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Road Map To Nowhere


This is the final chapter of Road Map to Nowhere – Israel/Palestine since 2003  To appear in July 2006 with Verso.

The Struggle: Expanding the Prison Cells

With Israel turning the West Bank into a system of prisons, the most immediate question is how this process can be resisted, stopped and reversed. As Noam Chomsky has said, in many areas of the world today the struggle is to expand, or sometimes even just to maintain the size of the prison cells.[1] For years now the Palestinians have lived in a prison system monitored by Israel, but, as we have seen, Israel’s policy under Sharon and his successors is to shrink the area of the cells still further. Now, the focus of the struggle is on preventing the completion of this prison system – on pushing away the narrowing prison walls. Largely unknown and unreported, since 2003 a new form of popular resistance has developed along the route of the wall in the West Bank. Palestinian farmers whose land is being robbed, together with Israeli opponents of the occupation, stand day after day in front of the bulldozers and the Israeli army. Along this route, the story of the other Israel-Palestine is being born. It deserves a book of its own, but I would like to tell here just some of its inspiring history, focusing on how it has developed on the Israeli side.

 

1. 2003 – Crossing the lines

Right from the very beginning of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian intifada in October 2000, there emerged from the core of the Israeli Left many anti-occupation groups that stood up immediately against the new phase of the occupation. Among them were various draft resistance movements: the Coalition of Women for Just Peace, which comprises several women’s organizations and whose members were demonstrating in Tel Aviv as early as October 1 2000; Ta’ayush Arab-Jewish, a movement of Israeli Palestinians and Jews which focuses on solidarity work with the Palestinians in the occupied territories; the veteran movement Gush Shalom, and many others.[2] For many of these groups, most notably Ta’ayush, a basic principle has been that the struggle for peace and against the occupation, should comprise joint Israeli-Palestinian resistance. On the Palestinian side, there were growing voices calling for a return to a popular and civil uprising, and away from armed struggle. Right from the start of the second Palestinian intifada, Israelis and Palestinians have co-organized peaceful demonstrations, extending hands to each other across the Israeli army’s barricades and checkpoints. Ta’ayush and other groups also started regular solidarity convoys to the territories, delivering food and medicine. Activists in many groups have participated in the Palestinian olive harvest, in order to protect the Palestinians from attacks of the settlers. In one outstanding instance, in October 2002, the Jerusalem branch of Ta’ayush maintained a round-the-clock presence of two weeks in the village of Yanun near Nablus, whose residents started leaving because of the constant harassment of the settlers – to which the Israeli army turned a blind eye.

But by 2003 there was a feeling, especially among the new, young generation of Israeli activists that joined the anti-occupation struggle during the intifada, that these acts of solidarity were not sufficient. While they were of crucial importance in building the anti-occupation movement and directing Israeli attention to the realities of the occupation, they did not develop into a joint Israeli-Palestinian political struggle, led by the Palestinians themselves. By the end of 2002, the construction of the West Bank wall had begun. There was a feeling, particularly among the young, that the struggle needed to enter a new phase in order to protect the Palestinian land that was, and continues to be grabbed. To be able to resist the wall’s construction, Israelis had to cross the lines – to stand along with the Palestinians in their non-violent struggle over their land, against their own army. Given the political atmosphere in Israel at the time, for many Israelis, including anti-occupation activists, this was a difficult step to take.

          At the same time, however, another model of support for the Palestinian struggle had been developing in the Occupied Territories. In Spring 2001, a group of international activists joined Palestinians to establish the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).[3] (One of its Israel/Palestine founders was Netta Golan, an Israeli living in Ramallah.) Since then, hundreds of volunteers from around the world have traveled to Palestine and maintained a constant presence in Palestinian villages and towns, to provide as much protection to the Palestinians as they can, to document human rights violations, to prevent house demolitions and the uprooting of trees, and to perform other tasks necessary for the survival of Palestinian communities across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These were people who could not be viewed as sharing the responsibility for the oppression of the Palestinian people; they did not belong to the occupying people. Nevertheless, they chose to come and join the Palestinian struggle, driven by a sense of justice and humanity.

