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 http://www.washington-report.org/backissues/040582/820405002b.htm

Editorials, Washington Report

Camp David Fairy Tale

April 5, 1982, Page 2b

One of the myths in the West about Camp David has been the idea that if only King Hussein would ?step forward" as Sadat did, he could get his land back, too. It's extraordinary that so many supposedly informed people keep saying this. For example, as recently as last November, President: Reagan said: "We must involve other Arab states in the peace process-others that will do, one day, what Egypt did." What Egypt did, of course, was sign a peace treaty with Israel in return for getting all Egyptian land back. Did President Reagan really believe that Israel was ready to give back to King Hussein (or to any other Arab government) all of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in return for receiving diplomatic recognition and the promise of trade and tourism? Perhaps the President doesn't believe this fairy tale anymore, since recent developments on the West Bank have made Israeli intentions to stay there so obvious. But he, and other Westerners who have been comparing King Hussein so unfavorably to Mr. Sadat, could have figured it out long ago. King Hussein certainly did, and so did other Arab leaders who have been protesting about the Camp David treaties for more than three years. What they saw clearly was that Mr. Begin regarded the Camp David agreements as an opportunity to give back only the territory that Israel wanted the least (Sinai), in return for an enhanced capability-once Egypt had given up its military option-to hold on for good to the territories it wanted the most (Golan, Gaza and the West Bank). All the Arab leaders had to do was to look at the record. As soon as Mr. Begin became prime minister, he said the West Bank-which he began calling Judea and Samaria-was part of biblical Israel. After he signed Camp David in 1978, he quickly established more settlements there. In 1979, just before signing the Egypt-Israel treaty, he told the Knesset that "Israel will never return to the pre-1967 lines," and eventually "shall claim (its) sovereign rights in the West Bank." Since then, he has been putting that area more and more under the Israeli thumb, while reiterating that "autonomy" did not mean the inhabitants would have any rights over the land.

In view of what has been happening, it's time we stopped judging Arab countries on the basis of whether or not they are willing to participate in the "Camp David peace process" --as though that process alone were synonymous with the desire for peace. Yes, it's good that as a result of Camp David Israel will get out of Sinai-although even that prospect is in doubt at the present time. But perpetual occupation by Israel of Golan, Gaza and the West Bank-a possibility which Camp David so far has facilitated-will not bring peace to the Middle East. In fact, it is sure to bring renewed war.

(c) Copyright 1995-1999, American Educational Trust. All Rights Reserved. http://www.washington-report.org/backissues/040582/820405002.htm Policy

West Bank. Going, Going?

Washington Report, April 5, 1982, Page 2 As Israel steps up preparations for its expected evacuation of the Sinai peninsula on April 25, the U.S. Administration will soon have to face up to this question: Does Israel intend to give back any more of the Arab territories it captured during the 1967 Arab-sraeli war? All recent signs from the area-beginning with Israel's effective annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights last December 14-indicate quite clearly that it does not. In the two remaining territories under occupation-the West Bank and Gaza-Israeli troops and civilian administrators are well on their way to accomplishing a de facto annexation. Lands are being expropriated, settlers moved in, and local Arab leaders shunted aside. At the same time, the economies of the two territories are being absorbed, inexorably, into that of Israel. None of this is coming as a surprise to the Israelis, who for the most part favor the government's moves and whose prime minister announced as long ago as March 20,1979, that "Israel will never return to the pre-1967 lines," and that "Israel never agreed (at Camp David) to autonomy for the territories, but only for the inhabitants."

