George Hishmeh
Gulf News
July 10, 2008 - 3:10pm

Norway, in the hope of reaching a final settlement.

None of these magnanimous gestures have brought the Israelis around that. Rather Israel has resorted to occupation as a key instrument in determining the final borders. In other words, grab as much as you can and then negotiate a partial withdrawal. At no point has it thought of reaching out to the Palestinians although the outlines of a settlement are crystal clear - a pull-back to the 1967 borders which would leave the Palestinians only one-fifth of their homeland.

But Israel has, meanwhile, resorted to repressive policies and a harsh occupation that has led to several bloody incidents, as the case was in recent weeks when two disheartened, if not depressed or mentally unbalanced, Palestinians who separately took matters into their own hands in occupied Jerusalem. One invaded a yeshiva school, killing eight Israeli students, and another ploughed his bulldozer into a main Jerusalem street, killing three women and injuring more than 40 others. Neither was a member of any Palestinian militant group. Yet the Israeli government labelled them as "terrorists" and now wants to demolish the homes of their families as punishment, much like what they did when the 23-year-old American peace activist, Rachel Corrie, was killed in March, 2003 by an Israeli army bulldozer while protecting the unlicensed home of a Palestinian refugee in the Gaza Strip.



These two incidents received extensive media attention in the US, but not the repressive Israel actions against the tormented Palestinians. For example, this week, Israeli troops have raided a popular shopping centre in occupied Nablus and ordered it closed for two years, accusing the owners of links with Hamas militants. The owners, the BBC reported, denied the claim and Nablus's Palestinian governor was quoted as saying the orders would not be obeyed.

Other anti-Palestinian incidents, according to the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, include: A group of West Bank Israeli colonists beat a 31-year-old Palestinian in the southern Hebron Hills, after having tied him to a telephone pole. Another 25-year-old resident of a Negev town who was severely beaten by police in Ashkelon, three months ago, died of his wounds last weekend. His family says that two detectives had brutally beat him after calling him a "smelly bedouin" when he was spotted at a nearby Israeli beach with another Arab friend.

A Jerusalem mother, Mona, wife of a Palestinian-American called Habib, travelled to Jerusalem from the US last March with her five-month-old child called Ramzi to see her family that resides in the Holy City. (I am authorised to release her family name). But when she requested an extension of her residency, she was told by the Israeli authorities that "since I have made a decision to marry an 'American' who can't reside in Jerusalem, I have made a decision to seek residency in a foreign country and therefore 'choosing' to abandon my residency rights in Jerusalem'." Palestinians, unlike Israelis, are not allowed to have dual residency or citizenship

Reporters Without Borders has also condemned the "abusive behaviour" of Israeli security agents towards Palestinian journalists travelling in the occupied Palestinian territories or returning from visits abroad. It said it had recorded five incidents of wrongful arrest of five journalists, one of them a prize-winning reporter Mohammad Omar, who was strip-searched at gunpoint, assaulted and abused at the Allenby border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank last week as he tried to return home to Gaza.

Time has not acted in the best interests of Israel. A recent opinion poll conducted by the University of Maryland ( in 18 countries - a total of 18,792 were questioned - has revealed that 71 per cent of Americans would prefer that the US stay neutral when it comes to the Mideast conflict. In no country did the majority back the Israeli stand. This is probably what led French President Nicolas Sarkozy, unlike President George W. Bush, to call on Israel to drop its refusal to cede sovereignty over Arab East Jerusalem and to stop the construction of colonies in the West Bank. And Sarkozy said this in his address to the Israeli parliament.


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