Middle East Roundtable /
A PALESTINIAN VIEW:
Redrawing borders, increasing oppression
by Ghassan Khatib
The statement on the wall that was made a few days ago by
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz revealed Israel’s true intentions and
confirmed the suspicions of the Palestinian side. Mofaz said explicitly that
this unilateral disengagement project will allow Israel further to expand
and consolidate settlements in the West Bank. The Palestinians have always
understood that the disengagement plan provided certain withdrawals in the
Gaza Strip in return for gains for West Bank settlers.
The wall Israel has been building in the West Bank is a main
component of that unilateral disengagement project. The wall is in fact part
of the ongoing Israeli settlement expansion strategy that includes East
Jerusalem, which is considered by the Palestinians, under international law,
and in the official position of almost every country in the world to be part
of the Palestinian occupied territories.
Consequently, the Israeli Jewish presence in East Jerusalem
is part of the Israelis' illegal settlement expansion policy. The wall is
being built in a way that is based on political and demographic
considerations more than security ones. It is simply trying to separate the
Palestinian populated areas from the Palestinian areas that are settled
illegally by Jewish settlers in order to create political facts on the
ground and prejudge the final status negotiations.
This is especially clear in the case of the wall in
Jerusalem, which follows a path that is clearly based on demographic and
political considerations rather than security. It is mostly separating
Palestinian occupied areas from other Palestinian occupied areas.
The Israelis' apparent rationale is to create a new
geographic definition of Jerusalem. The wall intends to create a new
boundary with a Jewish majority inside and Palestinian populated parts of
Jerusalem outside. The economic and humanitarian effects of the wall are
also significant, because it goes through intensely populated areas and
disrupts the movement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to work,
schools, hospitals, etc.
has been continuing and intensifying mainly as a result of the oppression of
the Palestinian people. This wall is only about further injustice. It is
accompanied by seizing, closing, or confiscating more Palestinian land and
expanding illegal Jewish settlements. It also increases the humiliation and
suffering of the Palestinian people, whose standard of living is
deteriorating as a result.
If Israel is
trying to inflame the conflict by building this wall, then it is making no
mistakes. In contrast, the way to deescalate the conflict and violence is
only by understanding and recognizing the legal, political, and human needs
of the Palestinian people through completely ending this occupation,
including its settlements, and tearing down its walls.
Ghassan Khatib is coeditor of bitterlemons.org and
bitterlemons-international.org. He is minister of labor in the Palestinian
Authority cabinet and has served for many years as a political analyst and
Bitterlemons-international.org is an internet forum
for an array of world perspectives on the Middle East and its specific
concerns. It aspires to engender greater understanding about the Middle East
region and open a new common space for world thinkers and political leaders
to present their viewpoints and initiatives on the region. Editors Ghassan
Khatib and Yossi Alpher can be reached at