The occupied territories and the Palestinians living there are slowly becoming virtual realities, distant from the eye and the heart. Palestinian workers have disappeared from our streets. Israelis no longer enter Palestinian towns for shopping. There is a new generation on each side that does not know the other. Even the settlers no longer meet Palestinians because of the different road systems that distinguish between the two populations; one is free and mobile, the other stuck at the roadblocks.
While the politicians argue over dividing the land between two peoples, the public is apathetic. The people feel that the division has already taken place. The disengagement from the Gaza Strip, the evacuation of Gush Katif, the construction of a separation barrier – the problem is solved to our satisfaction. The settlers are conducting a settlement policy of their own, taking over new areas, expanding settlements, anything to prevent a permanent solution. They are also satisfied with the status quo that relies on the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Defense Forces.
The de facto separation is today more similar to political apartheid than an occupation regime because of its constancy. One side – determined by national, not geographic association – includes people who have the right to choose and the freedom to move, and a growing economy. On the other side are people closed behind the walls surrounding their community, who have no right to vote, lack freedom of movement, and have no chance to plan their future. [complete article]
Is there a winner in the siege policy being enacted against Gaza? Some claim that the punishment being meted out on Gaza’s residents will lead them to turn against and throw off the Hamas regime. Others contend that, under the circumstances prevalent in Gaza, the population will likely further turn to religious escapism and blame its obvious adversaries in Israel and the west.
Calibrating the effects of collective punishment is not an exact science. It is though, an utterly vile way to treat human beings. An Israel-Hamas ceasefire, in parallel to negotiations with the Abbas government, must become a priority. [complete article]