Tuesday, June 06, 2006

State of confusion

I know I reserve at least one day a week for “Question Time” and many of you have said how much you’ve liked it or hated it depending on your point of view. Well today I thought I’d just center on one question if no one has an objection.

No one?

Good, then let’s get started. Now, rather than throw the question out to Prime Minister Olmert or President Bush, I thought I’d take a creative approach and throw it out there to anyone who wishes to answer it.

Are you ready?

Here’s the question:

I’m just curious. After Israel finally gives the Palestinians their State - Hey no laughing in the back there! This is a serious question coming up! Yes you in the blue with the funny hat on I see you there! – Where was I? Oh yes, after Israel gives the Palestinians a State are those of us who have friends and family in Palestine going to be allowed to go and see them?

I mean, lets look at this question for a moment. Right now, Israel is going to leave the huge settlement blocs intact: The Gush Etzion Bloc, The Ma’ale Adummim Bloc, The Ariel Bloc, and The Jordan Valley Bloc. In addition, they control the Karni Crossing and only those with Palestinian IDs can get into Gaza. Would those of us who are not Palestinian, nor holders of West Bank or Gaza permits, be allowed to enter the new Palestinian State?

You might think it’s a simple question, but it doesn’t appear that way. For instance, Israel controls the water, air, and electronic frequencies in both Gaza and The West Bank. What makes you think this is likely to change when a “so called” State of Palestine emerges?

I’d like to believe that Israel would get better about this but their track record is not that great to begin with.

If I flew into Ben Gurion in Tel Aviv and, as usual, got interrogated five times before I even got close to the conveyor belt to have my luggage x-rayed, and was asked where I was headed to in Israel, I would think the conversation would go something like this:

Security Girl: Hello Sir, can I see your ID?

Me: Certainly. Hey, nice uniform blue and white looks good on you really.

Security Girl: Please shut up Sir, I have a boyfriend.

Me: Oh.

(She checks my passport flips through it several times and glances up at me then back down at my passport.)

Security: Sir, where are you going in Israel?

Me: Oh I’m not going to Israel, I’m going to Palestine.

Security: Why?

Me: To visit some friends there and also to work. I have a job in Bethlehem.

Security: I see come with me Sir.

Me: Okay, you sure your boyfriend won’t mind?

Security Girl: Please give it up Sir you have no chance. Even if you were the last man on Earth and I was the last woman, I’d date trees.

And off I’d go for a lovely six-hour conversation (More than likely with her boyfriend in tow) and finally the opportunity to get on another plane for a 16-hour flight back to the States.

My reason for asking the question of how I get into the Country is valid. I’m sure you have all heard of Maureen Murphy. She worked with Al-Haq in Ramallah as a human rights defender. When she arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Israel, on her way back from The US to Ramallah in the occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). She was interrogated, denied entry into Israel, declared persona non grata and deported on a plane right back out of the country.

An Israeli lawyer tried to get an injunction to prevent the deportation but a Judge denied it over the phone. You see the formal charge of denying Murphy entry was immigration. The Israeli authorities were convinced that Murphy would try to settle illegally in Israel. The lawyer’s argument that Ramallah is not in Israel, but rather in the OPT was deemed irrelevant. But the problem here remains that there is not another way into The West Bank without passing through Israeli border control since Israel does not allow the operation of any airports inside the West bank, or Gaza for that matter.

Okay, granted the Palestinians do not have a State at this writing, but what about the future? Even if, Gaza is allowed to thrive, and control its borders, this doesn’t help those of us who wish to go to the West Bank.

Israel has effectively created a no-win situation for The Palestinians and at the same time can claim that they have given a State to them, and thus can claim that the occupation of Palestine is officially over.

Furthermore, there would be no guarantees from Israel that those of us with family, friends, and employment in Palestine, would ever be able to get pass Israeli border control without the proper documentation. Never mind the fact that at this point Palestine should be able to govern who is allowed to come in and out of their own country. The fact would still remain that I would have to go through Israel in order to get to Palestine in the first place.

Funny old world isn’t it?

So again, I have to ask: How will I be able to see my friends in the West bank? Unless, I can design some cool wings and find a way to gracefully glide into Palestine without touching Israeli soil …yeah that could work.

Hey, I might be on to something here!

Nah, probably better if I don’t try this; knowing my luck the Israelis would just shoot me down anyway. More than likely saying that I was a terrorist getting ready to drop a bomb on Jerusalem or something like that.

And besides, getting those kinds of wings probably requires some sort of permit and Lord knows the Israelis aren’t gonna give it too me anyway.


Ibrahamav said...

When there is another sovereign Palestinian state, that government will control who enters that country. They will have their own airport.

Right now Israel controls the entire area, regardless of your concerns, and has the legal right and responsibility to control entry.

Anonymous said...

Cross the Allenby bridge from Jordan into Palestine. Since we assume that things will have calmed down enough on both sides following the establishment of a Palestinian state, you will be stamped out of Jordan by a Jordanian and stamped into Palestine by a Palestinian. No Israelis involved.

Anonymous said...

NB I've never done that, because I have an aversion to being filled full of lead by Palestinian Hamasnik or Fatahnik "border guards", but have chosen instead to cross at the other two border crossings, into the Galilee or the Negev. Still, someone with a third-country passport would be untouchable by both parties, and by Israel. And it's totally conceivable with a long enough peace and a non-Hamas govt. in the West Bank, even an Israeli, or US-naturalised Israeli might be able to do it.

Anonymous said...

Palistine can declare itself a State anytime it wants. The UN will gladly recognize them. And when the Israeli's are attacked again, they will be conquered.

Stop attacking the Israeli's and everything else can negotiated. Saudi Arabia gets fresh water from the sea; when the violence ends maybe some investment in Palistine can happen. I mean if they don't turn into a bunch of commies.