HEBRON: “A Trip around Jerusalem Settlements”



December 9, 2002

HEBRON: “A Trip around Jerusalem Settlements”

by John Engle*

The November Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation

came to this country with an understanding that Israel

and Israelis, fearful for their existence, were

pursuing a policy of occupation that was both unjust

and a breeding ground for more violence. Our first

days here showed that many Israelis, secular and

religious, were not happy with Israeli government

policy, and those we met assured us that most Israelis

did not know the facts.

Our visit with Naama, from the Israeli Committee

Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), told us those facts

that most Israelis did not know. Naama used the image

of a prison: The Palestinian lands are a prison with

the Israeli settlements as watch towers and the roads

as walls. We saw those roads, which are for Israelis

only, cutting communities in half, eating up land and

making communication impossible. And we saw not only

massive settlements built since 1993, but large

hilltops labeled as settlements but not yet built

upon. Naama told us that Israelis can get permits to

build on 500% of their land (that is, a five-story

building) while Palestinians may only build on 25% of

their land–land that can be confiscated. The city has

demolition orders on up to 1,000 Arab residential


Ultimately, Israel’s policy for the occupied

territories is to have small widespread populations,

unable to move between areas in an “independent”

Palestine in name only–in other words, the Bantustan

solution. The difference between Israel’s political

Right and moderates is that moderates want to provide

industry (owned by settlers) to create a livelihood

for Palestinian workers, thereby avoiding the kind of

economic unrest that plagued South Africa.

This analysis might have seemed like Leftist

propaganda except for the chilling fact that the plans

and maps are on file and available for anyone to see

(this is, after all, a democracy). But most citizens

do not look or care. They accept the government

security analysis as the reason for every governmental

act. Thus, the suicide bombers are in effect making

the Israeli government’s work easier. So it is true

that the government is trying to insure the safety of

Israel, but it is doing so with the known abrogation

of human rights–a cost that governments may accept,

but decent people everywhere–Israelis, Palestinians,

and Americans included–will reject.

* John Engle is a member of the November CPT

delegation to the West Bank.


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