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'Final Borders' and 'Security Zones' in Palestine

Through recent speeches by senior ministers and officials, Israel is emphasising the need to immediately establish "clear" boundaries, to reflect a "demographic reality" where "the majority" of Palestinians live. Under the racist rhetoric of "demographics", "majority" is synonymous with the Zionist policy of seizing maximum Palestinian land with minimum Palestinians. Thus these "territories", that reflect the "demographic reality", are where there is no Palestinian land to take for settlement expansion; outside these "territories" all lands will be annexed.

‘Final Borders’ and ‘Security Zones’ in Palestine

Israeli Plans for a Bantustan ‘State’

Through recent speeches by senior ministers and officials, Israel is emphasising the need to immediately establish “clear” boundaries, to reflect a “demographic reality” where “the majority” of Palestinians live. Under the racist rhetoric of “demographics”, “majority” is synonymous with the Zionist policy of seizing maximum Palestinian land with minimum Palestinians. Thus these “territories”, that reflect the “demographic reality”, are where there is no Palestinian land to take for settlement expansion; outside these “territories” all lands

will be annexed.

GABRIELA BECKER

R
ecent Israeli declarations around “final borders” are alarming, particularly in the face of an ongoing pursuit by the Israeli occupation to continue devouring Palestinian land, control the West Bank, and contain the Palestinian struggle. Over a decade of “peace” has meant the grand scale multiplication of settlements throughout the West Bank, reaching a horrid pinnacle with the “Apartheid Wall”1 as the most concrete manifestation of the web of Israeli occupation control and planned borders. Since the Oslo accords,2 Israeli talk of “not being able to rule the Palestinians forever” has been commonplace doublespeak, with a negotiating process focusing on slogans of Palestinian “self-rule” and “statehood” as a means of camouflaging a widening occupation.

Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert’s speech on January 24 at the Herzliya conference may not have revealed anything new, but his emphasis on “final borders”, the apartheid wall, and “security zones” together reflect what can already be seen on the ground: Palestinian areas enclosed by the wall, settlements, bypasses, and checkpoints/terminals at the same time as the occupation increases its stronghold in areas outside the wall – that is, the “seam zone”, Jerusalem, and the Jordan Valley. Thus, the Palestinian “state” is demarcated, much more accurately referred to as “Bantustans”, ghettos or reservations.

Of course, any Israeli declaration of final borders is not a surprise, or new, in the

Economic and Political Weekly April 1, 2006 face of the construction and near completion of the apartheid wall. In the least, Olmert’s speech is a confirmation of the plan to control, once and for all, approximately half the West Bank while imprisoning the majority of Palestinians. What his speech may also reveal is that the Israeli occupation seeks to further its de facto annexation of areas between the wall and the “Green Line”3 as well as the Jordan Valley – the so-called “security zones” he refers to – in an upcoming Israeli quest to make official, preferably through negotiations, these borders in order to immediately devour what is outside of them. In other words, and continuing along the same lines that have worked so well for the Zionist movement since its inception, it hopes to continue gaining international approval of defining what is Palestinian for the very sake of implicating that anything else is therefore not, reflecting the undying and deep-seated ideological support that exists for the Jewish colonisation of Palestine.

Either way, whether through agreements or actual measures, the planned “state” is nearing completion. The Israeli plan is to irreversibly eradicate the Green Line and thus to officially shift the border, to move with even greater speed in expanding settlements in these areas, and solidify the links between the coast, the Jordan Valley, and Jerusalem in order to encircle and close in on the ghettos, while targeting Palestinians in the “security zones” with expulsion (see Map). We can also expect that the areas outside the wall will be bases for industrial settlement zones with the plan of forcing many Palestinians into cheap labour, as the Israeli occupation once again seeks to ensure dependency with the ultimate goal of breaking the Palestinian spirit, with the “state” and its final sealed “border” being the noose around the struggle’s neck. To support this, international aid agencies are expected to join in, under the banners of “humanitarian aid”, “work for food”, “rule of law” and “democracy building”.

What has been delineated by the occupation and peace agreements for the future Palestinian “state” is some half the occupied West Bank – disjointed – along with the Gaza strip surrounded by buffer zones (within the strip). In today’s reality, the catchphrase “final borders” should automatically be linked with the 8-10 metre high concrete structure that snakes its way throughout the West Bank. Although the occupation already de facto controls to varying degrees the areas it seeks to finally annex – that is, areas outside the apartheid wall – it looks to expand and deepen this control.

