Palestine/Israel News and Information

Palestine - Up Against The Wall Again>

July 11, 2005

The views expressed here are those of the editors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Today’s Contents:

EU’s Solana slams J’lem fence; PA: It makes pullout useless (Ha’aretz) MK says it will make Jerusalem “more Jewish”

55,000 J’lem Arabs to remain outside fence (Ha’aretz) Government presents dubious plans to continue municipal services

More Important Articles Links to other important news articles for today

[JPN Commentary: Once again, Israel’s announcement of a new portion of their wall to be built has stirred intense controversy. It could have been expected that building the Jerusalem part of the wall would not go quietly, and indeed, the route that has been decided on continues Israel’s defiance of international law and offers further proof that there is more to the wall than a security measure.

Last week, Israeli officials confirmed that considerations other than security were factors in deciding the route of the wall. The wall’s opponents were stating this even before construction began, of course. While last week’s admission focused on cost, MK Haim Ramon of the Labor Party let slip that demographic concerns also play a role. The newly-mapped section of the wall will cut off part of East Jerusalem, leaving 55,000 Arabs, according to Israel, to some 100,000 according to the PA cut off from the rest of Jerusalem. Ramon does us the favor of making it explicit that this will mean that Jerusalem is “more Jewish.”

It is crucial to note that the Palestinians being cut off are residents of Israel, although most have refused actual citizenship. Israel is responsible for these people under their civil governance. These folks rely on Israel for their municipal services, as well as relying on Jerusalem for their employment, school and health services. Israel has presented a plan for delivering services to those Arabs, and to facilitate travel through the wall. Past experience, however, does not bode well. Checkpoints are routinely difficult and movement through them can easily be halted at the whim of the officer in charge. And delivery of services to Arab East Jerusalem was already sub-par — it is hard to believe it will not suffer much further with the neighborhoods being on the “other side” of the wall. In essence, this is a step toward cutting these residents off from Israel— or, at the very least, that is surely how the Palestinians will see it.

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas says that this moots any positive effects from the Gaza withdrawal. It certainly does deliver a major blow to international efforts to foster an atmosphere more conducive to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Once again, the wall is not separating Palestinians from Israelis, but from other Palestinians. The wall is being built on land beyond the Green Line, in contravention of international law. It delivers yet another strike against any Palestinian hopes for a better future, and increases the siege mentality of innocent Israelis, making a negotiated settlement even less realistic. In this case, the wall does even more, because it is creating facts on the ground intended to prejudice the final status of Jerusalem, an obvious hot button issue.

The Jerusalem Wall betrays the intentions of the Sharon government. It displays a lack of desire for an agreement with the Palestinians on any but the most draconian and one-sided terms. The lack, thus far, of any serious response from the United States further demonstrates the US‚ inability to deal squarely with moving the two parties along toward peace. As long as the US tolerates such blatantly anti-peace moves, by either side, there is no way out of the quagmire, for Palestinians or for Israelis. ˆMP]

EU’s Solana slams J’lem fence; PA: It makes pullout useless

By News Agencies

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana criticized Israel on Monday for the fence it is building around Jerusalem, and Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said it made a farce of efforts to restart the peace process.

Israel faced new pressure over the fence a day after the cabinet approved final details of the 60-kilometer fence, which is halfway built and will eventually cut off some 55,000 Arab residents in four neighborhoods from their city, while including some 30,000 Jewish West Bank settlers on the Jerusalem side.

Meanwhile, Minister Haim Ramon (Labor) said Monday the Jerusalem fence is meant to ensure a Jewish majority in the capital as well as keep out terrorists, contradicting government statements that it is solely a temporary security measure.

“I want to point out that in Jerusalem alone close to 250 people have been murdered during the intifada, most of them in suicide attacks. The fence was born, first and foremost, to prevent them from continuing to murder us,” Ramon told Israel Radio. He added that the fence “also makes [Jerusalem] more Jewish.”

Solana, arriving for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, said the EU was against the Jerusalem segment for the same reason it opposed the larger West Bank separation fence – because it cuts into the West Bank.

“We think that Israel has the right to defend itself, but we think that the fence which will stand outside the territory of Israel is not legally proper and it creates also humanitarian problems,” he told reporters in Jerusalem.

