Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Map of the West Bank - Falastin

The Green Line is the border established by the UN after the 1948 war which established Israel. This was the border until 1967 and it is the internationally-accepted boundary of the West Bank. As you can see, the separation wall eats into this, particularly around the Israeli settlement of Ariel (full of Russians), and in the settlement blocs around Jerusalem such as Ma'ale Adumim and the Etzion bloc. Look for Efrat, south-west of Bethlehem in the Etzion bloc - this settlement is just over the wall from the school, trying to encroach on our hill. It's being developed by an American-Jewish property developer who made his money in gambling.

Areas A and B were set up during the Oslo Accords of 1993. Area A means towns with complete Palestinian control. Area B means Palestinian control in most things, with the Israeli army in overall control. Area C, the rest of the West Bank except the Israeli settlements, are Palestinian majority with Israeli control of everything. Hope Flowers School is just outside Area A in Area C, and next to the wall at Al Khader.

The Oslo deal was meant to be a start for Palestinian sovereignty, with further extension of these areas to happen by about 2000 to cover most of the West Bank - this didn't happen. In the Oslo Accords Palestine recognised and accepted Israel's existence and more or less ended its war with Israel. But the Israelis accelerated settlement building and later started building the separation wall. Out of sheer frustration over this, the second intifada broke out in 2000-04. After that, West Bank Palestinians were caught between reluctance to return to conflict and a feeling of betrayal from the peace process negotiations. What do you do if neither war nor negotiation work? Well, you develop cultural resistance.

Talk about peace to a Palestinian and they laugh. To them, 'peace' is a term abused by hypocritical Westerners and neighbouring Arabs who don't put their money where their mouths are, and a form of hasbarah or disinformation used by Israelis to trick the world into believing they're pursuing peace and it's the Palestinians who are the problem. Meanwhile, acts of war are quietly carried out in the form of settlement-building and encroachments, extension of the wall, Jewish settlement of Arab East Jerusalem, checkpoints, border control, house demolitions and the death of, on average, one Palestinian per day (not counting bigger events like the bombing of Gaza in January 2009).

However, Palestinians want peace and to get on with a decent life, with control over their own affairs.

Acts of war: fancy one of these watchtowers down the road or overlooking your back garden? These were four of the six towers I saw while travelling in the Hebron area today.

Oh well, let's just get on with life...

Amman to Jericho - pictures