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Anti-Wall struggle vindicated at the Supreme Court


Anti-Wall struggle vindicated at the Supreme Court

[] Surprise at the Supreme Court

[] A sober appraisal of the verdict - by Adam Keller

[] Back to the Green Line - Gush Shalom ad

[] 200,000 people out of bounds - by Danny Rubinstein, Ha’aretz June 28

[] Friday: verdict on Palestinian demonstrators arrested in A-Ram

[] Tel-Aviv Symposium: The real plans behind Sharon's disengagement plan

P.S. See our calendar links & announcements

- photos and video footage of recent actions

- new maps, brochures, eye-witness reports - films, expositions, refusnik links - Gush Shalom details re website, donations, subscription to email ~~~

[] Surprise at the Supreme Court

Jerusalem, June 30, 2004

This morning, the hard-fought struggle around "The Separation Wall" was transplanted - from the environment of sun-baked West Bank hills and churning bulldozers and uprooted olive trees and exploding tear gas canisters, and into the exquisitely neat hall of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem. That hall was highly crowded as we waited tensely for the final verdict.

A lot has gone into the particular case before the court this morning. Should the wall go up along the planned route, Beit Surik and Bidu and six other villages north-east of Jerusalem stand to lose most of their agricultural land and become an isolated enclave, surrounded and enclosed on almost all sides. The villagers' tenacious struggle and refusal to give up their land, their daily unarmed marches towards the encroaching bulldozers, had already cost five of them their lives - three of these being shot down during a single bloody day at Bidu. This struggle succeeded in arousing the sympathy and solidarity of quite a few Israelis: young anarchists who came day after day to share in their struggle and the risk; the people of Mevaseret Tzion, the Israeli town right across the pre-'67 border from Beit Surik, many of whose inhabitants joined in the appeal against the route of the fence supposedly intended for their own security; the ex-generals organised in

"The council for Peace and Security" who presented an affidavit stating, on the basis of their professional reputation, that the route of the fence was wrong from the purely military point of view... Israelis and Palestinians involved in the struggle were there in big numbers this morning - as were quite a few representatives of the other side, military officers and security operatives with their inevitable sunglasses. Several people had with them this morning's Ha'aretz, in which the editorial enumerated the great hardships caused to Palestinian population by the Wall and called for amelioration, without once mentioning the fact (obviously known to the editors) that the judges were to rule today on the very same issue. In the last few minutes before the judges' entry, intensive speculation and hot debates between optimists and pessimists flared up. "What do you think? What can we hope for?" asked anxioulsy a young activist who just a few days ago spent time in police detention, following the anti-Wall demo at A-Ram. "Better not expect too much. Very often these kind of case ends in a colorless, vague compromise" warned a grizzled, white-haired lawyer. But when Supreme Court President Aharon Barak filed in a few minutes later, flanked by his colleagues Eliyahu Mazza and Mishael Cheshin, he was sharp and incisive from beginning to end of his presentation.

"We have been presented with an appeal by the inhabitants of several Palestinian villages, disputing eight separate confiscation orders whose purpose is the building of the Separation Fence.

"First, we had to deal with the fundamental issue: does the government has the authority to build a fence within Judea and Samaria and confiscate land for that purpose? It is our definite opinion that, were the fence built in order to achieve political purposes, its building would have been utterly inconsistent with International Law and thus illegal. However, we reject the appellants' contention that such was the government's purpose in building the fence. We see no reason to dispute the state's position that the purpose is purely one of defence against a threat to the security of Israel's citizens, threatened by suicide bombers.

But even having the authority to build the fence, the government is duty bound to keep the right balance security needs with the rights and interests of the local population which might get hurt by its erection. The government's duty to act with proportionality, to cause no more damage than absolutely necessary, is laid down explicitly both in International Law and in the Israeli administrative law - and the state did not give proper consideration to that duty. While the security considerations are highly important, due consideration must be given to the fact that the fence damages the daily life of thirty-five thousand local inhabitants.