A handful of young Israeli activists decided to join the ISM individually, often without exposing their identity as Israelis. In 2002, they started traveling in all areas of the West Bank, learning about the situation there, and looking for the best way to resist the occupation. One of them was Yonatan Pollak, then 20, from Tel Aviv, who would later become the symbol of the Israeli anti-wall struggle. In September 2002, Pollak went with the ISM to the village of Jayous, where 75 per cent of the community’s farmland was destined to be annexed to the Israeli side of the Wall. “I was shocked. I was completely astonished,” he later said, “because [what I saw] was in absolute contradiction to what we were taught about this wall.” [4] The weeks of struggle in Jayous, where people were trying to stop the bulldozers with their bodies, were a formative experience for the small group of Israelis who participated. As Pollak later explained, it was the first time they moved from protest to resistance. “Instead of holding a sign in front of Israel‘s Ministry of Defense, the Israeli activists were in the West Bank with Palestinians, trying to save Palestinian land from destruction and confiscation. It was the first opportunity for us as Israeli activists to create relationships with Palestinians… based on solidarity, not normalizing relations under occupation,” he said.[5]

In early 2003, on the eve of the Iraq war, there was a growing apprehension among Palestinians and the Israeli Left that the worst-case scenarios might take place. Given that the Israeli media had made mention of how Palestinians could be settled in Jordan, which itself might be given parts of the new “liberated” Iraq,[6] some feared that an act of transfer might even take place under the cover of war. But the chief fear, which turned out to be well founded, regarded what would happen in the areas along the wall’s route. With the world’s attention is focused on Iraq, Israel could try to intensify construction of the wall – and brutally oppress any attempts of resistance. That March, the Israeli army started attacking the ISM activists who were in the territories witnessing the atrocities and forcing a degree of military restraint through their presence alone. On March 16, Rachel Corrie, a 23 year-old student from Olympia, Washington, and an artist with a deep faith in humanity and justice, was run over and killed in cold blood by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza. On April 6, Brian Avery from North Carolina was shot in the face by an Israeli tank in Jenin. (Avery survived, after months of facial reconstruction in hospital.). Six days later, the Englishman Tom Hurndall was shot in the head by Israeli snipers in Rafah. He died from his injury on January 14 2004. Other ISM activists were arrested and deported. The army appeared determined to be unopposed in its work of destruction.

At the beginning of March 2003, a Palestinian Emergency Committee (PEC), was formed, comprising NGOs and human rights groups. It extended a call to the Israeli anti-occupation forces to stand together and to plan shared acts of protection. In response, representatives of 16 Israeli anti-occupation groups met in Tel Aviv on March 12, and a week later there was a joint meeting with the PEC. Of the many initiatives agreed on, I will follow here just one, which pertains to the future development of the joint Palestinian/Israeli struggle against the wall. In fact, following the meeting, there was some debate in the Israeli anti-occupation camp which is important to pay attention to precisely because it regarded the very definition and concept of a Palestinian-led joint struggle. The debate took place in e-mails to the mailing list of the Coalition of Women for Just Peace (CWJP), where many of the other anti-occupation groups are also represented. Since this was a closed mailing list exchange, I will omit the names of the participants, but I can disclose that I identify with A.

A few days after the Tel Aviv meeting, the coordinator of the CWJP list sent a message: “We have a request from Ta’ayush: Is the Coalition willing to donate money for food to the Palestinians in the territories?…”. This solicited the following response from A.

 

Fri, 21 Mar 2003 18:49:54 +0100
Subject: Re: [CWJP] funding for food?

Dear all,

…I attended the meeting of March 12 of all anti-occupation organizations at Gush Shalom’s office. This was a response to the appeal by the Palestinian Emergency Committee to the Israeli organizations. Y.H. presented the summary of a previous meeting with the committee, and the “list” of their requests from us. One very explicit thing they said is that at the present emergency stage, they don’t need food. They prepared for the emergency locally, and they feel this front is covered. What they need from us is political support. A request they attached much importance to was that there would be also Israelis among the international solidarity people in the territories, particularly in this dangerous period.
I believe there is a deeper reason for their request for us not to focus now on food, a reason which I deeply share. If we continue to focus on food donations, this suggests that our responsibility to what is going on is that of a charity organization… (Of course I don’t mean to imply that people should not donate – only that we shouldn’t feel we are doing any form of struggle this way)… The challenge the Palestinian Emergency Committee posed to us is a real one. Being present in towns and villages which face most danger at this time is taking real responsibility. It is difficult, even dangerous. Obviously the army is trying to intimidate the international solidarity people, with Rachel Corrie dead, and Eric Hawanith, 21, from Chicago wounded in Nablus yesterday. But I don’t believe they will dare apply the same means to Israelis. The fact that we are invited gives us the guarantee of safety from the Palestinian side. As it is now an emergency situation, perhaps we can think of ways to act along these lines?
A.

