Thursday, March 17

MCC Palestine Update #107

MCC Palestine Update #107

17 March 2005

The Persistence of Misplaced Optimism

With all of the hardships and tragedies facing the human experience today, it is quite normal for us to hold on to any glimmer of hope or optimism that comes our way. This is especially true here, under the umbrella of fear and death that casts a shadow over much of life in Palestine / Israel. Thus much has been said about the windows of opportunity and the growing optimism of “truces,” “peace processes,” and burgeoning “democracies.”

This sense of optimism rests easily in the calm homes of the Global North. But unfortunately, that optimism suffers a very short half-life here under occupation. One needs only attempt the short journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem—a six-mile distance—to learn the misplaced nature of this optimism. For as soon as you make your way to Bethlehem, you must first face the main checkpoint guarding the entrance to the “little town,” where chances are you will notice lines of Palestinian men being detained on the side of the road for trying to get to their places of employment outside of Bethlehem.

But what is most striking is the “Wall.” Standing about thirty feet high, the “Separation” or “Apartheid” Wall has recently grown at a considerable pace around Bethlehem, now almost complete, imprisoning this Palestinian community here.

It is difficult to communicate just how impacting this sight is when entering Bethlehem, face-to-face with this monstrosity of concrete. “Disturbing” does not quite describe it. “Sad” also falls short. “Heart-breaking” is a little more appropriate, tying to capture all of the visceral responses to this visual trauma. It is against this Wall that any semblance of optimism for many in this land has been shattered

When the Wall is complete, the larger communities of Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour will be completely cut off, an open-air prison, with only three points of entry / exit. (For more information and maps of these developments, please visit as well as

“Disengagement”? Sure. Occupation? Still!

The construction of this Wall is just one of the several finishing touches that are integral to the creation of a “Palestinian State” composed of segregated reservations on only about forty percent of the West Bank. Palestinians will be confined to these reservations, which will be rendered “contiguous” (per a recent comment by U.S. President George W. Bush; see Uri Averny’s commentary below) by a new network of tunnels accommodated to the equally absurd network of illegal “Jews-only” colonist roads for “outposts” and “settlements”—colonies all and illegal.

The unilateral “disengagement plan” to remove all Israeli settlers from Gaza continues to move forward. Yet the language of disengagement distracts the listener from other developments, like the plan to build 400 more new housing units for a burgeoning settlement right in Bethlehem, one purpose of which is to “resettle” those leaving Gaza in the West Bank, solidifying Israel’s control over this area. The fact that does not get media play is that despite this “disengagement,” Israel will continue to maintain absolute control over all of Gaza’s borders (land and sea) as well as its airspace, which means that Israel will be very much still holding the Gaza Strip under occupation.

Exploring Alternative Pressures

It is due to this misplaced optimism and the seemingly ineffective nature of political or legal mechanisms to find a justpeace for this land that a growing conversation about exploring economic pressure has developed. Shamai Leibowitz, an Israeli lawyer from Tel Aviv, points out that

"After years of failed political efforts by the Israeli and international human rights community aimed at ending the occupation, it is clear that new approaches must be implemented. It is time for American civic institutions to support a multi-tiered campaign of strategic, selective sanctions against Israel until the occupation ends. Since the Israeli government is flagrantly disobeying the ICJ decision, international law mandates the use of sanctions to force Israel to comply with UN resolutions and human rights treaties."

Read more about his thoughts in an article attached below. For more on Jewish voices calling for exploring economic pressures to end the occupation, please also visit MCC partner the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) at or Jewish Voices for Peace at

Zochrot at Lifta

On February 25th, MCC partner organization the Zochrot Association visited the destroyed Palestinian village of Lifta. Situated on the outskirts of Jerusalem, Lifta was one of over 500 Palestinian villages destroyed by Israeli forces between 1947 and 1949, with its over 2,500 inhabitants numbered among the 700,000 to 900,00 Palestinians made refugees in what became known to Palestinians as the Nakba, or “Catastrophe.” An Israeli organization, Zochrot (which means “Remember” in Hebrew) invited Palestinian refugees from Lifta to speak about their village and their experiences of dispossession to a gathering over 200 people and posted signs in Hebrew and in Arabic at various points in the village to mark where the mosque, the oil press, village spring, and the cemetery lay.