Thousands of dunums [Dunum = about 1/4 acre.Ed.] are taken up by the fence route itself. Tens of thousands dunums more are cut off from their owners. The proposed permits regime, which would give access to the land under restrictive conditions cannot significantly reduce the damage. [Through earlier appeals, the Supreme Court was made aware that in villages where the Separation Fence was already erected, the army is often keeping closed the 'agriculatural gates' which are supposed to give farmers access to their land - in many cases causing irreversible damage to plantings left untended. ed.]. The entire fabric of daily life in around the fence is severally damage.

In light of the above, we rule that the military commander had not taken proper care to balance security needs with the interests and needs of local population, and that he must reconsider and and reduce the damage to these needs and interests (even if it cannot be completely avoided).

While we recognize the state's contention that the original route gives an additional amount of security as compared to the proposed alternative routes, such as the one proposed by the Council for Peace and Security. But this addition is the amount of security is not proportional to the severe damage caused by the proposed route of the fence would cause to the local population - damage which can be significantly reduced by defining a new route. Therefore, the state has not fulfilled its duty of acting with proportionality. In conclusion, we declare six of the eight confiscation orders subjected to our consideration null and void, we uphold one of them, and we order the state to reconsider the last one in light of the principles we have set forth."

Commentators on the radio soon made the import more plain: 30 kilometers of fence, out of the 40 dealt with in this case, would have to be changed; three kilometers of already erected fence would need to be torn down, and in other section the army would have to make restitution for the damage caused by its "infrastructure work", especially the cutting down of hundreds of olive trees.

In a parting blow, the judges ordered the state to pay the Palestinian appellants twenty thousand Shekels in lawyers' fees - which, in terms of the Supreme Court's etiquette, may be considered a high indication of the court's disapproval of the government's case.

[] A sober appraisal of the verdict - by Adam Keller

It was a surprise for virtually all of us present. Out in the courthouse lobby, Brigadier General Danny Tirza was fast moving from one TV crew to another, crying out: "This is a disaster, a black day for the state of Israel! Our judges have handed Arafat a major victory on a silver platter!". His words were soon echoed on the airwaves by the entire extreme right, including several government ministers, as soon as they heard the news.

Adv. Muhammad Dahleh, who represented the Palestinian villagers, was clearly elated and praised the judges' courage. It is not often given to an Israeli Arab lawyer representing Palestinians under occupation - more often than not a thankless and heartbreaking job - to achieve this much for his clients. And Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom commented: "The court has restrained the trampling dance of Sharon's bulldozers through the Palestinian fields and olive groves". By now, the judges' words reverberated around the country and the world, causing a sharp controversy with rightists and leftists taking up their predictable positions. It is time for a sober appraisal of what was achieved - and what was not -at the court today.

It is definitely a piece of good news, which we had sorely needed - especially on such a week of renewed bloody escalation (the killing of senior Palestinian militia leaders in highly questionable circumstances during an army invasion of Nablus; the Palestinian riposte of blowing up an army outpost in the Gaza strip and shooting an improvised rocket which killed an Israeli child in the town of Sderot - followed by an extensive Israeli invasion of the same Strip from which we are supposed to "disengage", and massive defoliation by army bulldozers; the killing of an Israeli truck driver north of Ramallah).

With the Israeli society and political system as they are nowadays, it takes considerable courage for judges to declare in writing security needs must be balanced against the needs and interests of Palestinians. In the eyes of quite a few Israelis, one additional percent of security for themselves is well worth causing a hundred percent increase in Palestinian suffering. Judge Barak and his colleagues well know full well that, should a new suicide bombing happen in the near future, they are likely to become the scapegoats. (At that, the court's ruling might have been quite different but for the fact that in the past months Israel enjoyed a long respite from such attacks.)