  

 

Through the responses and discussion that followed, it became apparent that there were two fundamental questions on which the participants could not achieve consensus. One concerned whether food convoys were still a meaningful form of struggle at the time. The other was the concept of the joint struggle, with A representing the position that it should be the Palestinians who lead the struggle and propose its focus and strategies. The following reply from a member of Ta’ayush addressed the first question, explaining the importance of maintaining the food convoys:

 

Date: Sat, 22 Mar 2003 23:01:39 +0200
To: “Coalition of Women for a Just Peace” [email protected]>
Subject: A’s email

 

Dear All,

I must disagree with A.

First the facts. According to the World Bank the effects of the siege are stupendous. Twenty-seven months after the outbreak of the intifada, 60 percent of the population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip live under the international poverty line of $2 per day. The number of poor has tripled from 637,000 in September 2000 to nearly 2 million today… Per capita food consumption has declined by 30 percent in the past two years and there is severe malnutrition in the Gaza Strip, equivalent to levels found in some of the poorer sub-Saharan countries, as found in a recent Johns Hopkins University Study. So, despite what some people say, there appears to be an acute need for food.

As to politics. I share with A. her fear that Israeli activists will underplay the politics of resistance and underscore in its stead a humanitarian approach. But this again is not the case regarding the food campaign.

In South Hebron, for example, one of the locations to which we delivered food this week the local population is fighting daily with their teeth to hold on to the land, despite the harassment, constant intimidation and violence of the settlers and Israeli military. The food supply and solidarity visit we held there earlier this week is crucial for their struggle, which is actually our struggle. Indeed, the food supply is meant to strengthen the Tzumud [sticking to the land] of the Palestinians, who are fighting against all odds, trying to hang on while Sharon and the Israeli government constantly and systematically destroy their infrastructure of existence.

Second, the activities Ta’ayush organizes, including the food campaign, manage to do a few other things. First, by going to closed military areas we break the military siege, the political, physical, and psychological barriers that are at the basis of Sharon‘s policies. This week we brought hundreds of people to the Salfit area which was under strict closure, including many Israelis who were in the occupied territories for the first time…

Third, the food campaign is used to mobilize the Israeli and international public, by exposing once again the oppression and subjugation of the Palestinian people. In and of itself the exposure of the dire poverty in the occupied territories, particularly during a period in which the media cares about nothing but the war against Iraq, is an extremely important political act…


Best, B.

  

 

The discussion continued, with most participants siding with B and adding further arguments as to the importance of food convoys. No one doubted the importance of humanitarian work and aid to suffering people. However, A’s perspective was that such aid cannot replace political struggle. Focusing on just a battle for the survival of the oppressed means, indirectly, accepting that the situation cannot be reversed. Where hope lies is in the next phase of resistance and struggle.  In any case, the crucial factor at the time was that the initiative to shift the focus away from aid and solidarity work came from the Palestinians. This second question, on the meaning of a joint struggle, was largely ignored in the discussion. A replied to B and others:

 

Date: Sun, 23 Mar 2003 20:00:12 +0100
Subject: [CWJP] Facing the Palestinian emergency appeal

Dear all,

Trying to figure out the way the discussion of the Palestinian emergency appeal has developed, I think two issues have been conflated. The one, that most responses related to, is our daily and long-term strategies facing the atrocities of the occupation and the suffering of the Palestinians, and the other, which I have been trying to focus on, is our response to the appeal of the Palestinian Emergency Committee (PEC ).


As far as I can see, none of the responses pro food-donations in the present discussion addressed the specific statement of our Palestinian partners. The discussion remained an internal assessment of what the Israeli anti occupation forces believe is good now for the Palestinians, or for the political struggle of Israelis.

The appeal of the PEC to the Israeli organizations is something of a historical precedence, and, in my opinion, it deserves more attention…

 

Regarding [the PEC's request for] presence in areas of danger: The last days, a group of us has been forming, who would like to work on this front. The basic concept shaped through further consultation with PEC and ISM, is that in the West Bank, the area in most danger is the North – areas around the new “fence” (Qalqilia, etc)…
A.

