On the Road to Israeli Apartheid

| Haaretz Editorial |

The State of Israel has been torn to pieces and is being run by a dysfunctional government, but the settlement enterprise and the pillaging of Palestinian land is continuing apace, including the paving of apartheid roads.

The authorities reached the final planning stages of a separate road for Palestinians that connects the northern and southern West Bank in area E1, near the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim(Hagar Shezaf, May 2).

The construction in the occupied territories where a foreign people has lived under military control for 56 years requires the construction of more and more infrastructure to maintain the separate but not equal existence of the masters and the natives. Indeed, the stated goal of the road is to turn Highway 1 into a road “clean” of Palestinians.

The paving of this road has diplomatic significance : It will enable construction on 12 square kilometers of land in E1 that has been appended to Ma’aleh Adumim’s municipal territory. It will prevent Palestinians from passing next to the existing settlements and from those that are yet to be built. It is also expected to separate Bedouin communities living in Area C near Ma’aleh Adumim from the town of Azaria, where they go for work and services.

This is an area where Israel has not built until now due to harsh international criticism. Israel has also avoided – so far – evicting the residents of the village of Khan al-Ahmar due to the international community’s critical eye. But Bezalel Smotrich, the minister whom Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left in charge of the West Bank,stated last week, “Khan al-Ahmar will be evacuated because it’s illegal … it sits in a strategic area … It’s the area that will decide if heavens forbid there will be territorial contiguity that will connect Bethlehem with Nablus and Ramallah.”

Or in other words : The government is interested in cleansing this area of Palestinians and building there for Jews only. The road is intended to enable this.

It goes without saying that at a time when prices and interest rates are increasing, there’s always money for settlements.The Finance Ministry and the Transportation Ministry recently agreed to allocate another 30 million shekels for the road, for a total estimated cost of 279 million shekels. Like everything that happens in the territories, this project is also being classified as a defense project, which enables Israel to pave the road even though it passes through Area B, where Israel does not have the authority to plan and pave civilian roads, and to use a seizure order to take private Palestinian land.

The protest against the judicial overhaul is focused on the government’s intent totake control of the judicial authority. But its plans to deepen the apartheid in the occupied territories in advance of annexation is no less dangerous, and this is another reason to intensify the protest until this government, which has no restraints, falls.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.