The Israeli Defense Ministry announced on Sunday that they will re-route a section of the Wall east of Jerusalem in order to close off an existing gap and fully annex the city of Jerusalem into Israel. The new route means the complete encirclement of the Palestinian village of Al-Zaim, with the Wall to the West and a security fence to the east.Other Palestinian towns are also completely isolated and encircled into ghettoes, including the town of Sheikh Sa’ed and the city of Qalqilya. Israeli authorities isolated these towns in order to create Palestinian-free zones and routes throughout the West Bank to allow Israeli settlers to travel unencumbered without either having to stop at checkpoints or to drive on the same roads as Palestinians. But in order to do that, Israeli forces have had to maintain over 600 checkpoints throughout the West Bank, and to force Palestinians off their own roads and onto dirt roads or trails.
The new route of the Wall will put the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim on the Palestinian side of the Wall, along with dozens of other Israeli settlements constructed in violation of international law all over the West Bank. But Israeli officials have assured the residents of these settlements that they will construct other Walls and fences to allow them to access Jerusalem without having to go through Palestinian areas.
These additional fences and barriers will, like the Annexation Wall itself, be constructed on land seized from Palestinian owners by Israeli authorities who claim that they have the right to take the land ‘for security reasons’. All Israeli settlements on Palestinian land are considered illegal under international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids an occupying military power from settling its civilian population on land occupied by military force.
The announcement is seen as a response to the Palestinian encampment Bab Al Shams, which was established on the land in question, known to Israeli officials as ‘E1’, last weekend, then demolished by Israeli forces. The Palestinian non-violent activists who established the encampment entered the area through the village of Al-Zaim.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has openly declared his intention to build a settlement on the ‘E1’ land, and completely enclose the eastern edge of Jerusalem, thus effectively annexing the city of Jerusalem to the state of Israel. This renders any peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority impossible, since one of the Palestinian Authority’s base demands is sharing the city of Jerusalem. The base demands, which Palestinians have asked Israel to recognize time and again to no avail, are: the recognition of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, the right of return of Palestinian refugees and the release of the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners being held in Israeli prison camps.