Herzliya Speech: ‘Immediate’and ‘Clear’ Borders

The Herzliya conference is one of the many annual Zionist gatherings and rituals, where the likes of the Israeli occupation’s military generals, Yesha council representatives (West Bank and Gaza settlers), Knesset members, government officials, university professors, bank representatives (the list clearly overlapping), US think tanks, and other members of the US Jewish community mingle and talk policy. The occupation elite and its undying supporters, including former US president Jimmy Carter who stopped by this year’s conference on his way to observe the elections in the occupied West Bank, all attend the event in order to raise a toast to the past and future of Israeli expansionism.

Two years ago, the Herzliya conference gained particular attention when Ariel Sharon discussed the so-called “disengagement”. This year, Israeli prime minister and former occupation mayor for Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert summarised the current Israeli priority in stating that, “…there is no doubt that the most important and dramatic step we face is the determination of permanent borders of the state of Israel, to ensure the Jewish majority in the country.”

An emphasis on and call for the immediate establishment of borders was further clarified: “In order to ensure the existence of a Jewish national homeland, we will not be able to continue ruling over the territories in which the majority of the Palestinian population lives. We must create a clear boundary as soon as possible, one which will reflect the demographic reality on the ground. Israel will maintain control over the security zones, the Jewish settlement blocs, and those places which have supreme national importance to the Jewish people, first and foremost a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty” (italics added).

Emphasis is being placed on the need to immediately establish “clear” boundaries, which are, as stated, to reflect the “demographic reality” where “the majority” of Palestinians live. Olmert is certainly not referring to the West Bank as a whole in terms of where the “majority” of Palestinians live, but of localities of socalled built-up areas. Under the racist rhetoric of “demographics”, “majority” is synonymous with the Zionist motto and policy of maximum Palestinian land with minimum Palestinians, and thus these “territories” that reflect the “demographic reality” are where there is no Palestinian land to take for settlement expansion, ensuring no space for Palestinian expansion while leaving outside of these “clear” bordered “territories”, all lands to be annexed. This coincides with the route of the apartheid wall, whose function is to ensure optimal land confiscation and thus the smallest wall-encircled ghetto, together with the destruction of the majority of Palestinian lands and agricultural production, along with the final isolation of “Greater” Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.

In the lexicon of power, we then understand that wherever this majority is not is therefore to be further colonised. In the above quote from the conference, the play on words, on reality, and on history is additionally disturbing in that Palestinians formed the majority in their homeland, only to be expelled by Zionism for the sake of ensuring a colonial – Jewish – majority. Those areas where today there is this socalled Palestinian “majority” (where reference here is not being made to Palestine but to areas of the West Bank as the Israeli occupation seeks to continuously erase Palestine) is in fact in the areas where massive expulsion has not taken place and in areas of the West Bank and Gaza where cities, their outskirts, and refugee camps converge. This is the “demographic reality” he refers to, one that has been forcefully delineated by over 50 years of occupation.

Apartheid Walland Security Zones

Through such wording, we see how the Israeli occupation ensures a reality of dichotomies, pretences, and diversions. Since it speaks of “majority”, we must ask in this case about the fate of the alleged “minority”. We see that the Palestinian “majority” resides in the area within the “final borders”, which is overwhelmingly demarcated by the apartheid wall. We also see that the area to be targeted is outside the wall, areas that have also been branded various kinds of “security zones”

– including buffer zones, military zones, and seam zones – with the largest of the so-called “security zones” being the Jordan Valley (over one-fourth of the West Bank), followed by the “seam zone” or “seam administration” established by the apartheid wall in its first phase, in north-west Jerusalem, West Bethlehem, and Hebron (the areas between the wall

Economic and Political Weekly April 1, 2006

Palestine before 1948 Occupied West Bank and Gaza 1967 The apartheid wall 2005

Source: www.stopthewall.org – Palestinian Grassroot Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign

Map: Areas of Occupation and Demarcated by the ‘Wall’

and the Green Line). The seam zone already includes within it, the major settlement blocs of Ariel and Gush Etzion, with Ma’ale Adumim an integral part of the wall around Jerusalem and the occupation’s control over “Greater Metropolitan Jerusalem”, as it also acts as the controlling link between Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley (and therefore the eastern border of Palestine, cutting across the West Bank).

By referring to the seam zone between the apartheid wall and the Green Line and the Jordan Valley/eastern wall under the all inclusive “security zones”, Olmert is seeking to deflect international criticism while setting the stage for a changing of the status of these areas. It is by no coincidence that the same area is referred to in a number of different ways, in a common attempt to blur the issue and the expanse of land being referred to, and the upcoming plan to justify under the rhetoric of “security”, the next stage in the control of all of these areas. Needless to say, an agreement to a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza with the Israeli occupation controlling the various “security zones” means concretising the current boundaries being set by the wall (and its gates), settlements, bypasses, checkpoints and terminals.

