Gush Shalom marks the Green Line

Until 1967, the border dividing Israel from the West Bank was marked on the map in green. After 1967, successive Israeli governments invested enormous effort and huge sums of money in trying to efface and obliterate the Green Line, with highways cutting across it and Israeli settlements mushrooming on the other side.

In one of the weekly meetings at the Gush Shalom office the idea came up of reminding the public that there is a Green Line; that after thirty-one years the Green Line remains Israel's internationally-recognised boundary, the only real possible location for the future border of peace between Israel and Palestine.

On Saturday, July 18, the Marking the Green Line Campaign was launched. The location was chosen carefully: on the so-called "Trans-Samaria Highway" bisecting the northern part of the occupied West Bank and leading to the large settlement of Ariel and a host of smaller settlements -- all built with the express intention of taking an enormous bite out of the meagre territory left to the Palestinians.

On the weekend afternoon one full bus and a long caravan of private cars flying green ribbons, all came to the exact place where this settler highway bisects the old border. Upon alighting, several young activists, sporting green arm bands, swiftly climbed the ridges on both sides of the highway, connecting them with with a strip of green nylon -- highly visible against the clear blue sky; later, they also poured a considerable quantity of green paint down the rocky slopes, leaving a highly visible and hard-to erase mark.

Other activists marked a green strip on the road itself. Many joined in the effort of gathering the numerous stones found at the roadside into two big cairns -- one on each side -- which were also painted gleaming green.

Palestinian officials Sufian Abu Zaida and Farez Kadura attended the ceremony but another fifty Palestinians were blocked at the military checkpoint two kilometres to the east.

The passing settlers probably didn't understand what it was all about, until their eyes were caught by huge green banners reading THE GREEN LINE: BORDER OF PEACE BETWEEN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE.

When police arrived, they seemed quite bewildered at the intensive activity going on all around. They contented themselves with from time to time shouting on the bullhorn: "Stay off the road!" The action made it into the evening news of both TV channels. The first time for long that Israelis were confronted with the opinion that 13% is not even very much...

Meanwhile simple Green Line Maps in Hebrew and Arabic have been prepared in large quantities and VIPs are being mobilised to participate in future border-marking actions.