Beginning in 1977, upon his appointment as head of the Begin government’s Ministerial Committee on Settlements, Ariel Sharon sought to create “facts on the ground” which would render Israel’s Occupation irreversible. No matter what changes occurred in the political situation – new geo-political constellations, new American administrations, even Israeli governments professing a willingness to relinquish land for peace – the West Bank had to be so completely incorporated into the urban fabric of Israel proper that the Occupation would be immune to outside forces. This policy, embedded in the Matrix of Control, has several components:

  • Carving the Occupied Territories into small, disconnected and impoverished enclaves. With the signing of Oslo II in 1995, the Occupied Territories, which had been coherent geographical areas and whose integrity Israel was bound to respect, were atomized into more than 70 enclaves. The West Bank was divided into 64 islands: Areas A, B and C, plus a large “nature preserve” in the Judean Desert. Tiny Gaza, one of the most densely packed places on earth, was severed into four areas – Yellow, Green, Blue and White – with Israel keeping control of 40%, especially along the coastline, until Israel’s “disengagement” in 2005, when it became a beseiged island. Many other devices further dismembered the Palestinian territories. Hebron was divided into “H-1” and “H-2,” with 30,000 Palestinians living in the expanded Israeli-controlled section because of 400 settlers. In Jerusalem, most of the Palestinian lands in the eastern part of the city were declared “open green spaces” in which Palestinians were forbidden to build. Thus the Palestinians constitute a third of Jerusalem’s population but only have access to 7% of the urban land for residential and community purposes. “Nature preserves,” closed military areas and security zones further locked Palestinians into islands encircled by the Israeli Matrix. Even seemingly innocuous holy places such as the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the site of an ancient synagogue in Jericho serve as pretexts for maintaining an Israeli “security presence,” and hence military control reinforced by settlements.