Here we see the apartheid wall demarcating the areas of the “state” since it plays the most essential and colossal role in creating the “final borders”. Olmert declares, “acceleration of the construction of the security fence, together with the improved ability of the Israel Defence Force (IDF) and other security forces, as well as Israel’s increased latitude – will be our answer to terror”.

Already, the areas between the wall and the Green Line – the seam zone or seam administration as it is referred to by the occupation – are de facto annexed, either through their inaccessibility to landowners and farmers, or by the military and court orders that declare these areas closed or demanding permits. In areas where the wall has been completed, we have seen the role of the so-called “security zones” as closed military zones were transformed into seam zones, while now expecting that “security zones” and “buffer zones” will get turned into “Israeli areas” along the “final borders” of the “Palestinian state”. This can already be seen in areas around the seam zone where military orders and soldiers at the wall’s gates make clear that crossing this apartheid wall means entering into “Israel”. The increase of gates and checkpoints, and the turning of checkpoints into terminals and “border crossings” only confirms this. While the reality on the ground for those unable to access their lands is synonymous with their confiscations, the occupation seems to be building up to a final, irreversible control of West Bank and Gaza lands.

Hence, “security zones” are the areas confiscated outside the “final borders” of the “state”, meaning that they are the areas that encircle the Bantustans, the areas the military closes off from most Palestinians with checkpoints and terminals, the areas which it patrols and where it prepares to infiltrate and attack the Bantustan state, the area in which tens of villages are targeted with expulsion, the area where settlements and the current massive settlement blocs will expand even more rapidly, the area where the occupation plans to expand its own agricultural production to replace the Palestinian breadbasket, the area where soon Palestinians entering it or going to their own land or village will be “infiltrating” “Israeli-controlled” areas, the area that represents a huge portion of the West Bank and that is a “playground” for Israeli occupation violations and brutality.

Just a few days after the Herzliya conference, much of Olmert’s public announcements revolved around the apartheid wall, the most covered of which was in relation to his plans to shift the wall in the area of Beit Ikssa in north-west Jerusalem. Beit Ikssa, already partially stifled and devoured by the nearby checkpoint, bypass, and the massive settlements of Ramot and Har Shmuel, is being targeted by the planned settlement expansion on both sides of the Green Line. The relevance in the announcement and its timing is: on the one hand, Olmert is sending a message that he – that is, the Israeli occupation – can finalise anything and in any way it so chooses. Also, and as has been the case throughout with the apartheid wall, the occupation seeks to divert attention from the larger picture – the entire wall and “border” project – and implications at hand so that discussions take place in regards to one area as opposed to all the land being confiscated. In the end, the message is that the wall is a priority for the occupation.

Creating ‘Borders’

It is important to reiterate that already the “seam zone” and most of the Jordan Valley are controlled and suffocated by the occupation. The occupation’s main strategy throughout has always been to create countless policies and an impossible reality of suppression and control in which it never had to officially declare anything but it still managed to implement and do what it wanted, and more. That is why de facto and de jure have been synonymous in the case of the Israeli occupation.

Thus, some may argue that a more blatant, rhetorical approach is the one affiliated with Likud/Kadima and that Labour would perhaps push ahead with the same policy of “final borders” through the construction of the apartheid wall, without the need to make declarations since the wall and the Israeli occupation’s infrastructure (settlements, bypasses and checkpoints/terminals) serve the goals of stifling, controlling, confiscating and eradicating. It is important to bring up the issue of these approaches,

Economic and Political Weekly April 1, 2006 if only to make clear that the distinction is in tactic, not in policy or implementation. As has been proven during the past 50 years and more, the difference is only in rhetoric, not in practice.

Meanwhile, focus around “negotiations”, “final status”, and “statehood” continue to be the mainstay of the occupation under Oslo. While terms remain the same, so does the colonial, expansionist reality on the ground. The various peace proposals that surface remain within this framework, as their distinctions are solely about shifting the borders in different areas and in percentage of lands that would be “security zones” and annexed, and not about the regime that is and will be established under the Bantustan state. Either way, we know which direction the occupation is pushing for – we know its code words and we know that, whatever it implies and means to do, it will push for it in whichever way possible.

“Border” – whether declared or through the apartheid wall – is thus a means in which the Israeli occupation can control Palestinians and steal more of their land. All villages and cities located in the “security zones” are under dire threat of expulsion, and Palestinians inside the ghettos are targeted with outright demise. In the end, whether within or outside the ghettos, for the occupation all Palestinians are a “demographic threat”.