U.S. Policy Ignored

Yet a unilateral Israeli takeover of these areas would fly in the face of 15 years of U.S. policy statements, under five successive administrations, calling on Israel to trade occupied lands for Arab recognition and acceptance. Last December, in conformity with this policy, the U.S. voted in favor of a United Nations resolution condemning Israel's takeover of Golan as "illegal" -although it refused to put any teeth in it. The current pace of events is such that the U.S. may soon have to decide whether Israel's de facto moves on the West Bank and Gaza are also illegal-and if they are, what, if anything, it is going to do about it. In the event that the U.S. does not try, this time, to use the full force of its financial and political power to prevent the effective annexation of the two territories, many Western observers are convinced that anti-U.S. sentiment in the Arab world will rise sharply, Soviet influence will spread, and the chances of a new Arab-Israeli war will increase immeasurably. In the meantime, here is the situation on the ground in the major of the two territories, the West Bank:

Creeping Annexation

Approximately one-third of West Bank land, including 40 percent of that which is suitable for farming, has been taken over by Israel since 1967. East Jerusalem was annexed outright just after the 1967 war. More West Bank land was annexed simply by extending the municipal borders of already-annexed Jerusalem, to include some suburbs. Other lands were expropriated on "security" grounds, and still more were taken over under Order 54, designating as "state" land any areas for which the occupants could not demonstrate clear title (many Palestinians, particularly farming families, have been living on plots for generations without any documentary evidence of title, in accordance with previous custom). Much of -this land has been used for the establishment of Jewish settlements, which exist as enclaves under government authority. This process is still going on. There are at present 85 Israeli settlements on the West Bank and approximately 20,000 settlers. But these figures are expected to increase. In early February Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the establishment of 16 military outposts in the West Bank and Gaza, which are expected to be converted into civilian settlements. The Israeli government also works closely with the Jewish Agency-a non-government organization which helps establish new settlements-which has plans for a settler population of between 120,000 and 150,000 by 1986. The settlements have not been placed at random but in systematic clusters along the mountain ranges and slopes of populated areas. They are linked to one another by major roads. Local Palestinian inhabitants owning land along these roads may not build on it, and can cultivate it only with special permits. Land owners must also apply for building permits close to Jewish settlements.

Water Power

A strong and unpublicized motivation for holding on to the West Bank is water. Two aquifers which originate on the West Bank supply Israel with one-fifth of its total water consumption, according to Thomas Stauffer at the Harvard Center for Middle East Studies. In order to conserve this water for Israel's use, the occupation authorities are restricting the availability of water to Palestinians. For example, since 1967 West Bank Palestinians have been prohibited from drilling new wells (no such prohibitions have been imposed on Israeli settlers), and meters have been placed on their old wells to regulate the usage. In any case, these wells are at most 100 meters deep, compared to the 300-600 meters depth of the wells being drilled by Israeli settlers. One complaint of Palestinian farmers is that the deeper Israeli wells are forcing the Arab wells to run dry. Control over water is combining with other Israeli development policies in the West Bank to bring about its gradual absorption into the Israeli economy. Israel's electricity authority has been meshing the territory into its own grid system, and at the same time preventing expansion of Arab electrical companies and services. Last spring Israeli workers took down electricity poles recently put up by the Nablus Electricity Company for servicing the village of Rujeeb. Other Arab sponsored electricity projects in Hebron and elsewhere were blocked by the military government. Under Orders 427 and 418 the Israelis have the authority to approve all new electric hookups and the granting of business licenses. At the present time, West Bankers get 90 percent of their imports from Israel, and 35 percent of its labor force commutes to work in Israel. While moving towards de facto possession of the West Bank, Israeli authorities have for years been keeping the lid on Palestinian opposition to these moves, and on the expression of any other Palestinian -nationalist sentiment. In addition to taking harsh reprisals against militants (the army has demolished more than 1500 houses belonging to families of suspected terrorists), Israel has closed down universities, banned books, suspended newspapers and expelled local Arab officials. On March 18, an Israeli order dismissing the town council of Al-Bireh sparked off rioting in which six Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed and a score of others were wounded. The Israeli government fired two popular mayors on charges of fomenting unrest, and blamed the Palestinian Liberation Organization for the rioting. It announced that its policies in the West Bank and Gaza would be continued, and that "no acts of violence or disturbances of the peace or order will be tolerated." © Copyright 1995-1999, American Educational Trust. All Rights Reserved.

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