Today you can still see some of the old homes sitting on the valley floor of this picturesque location as you look down from Ben Gurion highway. But not for long. What does remain of the village is scheduled to be destroyed to make way for a new suburban neighborhood for Jerusalem. Almost sixty years after its destruction, Lifta is still being targeted in these further attempts to erase any sign of Palestinian existence prior to the Nakba.

You can find out more information about the Zochrot Association and their remembrance of Lifta by visiting as well as

Lent in the “Holy Land”

As this Lenten season comes to an end, we cannot help but reflect with our Palestinian friends and neighbors on what it means to celebrate Easter in the midst of despair. The season of Lent always seems more appropriate than that of Easter. And yet, ours is an Easter faith. Here, it is a constant source of struggle to rediscover from where our hope comes from. Zoughbi Zoughbi, our good friend and partner at the Wi’am Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center, has described it as moving along the Stations of the Cross. “We know that the end, the final station brings resurrection and the new life that conquers death. But we just do not know which station we are on right now.”

During this Easter season, would you reflect on the historical realities of this land and struggle as well with those who would seek to know how to proclaim the light and life of resurrection to those living under the darkness of oppression?

Peace to you all,

Timothy and Christi Seidel.
Peace Development Workers
Mennonite Central Committee - Palestine


· Shamai Leibowitz, “Israel: A Call for Divestment,” The Nation, 16 March 2005
· Ali Abunimah, “Is peace in Palestine about to break out?” The Electronic Intifada, 25 February 2005
· Uri Avnery, “Finger After Finger,”, 26 February 2005


The Nation
Israel: A Call for Divestment

Shamai Leibowitz

16 March 2005

The assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has led to an explosion of "people power" in the streets of Beirut, in which hundreds of thousands of Lebanese citizens have called for an end to Syria's occupation of their land. These calls have been celebrated and echoed in other capitals, and nowhere more so than in Washington. However, there is another area in the Middle East where a struggle to end foreign occupation has brought the natives only death and destruction. For decades, Israel has crushed the 3.5 million Palestinians living under military domination, beating them into submission while taking away their civil rights and their land.

As an Israeli Jew committed to peace for Israel and our neighbors, I was shocked and disgusted by the recent terror attack in Tel Aviv, which took the lives of innocent Jews. Such acts of terror have made headlines and been rightfully condemned by the international community. However, deadly Israeli attacks against Palestinian civilians have not received significant press attention in the West or led to appropriate, decisive international action. For decades the Israeli army, equipped with US arms and technology, has killed, maimed, beaten and tortured tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians. Evidently, in the eyes of the West the people power of Palestinians does not count.

From 1986 to 1991 I served in the Israeli army in the occupied territories. During this period I was shocked and disgusted at what my comrades and I were repeatedly ordered to do to Palestinian civilians. To crush the uprising for independence and statehood, we were ordered to brutalize them. In one of our army bases in the West Bank, there was a mysterious room. Every day we watched Palestinians being led into it. After a couple of days our commanders would lead the Palestinians out, black and blue from bruises and their faces swollen. They resembled sacks of potatoes more than human beings.

We later realized this room was a torture chamber. On some days, we could hear screams coming from the room. It was a sickening experience. However, we continued participating in the occupation because Israeli politicians persuaded us that we were in the midst of a "peace process." So effusive were they in their lectures on how Israel "only wants peace" that we were blinded from seeing the reality of how the state is brutally oppressing, subjugating and dehumanizing the Palestinian people.

As many Israelis realize today, when Israeli governments talked about the peace process during the Oslo period, they were pulling the wool over the world's eyes. Israel continued colonizing the West Bank and Gaza with its Jewish-only settlements and, at the same time, entrenching a cruel military regime over Palestinians. The same is true today with Ariel Sharon's "disengagement" plan, which is being marketed by Israeli propaganda as a "painful concession" toward peace. Many of us who live in Israel and visit or serve in the occupied territories recognize the truth: Israel is continuously intensifying its military rule in the West Bank while stealing more Palestinian land and building more illegal Jewish-only settlements.

