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Jeff Halper’s An Israeli in Palestine (Part II)


According to Israeli-based author and journalist Jonathan Cook, Halper’s book is "one of the most insightful analyses of the Occupation I’ve read. His voice cries out to be heard" on the region’s longest and most intractable conflict. Part II continues the story.

 

Part III: The Structure of Oppression – Expanding Dispossession, The Occupation and the Matrix of Control

 

What 1948 left undone, 1967 completed – securing control over the entire "Holy Land" with the seizure of Gaza, the West Bank and all of Jerusalem. Nishul’s fifth stage began and today includes expanding West Bank settlements and continued displacement inside Israel.

 

After the Six-Day War, all Palestinians came under military rule, and "a comprehensive Matrix of Control was implemented to perpetuate Israeli control forever." A problem arose, however, as international law prohibits an occupier from remaining permanently. Israel‘s Attorney General, Meir Shamgar, got around it in typical Israeli fashion. No "occupation" exists so Israel didn’t violate Geneva or other international law. In other words, "occupation" only occurs when one sovereign state conquers another, so presto – Palestine wasn’t sovereign and Israel did nothing illegal.

 

This has no legitimacy in international law, yet Israel gets away with it, and it’s the reason it calls the West Bank (and formerly Gaza) "disputed," not "occupied." Furthermore, Shamgar’s ruling affected Supreme Court decisions ever since and lets Israel expand its settlement project on annexed Palestinian land.

 

Immediately after the 1967 war, the Labor government began "integrating Judea, Samaria and Gaza to Israel." After Menachem Begin’s 1977 election, he appointed Ariel Sharon to head a Ministerial Committee on Settlements and gave him the job to do it. He was charged with two tasks:

 

– create irreversible "facts on the ground;"

 

– prevent any chance of a sovereign Palestinian state; and begin implementing a formal "Matrix of Control" – an almost "invisible system…behind a facade of ‘proper administration,’ thus protecting Israel‘s" democratic image to this day.

 

It has four modes of control:

 

(1) Administrative, Bureaucracy, Planning and Law as Tools of Occupation and Control

 

They include rules, restrictions, procedures and sanctions under Military orders regulating everything in Occupied Palestine. For example, 72% of the West Bank was classified as "state lands" making seizure a simple administrative task. A further 400 square miles were designated as closed "military zones," and more restrictions covered zoned "nature reserves."

 

Military commanders also have authority to prohibit Palestinian construction for security reasons or to ensure "public order." Hundreds of other military orders forbid Palestinian building around army bases, installations, settlements, or within 200 meters on each side of main roads. This effectively closes off tens of thousands of acres from their rightful owners. At the same time, settlement expansion continues, and measures in place use every means possible to advance them.

 

Administrative restrictions among them like requiring Palestinians to get permits to plant crops on their own land, sell it, or have them for their own use. Opening banks and businesses are also curtailed through a process of licensing and inspections to harass the owners and harm the Palestinian economy.

 

Control encompasses everything. Resistance is called "terrorism," and legal gymnastics justify assassinations in the name of national security. Mass imprisonments as well. Uncharged victims held administratively. Extensive use of torture. All of it under the radar with a wink and a nod from the West.

 

(2) Economic Warfare

 

From 1967 to the Oslo process, "asymmetric containment" defined economic policy in the Territories. The idea was to keep cheap products and labor from competing advantageously with Israel and to prevent Palestinians from gaining economic strength. So constraints were placed on them:

 

– preventing their opening a bank;

 

– implementing tariffs and subsidies to advantage Israeli businesses;

 

– various import controls disadvantaging Palestinians;

 

– de-developing the Palestinian economy through lack of infrastructure development, housing

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