He said the Jerusalem fence would also have a symbolic effect, as the city is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Qureia responded harshly to Sunday’s cabinet decision, calling the Jerusalem fence “theft in broad daylight” of land Palestinians seek for the capital of their future state.

“This decision makes a farce of any talk about peace and turns the Gaza withdrawal into a useless initiative,” he said in a statement, referring to Israel’s planned evacuation of all 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip starting in mid-August.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa called for stepped-up protests against construction of the barrier.

Israeli officials said the Jerusalem segment would separate one-fifth of Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents but that crossing points would be set up to ease their movement.

Palestinian officials put the actual number of Palestinians to be cut off from jobs, schools and hospitals in Jerusalem and surrounding areas at about 100,000.

55,000 J’lem Arabs to remain outside fence

By Gideon Alon

Some 55,000 residents of East Jerusalem with Israeli identity cards will remain outside the “Jerusalem envelope,” and will in effect be cut off from the city’s municipal core, it was revealed in yesterday’s cabinet meeting. The cabinet approved a plan for arranging services for the Arab citizens who will remain on the other side of the separation fence.

The government decided that by September 1, when construction of the fence around Jerusalem is to be completed, the Jerusalem Municipality and all government ministries must complete preparations for provision of these services. A sum of NIS 25 million has been allocated for this purpose.

Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been authorized to monitor the process. Security forces are to complete the separation fence in Jerusalem only after he reports that the administrative arrangements are in place.

Olmert noted that, according to his plan, some 3,600 schoolchildren will have to be bused to their schools on a daily basis, to the other side of the barrier. He said regular transportation timetables will be instituted to allow those residing outside the fence to continue their daily routines without being compromised.

The following tasks will be undertaken by various bodies:

*Jerusalem’s municipality will set up a Jerusalem envelope community administration, to deal with residents of Arab neighborhoods outside the fence. This unit will be responsible for supervising the 12 entryways in the fence, for maintaining order and for setting up municipal service centers nearby.

*The municipality, together with the Education Ministry, will be responsible for busing Arab students back and forth. In the long term, educational facilities will be built on the other side of the separation fence to save costs.

*The Defense Ministry and the Ministry of Public Security will oversee the timely movement of residents on foot, in vehicles and on public transportation through the crossings.

*The Ministry of Health will draw up regulations to allow speedy and humane handling of medical emergencies at the entryways, and to ease passage of physicians and medical equipment. The ministry will be expected to encourage East Jerusalem hospitals to develop “branches” on the other side of the fence.

*The Ministry of Communications and the Israel Postal Authority will set up post offices near the crossings.

*The Welfare Ministry and the National Insurance Institute will be required to provide various services through the postal authority, including phone and Internet services.

*The Ministry of Transportation will arrange special lanes to give public transportation priority at the crossings.

*The Employment Service will open bureaus near the entryways, and allow unemployment recipients living outside the fence to report only once a month.

Minister Without Portfolio Haim Ramon commented that “the gates and openings along the `Jerusalem envelope’ fence should remain open and only be closed during emergencies.” Ramon said that the services should be of the same level of quality on both sides.

Minister of Construction and Housing Isaac Herzog said that the regulations at the crossings must ensure “humane and fair treatment of the Arab citizens who pass through them.”

MK Yossi Sarid (Meretz-Yahad) said that “the government decision proves again that the occupation can’t be swallowed, but nor can it be spit out. The occupation is stuck like a bone in Israel’s throat and is strangling it.”

MK Azmi Bishara (Balad) said that the government decision slices through neighborhoods and communities in Jerusalem as if no people were involved, only paper and a ruler. He said that talk of gates and openings and services on the other side of the fence was hypocrisy, which made no impression on the communities who are being riven – besides deep revulsion.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas harshly attacked the plan and said the PA would not accept it. Abbas, who returned to Ramallah from a visit to Syria and Lebanon, said that “approving the fence route in Jerusalem could bring about the end of relations between the two sides. Such steps will not serve peace, nor will they serve Israel’s security.”

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Jewish Peace News Editors:
Judith Norman
Alistair Welchman
Mitchell Plitnick
Lincoln Shlensky
Ami Kronfeld
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai

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