Remi Kanazi: Courting Disaster
By Remi Kanazi
The Western version of peace is overrated. The West would have us believe Israel made the ultimate sacrifice by “disengaging” from the Gaza Strip, putting “the ball in the Palestinian’s court.” But let’s look at the facts. Yes, Israel removed 8500 settlers and is dismantling their military posts in Gaza. Israel, however, still controls the ports, airspace and borders. Egypt may patrol the Philadelphi Corridor in the future, but Israel will retain supreme authority. Israel preserved “jurisdiction” over any person or product that comes in or out of Gaza, including medical supplies and other humanitarian goods. The electricity and water will also be turned on or off at the behest of Israel, but don’t go running to the border waving for help or you may be gunned down by the Israeli forces.
What does peace entail for the Palestinian people? Ariel Sharon reiterated that he will reinvade Gaza whenever he deems it “necessary,” and made known his plans for the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Sharon stated, “Each (Israeli) government since 1967 – right, left and national unity – has seen strategic importance in specific areas [beyond the Green Line]. I will build.” This blatant annexation goes well beyond U.N. Resolution 242 which calls on Israel to “withdraw from territories occupied.”
In March, Israel finalized plans to expand the Maale Adumim settlement by 3500 housing units. Crossing out any hopes for peace, Sharon reaffirmed this week “Ma'ale Adumim will continue to grow and be connected to Jerusalem.” This has been a main complaint of Palestinians since the beginning of settlement expansion. It is against international law, their rights as indigenous people of the land, and flies in the face of peace. Although the U.N. created Israel, Sharon shamelessly tramples on every U.N. resolution condemning excessive use of force, land grabs in the Occupied Territories, and maintaining a belligerent occupation.
Israel’s expanding Annexation Wall seeks to weave in and out of the East Jerusalem to make the region more “Jewish.” In an attempt to connect the two territories, Sharon is moving the Judea and Samaria police headquarters to an area between Maale Adumim and East Jerusalem. Israeli citizens, however, plan to take it a step further. The Bucharin Jewish community owns the property of the old police headquarters. A group of right-wing business men are looking to buy out the old property and turn it housing units. "We are doing everything we can to bring Jewish life back to all over east Jerusalem," said Daniel Luria, an Ateret Cohanim spokesman. The Ma'aleh Hazeitim complex located across from the police station is adding 119 housing units, while a dozen settlements in or around Arab neighbors are constructing more units. The “wonders of disengagement” overshadows these intricate maneuvers to expand and conquer the eastern half of the Holy City.
If the ball is in the Palestinian’s court, as the West avows, it seems it will be there for a while. "It is absolutely clear that, in the next three to four months, it is difficult to expect any dramatic developments in the peace process,” proclaimed Acting Finance Minister Ehud Olmert in a meeting with US secretary of State Condolezza Rice. Oddly enough, Olmert averted further talks of the US backed “roadmap to peace” to discuss a 2.1 billion dollar aid package for Israel—a nice sum that nearly equals the gross domestic product of the Occupied Territories in 2004.
Israel made it evident that reinvigorating the peace process is out of the question. Adding fuel to the fire, Sharon’s administration continues to blatantly disregard the 7 month old Sharm Al-Sheik cease-fire they agreed to. This week Israeli forces shot and killed five militants and wounded three others in an extrajudicial killing in the West Bank. Israel claims they were “connected” to the Tel Aviv bombing that killed four Israeli women, but eyewitnesses contend that the militants were unarmed and could have been arrested, no matter what the claimed connection. Ah yes, Israeli “democracy” at it’s finest.
After the shooting Mahmood Abbas stated, "At a time when the Palestinian Authority is trying to maintain calm, this murder intentionally aims at renewing the vicious cycle of violence," The Palestinian population, including militants, stayed calm during the disengagement of Gaza, in accordance to the Sharm Al-Sheik cease-fire, as they said they would. Israel has taken the first provocative step in reengaging in the cycle of violence after the “disengagement.”
One fact ultimately remains: Ariel Sharon does not want peace. It’s not in his strategic interests. The longer the cycle of violence continues, the more time Sharon has to approve new housing units, expand on outlines of the Annexation Wall that goes well beyond the 1949 armistice lines, and create Jewish majorities throughout Palestinian land. The Western version of peace is simple, but unacceptable: let Israel continue its warmongering, the appropriating and occupying of Palestinian land, while the Palestinians sit idly by with a ball in their court and no one to play with.