Saturday, September 8, 2007

Jordan Valley plundering

A report (PDF file) published by the MA'AN Development Center and the Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign details the policies pushed by Israel in the integral region of the Jordan Valley. A brief glance at the map shown below gives the reality of how dissected the West Bank is, while the Jordan Valley is tripartited into areas A, B, C:

East Jerusalem is to be separated completely from the West Bank or any future Palestinian state (if there ever will be one). Every Palestinian will attest to the fact that they can have no viable state unless there is access to East Jerusalem. The importance of East Jerusalem cannot be undermined (re: Jeff Halper's Matrix of Control). With continued construction of the wall, as soon as the proposed border is finished around Jerusalem, the only state that is left for the Palestinians is a slighter bigger version of the Gaza Strip, split into three regions of activity. It would resemble a refugee camp.

The settlement control of the Jordan Valley is at 28.5%, while the Palestinians are left with 54.5% of the West Bank. Considering the original figure given to the Palestinian state during the UN Partition Plan was 43% of Mandate Palestine, they are being offered just over half of the territory known as the West Bank, while being encircled by settlements to the east and trapped by the border to their west. As an added bonus, there are certain Palestinian villages which is split by the wall, leaving 10% in No Man's Land, between the wall and the State of Israel.

Now the area A and B of the Jordan Valley are under Palestinian control. In total, both areas amount to 5.62% of the Jordan Valley. Area C (for settlements) and the closed zones (border line, military bases and natural reserves) have 94.7% of the Jordan Valley. There are thirty-six settlements, including one belonging to one woman (Mol Nefo) amounting to 66 dunams. The table below encapsulates the comparisons between coloniser and colonised:

And here's more of an outline of the daily humiliations that Palestinians are subjected to just by being unfortunate enough to be living in the area desired by the Jewish State:
"On 12 January 2006 Israeli leaders officially announced the isolation of the Jordan Valley from the rest of the West Bank, dropping the status of the Jordan Valley from final status negotiations. Furthermore, Israel continues its escalation of military procedures in the area by:

* Imposing strict military procedures on areas inhabited by Palestinians, such as placing watch towers at the entrances of Jordan Valley villages and along Road 90, setting up 24-hour military routes, breaking into villages and houses and imposing regular and continuous curfews;

* Preventing landowners, whose IDs do not show a Jordan Valley residential address, from reaching their lands, resulting in loss of sources of income and making it easier for Israel to confiscate their land under Israel’s "absentee’ property law;

* Preventing Palestinian farmers from selling their produce to Israeli traders at Bardala-Bisan checkpoint (5km away), forcing them to travel 50km more to get to Al-Jalameh trade crossing, increasing the cost and making crops, especially fruits and vegetables, far more vulnerable to damage;

* Preventing traders from 1948 land from entering Palestinian villages or farms, based on the excuse of “security, creating problems with regard to quality, price and payments;

* Closing thousands of dunums of pastures and surrounding some with trenches and announcing others as closed military zones;

* Focusing the colonization project, which ultimately gives Israel complete control over the West Bank by continuing to build settlements along the eastern borders from the Dead Sea in the south to Bisan in the north, with 36 settlements and several military bases; consequently, Israel would control the northern, center and southern parts of the Jordan Valley, which is about 20 km to the west of the Jordan River, in addition to controlling the huge water basin in the area;

* Issuing military orders that prevent Palestinians who do not have a Jordan Valley address in their IDs from living there and arresting or expelling those whose ID does not show a change of address (additionally, Israeli authorities prevent any change of address in this area);

* Forcing Palestinians to deal with Israeli Civil Administration for their daily dealings;
* Restricting movement to and from Jericho by:
* Placing 7 checkpoints manned by Israeli soldiers around the city especially outlets to road 90.
* Surrounding Jericho with a trench: 30km long, 2m deep, 2-5m wide.
* Closing all entrances/ exits to Jericho by roadblocks permanently and controlling movement through two permanent checkpoints.
* Stopping coordination with the Palestinian Civil Coordination Office in Jericho.
* Invading Jericho, resulting in killings and arrests of many Palestinians
* Demolishing and destroying public buildings by curettage and air strikes.
* Preventing Palestinian vehicles and tourist guides from moving out of Jericho towards the Dead

It does not end there either. Along with the land, Israel has made agriculture extremely difficult to maintain, which provides for up to 35% of total produce; the water resources has been isolated from Palestinian use, which settlers consume six times more water than Palestinians; tourism is also affected by policies of closures and destruction of tourist sites; and there is no sewage network available for the Palestinians. In fact, "[T]he location—between Fasayel and south of Al-Jiftlik—was strategically selected because of the direction the wind would blow the smell to avoid the settlements." Poisoning them is also an option.

These may not be news to many, but it is just another example of how difficult the occupation is getting. Every day is another attempt to displace the rightful owners of the land, so the harsh policies have to be in place in order for the usurpation to be complete.

Israel is willing to give the bare minimum in order to get what they want. The occupation is something they can live with as long as they are able to appropriate more Palestinian land.

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