The National Initiative to Resist the Wall
On June 23rd 2002, Israel started the construction of what it calls a “security fence,” but what the world overwhelmingly recognizes as a “separation or colonization wall.” This wall is to be built in three phases and by the time it is finished, 55% of the West Bank would be captured. The West Bank which includes east Jerusalem makes up 22% of historical Palestine and along with Gaza is intended to form a future viable and independent state for the Palestinians is accordance with President Bush’s June 2001 vision of two states living side by side in peace.
The construction of the “colonization wall” is a grave violation of human rights, international law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention, and most importantly the international will. The Wall will seize the wealthiest Palestinian agricultural land and will manage to increase the area available for the development of illegal settlements built on privately owned Palestinian land. The Wall is designed to grant Israel control over the water resources which exist on the western and eastern sides of the West Bank. The western and eastern sides will become “security zones” providing linkage between the Green Line and the Jordan Valley while dividing the Palestinian urban areas and neighborhoods into isolated communities, which are completely surrounded by Israel.
The myth that this wall separates Palestinians form Israelis needs to be addressed. In the first phase alone, the route of the wall moved into Palestinian territories some 20 kilometers at some points in order to incorporate illegal Jewish settlements built near the Green Line, while leaving 23 settlements, home to 196,000 Israeli settlers on the Palestinian side of the wall and inside the Jerusalem envelope.
The already constructed northern part of the Wall has resulted in the uprooting of 83,000 trees, the damaging of 35,000 meters of irrigation networks and the demolishing of 280 Palestinian homes. Frighteningly, these numbers are expected to at least triple by the time the wall is completed.
This wall is a direct violation of Palestinian rights guaranteed by the UN Declaration of Human Rights. The right of movement has been severely impacted by the gates and electronic fences that are accompanied by remote controlled machine guns to assure that no one living close to the wall can move around. Concomitantly, the right to work and have an adequate standard of living has been gravely curtailed, as Palestinians are imprisoned behind concrete walls. Moreover, the right to property has all but disappeared as 55% of the land belonging to the Palestinians that forms a significant part of the West Bank will be confiscated by Israel. Last but not least, the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of mental or physical health and education has been devastated by the inherent lack of resources brought on by the above restrictions.
Israel has disclosed plans that it intends to annex the strategic Jordan River Valley to Israel. A senior Israeli official said the plan for the wall that would cut the Jordan River Valley off from the rest of West Bank has been approved. Nineteen small illegal Israeli settlements dot the Jordan River Valley, a parched, hot strip of barren land punctuated by two main oases — the Palestinian towns of Jericho and Jiftliq.
Palestinians and the international community, including the US, fear the partition's route will harden into a de facto border and prejudice negotiations. It is clear to the international community that’s this wall encroaches beyond its ‘security’ purpose. It goes along with Sharon’s long-standing concept of a permanent arrangement with the Palestinians that would give them control over populated enclaves around the West Bank, while ensuring that Israel would maintain control over the entire periphery.
President Bush was quoted as saying: “there is a difference between security and land acquisition.” It is that kind of leadership and stance we expect from the protector of human rights, international law and democratic values, which should apply to all. While the American administration has been vocal in its opposition of the wall, it has been weak in its actions, resulting in growing mistrust for the American role and evenhandedness in making Middle East peace. It is time to take a stance with justice and with human rights. It is time to think of the future and put an end to this land theft for the sake of true peace in the region.
We call upon you, our world leaders and the Israeli Prime Minister to take a brave stance for justice and human rights. One can only lead through good will and equality for only then can one trust others’ intentions and cooperate accordingly. “With great powers come great responsibilities,” so we turn to you to save the Palestinian existence along with what is left of Palestinian land. Without justice there can never be peace, we simply turn to you and expect from you to uphold the values you preach and give peace a chance.