NPK-info 28-12-2004- Nederlands Palestina Komitee /
Why Boycott Israel - Omar Barghouti; December 20, 2004

Israel Arrests Palestinian Candidate
December 28, 2004, Al Jazeera

Ashrawi: New, Credible Leaders Will Come
December 23, 2004, Rami G. Khouri
'Real obstacle to peace with Israel was never the Palestinian leadership'

Israel's Home Destruction
John Petrovato; November 26, 2004

The Mountain and the Mouse
Uri Avnery; Gush Shalom; December 23, 2004
 "The final result of the "Disengagement Plan" will therefore be the annexation of 58% of the West Bank to Israel, as Sharon has wanted all along."
 "European leaders talk about making a huge donation to the Palestinian authority after the election of Abu Mazen. This is an illusion as old as Zionism itself: that the Palestinian people - or any other people fighting for its freedom, for that matter - can be bought off and will give up its land and independence for a mess of pottage."
The other 9/11 in Gaza
Daud Abdullahs, Dec 20, 2004, 12:08

Path to Peace Runs Through Palestine
David Hirst, LA Times, December 22, 2004

Land Plunder and Settlement Construction in the Shadow of the Fence:
Come to the Aid of Jayyous!   31.12.2004

En zie hierna.
NPK/WL, 28-12-2004

The 'olive branch' that ought to cross the wall
By Abdul-Latif Khaled

JAYYOUS, WEST BANK - The autumn olive harvest used to be a time of celebration in this West Bank village. Entire families would spend days together in the groves. Even Israelis would make special trips here at this time of year to buy our olive oil. But with new Israeli restrictions on access to the fields, Palestinian farmers now have to leave their families at home, and may never even get to their olive grove.

Today, picking olives is no celebration. In the past few weeks, Israeli bulldozers began clearing agricultural land that belongs to Jayyous residents in anticipation of building 50 new houses for Israeli settlers.

After four years of intifada and the resulting intensification of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the natural and social continuity of the Palestinian landscape is severely disrupted. In Jayyous, as in many towns here, the most significant change has been the tall militarized fence constructed through village lands in 2003. This "security fence," - what we Palestinians call simply "the wall" - has brought social, environmental, and economic catastrophe. In our village it has cut off our farmers from the olive groves, tomato greenhouses, and wells that lie west of the village.

But the wall doesn't just separate us from the livelihood of our land, it also creates a cultural barrier of forced separation from our Israeli neighbors. This can only harm prospects for peace. When interaction between Israel and the West Bank was at its height in the 1970s, there was greater security for both Israelis and Palestinians. Palestinians and Israelis could drive freely between Israel and the West Bank, and it was normal for Israelis to visit Palestinian villages to buy olive oil directly from our presses in October and November. When I was a child, Israeli TV came to make a film about the oil presses in Jayyous.

Progress toward peaceful solutions must come from the people themselves, not solely through governments. Communication and interaction, not separation, are necessary for us to work together. This can never be done with a wall between us.

In Jayyous, we're resisting this separation through nonviolent protests of the wall. Joining us are hundreds of others - Palestinians, internationals, and Israelis. We persist in resisting this separation, but the hardships caused by the wall persist as well.

The situation in Jayyous is a microcosm of what is happening all over the West Bank. Villagers must apply for Israeli permits to access their farmland; these permits are not always granted. Access is also restricted by allowing passage through the gate in the wall only at certain times. With such restricted access, it is hard for farmers to maintain their plots, and much of the farmland is deteriorating. The neighboring Israeli settlement, which will cut across the farmers' main access road, will force farmers to take a longer route - a five- or six-hour round trip by donkey cart. With no overnight stays allowed, there will be no way to cultivate the fields.

In 2003, farmers in Jayyous lost an entire harvest of guava, vegetable seedlings perished in greenhouses, and orange trees died - all because the gate remained closed for four weeks in September and October. So far, 15,000 citrus trees around Jayyous have died because farmers denied access are unable to irrigate and tend their groves.

With thousands of trees uprooted for the construction of the wall and countless trees abandoned for lack of access, we find ourselves in the midst of an environmental disaster.

That disaster is exacerbated by restricted access to water. Jayyous has traditionally relied on six groundwater wells, all of which are now behind the wall, forcing us to purchase water from another village. The loss of our water and farmland has meant the deterioration of the village's ecosystem and our ability to live on our resources. Once the wall is completed, more than 90 percent of the available water in the West Bank will be on the other side or under Israeli control.

There are economic costs to the wall, too. Merchants from surrounding towns used to purchase directly from the farms, but now farmers must sell their produce in small markets where prices are lower. Between March and July, 15-kilogram boxes of tomatoes that should not sell for less than $3.50 had to be sold for 30 cents. This year's olive harvest has been similarly dismal. Olive oil that should sell for $5 per kilogram is down to $2 - the break-even price is $3 per kilogram. At these prices, reinvestment in the land isn't feasible.

Still, we maintain our belief that nonviolent protest is the most powerful and humanitarian tool in the struggle for freedom and democracy. In September, when it was announced that the gate would be closed for nine days, the community protested, and, with Israeli human rights organizations, succeeded in Israeli courts in keeping the gate open. More villagers now can access their farms.

The only way toward peace is through communication - working and talking together. This wall is separating Israelis from Palestinians and threatening to close our minds.

Instead, we must respect each other, recognize each other's rights, and reach agreements through dialogue. Our actions in Jayyous tell the world that we will never submit; we will not give up our land or our children's rights to a peaceful future.

