By Sandy Tolan
Fifty years ago, as the fog of the Six-Day War lifted and Israel celebrated its “miraculous” victory over Arab nations, a darker reality sank in. Israel’s military then dominated millions of Palestinians living on their own land. At the time, moral appeals within Israel and legal counsel in a secret Israeli Foreign Ministry memo warned of dire consequences if the occupation were not quickly abandoned.
Of course, the opposite happened. Year after year, thousands of Israelis, many who believed they were called by God, colonized the West Bank, threatening the dream of two populations living side by side in peace. The first Oslo Accord, signed in 1993 supposedly to facilitate a two-state solution, instead helped make one nearly impossible.
● The Israeli West Bank settler population has nearly quadrupled to about 400,000 since Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands on the White house lawn after signing that Oslo Accord in September 1993.
● More than a dozen Jewish settlements now ring East Jerusalem, the would-be capital of an independent Palestinian state, virtually snuffing out the two-state dream.
● Sixty percent of the West Bank remains under Israel’s full military control, with hundreds of barriers forcing Palestinian families into increasingly isolated cantons.
● Israel essentially controls so-called Area A autonomous zones, with checkpoints at the entrances of most Palestinian towns, and frequent night raids take place, which the military implements with impunity. In one incident straight out of the Jim Crow South, soldiers took over a swimming pool in Area A, forcing Palestinians out of the water so settlers could take a dip.
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