As world leaders gather in Scotland for the G8 summit, the Palestinian people and solidarity groups across the world will mark the first anniversary of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on the Apartheid Wall. The court, having taken up the popular appeals from Palestine, stipulated that the Wall is illegal and must be dismantled while directing the international community “not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by [the Wall’s] construction”.
Popular resistance in Palestine is gearing up to respond to the G8 leaders’ lip service on “support for Palestinian economic development and reform” that completely disregards the fundamental basis of the Palestinian struggle in all its terms of discourse. The contrast between the actions of the G8 and the legal mandates of the ICJ, the countless UN resolutions and the Palestinian right to existence and self-determination could not be starker.
Each day in Occupied Palestine, more land is confiscated, homes destroyed, and Palestinians turned into refugees to make space for an ever-expanding Israeli Apartheid system of Jewish-only roads, settlements, military zones, and a 700 km long Wall. Yet, political leaders and international financing bodies like the World Bank have opted to accept the Wall as a fait accompli, and now aim to normalize its presence through a seemingly apolitical discourse of “development” and “aid”.
International complicity and support for Palestinian subjugation under Occupation has intensified dramatically over the last year. Today, these global agencies are planning to sustain the Apartheid Wall and the continued colonization of Palestine, rather than placing pressure on Israel to enforce the ICJ decision. The G8-controlled World Bank poignantly depicts this policy in its most recent report on the region, whereby a particular vision of “economic development” evades any discussion of the illegality of the Wall, the Occupation and the denial of the right of return for Palestinian refugees. To the contrary it lays the foundations for economic sustainability of the Palestinian ghettoes created by the Apartheid Wall. The World Bank identifies economic boundaries in the official Zionist framework of the Wall and the “disengagement” plan, replicating and building upon the Occupation’s discourse and needs to ensure the complete control of Palestinians.
The notion of “aid” is used throughout the World Bank and Occupation’s economic agenda of “developing” Palestine, as a synonym for cheap labor initiatives and trade liberalization. The notion of “free trade” for imprisoned peoples is itself a profound irony conveniently disregarded. Massive industrial zones – to be financed by the World Bank and other donors and controlled by the Occupation – are envisaged as forming the basis of economic “development” built upon Palestinian land around the Wall. In the case of Irtah in Tulkarem, land for the zone is located behind the Wall, on fields which used to provide for over 50 families. These sweatshops will be the only possibility to earn a living for the Palestinian population left in disparate Bantustans throughout the West Bank. These industrial zones generate their own systems of regulation and surveillance that “allow” a limited number of Palestinians to move within their own land in order to sustain the most devastating system of racial capital. On top of a military Occupation and forced expulsion, Palestinians are to be subjects of an economic colonialism common throughout the Southern hemisphere for inflicting poverty and misery. High-tech military gates and checkpoints are proposed, through which Palestinians and exports can be conveniently transported and controlled. This will be supplemented with a “transfer system” of walled roads and tunnels to funnel Palestinian workers through this economic matrix, while simultaneously denying them access to their land around them.
The World Bank’s report adopts and perpetuates the Occupation’s strategically misleading terminology for the Wall, referring to it and its connected infrastructure as a “security fence” or “separation barrier”. This not only legitimates in the eyes of the World Bank the confiscation of Palestinian lands, but also dangerously obscures the reality on the ground in which over 80% of the Wall’s destructive path deviates from the Armistice Line, separating Palestinians from other Palestinians, their capital Jerusalem, and from essential sources of livelihood. In the village of Jayyous for example, an agrarian community of over 3000 people have been isolated from over 75% of their agricultural lands. Qalqilia, with a population of over 45,000 people, has been completely encircled by the Wall and subsequently suffocated from its long established economic and social ties with surrounding villages. These dire conditions are replicated throughout the West Bank, as the Wall encloses Palestinians into ghettos that function as racially demarcated, open-air prison systems of Occupation. A second wall being built around Gaza will cement the jailed existence for the 1.3 million people caged inside.
The governments of the G8 have shown vivid interest in this project of displacement, imprisonment and oppression of Palestinian communities under the pretense of development and humanitarian aid. In breach of the ICJ ruling, the U.S. has already contributed $50 million to construct gates within these prisons to “help” serve the needs of Palestinians. Perhaps even more disturbing is the normalization of such brutal schemes within the programmes of donors (such as USAID), who implement politically motivated projects under the rubric of humanitarian assistance.
One year after the ICJ ruling, the failure of the international community and financial institutions to work towards the implementation of the ICJ decision to tear down the Wall has come at an enormous human cost. And yet, against this bleak and overwhelming reality, Palestinian communities are actively defending their right to exist. Palestinians are implementing the ICJ decision with their own hands, where in villages like Bil`in, the Wall’s cement foundations were physically dismantled in active resistance. Villages are mobilizing regular demonstrations against the construction of the Wall in the midst of violent reprisals by the Occupation Forces and continue to direct their protest beyond these imprisoned boundaries, towards the international community at large. As history illustrates repeatedly, attempted pacification of resistance to Occupation will always be thwarted by a people’s unrelenting will for self-determination. Palestinians are calling on the international community and the people of the world to expose and isolate the decades-long Occupation that has gone unabated. As the world’s most powerful leaders convene at the G8 summit, any discussions on “support” for Palestine cannot be divorced from the political context through which the need for this agenda arises – Palestinian liberation. One year after the ICJ decision there can be no “aid” or “development” other than the tools and resources necessary for one of the first steps of this Palestinian struggle – tearing down the Apartheid Wall.
The Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign