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WAWA/WeAreWideAwake is my Public Service to America as a muckracker who has journeyed seven times to Israel Palestine since June 2005. WAWA is dedicated to confronting media and governments that shield the whole truth.

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Home arrow Blog arrow February 2008 arrow February 20, 2008

February 20, 2008
WAWA Blog February 20, 2008: Some good news from Gaza and Israeli experts propose radical changes to West Bank closure regime

Dear Friends

Yesterday, we have managed to get the humanitarian aid and supplies into Gaza, thanks to all genuine and determined efforts made by our Israeli friends, and by Mr. John Ging of UNRWA. We have cooperated with local national NGOs to ensure that such supplies find its way to those who need it.

This important triumph is an indicator and a clear message to both our nations as well as the whole world, that we, Israelis and Palestinians, are still able not only to work together, but also to make achievements, and that all voices which claim that there are no more partners-in-peace among both sides are simply wrong. Both our nations still have genuine, sincere, and determined peace activists and advocates, and still have plenty of courageous men and women like you, who are ready to take the peace and justice struggle to end this ugly military occupation.


It was of our pride to be the body which delivered your peace and support message to our people in Gaza, and we are ready to continue working and cooperating with all of you to recover both our nations' faith in peace. The last couple of years were so difficult for peace camps on both sides, but we recognize January's march to Erez as a turning point and a new start which we all must embrace to rebuild trust in peace and in peace camps.


On behalf of our people we thank you again for your commitment and support, and for thinking of us at such difficult times, and for dedicating time and efforts to raise your voices against injustice and in favor of peace.


Dr. Eyad Sarraj

For the Palestinian International Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza

A team of Israeli security experts has devised a plan to replace the existing closure regime in the West Bank with an alternative system which they say will offer Israel security while easing restrictions on Palestinians and allowing their economy to grow.  It was headed by Ilan Paz, a former brigadier-general who served as the head of the Civil Administration during the first years of the recent intifada. See Attached article and disseminate it to your friends and congregation. Everyone who is knowledgeable about the West Bank has concluded that unless conditions on the ground for everyday Palestinians are improved, i.e. removal of unnecessary checkpoints, popular support for the Palestinian Authority and its peace process with Israel will be undermined.

If you would like to tell the Israeli Embassy what you think of this report and why the Israeli government should implement it immediately, please send your comments to: Eynat Shlein < >
 She is the Middle East Affairs Counselor for the Israeli Embassy and spoke at Dumbarton United Methodist Church tonight (Tuesday), where this issue and this report were discussed. I told her that it was in Israel's self-interest to implement these recommendations before its too late and Hamas will take control of the West Bank.  Is that what Israel really wants? They need to stop pandering to the right wing settlers and consider the interests of the entire nation.
-Peace, Jim

Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - Integrated Regional Information Networks

Israel-OPT: Israeli experts propose radical changes to West Bank closure regime

JERUSALEM, 14 February 2008 (IRIN) - A team of Israeli security experts has devised a plan to replace the existing closure regime in the West Bank with an alternative system which they say will offer Israel security while easing restrictions on Palestinians and allowing their economy to grow.

    Admitting that the current matrix of earth mounds, concrete roadblocks and checkpoints is anachronistic and harmful to the Palestinians, the former defence establishment officials suggested the current system be scrapped - the first thorough overhaul proposed by such senior figures.

    The new scheme would include removing major obstacles in the West Bank, while pushing for deeper Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation and projects to improve the Palestinian economy, in order to facilitate a political way forward to end the conflict.

    The "Checkpoint Team" said the plan was being presented to the Israeli defence establishment and a dialogue was being conducted with a view to having it implemented.

    According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are 563 roadblocks in the West Bank (see map in PDF format).

"Useless" checkpoints

    Ilan Paz, a former brigadier-general who served as the head of the Civil Administration during the first years of the recent `intifada' (Palestinian uprising against Israel), said some checkpoints were set up without much planning.

    During his military service he established a roadblock which separates Ramallah from East Jerusalem.              "I founded the Qalandia checkpoint years ago as a flying security point for a specific reason - to prevent a specific attack we had intelligence on which was set to come out of Ramallah," he told a conference at the Jerusalem Van Leer Institute on 13 February. "That checkpoint hasn't yet been removed, years later."

Qalandia has now become part of Israel's West Bank Barrier and is treated, in many ways, as an international border terminal.

    Similarly, Ron Shatzberg, a lieutenant-colonel in the reserves, showed how some restrictions remained in place in spite of being completely "useless".

Near Jenin there is an Israeli settlement called Sheve Shomron. Since the start of the `intifada', Palestinians have not been allowed to travel on the area's main road, due to security concerns. A three-metre-high wall has since been erected, a new road has been built for the settlers and an army division has based itself there.

    "However, Palestinians still can't use the main road," Shatzberg said. Col Shaul Arieli said settlers in the West Bank dictated orders to the military, leading to severe restrictions on the Palestinians.

    "To protect a small settlement in Hebron, they've shut down an entire (Palestinian) city," he said. "The (Israeli) defence establishment constantly checks and examines the restrictions and their impact on the Palestinians. It works to find the right balance, to both improve the daily lives of the (Palestinian) population and to ensure security for Israel," Shlomo Dror, spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Defence, told IRIN.

Economic concerns

    Paz and Hagai Alon, who was a senior adviser to the former minister of defence, Amir Peretz, cited World Bank reports and warned that unless freedom of movement was improved the US$7.7 billion pledged at the Paris Conference last year would not materialise as donors would be afraid to throw money at a stagnated economy.

    "The economy can't develop when everything is blocked up," Paz said.     Half of Palestinian small businesses have closed since 2001, Alon said, and more Palestinians have been emigrating in recent years. Furthermore, economic ties between the southern and northern West Bank have been severed, further harming the financial system. Many members were concerned the economic downturn was fuelling militant extremism in the occupied Palestinian territory.
"The checkpoints in many ways create more terror than they prevent, and the reason is the daily humanitarian harm to the Palestinians," Arieli later told IRIN.

Alternative plan

    The "Checkpoint Team" suggested gradually removing many of the permanent checkpoints, starting with the ones which have the most impact on the Palestinians.

    These would be replaced by random "flying" checkpoints - which would be more efficient for both the military and for Palestinians - to be complemented by the work of the Palestinian security forces, who would be given a larger role.

    Furthermore, they proposed ending a policy of "separate roads" which kept Palestinians off certain main routes. This would allow for the removal of most earth mounds, and offer Israelis more security as militants would find it harder to mount attacks without harming Palestinians.

    Finally, the plan requires that Israel complete the construction of the West Bank Barrier. However, its route, currently leaves some 10 percent of the West Bank on the Israeli side. The "Checkpoint Team" would like to see this reduced to 5 percent.

    "Don't forget, when we started (introducing alternative plans), the Wall took over 20 percent of the West Bank," Arieli said, noting that ultimately the final border would hopefully be determined in negotiations.


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