For years, American taxpayer money has funded the occupation--the torture chambers, the military apparatus, the bulldozers used in house demolitions, the building of settlements and now the construction of the West Bank wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Americans should be held accountable for where their money is going.

After years of failed political efforts by the Israeli and international human rights community aimed at ending the occupation, it is clear that new approaches must be implemented. It is time for American civic institutions to support a multi-tiered campaign of strategic, selective sanctions against Israel until the occupation ends. Since the Israeli government is flagrantly disobeying the ICJ decision, international law mandates the use of sanctions to force Israel to comply with UN resolutions and human rights treaties.

The first step for American institutions is to engage in selective divestment--withdrawal of their investments from companies that are, directly or indirectly, funding the occupation. First and foremost, states, cities, universities, churches, unions, banks and pension funds should divest from Israel Bonds, which finance the occupation, and from any company that sells arms, ammunition or other military equipment to Israel. This should include companies like Caterpillar, which manufactures and sells the bulldozers that have flattened thousands of Palestinian homes, and General Dynamics, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Northrop-Grumman, Raytheon and other corporations, because these companies play an active role in enabling Israeli forces to engage in practices that violate international humanitarian law.

Second, the West should hold Israeli military personnel and political leaders personally accountable for human rights violations, including trial before international courts and bans on travel to other countries. This strategy has been implemented in other conflicts (Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo and South Africa, for example), proving its deterrent value and effectiveness.

Prohibiting the sale of arms and military equipment to Israel is, in fact, called for by existing US law. According to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 USC §2304), "No security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights."

The current hypocritical American Administration is not enforcing this law with regard to Israel. It is, therefore, up to American civil society to uphold the law and prevent the sale of any military equipment to Israel by pressuring the government, filing complaints against companies that violate this law and withdrawing all investments from such companies.

The Presbyterian Church took a positive step in this direction when in July 2004 its General Assembly passed a resolution calling for selective divestment from companies that profit from the occupation. This past February the World Council of Churches, which brings together more than 340 churches worldwide, issued a similar resolution. While criticizing the severe human rights abuses inherent in the occupation and the construction of the illegal West Bank wall, these resolutions also affirm the right of the State of Israel to exist securely and peacefully, and they categorically reject the tragic cycle of indiscriminate violence perpetrated by both sides against innocent civilian populations.

Sanctions are a powerful and nonviolent means to insure that the Israeli government abides by international law and ends its appalling human rights violations in the occupied territories. Divestment resolutions are long overdue. We have witnessed the power of worldwide economic pressure in the collapse of the South African apartheid regime. If American civic institutions follow the same strategy, we could see the end of the Israeli occupation in our lifetime. Americans should stand up for human rights and justice, follow their own law and take the most productive step toward peace and security in the Middle East.

Shamai Leibowitz, an Israeli human rights attorney from Tel Aviv, is a reserve staff sergeant in the Israeli tank corps and a member of Courage to Refuse, an organization of Israeli soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied Palestinian territories. He is also a member of Gush Shalom, the largest peace NGO in Israel.

Note: For more on Jewish voices calling for exploring economic pressures to end the occupation, please visit MCC partner the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) at or Jewish Voices for Peace at


The Electronic Intifada
Is peace in Palestine about to break out?

Ali Abunimah

25 February 2005

Are Israelis and Palestinians finally on the road to peace? A cursory glance at commentary in the US press would seem to suggest so. Since Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced a truce in early February at the Sharm al-Sheikh summit, many observers see a "window of opportunity" they are encouraging both sides to leap through.

Sharon has announced he is now coordinating with the Palestinians on his originally unilateral plan to pull Israeli troops and settlers out of Gaza and the Israeli cabinet voted to approve the "disengagement."

The New York Times editorial gushed about the disengagement that "it would be churlish to greet [Sharon's] historic decision with anything other than enthusiasm." (24 February). The Chicago Tribune praised Sharon's "impressive" perfomance and marveled as he "defies death threats and warnings of a civil war to move his nation toward the kind of actions that are imperative for a two-state solution and a lasting peace." (24 February).

Behind the photo opportunities and historic handshakes, however, the evidence on the ground is that Israel is taking advantage of the new mood not to build peace, but to build more settlements. Without an immediate halt in settlement construction, the possibility for a territorially contiguous, free Palestinian state alongside Israel will remain a distant mirage, no matter how many times President Bush talks about it, and the present easing of tension will be no more than a short respite from more horror to come.

