As the Palestinian leadership remains hesitant about what to do to address growing settler violence in the West Bank, Israel is seeking to create a separate Palestinian ‘state’ in Gaza, says Talal Awkal
by Talal ‘Awkal – Al Ayyam
(translated by Mideast Mirror Ltd)
The events in the West Bank since last week’s crime of setting the Dawabsha family’s home on fire [killing the infant Ali and his father], have serious implications for Israel’s plans to nullify Palestinian rights. It would be possible to respond to the Dawabsha fire in more than one way if it were an isolated crime, outside the scope of Israel’s general policy. But things are heading in a different direction. These are the terms of a possible war that Israel may wage on the West Bank, which will be different from that that it may wage on the Gaza strip that it has treated as a hostile entity since September 2009.
Israel’s war on the West Bank targets the land, people, the political system and rights, and is aimed at sapping the Palestinian will, in a blatant challenge to all the UN’s resolutions. The war against Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque has not flagged, and Israel has not backed down when it comes to confiscating land and building settlements. It is seeking to force-feed prisoners who go on hunger strike, while settler terrorism grows, and the crimes against the people and land continue.
Israel is taking advantage of neighboring and internal conditions. The U.S. has abandoned its efforts in the peace process despite its bias towards Israel, and the European Union is paralyzed, while the Arab position is fragmented, and steeped in internal concerns. The Palestinian situation is no better. [The Fatah/Hamas/Gaza/West Bank] Division still determines the extent and nature of any possible confrontation with Israel and the answer to the question as to whether a third Palestinian intifada can break out is in the negative. All its circumstances have matured except for this divide.
[Palestinian] Political leaders hide behind their impotence by issuing empty threats that Israel knows exactly how serious they are and counts on being able to contain them. The political leadership is confused, hesitant and indecisive, making random choices without clear or comprehensive strategies.
Israeli President Rivlin speaks of Israel’s political lassitude in fighting Jewish terrorism, while former Shin Bet head Diskin warns that the ‘state of Judea in the West Bank’ is taking form, and is operating under different rules than those adopted in the state of Israel. Diskin diagnoses the current situation posed by the settlement presence and ideology in the West Bank as being in harmony with Israel’s strategy for dealing with the West Bank by providing the project of the state of ‘Judea’ the protection and care of the army and security services.
Aside from the repercussions of the role played by settlers, acting like a time bomb that will explode within Israel and turn it into a racist society plagued by all sorts of contradictions and struggles, the more direct impact of their role is to bury the vision of two states with Jerusalem as a capital, preparing to annex a large part of the West Bank and expelling the [Palestinian] population there.
The culminating point in this plan, of which the ordinary Palestinian citizen as well as political officialdom are well aware, is to separate the Gaza strip from the West Bank once and for all, creating all the appropriate circumstances to establish a state in the Strip with its own people, distinct from those in the West Bank and elsewhere. Discussions about a temporary truce in exchange for ending the siege and allowing a port and possibly an airport may have regressed somewhat since the mediators have moved on to discussing the resistance [Hamas and other Palestinian armed factions] and its arms.
In Israel’s political thought and the visions of those mediators who support it, there can be no agreement on any such deal without getting rid of the resistance’s arms in one way or another. If Hamas is unwilling to agree to eliminate the resistance’s arms, it will probably take a new war on the strip to achieve the plan of creating the state of Gaza.
Last year’s war against the Strip will no longer act as a motive for negotiations for a fixed ceasefire. The situation has gone back to where it was before the war with the exception of the massive destruction and great numbers of martyrs and wounded. That merchandise is no longer good for trade.
“The Arab, regional, and international circumstances are all very appropriate for Israel to launch a new war on Gaza to disarm all the resistance factions who present an obstacle to imposing a settlement or an agreement that cedes Gaza once and for all. To those who wish to establish a Palestinian state, this will be all that Israel has to offer to the Palestinians”.