All Palestine is divided into four parts

The Free Gaza Movement and the Freedom Flotilla have succeeded in drawing attention to Israel’s siege on Gaza, which has turned the Strip into a giant prison. There is another aspect to the Gaza prison however, highlighted by Amira Hass in her column today, and that is the systematic separation of Gaza from the West Bank, beginning in 1991.

We have come to believe that the Palestinians (like the Gauls) are divided in three parts: refugees, citizens of Israel and residents of the Occupied Territories. In fact however, they are now divided in four. We can no longer relate to Gaza and the West Bank as a single entity, as much as two-state advocates would like us to. Internal Palestinian divisions have certainly played their part, but it is hard not to see an Israeli design behind all of this. Apart from the obvious cui bono parameter, creating such divisions among Palestinians is a long-standing Israeli policy – one that has certainly served Hamas well, over the years.

We have also come to view the settlements as the main obstacle to a two-state solution, and Israeli settlement policies as the clearest sign of Israeli bad faith. The isolation of Gaza from the West Bank however, to the point of making any kind of union between the two virtually impossible (socially, economically, educationally, religiously, politically, emotionally), is no less devastating – or intentional, as Amira Hass claims – in terms of the feasibility of a two-state solution. The process goes well beyond the lack of a physical "safe passage", promised by Israel at the earliest stages of Oslo and repeatedly pulled out of its hat as an “incentive” for Palestinian concessions. The latest Israeli move in this direction would appear to be the new "anti-infiltration law", designed to enforce even stricter segregation between Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

Beyond the political ramifications of such a policy, the consequences for Palestinian society and families may even dwarf the lack of cement and fuel in Gaza.

About Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel

Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel is a Canadian-Israeli translator living in Italy.
Posted in Israel/Palestine | Tagged , , , , , , ,

{ 9 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. homingpigeon says:

    It’s interesting that for so many years one of Israel’s justifications for continuing the occupation of the West Bank was that “at our narrowest point we are only nine miles wide and could be easily cut in half.”

    I’ve assembled a list of about a dozen Hasbara claims made over the years against the Palestinians which whether false, true, or twisted out of context, were in fact accurate descriptions of what Israel was itself doing or intending to do.

  2. potsherd says:

    I think the separation is probably inevitable. Maybe, like Germany, they can eventually be brought together again in some peaceful future, decades from today.

    But post-Mubarak, I think it will happen. Egypt will ask a huge price, and the US taxpayer will foot the bill. As usual.

  3. Avi says:

    Israel hopes that over time, the two prisons – the occupied Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank – will be taken over by Egypt and Jordan respectively. Israel can’t IMPOSE on either country to take in any territory along with the burden of dealing with refugees, destroyed infrastructure and economic devastation that is Israel’s responsibility. But, Israel can and is actively pushing for both the West Bank and the Strip to become faits accomplis, inseparable from Jordan or Egypt. The separation wall Israel has built is not necessarily a sign of things to come, of a future border agreement. No. Why? Because the separation wall was financed by the IMF. Israel didn’t pay an agora.

    The colonial settlement expansion and encroachment onto Palestinian land has long been an indication of Israel’s desire to reduce Palestinian presence to reservations, Bantustans. It’ll be easier for Jordan and Egypt to take in a ‘tiny little village here’ and ‘another small village there’ once the US makes it all the more ‘palpable’ (to Egypt and Jordan) with the help of a few billion dollars.

  4. Judy says:

    My husband is Gazan. The willingness of West Bankers to accept Isarel’s separation has been really mystifying. I had hoped that the massacres in Gaza during OCL, was the beginning of a new unity, but that truly wasn’t the case. I have a hard time understanding the lack of solidarity.

    And on another note, there are plenty of refugees in the WB and especially Gaza!

    • Judy,

      The policy of “divide and rule” is very effective. Israel has created different classes of Palestinians, on which it imposes different levels of discrimination and oppression. The forced segregation has also succeeded in creating emotional distance between the WB and Gaza.

  5. James North says:

    An excellent post, Shmuel. Does anyone have any idea what percentage of Palestinians in Gaza have never been to the West Bank, and vice versa?

    • Put it this way: half of Gaza’s population is under 15. Gaza has been closed off from the West Bank for 19 years. Do the math.

      • Chaos4700 says:

        No wonder apartheid Pretoria was so incredibly jealous of Tel Aviv.

      • Judy says:

        What percentage of diaspora refugees have ever been to Palestine, but they still love it?

        In no way am I “Palestine bashing” here. But it’s incumbent on West Bankers to remember brothers and sisters in Gaza!