'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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Process Improvement Analyst (Testing)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Service Delivery Manager - Derivatives, Support,

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Delivery Manager - (Derivatives, Support...

Technical Account Manager - Java, FIX Protocol, FIX 5.0, C++

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Account Manager - Java,...

WPF .NET Developer

£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: WPF Analyst Programmer NET, WPF, C#, M...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform