Saturday, April 21, 2007

Zionism equals colonisation

By As'ad Abdul Rahman, Special to Gulf News

The fact is that [there can be] no Zionism without settlement [colonisation], nor a Jewish state without ousting the Arabs, seizing and fencing the land."

These are the words of former Knesset member Yesheayaho Ben Fort in Yediot Ahranot, July 14, 1972. This was the basis of the idea of colonisation, and the concrete implementation of the Zionist strategic plan of usurping Palestinian land after having "cleansed" it from its indigenous people by various forms and means.

To draw on the Jewish Diaspora, and to eventually create a state for them in place of the Palestinian people, the Zionists based their arguments on far-fetched, fictitious, religious and historical claims, with a view of attracting Jews from all over the world to Palestine. Among other slogans, we heard of "a land without people for people without land"!

Ever since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, its leaders have been trying to demonstrate that their occupation of Palestinian lands was a "reclamation" of barren, wasteland where nobody had ever trod.

But this is nonsense. What about the hundreds of thousands of internationally recognised Palestinian refugees, many of whom still keep the keys to their houses and documents of land ownership?

New form

However, as it has become crystal clear to the whole world, colonisation is nothing other than usurpation of Palestinian lands given to them through many generations.

This kind of colonisation has nowadays assumed a new form - the exclusion and deportation of Palestinians and siege of the Palestinians in enclaves with barbed wire, and with gates that open and close at Israeli whims, in violation of the fourth Geneva Convention: Article 49 which stipulates that the occupying power should not evict or transfer the civilians of the territory it occupies.

Besides, international law regards colonisation as illegal and as a flagrant violation of human rights.

In the recent past, even more decisions have been taken by the Israeli government on the expansion of colonies in the West Bank, combined with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's adoption of the the separation Wall route that will include neighbourhoods in Occupied Jerusalem.

This huge barrier, which Israel began building in June 2002, cuts through the West Bank and fragments it into cantons.

In spite of Palestinian and international opposition, including the International Court of Justice's Advisory Opinion on the legality of Israel's Wall in the Occupied Territories, Olmert's government is going ahead, like the previous government, with this ominous venture, adding to the suffering of the Palestinian people.

During Israel's war on Lebanon last summer, colony-building was hastened. In mid-February, the Israeli Peace Now group released a report in which it asserted that "the settlers [colonists] spare no effort to expand the existing colonies".

It further underlined that "between April and August 2006, the number of colonists in the West Bank increased by 5 per cent to reach the total of 268,000, while the construction of housing units on Palestinian land continued".

The group added that contrary to public statements, only one isolated colony near Ofra was dismantled in 2006, whereas 101 other colonies remain.

The group pointed out that the colonisation project was not limited to plundering public Palestinian land, but also included usurping registered private property.

In November 2006, the group's report showed clearly that 40 per cent of the West Bank's land, where 130 colonies are erected on slots of 60,000 dunums, is privately owned, registered real estate, according to the Israeli Civil Department registrar.

As these colonies have clearly become the embodiment of racist, extremist anti-Palestinian policies, some Israelis began warning against expanding and building new colonies.

Architects Rafi Sigal and Eyal Weisman emphasise in their book Civil Occupation: Israel's Architecture Policies that Israel's essential plan was, and still remains, to disrupt connectivity in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The two authors demand that many of the Israeli architects and their employers be tried by an international court on charges of collusion with an illegal occupation, and of contributing to the infliction of further injustices upon an occupied people.

Sigal and Weisman conclude that "the successes achieved so far by the settlement [colonist] movement in disrupting connection among the Palestinian territories have created a nightmare that Israel never dreamt of".

The same conclusion was reached by Arnon Sofir, who wrote in Maariv, on August 11, 2005, that the colonists posed a threat not only to the Palestinians but also to the future of the Jews themselves.

He addressed Israeli officials saying: "You are knowingly leading us to a catastrophic disaster for the sake of a handful of aberrants on the settlements [colony] council, who have carried out terrible actions."

So by building colonies and proceeding with the Wall, Israel is creating "concrete facts" in the West Bank with a view to drawing imposed borders there, and thus undermining the basic exigencies of a viable Palestinian state.

These Israeli ventures are disdainful of international law and subsequently deepen the conflict and kindle the the fires of resistance by all possible means.

They also undermine peace, as they swallow the territories of the Palestinian state, providing a fresh reminder of the South African "Bantustans".

No Palestinian would accept that. Now would anyone negotiate on this premise.

Professor As'ad Abdul Rahman is the Chairman of the Palestinian Encyclopedia.

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