The verdict offers immediate relief to the people of Bidu, Beit Surif and their neighbors. And Judge Barak stated explicitly stated that his ruling would serve as the example and test case for all other pending cases regarding other sections of the Fenece/Wall. In particular, it would obviously apply to the impending case of A-Ram - different since it applies to urban rather than village Palestinians, but highly similar in that it there, too, the proposed route of the Wall would severely and irreparably dislocate and tear apart a whole fabric of daily life, affecting tens of thousands of people.

Also, the verdict states clearly the inadmissiability of erecting a fence or wall for the purpose of achieving political aims, such as the de-facto annexation of territory. While the court ruled that that there was no such intention with regard to the Beit Surif sector brought today under its purview, it is quite possible that the judges would rule differently with regard to the most controversial section - the so-called Ariel Corridor, where the Wall is envisaged as penetrating dozens of killometers into the West Bank so as to keep control of the settlement-city of Ariel and its environs (and in the process, hopelessly break up the territorial continuity of any future Palestinian state). Since the Ariel Corridor is anyway the subject of a hot debate, both inside the Sharon Cabinet and between that cabinet and the Bush Administration, the Supreme Court ruling may tip the balance in favor of its being finally scotched.

On the debit side, the judges did rule that the government does have the authority to build a fence within "Judea and Samaria" (significantly, they used the annexationist term) and confiscate land for the purpose, and that causing SOME damage to Palestinians inhabitants is acceptable, though it should be minimised. It can be expected that in some months a new route for the Fence/Wall will be prepared and win the court's approval, and that some Palestinians (hopefully, far fewer than previously) will still get that their land confiscated; and these unlucky individuals would have little further recourse or means of effective opposition.

Moreover, today's ruling can hardly be separated from the one expected on July 9 from the International Court in the Hague. As officials at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem were quick to point out, the fact that an Israeli court made a quite critical ruling on the Wall would help the Sharon Government shield itself from the far sharper verdict expected at in the Dutch seat of government.

With all that, the overall balance still seems to be positive, and the furious reaction of the army and extreme right is far from unreasonable. To quote Adv. Dahleh again: "The verdict from the Hague may be far better, but the one from Jerusalem is the one which is going to be actually implemented on the ground..." Latest updates in Haaretz: Hebrew: http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/spages/446134.htmls

English: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/445720.html

[] Back to the Green Line - Gush Shalom ad (to be published in Ha'aretz on July 2)

The Separation Wall is wrong by its very nature. It's not separation that we need, but an agreement.

The Supreme Court has not accepted this principle - but it has handed a great victory to the peace forces, nevertheless..

By deciding that the needs of the local population and International Law carry no less weight than the decrees of the military commander, the court has vindicated our stubborn, joint Israeli-Palestinian struggle against the path of the wall.

Now they seek a new path. But the only reasonable one is the Green Line.

Gush Shalom, We would be grateful for donations to help defray the cost of this ad, to P.O.Box 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033, Phone 972-3-5221732. www.gush-shalom.org Requests for information about current actions: info@gush-shalom.org

[] 200,000 people out of bounds - by Danny Rubinstein, Ha’aretz June 28

Hopefully this comprehensive article, published two days before the court's ruling, will now turn out to have been a self-defying prophecy.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/444251.html

Hebrew: http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/pages/ShArtPE.jhtml?itemNo=443737

They're not building a separation fence here, but rather prisons for tens of thousands of Palestinians, according to the Palestinian civic leaders in Jerusalem's northeastern neighborhoods. Last Wednesday they sat, as they have done every day for the past few weeks, in the office of Sirhan Salayme, head of the A- Ram local council, and discussed the separation fence.

Salayme, a veteran Fatah activist, says that ever since details of the planned fence became known, he hasn't dealt with any other matter. If the plan is implemented, the lives of residents throughout the area are destined to change to such a degree that it will be nearly impossible to live there.

