Israeli authorities are planning to launch a campaign of expulsion against thousands of Palestinians living in the West Bank. This ethnic cleansing will be carried out mainly under the pretext that the individuals are originally from the Gaza Strip or are resident in the occupied territory "illegally". The military order for the arrest, imprisonment (for several years) or deportation of Palestinians came from the commander of Israeli forces, despite the protests of human rights organisations locally and internationally, and declarations of illegality by several civil courts.
Targeting the people of Gaza in this way suggests that the Israelis intend to separate the Gaza Strip and its people formally from their kin in the West Bank, and treat them as citizens of a foreign country. This is a serious development in terms of the "peace process" and internal Palestinian reconciliation efforts.
The people from Gaza who live in the West Bank do so because it is part of Palestine, under the control of the Palestinian Authority which supposedly represents all Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. The PA negotiates with the Israeli government on behalf of all Palestinians for the establishment of an independent Palestine on the territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with Jerusalem as its capital, alongside the State of Israel.
The Israeli military's decision not only underlines a separation between the West Bank and Gaza, it also confirms the limitations of the Palestinian Authority in representing the people of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. President Abbas himself has no right to distinguish between the Palestinians of the West Bank and the Palestinians in Gaza.
The Palestinian Authority duly denounced the Israeli decision, on the basis that it is totally incompatible with the agreements signed between the two parties, particularly the Oslo Accords. Yet PA officials know that the Israelis have basically bypassed the PA as if it did not exist and destroyed the last vestige of the Authority's credibility; that assumes, of course, that it still had some left to lose.
With such a racist decision, Benjamin Netanyahu's government has declared another stage in the war of attrition against the people of Palestine, paving the way for a new round of dispossession and displacement. In doing so the Israelis are taking advantage of the weakness of the Arab states and the artificially induced inability of the international community to do anything concrete against the Zionist state's scandalous violation of human rights law and conventions, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention concerning on prisoners of war and areas under occupation.
The planned expulsion of Palestinians as "infiltrators" in breach of Israeli law, may well be the first step towards an even larger level of ethnic cleansing of the Arab citizens of Israel itself, on the basis that that they have no place in a Jewish state. Moreover, this decision will cancel unilaterally the refugees' right to return not only to the cities and villages occupied sixty years ago, but also to any future state supposed to be established in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
There has been no public pronouncement from the Jordanian government on the expulsions, which are due to begin from tomorrow even though Jordan will be the affected seriously, as most of the so-called "infiltrators" went to the West Bank through Jordanian territory. The expected displacement might therefore be a test to gauge the reaction of King Abdullah II and his government in preparation for expulsions on a greater scale in the future.
This decision by the Israelis must be challenged by firm action not only by Jordan and the Palestinian Authority but also the international community. The ethnic cleansing of Palestine which started more than 60 years ago must not be allowed to continue.
Source: Al Quds Al Arabi
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