian movement intensifies. This will increase already high unemployment and poverty rates, and will further stifle the opportunity for education. According to conservative CIA estimates, the poverty rate is 60 percent in the West Bank, while unemployment stands at about 30 percent. The conditions are far worse in the Gaza Strip.
Sharon’s vision for annexation does not comply with international law, peace, or security. The main players in the US and their counterparts in Europe have to step up and follow through with their responsibilities of ensuring protection to an occupied people and the their rights to self-determination. The first step in doing this is to enforce UN resolution 242, which calls for the, “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” The Occupation is illegal, the settlements are illegal, and the construction and finalization of the Wall in Jerusalem are clearly illegal. The voices of the world must be clear, their resolve must be strong, and the implementation of justice must be immediate.