The West Bank, a land occupied by Jewish settler outposts
By Yemeli Ortega
Givat Harel, West Bank, Mar 20 (EFE).- While the rural areas of the West Bank are covered with white petals of freshly blossomed almond trees, the uncertain future of the Israeli-occupied territory looks dim due to the increasingly violent and unequal war between Israelis and Palestinians over the land.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government has made West Bank settlements a top priority. Recently, it has approved the legalization of nine illegal settlements and given the green light to more than 7,000 new homes.
It also has been processing the repeal of the Withdrawal Law, which orders the evacuation of four Israeli outposts in the West Bank.
The United Nations and international community consider all settlements in the West Bank illegal. Most of them are authorized by Israel but some others are illegitimate even under its law. The newly-appointed government, however, has proposed to legalize all of them.
The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) warned this would lead to a “dangerous escalation” and called on inhabitants to stage a “popular resistance,” at a time when clashes between settlers and Palestinians have turned deadly.
“This is all part of the land of Israel,” ceramic artist Shvutya Levi, who has lived for 25 years in Givat Harel outpost that Israel is planning to legalize in response to several Palestinian attacks in January.
Halfway between the Palestinian cities of Nablus and Ramallah, Levi says she cannot wait for the life she will have along with 100 other families when the Israeli government installs all the services and improves the infrastructure of this settlement.
In the neighboring Palestinian town of Ofra, 66-year-old Udeh Awad points out his neighbors organize nightly patrols to defend themselves against settler attacks.
“We live on our land with dignity and we will die for our land with dignity,” he says.
A month ago, masked settlers broke into his ranch with sticks to break windows and burn cars, Awad adds.
They have also seized more than 30% of his private farmland, and shot dead his brother in 1988, in addition to the constant uprooting of his olive trees, acts to which the Israeli authorities he says were indifferent.
The international community has condemned the expansion of settlements, the demolition of Palestinian property, and the violence on both sides, but the two-state solution becomes less feasible amid this conflict that has become one of the longest occupations in the world.
Inhabitants of the West Bank countryside, Palestinians and Israelis, called life on that land of lavenders and red poppies a “quiet war,” a “war without bullets,” and a “civil war.”
The Land conflict has been dragging on due to an absence of clear borders.
The so-called internationally recognized “green line,” set in 1949 through an armistice agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors and used in most peace attempts, separates Israel from the occupied Palestinian territories.
But it does not appear on the official map of Israel, which claimed all the Palestinian territories following the ceasefire of the 1967 Six-Day War.
The PNA stressed that the entire area on the “green line” — the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem — should be part of an independent Palestinian state, a stance that almost the entire international community supports. But Israel insists the old line has expired.
These contradictory borders have been gradually erased: Israel controls most of the West Bank territory militarily and administratively now and the region has morphed into a chaotic mosaic of Jewish towns while Palestinians remain disengaged from each other.