National Geographic : 2002 Oct
blocs close to the Green Line could enjoy a comfortable suburban lifestyle within an easy commute to jobs inside Israel itself. According to the Israeli human rights organization B'Tse lem, 42 percent of the land in the West Bank is now controlled by the settlements. By 1993 more than 115,000 Palestinians were commuting to jobs in Israel and earning higher wages than they would have in their traditional occupations as farmers, traders, or artisans. However, around the same time, the Israeli gov ernment, responding to Palestinian attacks on Israelis, began placing severe restrictions on these workers' mobility, to the detriment of the Palestinian economy. Israel, in turn, was becoming increasingly reliant on the West Bank for water. A third of its entire supply was being drawn from aquifers under the highlands of the territory. Since 1967 all water resources in the territory have been put under Israeli state control. Palestinians who aii wi'& mm K rl ~ maw I~R3 3 . L need to drill a well, or repair an old one, need a permit. Such permits, which require approvals from a variety of Israeli committees and departments for a single well, are rarely granted. Today, Israelis consume five times as much water per head as Palestinians, many of whom must rely entirely on water trucked in from distant wells during the dry summer months. According to B'Tselem, inhabitants of the settlements, where swimming pools are plenti ful and crop irrigation common, use even more water. The 1993 Oslo Accords sparked the first moves by Israel to alleviate, at least partially, the effects of the occupation. Uri Savir, the chief Israeli negotiator, later wrote that it was during the peace talks leading to the Oslo Accords that he first learned that "a West Bank Palestinian could not build, work, study, purchase land, grow produce, start a business, take a walk at night, enter Israel, go abroad, or visit his family in Gaza or Jordan without a permit from us." As part of the accords Israel agreed to British Mandate for Palestine As part of the settlement ending World War I, the Ottoman Empire was dis mantled, and Britain gov erned Palestine with a League of Nations mandate. Under the British (who endorsed the Zionist vision of a national homeland in Palestine), Jewish immigra tion steadily increased, alarming local Arabs. Riots and terrorism erupted as both sides lashed out at each other-and the British. As pressure mounted after World War II, Britain turned to the UN for a solution. United Nations Partition Plan When Britain, in 1947, first declared it would with draw from Palestine, the UN stepped in and adopted a plan calling for the parti tion of Palestine into two states-one Palestinian and one Jewish, with Jeru salem under UN control. Arabs throughout the Mid dle East rejected the plan, while Jews in Palestine rejoiced-and steeled themselves for war. After Britain announced its inten tion to depart in the spring of 1948, Arab-Jewish vio lence escalated. Israel's War of Independence When Britain withdrew in May 1948, Israel pro claimed its independence and the governments of Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon mobilized for war. Well armed and much better organized, Israel quickly gained the upper hand, repulsing the Arab armies and seizing even more of Palestine than the partition plan had pre scribed, uprooting 750,000 Palestinians. Jordan annexed Jerusalem's Old City and the West Bank, while Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip. Six Day War In early 1967 Syria and Egypt appeared to be readying an attack on Israel. On June 5 the Jewish state struck first, routing Egyp tian forces and seizing the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip. When Jordan shelled Tel Aviv and West Jerusa lem, Israel retaliated, capturing all of Arab-held Jerusalem and the West Bank. Up north, Israel cap tured Syria's Golan Heights. A few months later the UN passed Resolution 242, calling for Israel to withdraw from occupied territory in exchange for peace.