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Friday, October 26, 2007

Getting from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and back

There are two roads between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Route 1 was built shortly after the 1967 war, is mostly - but not entirely - on the pre-war side of the 'green line' and is mostly a good highway with at least three lanes in each direction as a result of many improvements that have taken place over the last 15-20 years. For Israelis who (believe they) won't go 'there,' Route 1 is the road from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and back.

Route 443 is the result of an expansion of what was a back road from Jerusalem to Modiin which becomes a real highway at Modiin and meets up with Route 1 just south of Ben Gurion Airport. I discussed Route 443 and its history at length here. Most of Route 443 between Beitunia (the entry to Ramallah through which Israeli Jews generally do not pass, which has a large prison and army base next to it) to Modiin is only two lanes in each direction. Nevertheless, Route 443 is a vital highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. During the bad days of the Oslo War, when the 'Palestinians' turned it into a shooting gallery, many Israelis (including me) avoided Route 443, traffic on Route 1 - which is just a mile or two to the west at the points where they are furthest apart - was intolerable.

As it happens, I drove on Route 443 to Tel Aviv yesterday afternoon. Coming into Jerusalem, Route 443 becomes "Menachem Begin Boulevard" which is a 4-6 lane highway that crisscrosses Jerusalem from North to South. It's not a place you would want terrorists to drive.

The reason Route 443 is mostly safe today is that the 'Palestinian' villages are generally set back from the side of the road - the army did not let them get too close - and access to and from the highway from them is blocked with large boulders. There are constant IDF patrols on the road, and the IDF has set up a couple of small bases at particularly dangerous points. Yesterday morning, a group of 'Palestinians' and extreme leftist Israelis, coordinated by the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), blocked Route 443 at the height of the morning rush hour in 'a non-violent demonstration' in favor of the right of 'Palestinians' to shoot at Israelis on the road use the road. There are no signs on the road that say 'No Palestinians allowed,' but there are checkpoints you have to go through when entering Jerusalem or the Modiin area and the 'Palestinian' villages alongside the road - as noted above - are blocked from entry. So effectively, no 'Palestinians' use the road. (Actually, the checkpoints when entering Jerusalem and the Modiin area were instituted in 1994 when the creation of the 'Palestinian Authority' signaled the onset of terror attacks in Israel. Then-Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin z"l was the first to create them in order to try to contain the problem at the green line. The 'Palestinian' villages were blocked in 2002 or 2003 after several shooting attacks on the road dating back to December 2000).

What they can't - or won't - understand is that the average Israeli has no objection to them using the road - we object to them trying to turn the road into a shooting gallery. But the real issue of yesterday's demonstration wasn't the right of 'Palestinians' to use the road:
Jews who live in the area contend that access into pre-1967 Israel is not difficult for local PA residents despite the travel restrictions on 443. PA residents legally allowed to work in pre-1967 Israel are still able to do so using alternate, Israeli vehicles and transportation.


Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Movement spokesman Mohammed Khatib said the event was "the first in a series of popular non-violent protests against the Israeli system of apartheid."

In a release posted on the International Solidarity Movement website, the Route 443 "passes through occupied West Bank territory and is built on land that has been confiscated from Palestinians whose olive trees have been cut down…" [For which they were undoubtedly compensated. It's required by law. In your countries, that's called "eminent domain." CiJ]

ISM charged Israel with using the security restriction that allows highway access only to those with Israeli license plates as a means of "putting the Palestinians out of sight and out of mind for Israelis."

The far-left B'tselem human rights organization accused Israel of intending to annex the area along which the road runs. "If Israel was only interested in protecting the lives of Israelis rather than annexing the area, it could limit or even prohibit the travel of Israelis on the road cutting through the West Bank and build roads inside Israeli territory, thus providing safe channels of transportation to connect Jerusalem and Tel Aviv," said the group in a statement quoted by ISM.

The security barrier and restricted roads which have prevented hundreds of would-be terrorists from carrying out suicide bombings are "at the root of the West Bank's declining economy," it said.
On the point of 'annexing' the road, B'Tselem is actually speaking the truth. There is no more room between Routes 1 and 443 to build another major highway. And without Route 443, we would likely return to the pre-1967 traffic patterns where traveling from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv - about a 45-mile trip - would take 2-3 hours each way instead of the 50 minutes or so it takes under ordinary traffic conditions. And so, yes, every plan Israel has presented for 'peace' with the 'Palestinians' maintains Israeli control over Route 443. Otherwise, we will have two basket-case-states between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea rather than one. Or a lot of dead Jews.

And by the way, the reason Route 1 wasn't built until after 1967 is ... that it also crosses the 'green line' for a few kilometers near Latrun.

Starting and losing wars has consequences for every nation. There's no reason the 'Palestinians' and their Arab patrons should be different.


At 6:17 PM, Blogger Daniel434 said...

Thank you for the lesson, good post. The situation is more volatile than I thought. I guess I never considered much about Israeli travel with all those carpetbagging 'Palestinians' around.


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