Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Walking Through Palestine

In times past various visitors to the Holy Land arrived there and were somehow disappointed with it and denigrated the land as being empty and desolate and the Palestinians living there ignored as inconvenient and unwanted by these visitors. One of the descendants of these denigrated Palestinians responded to these deprecations in his 2007 book, Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape.

Turns out among the Palestinians there is a traditional practice of wandering around the land. Intriguingly this book is divided into chapters describing the author's walks through Palestine.

In 1996 PCG's leader, Gerald Flurry, wrote a booklet denouncing the peace process as the State of Israel's "deadly wound" leading to its conquest by the European Beast Power. Shehadeh shows that this assessment of the peace process was complete nonsense. In fact the peace process greatly strengthened the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Before the peace process most Israeli Jews avoided the settlements. Very few Israeli Jews decided to move there. To get around this widespread reluctance to settle the West Bank and the Gaza Strip the Israeli government encouraged the national religious to settle there. But with the peace process gave many Israeli Jews confidence that the settlements would be protected since the Palestinian Authority agreed to let the settlements remain there. In theory the settlements were to be negotiated over in a later stage of the peace process but most Israeli Jews were confident that this was not worthy of worrying. The number of settlers vastly increased after the signing of the peace process.

This was dismaying to the Palestinians. The Palestinians were forbidden from voting or otherwise participating in Israeli politics even though it was the State of Israel that ruled over them since 1967. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip were never annexed by the State of Israel thus excluding the Palestinians from controlling their affairs. The Palestinians never wanted to be placed under Israeli rule but their decisions were ignored in 1967. But the settlers were allowed to vote in Israel and were able to influence Israeli politicians and society to advance their interests in expanding the settlements.

The settlements were made against the will of the vast majority of the Palestinian people. The Israeli government ignored the interests and the will of the Palestinian people. The settlements were built by force to overrule the popular will of the Palestinian people. Accompanying the settlers the Israeli military were sent to protect the settlers from the Palestinians.and make it impossible for the Palestinian people to contradict or reverse the will of the Israeli government.

But the settlements were illegal under international law. Currently 160 nation states recognize the State of Israel. They all only recognize the State of Israel's right to rule its 1949-67 borders. The land acquired during the Six Day War is viewed by these 160 national governments as occupied territory. And under international law an occupying government is forbidden from settling its population in the occupied territory. This forbids the Israeli government from placing its population in the land acquired by the Six Day War. But the Israeli government under both left wing and right wing governments continuously ignored this law.

The author states that the Palestinians built their towns on the sides of the hills since there it is sheltered and less exposed to winds. But the Israeli settlements were built on top of the hills. This allowed the settlers and their accompanying soldiers to keep watch over the Palestinians. The settlements are connected by newly constructed roads that avoid the ancient roads that had been used for millennia making it easier for the settlers and the soldiers sent by the government to guard them to move around disconnected from the surrounding society of the Palestinian majority. These newly constructed roads also altered the terrain smashing through the hilly lands to the hilltop settlements. Furthermore the settlers' sewage goes downhill to the land the Palestinians live and walk on.

A most fascinating and intriguing book about the current situation in the Holy Land.

May peace soon come to the Holy Land.

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