From “il manifesto“, an Italian newspaper, 6 January, World
Interview by Michelanglo Cocco
For Jumaa, an anti-Wall activist, the Palestinian elections aim at “rendering the occupation democratic”.
Jamal Jumaa has no doubts, in the Israeli-American plans, the Palestinian elections to be held next Sunday represent an attempt to “render the occupation democratic”. The day before the demonstration against the Wall at Jayyous we met the coordinator of the Stop The Wall campaign in his studio at Ram, between Ramallah and Jerusalem.
Why a demonstration at Jayyous?
Jayyous represents an exellent example to understand the illegality of this Wall and the disasters that it is provoking. When Israel began constructing the barrier, they made it clear that they would not have confiscated land beyond the Wall and that the Palestinians would have had full access to their fields. Instead, they are taking everything. 72% of this area, one of Palestine’s most fertile, has become isolated beyond the separation wall. And the enlargement of the settlement of Sufim towards Palestinian lands which have remained isolated by the Wall are favouring this thievery.
In these days the Israeli media is talking only of the Gaza withdrawal….
But you mustn’t be fooled, because Israel is planning something in which this withdrawal represents only the first phase. I just call it “unfolding”, because the Strip will remain an immense prison. After this first act they will pass onto the construction of sixteen bridges and sixteen tunnels that will link the three Bantustans (near Nablus to the north, Ramallah in the centre, Hebron to the south) that the Wall is creating in the West Bank: the Palestinians can move within their reservations through tunnels, (see Sixteen tunnels and whaddaya get), above which bridges will pass that will connect the Jewish colonies to one another.
A costly system. How will funds be gotten for it?
Last month the Sharon government asked the European Union to finance the system with 200 million Euros. For the time being, the EU has replied “no”. But to render the project functional and acceptable to the international community they are creating industrial areas – they have foreseen nine – which are adjacent to the Palestinian Bantustans, just within the Israeli side of the Wall. Those near Tulkarem and Jenin are already under construction.
Like the industrial zones just outside the Gaza Strip?
Yes, just like them, where now only 5,000 Palestinians are working, who receive only a third of the Minimum Israeli Wage. It’s slavery, pure and simple, especially if we consider that the Palestinians buy almost exclusively products imported from Israel, having the same prices. In order to search out the financing, Sharon has made this blackmail to Europe: rather than continuing to donate aid to the Palestinians, why not contribute in creating industrial areas that will develop the economy?
No one speaks of any of this during the electoral campaign….
Certainly not, because we are dealing with elections that are to be inserted in a series of electoral makeovers that in which we are witnessing in the Middle East, connected to the “Greater Middle East” imagined by the United States, a pure and simple democratic-appearing cover for the occupations in act, in Palestine as well as in Iraq. We must not only consider the industrial areas under construction just alongside the Wall, but also, for example, the project of Jordan: a system of streets and an electrical network that will link it to Haifa. The attempt is to integrate Israel economically in the “Greater Middle East” in a way to give the keys to the operation to the Jewish State.
When the Wall and the industrial areas will be completed, will it be possible that the Palestinians will be attracted to the possibilities to better their living conditions?
No. The first and the second Intifada were revolts against unacceptable conditions and also against this, which is the ultimate attempt of Israel to destroy us, the Palestinians will know how to fight for themselves. The Israelis are trying to convince us that if they “resolve” the economic problems of the Palestinians, then the entire Palestinian-Israeli question will be resolved. But they do not understand that we are a people who fight for our rights, not for bread. I believe that the situation will explode again, and Israel will not be able to hide behind its Wall.
In your view, what is the importance of the decision of the International Court of Justice of the Hague? For Israel, it is only “an opinion”…
It is a very important decision. Beyond having declared the Wall “illegal”, the Court has invited the Security Council of the General Assembly to make the necessary provisions to put an end to this situation. But we need to go back many years to understand the importance of the decision of the Hague. Precisely a “decision” of this sort, in fact, against South Africa, gave force to the battle to put an end to the Apartheid regime. It is useless to attempt to hide behind one’s little finger, the Court is the most important organism in existence regarding the interpretation of international law.