In defiance of international law and the Geneva Conventions, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announces plans for 3,000 housing units for Jewish settlers. The announcement of more Israeli settlement construction probably gets a ho-hum, “what else is new?” reaction from many people. I submit that this is not just another expansion move. It is known as E-1 (from East One). It is a defining moment, a watershed, in the history of the colonial occupation of Palestine. I am not an alarmist, but my 40-plus years of experience of observing firsthand the expansion and acceleration of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land tell me that Israel has whittled away chances for a real durable peace. And this move is a critical point of no return for the future of Israelis and Palestinians.
What is E-1? Why is it so critical? Looking at a map of Israel, find Jerusalem; on the west side is West Jerusalem and Israel proper; to the east is Arab East Jerusalem, Palestinian villages and E-1 proposed settlements and to the east is Maale Adumin. When completed it will cut the West Bank in two — North and South will not be contiguous. It will connect Maale Adumin with Jerusalem. It will cut off Arab East Jerusalem from Palestinians in West Bank towns. It forecloses on any hope for a shared Jerusalem as capital of both Israel and Palestine. (See B’Tselem.org, E-map.)
B’Tselem reports that despite the illegality, the police station, roads and street lights have already been built for E-1. Long before this recent announcement of 3,000 housing units, E-1 plans were formulated in the 1990s and approved as early as 2005. Hotels and a business center are planned. What a number of concerned Israelis have noted is Palestinians are not mentioned anywhere nor have they been consulted. Palestinians are forbidden to use the roads to the settlements. The Jahalin Bedouin tribe has been moved to a garbage dump near Abu Dis, and land confiscation continues in the nearby Palestinian villages of Anata, Abu Dis and Al-Izaryyah.
With a police station and partial infrastructure already in place, Israel will undoubtedly tell Washington to “bug off,” and this defining moment will pass the way of Oslo, Sharm El Sheikh, Wye, the “road map” and other so-called peace talks. Israeli occupation will be entrenched with two legal systems already in place. Israelis will have full freedom for a normal life, while Palestinians, cut off from one another north-south, east-west, will be controlled in every aspect of life through a system of permits, roadblocks, checkpoints, and ultimatums of closures, curfews, even control over the taxes collected belonging to Palestinians. The wall will continue to transform Palestinian villages into open-air prisons.
Is this apartheid state what real friends of Israel want?
Sister Miriam Ward lives in Burlington.
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