Arab News (Editorial)
April 12, 2010 - 12:00am

The Israeli Army’s plan to deport tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank is both inhuman and illegal.

It is also highly provocative and could reignite the intifada. This, of course, would suit the Netanyahu government very well, since once more, even the indirect peace talks with the Palestinians would be back on hold and Israel could protest yet again that its security was threatened by “terrorist violence.”

How much longer is the international community going to sit by and allow the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, the economic blockade of Gaza and the subjugation of the already wretched Palestinian population? This latest enormity by the Israeli authorities involves a deft adjustment to an existing military order drawn up in 1969 which empowers the army to expel what it is pleased to call “infiltrators.”

A new definition of “infiltrator” will embrace anyone living in the West Bank who has not been issued with a permit by the Israeli authorities.

Potentially tens of thousands of Palestinians could fall victim to this sly maneuver, splitting families and further disrupting what passes for economic life in the occupied West Bank.

Introducing a layer of judicial oversight to the deportation process is merely a smoke screen to cover the blatant illegality of the whole procedure. The military is already empowered to throw a Palestinian out of Palestine within 72 hours, hardly time enough to mount a proper legal appeal.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, is entirely right when he drew the comparison with the apartheid regime in white-run South Africa. There if a person did not have the necessary passbook, he/she was expelled even from their ancestral lands. Even though Israel had extensive clandestine relations, particularly military, with the white South African regime, it publicly condemned the enormity of apartheid. Now it is embracing it with open arms.

This latest contemptible move is unlikely to play well in the Obama White House. It may indeed be a signal that relations between the president and Netanyahu are even more strained than was at first appreciated. Washington simply has to take a stand on this. Whatever Israel’s security concerns, there can be no grounds for what is little short of ethnic cleansing. Obama needs to understand that Israel simply does not want peace, because ever since its creation in 1948, this state has survived on a war footing.

Zionists around the world pour money into Israel so it can maintain what it calls its defensive posture. American aid and technology underpin a relatively small and fragile economy. Lasting peace based on a just settlement for the Palestinians, therefore, holds unknown risks for the Israelis. They understand aggression. They do not understand peace.

So once again, an Israeli government is poking the Palestinian beehive, hoping for an angry swarm to react, which it can then swat with its vastly greater firepower.

But maybe this time they have gone too far. How can it ever be said that Palestinians have entered their own land illegally? The real illegal infiltrators in the West Bank are actually the Israelis.


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