Much has already been said about the wall and fence under construction in what is termed "the Jerusalem envelope," but what is being done now in the Arab neighborhoods between Jerusalem and Ramallah is unlike anything else, first because this is a crowded urban area with some quarter-million residents, and second because the presence in the region of numerous Jewish neighborhoods and settlements has prompted those planning the route of the walls and fences to perform juggling tricks that boggle the imagination. The entire mess of problems which the fence created in the area between Qalqilyah and Ariel is nothing compared to the trouble brewing in northeastern Jerusalem.

Israelis don't know

Salayme and his colleagues, the neighboring council heads, say that Israelis who are in favor of the separation fence neither know nor understand what is currently happening in these neighborhoods. Were they to visit there they would be astounded - it's simply madness, says the owner of a shoe factory in A-Ram, who maintains trade relations with stores in Tel Aviv.

"Imagine that they build a high wall, completely impassable, between Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan, and that in several places it cuts across the Ayalon highway, thereby transferring the Hatikva neighborhood to Ramat Gan," he says to assist comprehension.

The history of the area where the fence is going up is well known. After the Six- Day War, when East Jerusalem was annexed to Israel and its borders expanded, the government decided to include the small Atarot airport within Jerusalem's city limits. The presumption behind this move, primarily touted by then mayor Teddy Kollek, was that Israel's capital needed an airport. To implement this idea, a sort of long finger of land pointing northward allowed the airport to be included within Jerusalem's jurisdiction.

During the subsequent 37 years, the Arab population in East Jerusalem nearly quadrupled, from about 65,000 to some 230,000. The Arab neighborhoods could not absorb the new population, particularly because construction permits were not issued for them, and that's why thousands of Arab Jerusalemites built their homes in new neighborhoods that developed outside the city limits, i.e. in West Bank territory but adjacent to Jerusalem.

At the same time, large Jewish neighborhoods like Pisgat Ze'ev and Neve Yaakov were built in the open spaces within the northern borders of the city, and a series of settlements beyond, reaching all the way to the Ramallah district's eastern boundary.

For over 20 years there were no closures or roadblocks, and residents did not require transit permits as Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, moved about freely throughout the terrain. The northeastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem became a crowded urban space containing businesses, banks, schools, factories, restaurants and entertainment venues.

The route of the separation fence in these neighborhoods does not exactly correspond to the municipal border. In many instances, the fence route deviates from the border for a myriad of reasons, most of which have to do with topographic conditions, the road system and the housing density.

These are the Arab neighborhoods outside the wall and the fences, which are actually the northern neighborhoods of Jerusalem: A-Ram, the largest, which incorporates the Postal neighborhood (Dahiyat Albarid) and has about 60,000 residents, of which 60 to 70 percent hold Jerusalem identity cards.

Anata and the Peace neighborhood (Dahiyat A-Salaam) have a combined population of some 30,000 residents, about half of whom hold Jerusalem ID cards.

Shuafat refugee camp (sometimes called the Anata camp) is home to some 30,000 people, nearly all of whom carry Jerusalem IDs. The camp is within Jerusalem city limits, but outside the fence.

The villages to the east, Hizma and Jebaa, have a population of 8,000, the vast majority of which hold West Bank IDs.

The neighborhoods to the north, Kfar Akev and Samiramis, have around 20,000 residents, half of whom hold Jerusalem IDs. Many homes in these neighborhoods are within Jerusalem city limits, but outside the fence.

Qalandiyah refugee camp has some 30,000 residents, most of whom have West Bank papers.

Bir Naballah neighborhood and the villages in its vicinity have 35,000 residents, most with West Bank papers.

Thus, in the entire region outside the fence and the separation wall there are over 200,000 residents. and it is estimated that about a third of these hold Jerusalem IDs, and are entitled to enter Jerusalem. The daily lives of residents who do not have Jerusalem IDs are also tied to the city. Many of them have been issued permits by the military authorities - they work or study in Jerusalem, and need access to the city's health and welfare services.

