From Jerry Levin in Occupied Palestine as 2006 begins.
(Hebron, West Bank, Palestine January 3, 2006) Every time my wife,
Sis, and I leave Palestine, we think the situation couldn't get any
worse while we are gone. But it does! And when we return, we think
that it couldn't get any worse. But it does!
Once again, our time away was no exception. Nothing during the past
two and a half months has changed the dreary conviction that today
is worse than yesterday for the Palestinians and the Israelis trying
to help them overcome the longest lasting occupation in a century;
and tomorrow will be worse than today. This is the truth of the
situation, despite recent events – such as the retreat from Gaza -
which has been characterized as hopeful by those who innocently
don't know any better or – more to the point - by those who craftily
actually do know better than that.
Those last are stealth hawks, mean birds of a feather in a position
to affect public opinion who try to portray the sows ear of the
relentless downsizing of the West Bank and its many disconnected
areas as really a silk purse. Stealth hawks are birds of prey adept
at cooing like doves for propaganda purposes while at the same time
cynically masterminding the continuing relentless territorial
inroads too often currently taking place in the West Bank.
For instance where Palestinian aspirations for parity with Israel
are concerned with respect to 1) reversing the occupation and
negotiating a roll back to something approximating the 1967 borders,
as well as 2) eliminating the army-backed police-backed settler
menace, there is no hopeful news to report. But the stealth hawks
would have us think otherwise. It takes monumental chutzpah to term
recent events taking place in the West Bank beneath the radar of
main stream mass circulation press coverage as dovish, but that is
precisely what the stealth hawks, anxious to finesse the
institutionalizing of the galloping annexation of half the West Bank
(or more!) into the State of Israel, have been successful at doing.
Events in the territories can only be termed hopeful by those
Israelis and likeminded fellow travelers throughout the world who,
despite the dark at the end of the tunnel, actually would have us
believe there is light.
The so called peace process that continued while we were gone was
nothing more than the same old "piece" process during which the West
Bank has been and is inexorably being reduced by half. And when one
considers that since 1967 the West Bank and Gaza have constituted
only twenty two percent of the land area that once was all
Palestine, what is being left to the Palestinians will not be much
more than nine or ten percent. And the growth of the number of
settlers currently living within the original borders of the West
Bank is exponential. From the end of the 1967 Six Day war until Oslo
in the mid nineteen nineties (about twenty eight years), the number
grew from approximately zero to 250,000. Since then the number has
shot up to around 425,000.
Every Israeli political leader in Israel with the presumed ability
to form a government is a stealth hawk. For instance, phoenix-like
Ariel Sharon is being lionized by other stealth hawks for dumping
Likud, the right wing political party that he almost rebuilt in his
own image but not quite, and forming instead Kadima, a new Sharon-
centric political party being termed excitedly as center right. But
a center right party headed by Sharon is not good news for
Palestine. Kadima has been created in order to provide a more
amenable political base for tough but realistic Israeli colonialists
who believe in Sharon's brand of iron fisted bloody unilateral
pragmatism: a pragmatism embracing strategic military retreats
(disengagement) that mean probably the abandoning of fringe
settlements that he expects in time will lead to a piece of paper
entitled "Final Status Agreement."
But Sharon style pragmatism is giving the concept a bad name,
because the Final Status Agreement he envisions is one that will
institutionalize the already de facto annexation of some of the most
productive Palestinian agricultural areas in the West Bank and much
of its water resources that already are under complete Israeli
control. Such heavy handedness will inevitably provoke official
Palestinian reluctance to sign on the dotted line which will be duly
characterized by the stealth hawks and parroted elsewhere as selfish
But…am I making too much of Sharon-style pragmatic cosmetic
disengagement unilateralism? If the New York Times reporter in the
November 22nd edition got his quote right, I think not. With respect
to borders, Sharon described what he is after this way: "A peace
agreement in which WE (capitalization added) will determine the
permanent borders of the State." See why I call it a piece process.
If you think by "we" Sharon intends Final Status Agreement
negotiations to be a cozy win-win conflict resolution exercise with
Palestinian opposite numbers, just remember what Tonto said to the
Lone Ranger when the two were trapped by 1,000 very angry
Sioux, "What do you mean "we" masked man?"