Abdul-Latif Khaled is a senior groundwater hydrologist with the Palestine Hydrology Group

The Wave of Settlement construction along The Separation Fence

Under the shadow of the disengagement plan, a new wave of settlement construction is taking place in the West Bank. It is especially noticeable along the Green Line, from the area of Elkana and Oranit near Kufr Kassem, via Zufin (east of Kokhav Yair) all the way to Reihan in the north: Companies privately owned by the settlers, alongside state agencies, are renewing the construction of settlements and building thousands of housing units, with the objective of obliterating the Green Line and effectively annexing all the land made inaccessible to its Palestinian owners by the Fence. This operation complements the strategy of annexation and dispossession implemented by the Separation Fences.

The last two years' struggles led to some substantial, though partial, achievements: Several centers of popular resistance to the occupation formed, which blocked the progress of the Fence in some areas (the Salfit/Ariel region and around Budrus), but not in others (Jerusalem and Hebron Mount). However, it must be noted that with the current political constellation being unfavorable for actually building the Fence, the Sharon administration is making use of the lull in order to advance the infrastructure work, so that once the political tide turns the eventual erection of the Fence System will be feasible within a very short time.

While the construction of the fence itself is being stalled, work on the accompanying settlements is in full swing, ostensibly as extensions to existing settlements so as to disguise the maneuver. Often, as in the area of Alfei Menasheh, they are in fact kilometers away from the existing settlement

The extent of this process is beginning to unfold:

• The people of the Israeli community of Nirit (located on the Israeli side of the Green Line) have successfully stopped (for the time being) the construction of an extension to Alfei Menasheh settlement across the Green Line from Nirit, which was planned to rely on Nirit's infrastructure.
• Alfei Menashe itself is now expanding to fill the area all the way to the Fence, between the villages Ras a-Tira and Ras Atiya and on their lands.
• Further north, opposite Jayyous, the settlement of Zufin, some 200 family strong, is adding 2100 new housing units in new extensions, to be built on Jayyous land.
• In the area of Sal'it (south of Hirbet Jbara) a new extension plan has been deposited, adding 2000 housing units, which will create a continuous settlement stretch all the way to Zur-Nathan on the Israeli side of the Green Line.
• Further north, the settlement Reihan is targeted for massive expansion.

We are dealing, therefore, with a substantial process of annexation and settlement in the northern part of the Fences System, aimed to complete the process of dispossessing the Palestinians of their land. The fingerprints are all over: in Zufin and Alfei Menashe the entrepreneurs are private companies owned by the settlers; in other areas, the main entrepreneur is the Department of Settlement of the Jewish Agency itself. And so, while public discussion in Israel focuses on the settlers' threats, the process of settling the Occupied West Bank continues, under the auspices of the Fence and with the assistance of the occupation authorities.

This last operation fits in with Sharon's long-term strategy of obliterating the Green Line and broadening the political accord regarding the settlements, by focusing on settlements near the Green Line, which offer "a high standard of living" and "personal security"; and by getting the the palestinians out of the way through appropriating their land and turning them into "security hazards" (securing the safety of Shaul Mofaz by destroying widow Zohriya Murshad's orange grove is a case in point). The present wave of settlement is occurring under favorable political conditions: the haze and confusion surrounding the "Disengagement Plan" allow Sharon to immediately perform the components relating to the West Bank— strengthening the settlements. In Israel, founding the unity government offers a convenient political framework for focusing the annexation efforts to the areas which were in any case intended for annexation according to the Barak-Sharon trajectory; all the while, in the Occupied Territories, the occupation authorities focused over the last months on the attempt to force normalization, in order to prove that the Palestinians have accommodated themselves to life under the shadow of the Fence. The Fence enables the entrepreneurs who build settlements security for their investments; to those who seek to settle in safety. it guarantees an effective separation from the dispossessed local population and fast development-annexation.

Precisely for those reasons, it is our duty to contribute our share in the attempt to block this process, and to divert the attention to its political significance and the destruction it entails. When constructed, the Fence cut off the people of Jayyous from 72% of their lands (8,600 dunum), in addition to the 500 dunum on which it was constructed. The people of Jayyous now need permits in order to cross over to their fields, but only a few of them hold such permits. The villagers grow citrus, guavas, olives, and more. the agricultural production of the village fulfilled a central place in the whole area—because of the extent of the land, their fertility and the advanced cultivation systems. These were all destroyed by the Fence: all 6 water-wells of the village are outside the Fence, and the people now have to buy water from surrounding villages. Drying Jayyous accelerated the process of dispossession: at times the occupation authorities prevented the access even permit holders, not allowing maintenance of irrigation systems and caring for plants. This way, according to our data, 15,000 citrus trees died. drying the agriculture and destroying the surrounding enable the conversion of fertile lands into a real-estate object, in the process of colonization.

Constructing the new settlements—be it the northern and eastern outposts of Zufin, building an industrial zone at the foot of the Fence or making a road to connect the different settlements—will bring to completion the process of dispossession. A substantial part of the lands which are left in the hands of the people of Jayyous will be west of the settlements, and in order to reach them they will have to cross the settlements. Based on existing tradition, that will turn the people of Jayyous into a security risk, that must be prevented from crossing the road and the settlement on their way to their fields. Raising the Fence becomes part of a well known pattern in the process of colonization: buying land from collaborators, declaring Palestinian lands as "State Lands", discontinuing local communities and disturbing the social and economical texture of life, drying the agriculture and transforming farmers into a "security risk" in their own fields.

The people of Jayyous stood out in their struggle against the construction of the Separation Fences. Their courageous resistance last week stopped the continuation of the work. We ought to stand alongside them in their struggle. At the beginning of the struggle against the Fence it was difficult to foresee the possibilities embedded in the popular struggle against it. Now is the time to rise against the Fence Settlements.


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