Sunday, July 29, 2007

'New UN Map Reveals West Bank’s Harsh Reality'

By Emma Sabry
July 25, 2007

The UN map shows how Palestinians are isolated by Israeli roads, settlements, fences and military zones.

More than forty years since Israel annexed the West Bank, the occupied territory is still a matter of debate by multiple authorities. At the end of the 1967 Six Day War, Israel incorporated East Palestine together with areas of the West Bank to the north and south into Palestine's new municipal boundaries. Many of the residents fled away from the area in order to escape Israel’s brutal occupation.

The debate over the occupied lands has been taking place for quite sometime now. The most obvious and straight forward criticism came from the UN court, which ruled in 2004 that the separation barrier Israel is building in the West Bank is illegal, as it seals off the occupied territories, infringing on the rights of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

The International Court of Justice urged Israel at the time to tear down parts of the separation wall, and make reparations for any destruction or damage to Palestinian homes, businesses and farms caused by the barrier's construction. Israel, then, argued that the wall was only temporary. But three years after the UN court ruling, nothing has changed except for the increased violations of Palestinians’ basic human rights.

Last month, the United Nations issued a new map of the West Bank (click here to see the map) that is considered to be the most detailed and realistic so far, showing how Palestinians are separated by Israeli roads, settlements, fences and military zones.

According to an editorial on the Financial Times, the map, prepared by the United Nation’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, shows the impact of Israeli civilian and military infrastructure, which renders 40% of the occupied territories. The rest of the West Bank, including main centers such as Nablus and Jericho, is split into isolated spots. Movement between them is restricted by 450 roadblocks and 70 manned checkpoints. Israel has set aside a piece of the land for Jewish settlements along with roads reserved for settler access, the West Bank separation barrier, closed military areas and nature reserves.

The process of enclosing the civilian enclaves has accelerated in the years since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in 2000, and the reintroduction by Israel of its military rule even in areas previously under Palestinian Authority security control.

According to the FT article, Israel facilitated the lives of Jewish settlers, making it easier for them to move around. But those settlers made it hell on earth for the Palestinians who now have to rely on tunnels, bridges and trenches to move. Israelis are no longer believed to be uncomfortable in the occupied territories; in fact, they are benefiting from the occupation. Their lives have been facilitated by a growing economy (please bear in mind the crippling international sanctions imposed on the Palestinians), and the vast settlements built in the West Bank.

Diplomats quoted by the FT say the effect of the infrastructure changes would be to formalise the de facto cantonisation of the West Bank. Some 450,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and occupied east Jerusalem and settlements have grown by at least 5.5 per cent a year compared with less than 3 percent among Palestinians.

The latest UN map is believed to be more comprehensive than charts drawn up by the Israeli military and comes to support a recent report by Amnesty International, issued on the anniversary of the 1967 war, which accused Israel of a land grab in the West Bank and called for urgent action to address “widespread human rights abuses committed under the occupation”. Such realistic reports often demand a swift solution for the Palestinians, whose human rights get violated on a daily basis. But unfortuanetly such demands fall on deaf ears!

[Source: Al Jazeera]


  1. Great post! Well written too. I'll put your link on my site right now.

    Let's work together!

  2. "Whacko"July 31, 2007 at 9:41 AM

    Detain this, see my comment next article (New York Times/War)


  3. Hey, Daniel.

    Thanks. Likewise. That's a good idea.

    BTW: Cool name. My name is Daniel too.

  4. Roger that, "Whacko". lol Thanks.

  5. I've borrowed your map, Detain This. It is very revealing and deserves wide coverage.

    Take care.