In what those who have been closely following Israelâs plans around the construction of the Wall see as pre-determined, Wednesdayâs high profile announcement to build the Wall east of Ariel and Kedumim is outdated, as the current mapping of the Wall is virtually the same as plans that have been made public since the beginning of 2003. In addition, Wednesdayâs Israeli cabinet announcement also confirmed the route in Bethlehem and Hebron, which received little attention but which also coincided with maps that have been available from various sources and which foresee extreme devastation for the entire southern West Bank.
***image4***The path of the Wall according to the Israeli cabinet announcement will reach some 20 km inside the northern West Bank (close to half its width). In fact, the map of the Wall that is to include Ariel was made public by the YESHA settlerâs council in March of this year; publicized at the time by the Israeli media was that the Israeli âDefenseâ Ministry was working closely with the settlerâs council to both produce and promote the map.
Noteworthy has also been the lack of clarity in the exact decision made by the Israeli cabinet, as rhetoric and official declarationsâalong with media coverage–have discussed âgapsâ and âhorseshoesâ, affirming contradictory decisions such as claims that Ariel would not be included in the Wall, while also referring to the decision as temporary, implying that the Wall would eventually be completed to include these settlements.
Such uncertainty, along with claims by Israel of having made concessions due to US pressure, will in fact allow Israel to continue on the Wallâs path with almost no need to postpone its plans, as the segments to be built at this stage need the coming half year to be completed, while merging them at a later stage will see a final Wall map that includes all the discussed settlements. Whether or not the US will acknowledge publicly that Israelâs decision is in fact paving the way to complete and include Ariel inside the Wall, there is little doubt that loan guarantees will not be threatened.
***image3***The US, and other international governments and actors, have focused on this portion of the Wall which they state will threaten the viability of a Palestinian state. As the entire Wall is illegal and built within the West Bank, attention around this stage alone raises serious concern that on an international level the Wall, which when completed will be some 650 km in length, is being accepted as the border between Israel and a future Palestinian entity, an entity that will be fragmented and comprise of larger and smaller ghettos on less than 50% of the West Bank.
In a September 30 article on the Wall and the Ariel settlement in the Israeli daily Haâaretz, former Israeli âDefenseâ Minister Moshe Arens states: âBeyond the considerable inconvenience caused to Palestinians living in the fenceâs vicinity, the assumption by almost everybody is that territory to the west of the fence will remain under Israeli control for the foreseeable future, eventually lying within the borders of the state of Israel.â
***image6***The announcement to build the Wall east of Ariel settlement comes at the time of the olive harvest season in Palestine, where the villages surrounded by Ariel face daily harassment, beatings and shootings in attempts to reach their lands. In the case of Ariel, named after the current Prime Minister, villages surrounded by the settlement have been unable to reach their lands. In the village of Marda, whose lands were taken to build a portion of Ariel, the residential area is less than 200 meters from the settlement. It is expected that the Wall will be built on Mardaâs land, between the village and the settlement, a top of the fertile lands and olive groves.
Um Naser, from Marda, asks: âUntil when? This is our heritage? Our very existence is linked to the land?â Um Naser and her family, like most of Marda, have heard Wednesdayâs announcement as a backdrop to their daily attempts to reach their lands for harvesting. The Wall will soon destroy much of their lands, lands that are currently inaccessible.
See the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign Poster Map from July 2003.