There have been “forbidden roads” for a long time now – within Palestinian land – that Palestinians are not allowed to drive on. They are by-pass roads for Israeli settlers only. Now a new military order prohibits Palestinians living in the West Bank from entering Israeli via any route other than one of the 11 designated crossings for Palestinians only, and then only on foot. Israelis are prohibited from transporting West Bank Palestinians through these passages into Israel.
According to Israeli reporter Amira Hass in Haaretz, the signs say:
“Passage is for Israelis only. Transporting and/or movement of people who are not Israelis is forbidden through this passage. The yellow signs explain who is an Israeli. The definiation is in the major general’s order, and is the standard definition used in military orders declaring ‘a closed military area’ to Palestinians, where only Israelis are allowed to enter. ‘An Israeli,’ says the order and the sign, ‘is a resident of Israel, someone whose residency is in the region (meaning the occupied territory, Amira adds) and is an Israeli citizen (a settler, she says), or one who is eligible to become an immigrant according to the Law of Return – 1950 and someone who is not a resident of the region but has a valid entry permit to Israel (a tourist).”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met an LWF delegation led by President Bishop Mark S. Hanson; General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko; and Vice-President for the Asia region, Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan in the PA offices in Gaza City September 3. He praised the LWF for its continued efforts to work for peace, justice and reconciliation in the region, and presented Bishops Hanson and Younan with Bethlehem 2000 Medal for their work.
“I know how much you are doing for our people, [for] Muslims and Christians, and Jerusalem,” Abbas told them. They spoke about the Middle East peace process, prospects for Lutheran schools, services offered by the LWF-run Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, and inter-faith relations.
Concerning the recent Israeli withdrawal from Gaza settlements, Abbas stressed the need to “take the momentum and work very hard to return to the Roadmap for Peace,” developed by the United States, in cooperation with Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations (the Quartet), for a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Much has changed [but] much remains to be done,” he said.
General Secretary Ismael Noko expressed his gratitude to the PA President for the Palestinians’ gesture of welcome to the LWF Council and solidarity with the ELCJHL. He said the venue of the meeting was an opportunity for representatives of LWF member churches worldwide to share the experiences of the Palestinian people with their churches.