The concept of "separation" is understood in a myriad of different ways in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In Israel, the idea is debated by the public after each wave of Palestinian attacks inside Israel; it is a knee-jerk response to the experience of anguish.
Palestinians, on the other hand, have long been unified over the idea that "separation" must mean the dismantling of the Israeli occupation and all its interferences into Palestinian daily life. This requires that Israel leave the Palestinian occupied territories by mutually signed agreement, thus ensuring an independent Palestinian state within the borders of 1967, including Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It also means that relations between the two sides will be based on equality, taking into consideration the interests of each with no domination of one over the other. This concept of separation would allow Palestinians to establish foreign and economic relations with other states on the basis of their specific needs. It would also mandate control over Palestine’s borders and movement in and out of those borders between Palestine and any other country that Palestinians wish to establish relations with.
While the concept of separation in Israel varies from one political camp to another, in general it is defined by the creation of systems that prevent Palestinians from entering Israel while allowing the Israeli military and settlers to enter Palestine at whim. Of course, the Israeli mainstream differs over the path of the line that should separate the two sides, as well as the level of control that is maintained. But nearly all of these advocates base their desire for separation solely on one-way traffic and the ultimate strategic goal of domination.
A minority in Israel made up of Peace Now and those to its left base their concept of separation on international law and norms, including a complete end to the occupation, and their understanding intersects with Palestinian goals. These groups are marginal, however, and apply little weight in the political balance of power in Israel.
It is understandable then, that Palestinians are generally mistrustful of Israeli intentions in calling for separation. They see in it an attempt to rearrange the occupation in a manner that is more comfortable for the occupier and more difficult to resist. Nothing better illustrates this faÃ§ade than the wall, falsely presented by Israel as the physical embodiment of benign "separation." First, the course of the wall falls not on Israel’s recognized borders but inside the occupied territories, thus implementing another illegal confiscation of Palestinian land. Second, the wall prevents Palestinians from leaving towns and villages now encircled by razor wire, ditches, electronic fencing and cement walls at the same time that Israel’s settlers, soldiers and military aircraft have free access over, above, and among Palestinians inside those barriers. Finally, the wall allows Israel to contain the Palestinians, not only preventing their movement into Israel but also preventing t! heir movement to other countries (and preventing others from visiting them).
Thus, the Palestinian feeling is that the notion of separation is deceptive and manipulated for Israel’s use. A strategy based on this concept is not going to bring either side any nearer to a just and lasting peace. Separation based on a complete end to the occupation, on the other hand, and which gives birth to a viable and independent Palestinian state with the same rights as Israel, is the only solution that will ensure the peace and security both sides crave.