Olmert also stated that, “We firmly stand by the historic right of the people of Israel to the entire land of Israel. Every hill in Samaria and every valley in Judea is part of our historic homeland. We do not forget this, not even for one moment…” another reminder that “final borders” themselves are but a means and will ultimately not be final, just as living in a ghetto is not living at all.

Herzl, the founding father of Zionism and author of The Jewish State, would be proud. The Herzliya conference, taking place in “Herzliya” – built on the destroyed village of Abu Kishk – resonates similarities to the World Zionist congresses, the first of which took place in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland and was chaired by Herzl himself. But, unlike the Zionist congresses that took place in Zionism’s homeland – Europe – this conference takes place after the Palestinian displacement, and this time the plan is not how to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, but how to bring about the final annihilation of Palestine (under the very cynical rhetoric of establishing a “state”).

This year’s Herzliya conference ended on January 24, the day before the Palestinian legislative council elections, which may explain why further discussions on the Herzliya speech did not ensue. Either way, the occupation’s position at the conference is but a further articulation of what is already clear and being implemented on the ground. Need we not remind ourselves in the very near future that this speech took place before any Palestinian elections, and is not related to its results, and that it itself is only an added expression of a plan that has been in full force since 1993 and Oslo, or since the 1967 occupation and the Allon Plan,4 or since 1948 and the Nakbe,5 or since 1897 and Basel.

In criminal camaraderie, and in a statement that for certain reverberated in the depths of the Israeli public and Israel’s supporters at large, Olmert closed his Herzliya speech with a testament to Sharon

– the “butcher of Beirut” – stating “I hope that we will soon be able to stand before him and tell him: we have walked in your light”. Was there any doubt that Olmert, or any other Israeli leader from any other party, would say – or do – just that?

m

Email: gabibecker02@yahoo.com

Notes

1 The Israeli cccupation began building the wall within the occupied West Bank in 2002. Predominantly composed of a 8-10 metre high concrete wall that also includes “buffer zones” on each side, when completed it will run some 700 kilometres, cutting through all the West Bank districts (as it runs deep inside the West Bank) isolating people from their lands, families, water resources, education, workplaces, and medical treatment, while closing the majority within fragmented wall-encircled ghettos. One misnomer for the wall (particularly within mainstream media) has been the “separation barrier”, diverting attention from and minimising the actual goals, consequences, and magnitude of the wall project. Apartheid was the white South African Afrikaans word meaning apartness or separateness, epitomised by the Bantustan “homelands” project. Parallels between the two plans and the Israeli aspiration to emulate South African apartheid are well documented. For more information on the apartheid wall, see www.stopthewall.org.

2 Synonymous with the so-called “peace accords” or “peace process” of 1993, it also marked the commencement of the Palestinian authority. Through the Oslo accords, the Israeli occupation meant to undermine Palestinian resistance by seeking a positive world image and thus international support for its policies of expansionism. The Oslo accords divided the 1967 occupied territories into areas A, B, and C, declaring areas C under full Israeli control, therefore diverting attention from the continued Israeli occupation and control of areas A and B and the planned full-fledged annexation by the occupation of areas C which represent some one half of the West Bank, and which the apartheid wall project and its “final borders” seek to outline once and for all. Since the signing of Oslo, the number of settlers within the 1967 occupied territories has doubled, while land confiscation increased even further for settlement expansion and settler bypass roads.

3 The “Green Line” delineates the West Bank and Gaza strip, in other words the 1967 occupied territories. The Green Line is also referred to as the 1949 Armistice Line.

4 Named after Yigal Allon, Israeli deputy prime minister at the time of the 1967 occupation. As part of the Labour-led occupation government, he pushed forward and mapped out a scheme based on colonising and controlling the majority of West Bank lands with particular focus on the Jordan Valley, calling for the annexation of those areas not defined by the occupation as Palestinian “population centres”. The Allon Plan is seen as a sort of blueprint of the colonisation of the West Bank, with its more recent parallels/ successors being the Oslo accords’ categorisation of areas A, B and C and the path of the apartheid wall. For a map of the 1967 Allon Plan, see http://www.passia.org/palestine_facts/ MAPS/1967-allon-plan.html.

5 Or the 1948 catastrophe, where over 9,00,000 Palestinians were expelled from their lands and homeland, as more than 500 villages were destroyed and depopulated. The Nakbe meant the founding of the Zionist-Jewish state on the lands of these villages in an attempt to annihilate Palestine and its people. Today, a large part of Palestinians expelled around the year 1948 live in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Together with those displaced after the 1967 occupation, the majority of the Palestinian people are refugees, numbering over 80,00,000.

Economic and Political Weekly April 1, 2006

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