  

The debate continued for several days, and then died out without reaching an agreement. Those who eventually answered the Palestinian call were at the time the activists of the young generation (most of whom did not concern themselves with this old-guard email debate). There was at that stage, a difference in views between the younger generation, which was ready to cross the lines and join the Palestinians in their struggle, and the established anti-occupation groups who were more cautious (but who would eventually join in). At about the same time, I had signed (together with around a hundred thousand people from around the world) a Znet-initiated petition that emerged in response to the threat of a new era of U.S.-led war. The signatories committed themselves to a grassroots struggle for peace and justice, in solidarity with oppressed peoples throughout the world.[7] I decided to join the younger generation of Israeli activists in their pursuit of a meaningful grassroots struggle.

On April 5 2003, as the U.S. was bombarding Baghdad, the first anti-wall camp was founded in the village of Mas’ha, just south of the northern West Bank town of Qalqilya. (see MAP ON PAGE **[8]) “Under the haze of the war on Iraq, the deception of ‘security,’ and the silence of the media,” said the first flyer put out by the camp, “the apartheid wall is being built distant from the green line, confiscating thousands of dunams of agricultural land and water sources of entire villages.” And the information sheet of the camp explained the background:

 

The bulldozers have arrived to the village Mas’ha, adjacent to the Israeli settlement Elkanah. Elkana is about 7 kilometers away from the green line, but the route of the fence, approved in the government meeting of June 24, 2002, was changed so that it will include Elkana as well in the Israeli side. The bulldozers have started to separate Mas’ha, in effect, from its only remaining source of livelihood after two and a half years of closure. 98% of the lands of Mas’ha will be placed in the Israeli side of the fence – between the fence and the green line, together with thousands of dunams of Bidia Sanniriya and other villages in the area. Along with the lands that will be cut off the villages, the fence disconnects the road from Jenin to Ramallah, a segment of which will now be in the Israeli side of the fence, thus establishing further the isolation of the Palestinian enclaves from each other.

  

          The initiative to establish the camp came from the village’s farmers, who were losing their land. The driving force was Nazee Shalabi, a father of seven, who was determined to not give up his land without a struggle. He gathered together a group of equally determined fellow villagers, among them Tayseer Ezzedden and Ra’ad Amer, and together with Riziq Abu Nasser, the head of the Land Defense Committee in the Salfit region, they mobilized the village council, organized demonstrations and made contact with international activists in the area. The international women’s group IWPS (International Women’s Peace Service), based in the nearby village of Hares, responded immediately. Yonatan Pollak and other young Israeli activists, who were at the time traveling along the route of the wall in the northern West Bank and making contact with Palestinians, as well as members of the ISM and IWPS, were welcomed in Mas’ha and became partners in the struggle against the wall.

The Mas’ha camp was erected close to the path of the wall, with the aim of documenting, protesting, focusing Israeli and world attention, but strictly avoiding confrontations with the Israeli bulldozers or army. It was obvious that any attempt to physically disrupt the work on the wall would immediately lead to the military sealing off the area and dismantling the camp. By adhering to its principles of non-violent resistance, the camp lasted for four months.with the Israeli army unable to find an excuse to destroy it. [9]

A constant 24-hour presence in the camp was maintained, with a minimum of two Israelis, two Palestinians and two internationals sleeping there every night, and often many more. On the Israeli side, the camp quickly attracted a wide spectrum of young activists, ranging from environmental and animal-rights activists, to anarchists, students and high-school kids. This was the new generation of the anti-occupation struggle – youth that got their political education through alternative internet zines, and who were themselves involved in forming the Israeli Indymedia. Some were graduates of the Prague and Genoa anti-corporate demonstrations, and viewed themselves as part of the generation of globalist rebels; others were just driven by an intuitive search for justice.[10] Of the veteran anti-occupation groups, the one that lent its support from the start was Gush Shalom, with Oren Medics as one of the camp’s organizers, and Uri Avnery often speaking in the camp’s demonstrations. Other individual veterans who joined in included Dorothy Naor and myself.

The Mas’ha camp quickly became the center of the struggle against the wall, with bigger groups spending a day there on activities ranging from demonstrations and non-violent resistance training, to meetings and discussions that went on long into the night. The principles shared by the young activists were those of the global movements: direct democracy and grassroots struggle. Significantly, this was the first time in the entire history of the Occupation that a real joint Israeli-Palestinian grassroots struggle was forming. Previously, Israeli-Palestinian cooperation had been the product of coordination between the “leaderships” in Ramallah and Tel Aviv, often ending in nothing more than the issuing of a joint petition. In Mas’ha, the spirit of direct democracy prevailed: decisions on the actions and policies of the joint struggle were taken in meetings at the camp by those present, rather than made by some remote leadership. For many of the Israelis, this was the first time that they had encountered the other side, while the Palestinians had only known Israelis as employers or soldiers. “Until you arrived,” Nazee Shalabi said once, “I didn’t have any idea that there were Israelis who want to live with us in peace.” In the midst of the discourse of blood and terror that has prevailed in Israel for so long, people in Mas’ha were building new forms of coexistence in struggle.

