Israeli occupation Middle East peace process Palestinians Progressive Jews

Peace Now: Remove most, but not all, checkpoints

I took a deep breath and opened up a can of worms by discussing checkpoints and the wall in my previous post. The dilemma that confronts ordinary Israelis and Palestinians who won’t want to rely on glib rhetoric or simplistic solutions is how to reconcile two moral imperatives: the imperative of ending the occupation and the need to protect Israelis, right now, when there is no political solution in sight. I was not defending any particular course of action by the Israeli military and Border Police, just the need to do SOMETHING tangible. If constructing a temporary barrier along the Green Line was begrudgingly accepted by moderate Fatah leaders at one point, that seemed like a reasonable option. As for checkpoints, I’m glad to point out that Peace Now, which, let us remember, was founded by Israeli reserve officers, recently called for Israel to leave all but 35 of the manned checkpoints and almost all of the 467 unmanned roadblocks that now exist.

Are they right? Would their prescriptions protect Hannah and her family? Would they protect my relatives in Israel? Beats me. Anyone who isn’t an expert on the terrain and Palestinian politics and the inner workings of Islamic Jihad et. al. has no business agreeing or disagreeing with specific plans. But we can welcome this attempt to confront a terrible dilemma head on. Here’s the BBC report on Peace Now’s recent declaration:

BBC News: “Israel urged to leave checkpoints”

Israeli peace activists are calling for dozens of military checkpoints and hundreds of unmanned roadblocks to be dismantled in the occupied West Bank.
Peace Now said if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was serious about negotiations with the Palestinians, he should begin by removing the internal obstacles.

A spokeswoman said such controls were unnecessary for securing Israel and would improve Palestinian daily life.

The call applies to 58 manned barriers and almost all the 467 roadblocks.

Peace Now says only 35 checkpoints can be justified as controlling access between Israel and the West Bank, which has been under Israeli occupation since 1967.

The permanent roadblocks established by the army included gates, earth mounds and cement blocks.

They restrict the freedom of movement for the majority of Palestinians and turn short journeys into lengthy trips which involve waiting periods at each checkpoint, the group says.

Trips between Palestinian cities in the West Bank which used to take just one hour can now take three times that because of delays at checkpoints, the group says.

It adds that for the Israeli soldiers manning checkpoints there are dangers from coming into close contact with the Palestinian population, increasing the risk of suicide attacks.

The Israel government defends its travel restrictions as being necessary to prevent such attacks on Israel and Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The settlements are illegal in the eyes of international law, although Israel disputes its jurisdiction.

    Checkpoints to Israel (manned): 35
    Internal West Bank checkpoints (manned): 58
    Permanent unmanned roadblocks: 467
    Source: Peace Now

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