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ISRAEL - LAND OF APARTHEID
By Professor Tanya Reinhart*
"It is not Sharon who is responsible for the present
massacre, but Barak, Ben Ami, the Israeli government,
and Israel's 'peacenicks' who have been supporting
them all the way through... Israel has become the
In today's setting, it is hard to recall that just a few years ago,
only some fringe lunatics demanded Israeli control of 'Temple Mount'.
Every time they tried to enter the place and pray, Israeli police
would be there to block their entrance or drag them out. Even the
word 'Temple Mount' was perceived as belonging to the bizarre
vocabulary of religious fanatics.
Today it is the Israeli government that launches the holy war.
Israel's foreign affairs minister - the ex-liberal Shlomo Ben-Ami -
declares day and night that "no nation can give up its sacred
sites" and the world nodes and accepts.
Sharon could not have entered the site without approval of Barak
and the government. His visit had been carefully planned, with a
thousand soldiers securing it and taking shooting positions on the
roofs in advance. It is not Sharon who is responsible for the present
massacre, but Barak, Ben Ami, the Israeli government, and Israel's
"peacenicks" who have been supporting them all the way through.
Israel's claim on 'Temple Mount' is completely new - brought up only
since the recent Camp David negotiations. In 1995's Beilin-AbuMaazen
plan for the final agreement, which is the basis for the present
'negotiations', it was still stated that the area will be in
'exterritorial Palestinian sovereignty'(1). The more Arafat gives
in, the more new demands are brought up by Israel.
The Beilin- AbuMazen document, itself, is a shameful document, which
leaves all the settlements untouched, and acknowledges Israeli
sovereignty over most of the central West Bank.
It was agreed that Arafat will renounce, on behalf of the Palestinians,
any claim on Jerusalem, and the Palestinian institutions will move to
the village Abu-Dis, bordering with Jerusalem. In return, Arafat will
be allowed to call Abu-Dis the capital of the Palestinian state. The
verbal trick was that Abu-Dis will be named Al-Quds, so it can be
presented like the city is divided to the Jewish part 'Jerusalem' and
the Palestinian part 'Al Quds'.
Arafat has agreed to this long time ago. E.g. in 'Haaretz' 5.5.98
(Akiva Eldar) it is reported that "Yaser Arafat accepts the idea that
the capital of the Palestinian state will be Abu-Dis, neighboring
Jerusalem, and sees the understandings included in Beilin-AbuMaazen
agreement as a realistic option for the final agreement with Israel".
"In a meeting with the Middle East section of the Council on Foreign
Relations in New York Arafat was asked if it is possible to reach an
agreement with Israel also on the question of Jerusalem. Arafat:
'Certainly, it is possible to accept the idea of Abu-Dis, which
belonged to Al-Quds also under Jordanian rule"
Even that was not good enough for Barak. In the original Beilin-
AbuMazen plan, only the land with the Jewish settlements of the
central West Bank (labelled "Jerusalem") was to be annexed. So they
prepared a rather windy map that includes these settlements but
includes no Palestinians. Israel's interest in doing it this way was
to avoid the need of giving these Palestinians Israeli citizenship
including social rights - health etc, or political rights of voting.
Barak 'straightened' the maps. The annexation proposed in Camp
will include also the areas with Palestinian residents. But these
residents will not be given Israeli citizenship, since "they will
vote for the Palestinian state". This additional little trick then
enables annexing the land without giving any rights to the annexed
It appears that the Palestinian negotiators in Camp David have also
agreed to this proposal. Or at least we have never heard otherwise.
But then Barak came up with the new demand that the Palestinians will
also renounce their hold in Al Aksa (Tenmple Mount). Even a collaborator
like Arafat cannot accept such demands and survive.
No rational account could tie these facts together. It is hard
avoid the conclusion that Barak is in the end not really wanting a
formal agreement with the Palestinians, not even the rather full
surrender that Arafat was willing to accept.
Barak and Sharon, who may soon join him in power, see only one solution
to the 'Palestinian problem' - subjugation and control! It is not at
all impossible that in their sick general's minds they believe that if
one applies sufficient force for sufficient time it may be possible to
drive more and more Palestinians out of Jerusalem and the central West
Bank so this area becomes more Arab-free. And this approach isn't
confined to just the occupied Palestinians. For several weeks now,
Israeli Palestinians have been subject to vicious attacks, and more
and more voices in the media (orchestrated, as always, from above)
complain about how they have too many rights and are not "loyal" to
Israel has become the land of apartheid.
(1) Newsweek 17.9.00; 'Haaretz 18.9.00.
(2) Nahum Barnea "Yediot Aharonot" 30.6.00: "The Arabs living in the
settlement blocks which will be annexed to Israel will have the same
rights as the Israelis living in Palestine: They will vote to the
Palestinian state and will live by its laws."
* Professor Tanya Reinhart teaches at Tel Aviv University and the
University of Utrecht. If you would like to join a weekly on-line
course about what the Israelis are really doing and what is really
happening to the Palestinian, and why, please contact Professor Reinhart
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