The American activist and writer Starhawk, who visited Mas’ha as part of her trip with the ISM, captured vividly its spirit in her piece ‘Next year in Mas’ha’[11]:

 

On the eve of Passover, after a month I spent in the occupied territories of Palestine working with the International Solidarity movement, a month that saw one of our people deliberately run over by a bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier, and two young men deliberately shot, one in the face, one in the head, I found myself unable to face the prospect of a Seder, even with my friends in the Israeli peace movement. I couldn¹t sit and bewail our ancient slavery or celebrate our journey to the promised land. I was afraid that I might spew bitterness and salt all over any Seder table I graced, and smash something. So I went to the peace encampment at Mas’ha. Mas’ha needed people, and the moon was full, and I thought I could just lay down on the land under the moonlight and let some of the bitterness drain away…

 

To be at Mas’ha is to be on the absolute edge of the conflict. The road block that separates the village from the settlement is the divide between two realities. I got to Elkanah from Tel Aviv on the settlers¹ bus, full of elderly women who could have been my aunts and old men that could have been my uncles… We drove through one settlement to let people off and I got a tour of what looks like a transplanted Southern California suburb, complete with lush gardens and new houses, all with an aura of prosperity and complacent security-provided by armed guards and razor wire and the Israeli military… From Elkanah, I walked down the road a few hundred yards and climbed over the road block bulldozed to keep Palestinians out of Israel. I was in a dusty village of old stone and new cement houses and shuttered shops, backing onto open hillsides of ancient olives.


The camp at Mas’ha is on a knoll, two pink tents set up in an olive grove on stony ground studded with wildflowers, yellow broom, and prickly pear. The olives give shade and sometimes a backrest. If you look in one direction, the groves are spread out below the hilltop for miles of a soft gray green with blue hills in the back ground and small villages beyond, But encircling the hill, and cutting a gray swath across the hillsides, is the zone of destruction, a wide band of uprooted trees and bare subsoil, where a giant backhoe is wallowing like some giant, prehistoric beast, grabbing and crushing stones, gouging the earth, filling the air with dust and the mechanical bellowing of its engines…

 

A young man is sitting under a tree as I arrive, writing on stones with a black marker. He¹s a farmer, he tells me. In Arabic, he writes, “Don¹t cut the trees.” He thinks for a moment, and adds another graceful line. I ask him to translate. He gives me a sweet smile, and points to the ground. “What is this?” “Earth?” I ask… “The earth speaks Arabic,” he tells me.

 

All the Israelis but one have gone, to celebrate Pesach with their families. There are only two of us from the ISM and one woman from IWPS who stay over, along with two of the Palestinians, to guard the camp. As the full moon rises, I lie on the stones and meditate. I am hoping to find some peace or healing, but the earth is tortured here and all I can feel is her anguish. Down and down, through layers and centuries and epochs, I hear the ancestors weeping. The land is soaked in blood, and generations have faced ruthless powers and been cut down, and why should we be any different? I am woken up at three AM to take my shift on watch. I sit by the fire, exhausted, and finally drift back into sleep, waking again in the morning feeling sick at heart.

 

But people begin to arrive, for a midday meeting. The women from the IWPS, and the men from the village, and dozens of Israelis. We sit under the tent with its sides raised, talking about building an international campaign against the wall. One of the men, a stonemason, makes miniature buildings out of the stones at our feet as we talk. “Maybe we can’t stop it here,” one man from the village says,”

But maybe we can stop it other places.”


The Israelis who come are mostly young. They are anarchists and punks and lesbians and wild-haired students, and it strikes me that the mayor of Mas’ha and the village leaders in a very socially conservative society might actually have more in common with the Orthodox Jews who hate them than with these wild, social rebels. But the village accepts them all with good grace and a warm-hearted Palestinian welcome. One woman is from the group “Black Laundry”, which requires a somewhat complicated three-way translation of a Hebrew play on words. [In Hebrew, the word for laundry is kvisa, and the word for sheep is kivsa. So the name of the group -black laundry suggesting exposure of evil, creates an association with black sheep – standing for those viewed by the consensus as deviant.] She explains that it is a lesbian direct action group, and asks our translator if that¹s a problem. “Not for me,” he says with a slightly quizzical shrug, and the meeting goes on.


