[ This article refers to a number of maps which are too detailed to be rendered readably on this website. They are available (via these links) as Acrobat PDF files. Map One shows the situation in Hebron now, with the Arab town dominated by Israeli settlements. Map Two follows the sequence of Israeli transfers of West Bank territory to Palestinian self-rule between 1994 and 1999. Map Three gives a detailed picture of the West Bank after the second Israeli redeployment earlier this year. The current demographic status of annexed East Jerusalem can be seen on Map Four. A breakdown of land expropriations in the same part of the city between 1967 and 1999 is given in Map Five. The map of Israel's 'Final status' proposals for the West Bank put forward in May 2000 are shown in Map Six. All maps were provided by the Foundation for Middle East Peace, Washington.]
On 29 September, the day after Ariel Sharon, guarded by about a thousand Israeli police and soldiers strode into Jerusalem's Haram al-Sharif (the 'Noble Sanctuary') in a gesture designed to assert his right as an Israeli to visit the Muslim holy place, a conflagration started which continues as I write in late November. Sharon himself is unrepentant, blaming the Palestinian Authority for 'deliberate incitement' against Israel 'as a strong democracy' whose 'Jewish and democratic character' the Palestinians wish to change. He went to Haram al-Sharif, he wrote in the Wall Street Journal a few days later, 'to inspect and ascertain that freedom of worship and free access to the Temple Mount is granted to everyone', but he didn't mention his huge armed entourage or the fact that the area was sealed off before, during and after his visit, which scarcely ensures freedom of access. He also neglected to say anything about the consequence of his visit: on the 29th, the Israeli Army shot eight Palestinians dead. What everyone ignored, moreover, is that the natives of a place under military occupation - which East Jerusalem has been since it was annexed by Israel in 1967 - are entitled by international law to resist by any means possible. Besides, two of the oldest and greatest Muslim shrines in the world, dating back a millennium and a half, are supposed by archaeologists to have been built on the site of the Temple Mount - a convergence of religious topoi that a provocative visit by an extremist Israeli general was never going to help to sort out. A general, it's as well to recall, who had played a role in a number of atrocities dating back to the 1950s, and including Sabra, Shatila, Qibya and Gaza.
LRB 14 December 2000 | PDF Download