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May 14, 1993 - Image 52

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-05-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Q

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bounds of the autonomy
area is mentioned in the
Camp David accords,
where it is referred to gen-
erally as "a strong local
police force." Just what
constitutes "strong" is now
a matter of debate
between the two sides.
Israeli Police Minister
Moshe Shahal has spoken
of constituting a force of "a
few thousand" policemen
equipped with "light
arms." Mr. Husseini has
spoken of a body of 20,000
policemen armed with
automatic weapons and
perhaps even mortars.
Whatever its eventual
size and disposition, how-
ever, representatives of
the settlers in the West
Bank have threatened to
defy the authority of the
Palestinian police — and
worse.
"If anyone dreams that
any settler in Judea,
Samaria, and Gaza will
lay eyes on an armed Arab
and not shoot him, he's
mistaken," warned Pinhas
Wallerstein, head of the
Benjamin Local Council.
The control of public
land in the territories is an
equally sensitive problem
— if only because of the
distribution of the settle-
ments the West Bank. As
matters stand,
Palestinians control (by
virtue of inhabiting or cul-
tivating it) some 20 per-
cent of the land in the
West Bank and Gaza.
Jewish settlements
account for 6-7 percent;
the army directly controls
2 percent; and the remain-
ing area is regarded as
"state lands."
Israel has proposed that
for the duration of the
interim settlement, the
Israeli government and
the Palestinian self-gov-
erning authority share
control of this public land.
Until now, the
Palestinians have been
demanding exclusive
authority over not only the
state lands, but the Jewish
settlements, to avoid what
they call the "Swiss-cheese
syndrome" — pockets of
Israeli sovereignty scat-
tered through the area
subject to their control.
It's hard to imagine
Israel ceding control over
the settlements — certain-
ly not during the interim

period. Yet the fate of the
state lands is a matter of
equal concern to the set-
tlers. If the autonomy
authority has the right to
issue building permits, the
settlers say that could
choke the settlements by
allowing Palestinians to
build right up against
their perimeters, or desig-
nating land for garbage
dumps at their entrances,
or any number of other
"plots" to drive the settlers
out by making life (in an
area to which so many
were drawn by visions of
an enhanced "quality of
life") unbearable for them.
Coping with these and
countless other thorny
details is the challenge the
negotiators will have to
meet. Yet despite the
many difficulties, there's a
budding sense that this

Palestinians have
been demanding
authority over
Jewish
settlements and
other controls.

time the two sides are
really serious about reach-
ing an accommodation.
There's even a sense of
urgency in the air — a
desire to proceed quickly
not only to restore the
Palestinians' faith in the
profitability of negotia-
tions, but to exploit the
popularity that "separa-
tion" (the latest buzz word)
enjoys among Israelis.
(When last polled, 85 per-
cent of the Israeli public
was in favor of continuing
the closure.)
"A bit belatedly," wrote
Yoel Marcus in Ha'aretz,
"the government has man-
aged to ride the wave of
disgust and desire to effect
a divorce between the two
peoples — regardless of
how much it costs."
Time, therefore, is of the
essence — and it now
appears that both sides
may know it. ❑

Annie Nathan Meyer, a
cousin of Emma Lazarus,
was one of the pioneer ad-
vocates of higher education
for women and was one of
the founders of Barnard Col-
lege.

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