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Palestinian Residents Say Peace Only Possible Without Jewish Settlers


Entrance to a neighborhood, part of the Kiryat Arba Jewish settlement in Hebron

Entrance to a neighborhood, part of the Kiryat Arba Jewish settlement in Hebron

Among the biggest challenges to the U.S.-brokered peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians is the conflict surrounding the more than 100 Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinians say the settlements make it impossible for them to have a contiguous Palestinian state and have threatened to quit the negotiations unless Israel extends a partial construction freeze that is set to expire September 26.

Palestinian residents in the area around Hebron - the scene of frequent clashes between the two groups - want more than a construction freeze. They are calling for a total withdrawal of settlements.

It is a morning ritual for Bader Mohammed Jabari, whose home of generations sits next to the Kiryat Arba Jewish settlement.

Israeli security restrictions mean he cannot bring his car onto his property, so he is forced to hand carry fuel and groceries.

"There are many obstacles," he said. "When we have to haul materials home, especially at night, if we have to take a child to the hospital. The troubles are from the crack of dawn to the end of the day."

Bader Mohammed Jabari

Bader Mohammed Jabari

Jabari lives in an area of Hebron across the road from the entrance to this neighborhood, a part of the Kiryat Arba settlement.

He is on the front line of the conflict between Palestinians who have lived here for hundreds of years and Jewish settlers who have made this their home here over the past few decades.

The Hebron area has seen frequent confrontations between the two groups. Israeli soldiers say restrictions on the entry of Palestinian vehicles are a result of attacks by Arab residents against both Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers who protect them.

For Jabari and other residents, the Israeli security patrols mean daily harassment and suffering.

As Jabari was talking in front our camera, an Israeli security guard from Kiryat Arba interrupted the interview, demanding identification. The guard falsely presented himself as a border policeman.

The officer's supervisor later denied that the officer had identified himself as a policeman. The official said security personnel routinely demand to see identification of those - inside and outside the settlements - who represent a danger to settlers.

Bader Mohammed Jabari says he has never threatened settlers. He says he has repeatedly applied to the Israelis for a permit to bring vehicles onto his property, but has been denied.

He says with the settlers here, peace is impossible.

"They are not thinking about living in peace so people cannot think about living with them in peace," he said. "The solution is that the settlers must go back inside Israel and we should live in a Palestinian Authority area. It means there must be a separation."

For now, he will continue to live with the Israeli-imposed restrictions.

He says his one hope in the ongoing negotiations is that the Palestinian leadership will not back down on its demands to get rid of the settlements.

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