Later we meet with the village women, who want to know if we can help them in any way. They are about to lose their source of livelihood‹is there anything we can do? We have a long discussion about what we do in the ISM, and promise to research organizations that do community development work.

 

Back at the camp, all the young shabab-the term for young, unmarried men–have come out for the evening. We sit around the fire while two of the men prepare us dinner, laughing and talking. And suddenly I realize something wonderful is happening. The Israelis and the Palestinians can talk to each other, because most of the young men speak Hebrew. They are hanging out around the fire and talking and telling stories, laughing and relaxing together. They are hanging out just like any group of young people around a fire at night, as if they weren¹t bitter enemies, as if it could really be this simple to live together in peace.


So it was a strange Seder this year, pita instead of Matzoh, the eggs scrambled with tomato, hummous instead of chicken soup, water instead of wine, and instead of the maror, the bitter herbs which I have already tasted, a slight sweet hint of hope.


I can¹t ever again say “next year in Jerusalem.” I can no longer believe in the promise of a land which requires the building of concrete walls and guard towers and ongoing murder to defend it… But I would like to believe in the promise of Mas’ha, in the example of a people who, faced with utter destruction of everything they need and hold dear, opened their hearts to the children of the enemy and asked for help. I would like to believe in the Israel reflected in the eyes of those who answer that call. That somehow, on this chasm between the conquerors and those who resist being finally conquered, the bridges and connections and meetings are happening that can tear down the walls of separation.
 

By next year, the camp at Mas’ha will most likely be gone. Already the contractors who work for the Israeli military have begun blasting a chasm that will soon cut the olive groves off from the village. An international campaign to stop the building of the wall has begun, but the reality is that they have the capacity to build it faster than we can organize to stop it.

And yet I say it again, as an act of pure faith:
Next year in Mas’ha.

  

 

By mid June 2003, about a thousand Israelis had visited the camp or stayed overnight, and the core of regular Israeli activists was approaching three hundred people. The camp was beginning to attract some media coverage, thereby focusing attention on the wall, which until that point had hardly had any public debate in Israel. For the most part, the Israeli media continued to view the wall as a justified and vital security issue, but the actual reality of the wall was slowly penetrating international consciousness.

From the start, the Mas’ha camp faced an apparently unexpected obstacle – the Palestinian Authority. Not only did the PA district representatives not back the village’s grassroots organization; they also exerted all kinds of pressure against the camp. The reasons behind such behaviour are complex and painful. As we have seen, following the Oslo agreements the local grassroots network established during the first Palestinian Intifada in the late 1980s was completely destroyed and replaced by an administration tightly controlled by Arafat and his close circle.[12] Much is known by now about the corruption of these administrative bodies of control, but what has received less attention is the fact that they were working in close collaboration with Israel, from the level of security cooperation to that of the local administration of towns and villages. In each area there was a Palestinian “District Coordination Office” (DCO), working in coordination with its Israeli counterpart. The charitable explanation of the district administration’s opposition to the Mas’ha camp is that it could not give approval to grassroots activity outside its jurisdiction. The other, more painful explanation (true only of a few of the local administrators) is that they were carrying out Israeli instructions.

          We should note that even three years after work on the wall had started, the Ramallah headquarters of the PA had still done nothing to protest against it, or to support the struggle of the people living along the path of the wall. In December 2004, eighteen months after the events of Mas’ha, when protest had already spread all along the wall’s route, Ha’aretz reported on a demonstration by dozens of Palestinians outside Palestinian cabinet meeting in Ramallah. They accused the cabinet of doing nothing to stop the wall:  ‘The ministers don’t care about the barrier, it doesn’t affect them. They get VIP treatment at checkpoints and send their children to study abroad,’ Salameh Abu Eid, 25, from Biddu village told Reuters… ‘We ask you, Qureia, to stop supplying cement for the wall!’ they shouted… The furious demonstration attested to growing popular discontent with the perceived incompetence and corruption of the Palestinian Authority, which has contributed to a surge in popularity of Islamist militants.”[13] Sometimes, the Palestinian Authority’s measures against the struggle were disturbingly comparable to Israeli ones. In May 2005, in a similar demonstration organized by the popular committee of the village of Bil’in, to whose struggle I return, a demonstrator from the village was severely beaten by the Palestinian Authority police.

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