Israeli Cabinet Votes in Favor of Land Grab — and also to Evacuate Gaza Settlements

From the archive (legacy material)

Council for the National Interest | 21 February 2005

Hiding behind a 17-5 decision announced today to evacuate all Israeli settlements from Gaza, the Israeli Cabinet also officially signaled its intent by a vote of 20-1 to annex another 7% of Palestinian territory. On February 21, the cabinet published the new route of the Apartheid Wall, indicating that the huge settlements of Maale Aduminim and a large cluster of settlements called Gush Etzion lying east and south of Jerusalem would enclosed by the Wall and thus become part of Israel.
Under the new route, it is reckoned that 10,000 Palestinians, not 93,000 as originally envisaged, would be put under direct Israeli rule. But the 177,000 or more Palestinians living in East Jerusalem will be cut off from the rest of the West Bank. The Palestinians are still expecting to name their capital in Jerusalem.
Four settlements in the West Bank are to be dismantled — as yet unnamed — but what remains unclear is the fate of middle-size settlements lying in “northern West Bank,” Ariel (pop. 17,000), Karne Shomron (6,400), Alfei Meneshe (5,500), Oranit (5,000), Beit El (4,500), Sha’are Tikva (3,700), Kedumim (3,000), and dozens of others scattered throughout the northern and southern sections of the West Bank, including Kiryat Arba (6,000).
Originally the Israeli military line for the Apartheid Wall, as announced in 2002, would have annexed 20% of the the land of the West Bank.
The Israeli Cabinet decision violates UN resolutions, the ruling of the International Court of Justice, the Fourth Geneva Convention, and other international rulings affecting the settlements.
There has been no official response from the Palestinian Authority President’s office. Clearly the Israeli Cabinet’s decision is only the opening salvo in what will be a long and complicated negotiation — and one already presaged by President Bush’s April 14, 2004 statement which endorsed the Gaza evacuation plan. As Hanan Ashrawi is reported in the Associated Press to have said, “Israel is creating facts on the ground in the West Bank. Sharon wants payback in the West Bank for the disengagement from Gaza, particularly Jerusalem.”