'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
News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
News
news

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

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

Norwegian Speaking Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive OTE: SThree: Progressive in Manchester...

IT Support Analyst - London - £22,000

£20000 - £22000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chel...

Learning Support Assistants-Nantwich area

£8 - £9 per hour: Randstad Education Chester: We are currently recruiting for ...

Primary Teachers-Northwich area

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Primary Teachers- Northwich Ar...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London