Phase One of President Bush's Road Map peace plan says that both sides must immediately halt all violence against eachother, and Israel must freeze all construction of Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian land. But Palestinians still watch helplessly as Israeli bulldozers chew up their farms and orchards. Palestinian Authority prime minister Ahmed Qureia complained that "Israel is throwing sand in our eyes by continuing with the settlement process" in the occupied West Bank.

At a press conference with foreign reporters on 15 February, Sharon confirmed that Israel intends to keep "Jewish population blocs" inside the West Bank. Last Spring, the Bush administration explicitly endorsed Israel's intention to do so. Israel's housing minister Yitzhak Herzog announced in mid-February that Israel would build a new settlement called "Gvaot" near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Herzog also said that settlers set to be evacuated from Gaza would be free to move to other settlements in the West Bank. "I cannot prevent an individual who wants to use his compensation to buy a house in Gush Etzion from doing so," he said, referring to a growing settlement near Jerusalem. (Reuters, 15 February 2005)

Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper reported that Israel is forging ahead with plans to expand Ma'ale Adumim, the largest settlement in the West Bank, which lies between Jerusalem and Jericho and cuts the West Bank in two from north to south. If this expansion goes ahead, as it seems it will, it confirms that Israel intends there to be no possibility for a contiguous Palestinian state. ("Herzog's Greater Jerusalem," by Shahar Ilan, Haaretz, 16 February).

Israel's Yediot Aharonot newspaper revealed that according to the state land authority, Israel plans to build more than 6,000 new homes in settlements in the West Bank -- many in Ma'ale Adumim -- and that the government will also legitimize 120 unauthorixed settlement outposts. (BBC, 25 February 2005)

A recent study by Israel's Peace Now using aerial photography and field research found that "the main building effort in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank is now focused on the area between the Green Line [1967 border] and the separation fence, and it is aimed at turning the fence into Israel's permanent border." ("Quietly carrying on building," Ha'aretz, 8 January 2005). A confidential report by the Israeli attorney general that found that "almost every major ministry in the Israeli government assisted in the construction, expansion and maintenance of illegal settlement outposts." ("Israelis Act to Encircle East Jerusalem; Enclaves in Arab Areas, Illegal Building Projects Seen Intended to Consolidate Control," The Washington Post, 7 February 2005)

This evidence bolsters Palestinian claims that the separation wall -- ruled illegal last July by the International Court of Justice -- is not a temporary security measure as Israel argues, but a land grab carried out while world attention focuses on Gaza. The deception, however, is not Israel's alone, but requires the active participation of all those invested in the "peace process" as it is currently configured and who prefer to talk about the Gaza as if it were the only and most important thing happening.

There is a vast and growing gap between the Bush administration's peace rhetoric and what is happening on the ground. Lately it has been easier to ignore these contradictions because exhausted Israelis and Palestinians are ready to give anything a chance. But time is very short.

Post-"truce" talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to handover the West Bank city of Jericho to Palestinian control quickly stalled over where to place Israeli roadblocks around the town. Israel refused Palestinian demands for free movement from Jericho to Ramallah. Many Palestinians feel that what is happening now is not a genuine quest for peace, but simply discussions between the jailor and the prisoner on easing prison conditions.

Meanwhile, in Ramallah, democratic "reform" Palestinian Authority-style continues. The recent wrangle over the approval of a Palestinian cabinet has been presented as a struggle between the Arafat old guard and young reformers grouped around Abbas. While Palestinian Authority prime minister Ahmed Qureia has forced by the Palestinian Legislative Council to bring a number of technocrats into the cabinet, but he also brought in Mohammed Dahlan, the Gaza strongman closely allied with Abbas. Dahlan, the Gaza security chief in the heyday of Oslo is implicated in massive corruption and human rights abuses in Gaza. Qureia himself was the subject of a Legislative Council investigation into allegations that his family cement business sold concrete to Israel to build the separation wall in the occupied West Bank. Despite the investigative committee's recommendations for action, nothing has been done. Rather than genuine reform, the tussle in Ramallah appears to be little more than a redivision of the spoils among top figures in Fatah, the movement that monopolizes power in the Palestinian Authority.

