Facts on the Ground Don't Point to Peace

While major news services talk about a new chance for peace in Israel and Palestine the facts on the ground do not support this.

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (www.icahd.org) in Jerusalem has launched a compaign to help inform people about what is acutally happening in Palestine and to encourage them to write to government officials and the media about crimes committed by the Israeli administration of the occupied territories. You can connect with this effort by joining the list-serve http://groups.yahoo.com/group/icahdaction/ which provided much of the information in the the following:

In 1991 talks started in Madrid between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. In 1993 the PLO renounced its claim to 78% of historical Palestine and in 1995 they signed an agreement saying "The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, the integrity and status of which will be preserved” [until a final settlement.]

Between 1991 and 1995, the number of settlers grew from 112,000 to 147,000. The settlers now in the Occupied Territories number almost 400,000, with about 6,500 to be removed from the Gaza Strip in the near future. If the status of the West Bank and Gaza were to be preserved, then one would expect that the settlements would not have been allowed to grow, and no new settlements would have been established. There are 128 settlements and 99 outposts in the West Bank now and more in occupied East Jerusalem. Fifteen of the outposts (small encampments without official Israeli recognition) are being expanded to make them more permanent.

In addition to the West Bank settlements a wall of Jewish settlements around the southern edge of East Jerusalem has been established. This is part of Israel's attempt to make East Jerusalem a permanent piece of Israel. Existing settlements in this area are being expanded, swallowing up Palestinian villages and adding some 7500 settlers to the area (more than are to leave Gaza).

In Gaza, under the withdrawal plan, Palestinians will still be locked within the borders controlled by the Israeli Army. In the West Bank a network of Israeli-only roads form a 'matrix of control' around the Palestinian towns. These roads, together with the separation barrier variously called a wall or a fence and the checkpoints on roads Palestinians must use to get from place to place make it impossible to establish a viable state with an economy which could support its people.

The facts on the ground do not point to a chance for peace in Israel and Palestine.