Daily commuters

This data was taken into account in the fence plan, which includes constructing large facilities at the Qalandiyah checkpoint through which Palestinians with Jerusalem IDs and military permits will be able to enter on their way to Jerusalem.

It will be Jerusalem's "Erez crossing," say the fence planners. West of it, near the road to Bitunya, a passageway for trucks and goods will be constructed along the lines of the Karni crossing.

How well will the crossing function? Salayme brings an example from the school system. A-Ram has some 20,000 students, children and teenagers, but only 5,000 are enrolled in local schools. The remaining 15,000 students commute each morning to schools in Jerusalem.

Once the fence is complete, they will have to travel northward along the cement wall that is already going up the middle of the main road. After reaching Qalandiyah, they will be able to head back southward and enter through the crossing into Jerusalem. The 15,000 students will be joined each day by thousands of others - no one knows the exact number - seeking to enter Jerusalem. Will the crossing points be able to handle the traffic load?

Gaza laborers sometimes come to the Erez crossing at 1 A.M. so as to gain entry into Israel in the morning hours. The number crossing at Erez is far lower than the number of Palestinians destined to cross at Qalandiyah each morning. Even if the most accommodating crossing arrangements are put in place - and it's hard to imagine that will be the case if the violence continues - this is an impossible plan.

Several large schools are also located along the road to Jerusalem: the small, private Al-Iman School, the Lutheran church's vocational school, Al-Ummah College operated by the Waqf (the Muslim religious trust), the Dar Alyatim vocational school, and the Rosary Convent's girls' school. Three of these schools are within the territory surrounded by the fence; two will be left outside it. How will the students, some of whom live within Jerusalem and some outside the city limits, get across?

All will come to the Qalandiyah crossing between 7 and 8 A.M. Already at this stage, when the erection of fences and walls has not been completed, the Qalandiyah crossing is a crowded and filthy site that inflicts tremendous suffering on all those who enter. No one in the region has any doubt that when tens of thousands more join the fray each morning, it will be hell.

The residents of these neighborhoods have also been informed of the further construction of internal fences that will provide passage into the settlements. These fences, the second phase of the separation fence project, will create five large islands in which the Palestinian populace will concentrate in quasi-ghettos.

The people who really grasp what sort of future awaits all these neighborhoods, which form a Palestinian development zone par excellence, are the businessmen. In recent weeks prices have plummetted by dozens of percent in the shops lining the main roadway to Ramallah. "The whole area is going downhill rapidly," says Haj Mussa Tayim, chief among the traditional neighborhood dignitaries, most of whom are scions of the large Hebron families that moved to Jerusalem in the last few generations. "It's a new Nakba," he says.

That's the Palestinian terms for "The Catastrophe" that happened with the creation of Israel in 1948, and Tayim is quoting a large poster that hangs on the wall of the A-Ram council, explaining to readers the extent of the catastrophe they are about to encounter.

[] Friday: verdict on Palestinian demonstrators arrested in A-Ram

Four Palestinian demonstraotrs - Mohammed Khalil Mansour, Khaled Fuad Salameh and the boys Nidal Mousa Salem Ka'abneh (17) and Mohammed Ahmed Amr (15) are still held in custody since being arrested at Saturday's demonstration in A-Ram, while five Israelis who were also arrested there were released on the same evening. This seems to be a manifestation of a systematic discriminatory policy, by which Palestinians are habitually held longer and treated worse than Israelis charged with the same offence.

At the hearing on Wednesday noon, the state accused the Palestinian detainees of being "violent and dangerous". The assertion was completely denied by defence lawyer Yael Barda - who reiterated that it was the police which acted at A-Ram with extreme unprovoked violence against a large, orderly procession of Israeli and Palestinian protesters. During the court hearing there was a was vigil by dozens of Israeli and international activists.

Judge Shelev-Gerter of the Magistrate's Court at Jerusaelem's Russian Compound (Room 232) will render the verdict on the Palestinian demonstrators' continued detention on Friday, July 2, at 10:00 am. Anyone who can is asked to turn up there and express solidarity.

