Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine

Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories: what should one call it?
By V. Buch
Jan 3, 2007, 16:38

The State of Israel calls it “fight for existence” or “fight against terror”. Its detractors call it “colonization”, “apartheid”, or “ethnic cleansing”. Baruch Kimmerling coined the term “politicide of Palestinians”. Edward Said spoke of slow bleeding. Recently, even words such as “genocide”[1] have been used. Let us try to define the Israeli policy, and then grapple with the question of proper naming.

It should be stated in advance, that by ףpolicyפ I mean consistent long term developments pursued by the different Israeli governments in the Occupied Territories . Its major element has been massive settlement construction in conjunction with land grab. By now the number of Israeli Jewish citizens residing beyond Israel עs 1967 border nears 0.44 million (including Jerusalem ). The built-up area of the settlements consists of less than 3% of the area of the West Bank , but the area which they officially dominate (municipal jurisdiction) constitutes over 40% [2].

Presently, more than 1/3 of the West Bank is out of reach for most Palestinians [3]. A second element has been confinement of West Bank Palestinians to disconnected enclaves, and attrition of the enclaves by military invasions and economic blockade [4].

On the other hand, I shall attach little significance to the recent Olmert-Abbas meeting, and to recent declarations by PM Olmert of forthcoming goodwill gestures towards Palestinians. Similar declarations by Israeli leaders were made periodically in the past, and have thus been an integral part of the Israeli policy.

However, the ףgoodwill gesturesפ were never carried through to any significant extent, for any significant length of time [5]. Not a dent was made in the large-scale settlement and expropriation projects noted above. Thus, the obvious significance of such declarations is a publicity gimmick designed to make Israel look good in the eyes of the public, which is ignorant of the reality on the ground, and mistakes the declarations for reality. Also, as noted astutely by D. Breslau, such declarations often serve as a prelude for a major military invasion to the Occupied Territories.

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