Despite the fact that the Labor Party's new chairman has been
described as "dovish" by mass circulation news organizations around
the world, the real fact is that where the piece of Final Status
Agreement paper is concerned, his vision is quite similar to
Sharon's. One of Amir Peretz earliest statements concerning the
occupation, after his elevation to the Labor top spot, was to
endorse the continued expansion of Maale Adumim, the huge settlement
which is in the process of being inexorably and contiguously linked
to East Jerusalem. Haaretz quoted him on November 11th as
saying, "Maale Adumim is part of one of the settlement blocs which
should be kept under any final-status agreement." Just from this
statement alone, Peretz would have been better described as a wolf
in dove's clothing. But stealth hawk will do.
Although he may differ somewhat from Sharon in degree as to how much
of Palestine should disappear behind annexation walls and fences,
Labor and Kadima nevertheless are probably going to be essentially
two political stealth hawk peas sharing space in the next national
unity coalition pod. Here's what I mean about that. Take a look at
the annexation numbers below. They have to do with the number of
settlers living in the largest settlement blocs in the West Bank.
Both Sharon and Labor consider them nonnegotiable.
A-Ariel 38,000 Settlers
B-Maale Adumim 33,000 Settlers
C-Gush Etzion 41,000 Settlers
Nonnegotiable Settlement Blocs A, B, C = 112,000 46% of 242,000
Total West Bank Settlers
Remaining West Bank Setters 110,050 54% of 242,000
Total West Bank Settlers
While Peretz and Sharon see eye to eye on pulling West Bank
settlement blocs A, B. and C comprised of almost half the current
total of West Bank setters into Israel, Sharon has also voiced a
similar conviction about three other settlement blocs (D, E, and F
below) which, as can be seen would swell the total current settler
nonnegotiable population to more than fifty percent.
D-GivatZe'ev 13,000 Settlers
E-Kiryat Arba 6,500 Settlers
F-Hebron 450 Settlers
Nonnegotiable Settlement Blocs D, E, F = 19,950 08% of 242,000
Total West Bank Settlers.
Nonnegotiable Settlement Blocs A, B, C, D,
E, F 131,950 54% of 242,000
Remaining West Bank Settlers 110,050 46% of 242,000
Total West Bank Settlers
Even if blocs D, E, and F should not disappear behind annexation
walls and fences the magnitude of the U. S. backed land grab, give
or take a few acres, is enormous and contemporarily unprecedented in
both its scope and flouting of international agreements to which the
U. S. and Israel are signatories. But the vast scale of the
colonizing skyrockets when East Jerusalem numbers are included. And
they need to be included because, although East Jerusalem lies on
land conquered in the 1967 war, it was unilaterally annexed almost
immediately in spite of and in defiance of post World War II
international agreements concerning conquered territory. What was
once Arab (as was all of the West Bank and Gaza) East Jerusalem is
now 46% Israeli.
Nonnegotiable East Jeruisalem Settlers 184,000 Settlers
Total West Bank/East Jerusalem Setters 426.000 Settlers
Remaining West Bank Settlers (110,000)Settlers
Nonnegotiable East Jerusalem/West Bank
Settlers 315,950 74% of 426,000
Total East Jerusalem/West Bank Settlers
Taken together the fate of only 26% of all Israelis who moved into
East Jerusalem and the West Bank appears to be questionable and
possibly subject to removal in connection with future disengagtement
schemes. And in the meantime it is going to take a continued massive
military presence to keep the "piece" for that 26%. So the
occupation continues: augmented and reinforced by the troops and war
material freed up after the retreat from Gaza. For it wasn't out of
the goodness of a dovish heart that Sharon folded his tents. It was
the drain on material and soldier power needed to enforce the on
going occupation and whittling away of the West Bank that caused him
to steal away.
A few hours after arriving back in Hebron, I talked with a young
Israeli soldier who had been part of the Gaza pull out. Now he was
guarding Gates Four and Five leading into Hebron's Old City. Since I
had been gone I discovered that the army had installed a turnstile
to slow down the number of Palestinians leaving or entering the Old
City at one time. I asked him if he liked what he was being ordered
"The settlers. They make too much problems"
Then a big surprise. "You know I was talking to my father on my cell
phone right from this gate," he said. "I told him where I was: at
this gate right here; and he said that's where I was when I was a
soldier in Hebron long time ago."
"Your father was a guard in this same place?
"Yes. That's what he told to me. And you know something?"
"I am not married yet. But some day I will be."
"I will have a son. And he will be here guarding this gate. Just
like my father and me."