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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

On Haled's Roof (Amira Hass)

The article below by Amira Hass appeared in Haaretz but has not been translated in to English yet.
I just received the translation from a dear friend whose friend translated the article. At Annapolis SUPPOSEDLY-Israel has committed to a one year time-table. A great deal can happen in a year, and quite frankly, I'll believe it when I see it. Forty years have gone by, with illegal settlements and the roads leading to them making a viable contiguous Palestinian state impossible. Whatever the "outcome"........................

Translated from the Hebrew by Elana

On Haled's Roof

Amira Hass
Haaretz (Hebrew only)
Wednesday November 28, 2007

[In contrast to most of the 'opinion' articles, this one has not been
translated by Haaretz. Maybe it will be tomorrow or the next day or
never. It is the kind of article that is often purposely skipped over
and is never seen by non-Hebrew-speakers . - I made a quick translation,
because not only Hebrew speakers should be able to read it. - Elana]

Haled rarely takes his children to the village of his birth in the
western part of the West Bank, south of Qalqilya. It's hard for him to
sit on the roof of his parents' home and from there look out at the
family land (about 500 meters away) without being able to reach it.
This land had always been a kind of insurance; security for a continuing
income, where all the brothers and sisters worked and from which they
all benefited. It guaranteed respite from the urban crowd and was also
a kind of savings and security for a time of need - sickness, heaven
forbid; or higher education for the grandchildren. It was always
possible to sell a dunam or to build on it in order to realize a dream.

Between the roof and the promise, between him and the 20 dunams that
remained in the family's possession, was the separation fence, an ugly
scar of high fencing, barbed wire, and wide strips of exposed earth
where a row of trees had been uprooted and whose absence remains painful
like the stump of a missing limb.

The roof of his childhood home is Haled's Mount Nevo. He sees the
promised land so close and cannot reach it. Staff of the Civil
Authority take care to create lengthy, complicated bureaucratic
procedures for Palestinians to try to gain periodic entrance permits to
reach the private lands beyond the fence. By the time the processes are
understood, they change, and the criteria become yet more restricted.

The result: parents get entrance permits to their land, but they can't
work the land alone. Children and grandchildren can get permits but not
as members of the family, only as hired workers. Such permits are
limited to a small number of days, and they are not suited to those who
have regular jobs elsewhere. Moreover, the very necessity of requesting
a permit to reach the family property - all that only if you can prove
you have a justifiable reason for wanting to be on your own land - is so
infuriating that they give up without trying.

In the West Bank there are about two million Haleds. In every village
and city many families have land that Israel prevents them from
reaching, like land in area C (60% of the West Bank), by means of the
separation barrier, security roads of Jewish settlements, settlements
built on part of the land that blocks access to the land that hasn't
been confiscated, roads that are forbidden to Palestinian travel, closed
military areas, army camps, or army road blocks.

Every Palestinian has their own Mount Nevo, from which they see the
land, which has as much emotional as material value, being taken away
from them. When a fire breaks out, as has happened more than once on
the land of Kafin, it's impossible to reach it and put out the fire in
time. If one wants to grow vegetables, it's impossible to irrigate them
because the well is in the part of the private land that has been
confiscated for the use of the nearby settlement, as was the case with
Abu Fahmi from Dir Istiya. And when settlers occupy the land, it's
impossible to get rid of them, as was the case with the land belonging
to the Kadan family from El Bireh when youths from Bet El turned their
private property into a place of worship. The Civil Administration did
remove the settlers from this intrusion, but in any case the army does
not allow the Palestinians to come there. The result is the same: the
land cannot be used.

The Israeli government is praised for its vision of two states for two
peoples, apparently adopted by its leaders and brought by them to
Annapolis. But Israel refuses to commit to a time table for implementing
the vision. Meanwhile, its faithful messengers in the army and in the
Civil authority and the settlers as well hold ongoing one-sided
negotiations on the fate and shape of the future Palestinian state.
They are doing everything to ensure that millions of dunams of land, the
land reserve of the future Palestinian state, will not be returned to
its lawful owners. They cause more and more land to be seen as
abandoned land or what is known in Israeli Orwellian as absentee
property, that is, land that the state of the Jewish people has learned
to pronounce as being state owned in practice.

On Haled's Roof

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