If Palestinians feel that Abbas' Palestinian Authority is receiving international aid and support only to act as a proxy police force on behalf of a deepening Israeli occupation, it will rapidly lose what legitimacy it has. Abbas' problem was well illustrated by one Palestinian police officer in Gaza who told the Associated Press, "I will never raise my weapons against the [Palestinian] fighters ... I can only ask them not to fire." No Palestinian leader can order Palestinians to engage in civil war on Israel's behalf. In recent municipal elections in the Gaza Strip, Hamas trounced Fatah, an indication that despite a campaign of assassination against their leaders by Israel, Islamist opposition groups remain the strongest force in some parts of the occupied territories.

Other noteworthy developments on the ground bode ill for Palestinians. Under Israeli and American pressure, scandal-plagued UN Secretary General Kofi Annan recently decided not to renew the term of Peter Hansen, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which employs thousands of Palestinian refugees and cares for the basic needs of millions. Hansen, a seasoned and widely-respected professional, had angered Israel by vigorously defending his agency and staff against false Israeli allegations that they were involved in armed activity. Hansen's departure will be a blow to Palestinians, and only the more so if he is replaced by the new breed of UN official that Annan's dismal reign has ushered in, who are self-interested politicians first and international civil servants a distant second.

The dynamic that exists looks ominously like the failed Oslo peace process during which Israel doubled the number of settlers on Palestinian land, and never let up on forced land confiscation and house demolitions, sustaining a cycle of violence which claimed thousands of innocent lives. Despite the continuing euphoria created by Sharon's theatrics, there is no evidence that Israel has any intention of seizing perhaps the last opportunity to save itself through the two-state solution. Neither is there any sign that its chief sponsor, the United States, has any intention of pressuring it to do so.

Ali Abunimah is a co-founder of The Electronic Intifada.

Finger After Finger

Uri Avnery

26 February 2005

Seven words uttered by President Bush in Brussels have not been paid the attention they deserve.

He called for the establishment of “a democratic Palestinian state with territorial contiguity” in the West Bank, and then added: “A state on scattered territories will not work.”

It is worthwhile to ponder these words. Who did he point the finger at? Why did he say this in Brussels, of all places?

Nobody warns of a danger without a reason. If Bush said what he said, it means that he believes that someone is causing this danger.

Just who might that be?

For years now I have been warning that this is the intention of Ariel Sharon, the basis of the whole settlement enterprise planned and set up by him. The lay-out of the settlements on the West Bank map is designed to cut the territory up from North to South and from West to East, in order to forestall any possibility of establishing a really viable and contiguous Palestinian state, a state like any other.

If the settlement blocs that have been created are annexed to Israel, the Palestinian territory will be sliced up into a number of enclaves – perhaps four, perhaps six. The Gaza Strip, an isolated ghetto by itself, will be another enclave. Each enclave will be surrounded by settlements and military installations, and all of them will be cut off from the world outside.

The American intelligence agencies are familiar with this picture, of course. They can see it with their satellites. But that did not deter President Bush from promising Sharon last year that Israeli “population centers” in the West Bank will be annexed to Israel. These “population centers” are the very same settlement blocs that were defined by the US in the past as “illegal” and “an obstacle to peace”. During the presidency of the first President Bush, the American administration even decided to deduct the costs of new settlement projects from the financial benefits accorded to Israel.

So why did the second Bush suddenly make a declaration whose practical meaning is that some of these settlement blocs must be dismantled? And why did he make it in Brussels?

It is clear that he wanted to gain favor with his European hosts. The European Union opposes the annexation of West Bank territory to Israel. Bush said what he said in order to reduce his differences with Europe.

So he said it. And what is happening on the ground in the meantime?

Last Sunday the Israeli government decided for the second time to implement the disengagement plan, a decision that was hailed by the media as “historic”. With all the hullabaloo, hardly any attention was paid to a second resolution adopted at the same meeting: to continue building the wall in the West Bank.

