Israel's "Disengagement": The Day After Report

The following statement by Palestinian Nongovernmental Organizations was printed on September 8, by the Electronic Intifada. (excerpts)

The Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) would like to stress the fact that Israel's unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip and parts of the Northern West Bank, although welcome and long overdue in terms of the implementation of international law, does not constitute an end to Israel's military occupation of Palestinian land.

It should be noted that only 9,000 Israeli settlers have been evacuated from Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip and the Northern West Bank. Approximately, 420,000 Israeli settlers remain in settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. According to international law, all of these 420,000 settlers (half of them living in East Jerusalem) are illegal and have been illegal for the past 38 years. In fact, while demolishing 2,000 settler houses in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government has paved the way for over 30,000 new settlers to move into newly constructed settlement units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem by the end of 2005. Many of the settlers leaving Gaza will be relocated on occupied Palestinian lands in violation of international law.

After implementation of the disengagement plan, Israel remains in charge, partially or completely, of border crossings and thereby continues to control the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza. The Palestinian government has no control over Gazan airspace/airports, territorial waters/seaports or natural resources, such as water or gas, and no chance of overcoming its structural economic dependency on Israel. Palestinian society is segregated into separate political, social and economic entities. Jerusalem is being turned into an isolated island and is being de facto annexed to Israel in violation of international law. There is no territorial contiguity, a prerequisite for the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state, between the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Gaza Strip continues to be one big prison and, along with the West Bank and East Jerusalem, remains occupied territory under international law.

Dov Weisglass, senior aide to Israel's prime minister Ariel Sharon, revealed Israel's true intentions last year when saying that the disengagement plan "supplies the formaldehyde (a substance that preserves a given condition) that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians". A few weeks ago, Mr. Weisglass announced that the US would support Israel's ambition to keep three-quarters of its settlers in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem. A letter signed by US President Bush and drafted by Mr. Weisglass essentially recognizes Israel's hold over the big Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. All the while, the Israeli government is unrelentingly colonizing the West Bank and its construction of the Separation and Annexation Wall in and around Jerusalem will force another 50,000 Palestinians outside the city boundaries.