Mohammed Mansour, a thirty-five year old father of five, is a community organizer and coordinator with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Since he began working with the ISM, he was arrested at a non- violent demonstration against the destruction of Palestinian farmland for the path of the Wall in Bidu, and has been detained multiple times by the Israeli military. During his arrest in A-Ram, Mansour was severely beaten, sustaining chest and back injuries and also a ruptured eardrum.

For more information: Adv. Yael Berda: +972-50-874-3083 Huwaida Arraf (ISM): +970-67-473308

[] Tel-Aviv Symposium: The real plans behind Sharon's disengagement plan ðåñç òáøé éùìç áðôøã Israeli Palestinian Peace Forum - ivitation to a symposium: Disengagement or Annexation: What are the real plans behind Sharon's disengagement plan?

Tuesday, 6.7.04, 7:30 pm - Tzavta Hall, 30 Iben Gvirol St., Tel Aviv Recently, the Sharon Government approved a "Disengagement Plan" from the Gaza strip. Beyond the question whether the Sharon government wants to evacuate settlements is able to, we should examine its plans for determining unilaterally Israel's new borders and its plans for the future of the Palestinian people.

We can learn about the government's real plans from its actions in the Occupied Territories: The building of the separation wall inside the West Bank and the implementation of various methods of control and oppression of the Palestinians, in order to create an absolute dependency on Israel.

Palestinian and Israeli speakers will illuminate the disengagement plan from different angles, and discuss its long term implications for both people.

The speakers:

Shaul Arieli (Geneva initiative) – The disengagement plan in comparison with the settlers` aspirations and in comparison with the Geneva initiative.

Iyad Murad (Budrus, West Bank) – The struggle against the route of the Wall in the context of the disengagement plan.

Amira Hass ("Haaretz" journalist) – The beginning of the disengagement from Gaza – 1991.

Fadel Tahboub (East Jerusalem) – The disengagement plan, a perspective of Palestinian peace movements.

Gerardo Leibner (Taayush) – Political and human implications of separation walls.

A Palestinian woman speaker (name to be published) – The role of Palestinian women in the non-violent struggle and its influence on the political reality. Itzhak Schnnel (Israeli-Palestinian Peace Forum) – The strategies of the settlers and the question of evacuation.

Most presentations will be in Hebrew, some in English. Presentations will be followed by an open discussion with the audience.

Discussion will be accompanied by photographs of the Wall, by photographer Elisheva Smith.

Entrance is free, donations to defray costs asked from those who would like to give them.

.S. See our calendar links & announcements - photos and video footage of recent actions - new maps, brochures, eye-witness reports - films, expositions, refusnik links - Gush Shalom details re website, donations, subscription to email

- photos and video footage of recent actions \/ # Photos + report of June 16 A-Ram protest against the Wall

The press conference + start of demo http://www.gush-shalom.org http://www.gush-shalom.org/english/index.html

Photos of the following women's protest march http://share.shutterfly.com/os.jsp?i=EeANWjlw2csWzqg&open=1

# Video footage of mass uprooting of olive trees and resistance (in the framework of construction of the monster Wall) in Az Zawiya & Salfit:

http://www.womenspeacepalestine.org/news8junazzawiya.htm http://www.iwps-pal.org/ftpiwps/videos/salfit_june_17.rmvb (International Womens' Peace Service - IWPS)

# U.S citizens who want to alert their representatives about increased settlement expansion on the West Bank which is happening RIGHT NOW can do so easily at: http://www.cflweb.org/congress_merge_.htm

- new maps, brochures, eye-witness reports \/ # Truth against Truth - opposite views on the history of the conflict in 101 steps

Hebrew / òáøéú http://www.gush-shalom.org/Docs/Truth_Heb.pdf

English http://www.gush-shalom.org/Docs/Truth_Eng.pdf

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