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Amira Hass: The New Refugees

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    The New Refugees: IDF expelling West Bank Palestinians by Amira Hass Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/806054.html Until Enaya Samara, who has been
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2007
      The New Refugees: IDF expelling West Bank Palestinians
      by Amira Hass

      Until Enaya Samara, who has been living in forced exile for the past
      eight months returns to her village near Ramallah, and until Someida
      Abbas, who was banished from his home 10 months ago accompanies his
      children to kindergarten again, it will not be possible to believe the
      defense establishment's promise to change its policy. So long as
      American, Brazilian and German citizens whose name is not Cohen but
      Abdullah, are refused entry at the borders, we will know that the
      policy is still in effect - the policy of causing tens of thousands of
      Palestinian families to break up, or to leave their homes and
      emigrate. This is not a new policy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

      Since 1967, Israel has been carrying out demographic manipulations
      which should actually be called expulsion. Military edicts have caused
      some 100,000 people to lose their status as permanent residents in the
      occupied territories and to remain exiles in the countries to which
      they went to study or work. These manipulations have turned 240,000
      people who were born in the West bank and Gaza and left the
      territories because of the 1967 war, and another 60,000 who were
      abroad when it broke out, to become new refugees.

      All of them left behind families in the territories, but Israel
      prevented the vast majority from reuniting again in their homeland.
      (During those years, Israel was actively promoting the right of Jews
      in the USSR to emigrate and reunite with their families in Israel).
      After 1994, Israel made it possible for several thousand Palestinian
      families to unite every year; in other words, it granted their
      children the status of permanent residency. But the quota it fixed was
      always less than the real needs, and since 2001, Israel has even
      frozen the family unification process and barred Palestinians who are
      citizens of Arab countries (particularly Jordan and Egypt) from coming
      to visit.

      Until 2006, Palestinians with Western citizenship (Europeans and
      Americans) were able to avoid this comprehensive policy. In the 1990s,
      they were considered a welcome population (investors, businessmen,
      academics working in international organizations such as the World
      Bank). Even if most of them did not get permanent residency, Israel
      permitted them to live here and visit regularly. This was also the
      case with Western spouses of Palestinian residents. Until someone in
      the political echelons decided that this "positive discrimination" (as
      opposed to citizens of Jordan and Egypt) was intolerable. And from the
      start of 2006 their entry has been blocked.

      It is not clear who the decision-maker is. The coordinator of
      government activities in the territories told Western diplomats it was
      the Interior Ministry that made the decision. Interior Ministry
      officials say it was a joint decision with the Defense Ministry.

      Be that as it may, whoever made the decision did not take into account
      that this was a blow to the strongest circles among the Palestinians -
      those who speak English, have access to the U.S. State Department, to
      important journalists, and to the Israeli and international business
      worlds. They found a way to get together and protest, unlike the tens
      of thousands of women who have Jordanian citizenship and hide in fear
      in the West Bank because Israel does not recognize their right to live
      with their husbands and children.

      The change of policy toward Palestinians with Western citizenship was
      brought to the attention of MK Ephraim Sneh even before he became
      deputy defense minister. Already then, Sneh was of the opinion that
      there was no point in changing the policy and that doing so would be
      harmful to Israel's interests. In a conversation with Haaretz, he
      sounded sincere in promising that this policy toward the Americans and
      Europeans had been canceled and that his bureau was working on new
      regulations that would "make things simpler rather than making them
      more complicated, and would alleviate rather than aggravate" the
      situation. (However, it was possible to understand from this that the
      regulations would not legalize the stay of thousands, particularly
      adults and children who remained even though their visas were no
      longer valid).

      But the joy is premature: During the past two weeks, officials
      continued to prevent the entry even of those who are married and have
      children here and those who came on a visit. Are these merely
      "left-overs of the previous situation," as Sneh put it, or does it
      testify also to the fact that Sneh is not the sole decision-maker, as
      was evident with his position on removing the roadblocks?

      On the Israeli scene, army commanders (some of them settlers) act
      together with politicians, jurists and academics who are terrified of
      the demographic balance. The Green Line does not exist for them. They
      thought up the Citizenship Law, which crassly expanded the
      discrimination against Israeli Arabs and intervenes in their right to
      have a family life. Why do they not act the same across the Green Line
      where the military edict is in force? And if Sneh ceases being deputy
      defense minister, who can guarantee that a deputy from the Kadima
      party will not cancel the cancelation?

      More than ever before, the Israeli system today denies the fact that
      it is repression and discrimination, an integral part of every
      occupation, that create the security threat. The most it is prepared
      to do is make "improvements" and mete out "favors," but it will not
      recognize rights.



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