Monday, January 13, 2014

Ben White: Fragmenting Palestinian land

"To understand why Israel's policy towards severing ties between Gaza and the West Bank became more formalised and political post-disengagement, it is necessary to recall the reasons for this strategic redeployment in the first place.

First, the withdrawal was aimed at freezing the peace process, preventing Palestinian statehood. In the words of a senior adviser to then prime minister Ariel Sharon, disengagement from Gaza supplied "the amount of formaldehyde that's necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians".

The second strategic aim was to consolidate the colonisation of the West Bank. Sharon told the Knesset that "whoever wishes to preserve the large Israeli settlement blocs under our control forever ... must support the disengagement plan". Taking settlers out of Gaza, he affirmed, meant that Israel could focus its "efforts" on areas like "Greater Jerusalem" and the "settlement blocs".

This is the context in which to understand how Israel has sought to tear up the Oslo commitment to keeping Gaza and the West Bank as "one territorial unit"."

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