At first sight, that is a routine decision. After all, the government argues that this is nothing but a “security fence”. It does indeed have a certain security function, and Israeli public opinion accepts it as such. But by now, informed people must know that this wall is intended as the future border of Israel. Therefore, this week all government spokespersons took pains to stress that the new path of the wall cuts off only 7-8% of the West Bank.

The word “only” deserves attention. President Bill Clinton’s last peace plan spoke about the annexation of 3-4% of the West Bank to Israel, in return for the transfer of 1% of Israeli territory to the Palestinian state. Seven percent of the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany is much more than the whole state of Saxony. Seven percent of the territory of the United States of America is more than the whole giant state of Texas. (Imagine: Mexico conquers Texas, builds a wall between it and the rest of the US and fills it with Mexican settlements.)

But the percentage game is misleading. It is not only the size of the territory that is important, but also its location.

In this respect, the controversy between Israel and the US remains. It concerns mainly two places, where the path of the wall causes the dismemberment of the West Bank. If the wall is to include the settlement town of Ariel, it will send a finger deep into the West Bank. This finger will connect with a second one, coming from the opposite direction – the two fingers together will cut through the whole width of the West Bank south of Nablus. Another finger will extend from Jerusalem to the enlarged Ma’aleh Adumim settlement bloc, also cutting practically the full width of the West Bank.

The Americans do not yet agree. So Sharon is using one of his typical methods: in those two places he leaves a gap in the wall. He will build there in due course, after using a future opportunity to wrap President Bush – so to say – around his little finger.

But the percentage account is also wrong in another respect. Nowadays one speaks only about the wall that will separate the West Bank from Israel proper. Nobody is talking now of the “Eastern” wall.

It is no secret that Sharon plans to build this wall in order to complete the encirclement of the West Bank and cut it off from the Jordan valley and the Dead Sea shore. That is a big slice of territory, about 20% of the West Bank, and would cut the West Bank off from any contact with the world. Sharon knows that he cannot build this wall at the moment, because of the opposition of the US and the whole world. Also, there is no budget for it. Therefore, he is leaving it for the future.

The government decision does formally include the southern border of the West Bank, where the planned path of the wall runs almost completely along the Green Line. That looks really nice. But this, too, contains a trick: Sharon does not intend to build this part of the wall in the near future. He is postponing it for another time – and then he will propose a different path altogether, including a finger thrust deeply into Palestinian territory, so as to annex the South Hebron settlement bloc, up to Kiryat Arba.

By way of deception shalt thou build settlements.

In the meantime, Sharon is keeping himself occupied with building on the 7% of the territory that has been approved by the government decision. All this area between the wall and the Green Line – the territory already annexed in practice – is being filled with new settlements. Among others:

· A new town called Gevaoth that is to be built west of Bethlehem, in what is called the “Etzion Bloc”.

That is a mendacious name: the original Etzion Bloc consisted of a small group of settlements near the Green Line. It was occupied by the Arabs in the 1948 war and re-conquered by Israel in 1967, when the former settlements were also re-built. But then a whole new town (Efrata) was added to the East, and beyond that a number of new settlements, until the original few settlements had expanded into a massive settlement bloc almost surrounding Bethlehem. Now Sharon is going to fill it with even more settlers.

· A big new settlement called “North Tsufim” that is to be built north of Qalqilia. This, too, will reach the proportions of a town.

· Giant housing projects, that will be set up in order to connect the Ma’aleh Adumim bloc to Jerusalem, and just about reach the Jordan river.

Also in the Jerusalem Area, the new (Labor) Minister for Housing, Yitzhak Herzog, promises to build big housing projects from Har Homa to Ma’aleh Adumim, while another one is going to be built east of a-Ram. The aim is to cut Jerusalem off completely from the West Bank.

All this is happening while Israel and the world are waxing lyrical about the “disengagement” plan – which, in essence, is nothing but a plan to consolidate the Gaza strip as one of the enclaves in “a state of scattered territories”. (The Gaza Strip constitutes only 6% of the occupied territories.)

The Labor party is a full partner in this scheme.

As far as Sharon is concerned, the disengagement plan plays with the dismantling of some small settlements in a remote corner of the occupied territories for the fulfillment of his grand design to take over most of the West Bank.

Now President Bush has declared that he does not accept this design. His European hosts smiled politely. Perhaps they believed him, and then, maybe they did not.

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