'Sovereign Israel' freezes out Palestinians: The occupied territories face severe hardship after the latest clampdown, writes Sarah Helm in Jerusalem

IN THE past two weeks Israel has openly acknowledged that it cannot co-exist with its Palestinian neighbours and no longer wishes to try. The Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, has closed off the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, thereby redrawing the green line, the boundary between Israel and the lands it seized in the 1967 war.

Yesterday the government announced the closure would continue indefinitely, which means more than 90,000 Palestinian workers will continue to be barred from their jobs in Israel. Furthermore, 22,000 Palestinians who come to work in Arab east Jerusalem will barred from their employment because Mr Rabin has included east Jerusalem inside what he terms 'sovereign Israel'.

The Palestinians have been confined to three ghettos: the West Bank, east Jersualem and the Gaza Strip. The immediate implications of the measures are clear: financial hardship and a rise in tension in the occupied territories where Palestinians have no means to substitute the loss of income caused by the closure. Aid workers estimate emergency relief will be needed in another two weeks. However, for Israelis the closure has provided a temporary respite from the growing fear of Palestinian attacks inside the green line.

The long term implications are more confused. A redrawing of the green line may appear to bode well for Palestinian independence. De facto, Mr Rabin has, for security reasons, acknowledged borders of a Palestinian entity which he has so far refused to acknowledge politically.

However, while the closures show a strengthening of Israeli desire to be severed from Palestinian people, there is no evidence of a desire to be severed from the land. Mr Rabin cannot forget the 110,000 Jewish settlers who live across the green line. And the occupation continues, with Israeli soldiers and settlers moving around in the sealed-off areas.

Since the occupation began in 1967, successive Israeli governments have tried to blur or even destroy the green line. Labour, which ruled for the first 10 years, blurred the boundaries by allowing Jewish settlement in areas considered necessary for security. The Likud government, which came to power in 1977, extended this settlement for ideological reasons, hoping permanently to reclaim all the land of 'greater Israel', from the Jordan Valley to the sea. Boundaries were also blurred by the movement of people. Israel needed a cheap labour force and encouraged Palestinians to take lowly jobs creating dependency.

At the same time exports from the West Bank and Gaza through Jordan to the Arab world have been restricted by the Arab trade boycott of Israel. And imports are restricted by Israel's security needs: 90 per cent of Palestinian imports are therefore from Israel. As the closure shows, osmosis across the green line has done little to strengthen understanding or trust between Jew and Arab.

As frustration has built up inside the occupied territories attacks by Palestinians upon Israelis have increased. In Israel the view has strengthened that Palestinians are simply pollutants.

Mr Rabin now appears more and more sure that closure is the answer to his security problems. Whether he can maintain it is questionable, not least because of the effect on the Israeli economy of the loss of cheap labour. Palestinians argue that a solution cannot be built on fear or imposed unilaterally. 'If you want to construct an ageement that will last it has to be in the interest of both so it can take root and grow,' says Sari Nusseibeh, a leading advisor of the Palestinians peace team.

Mr Rabin's action has therefore leant weight to the Palestinian case for the interim stage of the peace negotiations to be abandoned and the final status of the lands discussed immediately. If severance is to happen, they say, it must be done immediately and completely. Israel is certain to reject such argument. But without some counter measures to ease the effect of the closure, the pressure will become explosive.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003