by Mordechai Kedar
Read the article in the original עברית
Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)
In recent weeks we have seen an escalation in public disturbances, demonstrations, Molotov cocktails and militant declarations of activists in the field. And the question that naturally arises is "What are the causes and reasons for these developments, and are we about to experience a third intifada?"
The Arab spokesmen give three main reasons for the increase in events: the Palestinians who are prisoners in Israeli jails, the economy and the lack of progress toward independence.
The Issue of the Prisoners
The question of the prisoners and detainees is the most sensitive, because those whom Israel sees as criminals, murderers and terrorists, are prisoners of war to the Palestinian street; heroes and freedom fighters struggling to liberate their people from the Zionist occupation. According to the Geneva Convention, fighters must not be held in the same prison with criminals, so Israel - according to the Palestinian approach - is violating the provisions of the Convention by holding prisoners of war in the same prison with criminals.
This issue has a direct influence on thousands of families, because there are about five thousand Palestinian prisoners in Israel . Many of them are heads of households, and while they are in prison - which may be for many years - their families are left without livelihood, burdening the public with the responsibility to support the wives of the fighters and their children. Those who are not married have aging parents who need them, and they are missed by their siblings and the rest of the family as well. The personal matter has turned the issue of the prisoners into a most sensitive issue, and each time the prisoners begin a hunger strike it is deeply disturbing to those who live in the "big prison", the disputed territories.
When a prisoner dies, as happened with Arafat Jaradat a week ago, thousands join in street demonstrations to protest Israel's treatment of prisoners. They are not at all impressed by the fact that these prisoners are held in favorable conditions, that they can study and earn an academic degree, that they have a canteen and television with many channels, that bring into their cells al-Jazeera, the "Jihad channel" of the Muslim Brotherhood. Visits from representatives of the Red Cross do not impress the Palestinian street either, on the contrary: if Israel allows representatives of the Red Cross to visit the prisoners it means that Israel admits that the prisoners are not criminals but prisoners of war, so why does it continue to hold them there?
Another grievous thing according to the Palestinians is the fact that Israel put some men who were freed under the "Shalit deal" back in prison. They don't "buy" the Israeli version, which is that the prisoner violated the conditions of release - that he would not become involved in terror, because according to the Palestinian version, they are war heroes, and not criminals in any way.
The Economic Situation
The Economic situation of the Arabs in Judea and Samaria is not bright. The largest employer - the Palestinian Authority - is in a permanent state of bankruptcy, because its income, most of which comes from donations and charity, is less than its expenses, which consists mainly of salaries. The administration is bloated because of the employment of friends, family members and relatives, who were awarded jobs because of their connections, not their abilities. The donating countries know well how the PA conducts itself with monies, and therefore when it comes to the funding of infrastructure projects such as water, sewage, electricity or building, they pay the money directly to the contractors, not to the officials of the PA, so that they will not skim off money into their pockets.
Because of the Palestinian appeal to the UN for recognition of the PA as an observer state in opposition to the Oslo Accords, Israel has indefinitely frozen the transfer of tax money to the PA, and this is an important financial source. Arab countries are not happy to transfer money to the Palestinian Authority, because among Arabs, the concept of mutual responsibility is not strongly felt, and today there are other Arab populations - for example Egyptians, Syrians, Libyans and Yemenites - who are in a much worse economic condition than the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.
Another reason for the lack of Arab enthusiasm for support of the Palestinian Authority is the fact that for many years Palestinians have sold land to Jews, and it is on these lands that most of the settlements have been established. The rich Arab asks himself why he should give his money to those who have sold land to the Jews, and he doesn't have an answer, and as a result he gives his donations to unfortunates in other places, or to jihad organizations. The Palestinian Authority - which was established by accords with Israel - seems in the eyes of many like a betrayal of the Arab ethos and the commandments of Islam, thus it seems treasonous to keep streaming money into it.
Regarding this, it is important to note that the Palestinian Authority has not endeared itself to the public as a national project deserving everyone's commitment to its success, and the proof of this is that not one of the public officials is willing to serve the PA on a volunteer basis, without salary. Did the Resistance in the days of the Second World War pay salaries to its fighters? Did the Haganah, Etsel and Lehi give pensions to their operatives?
The factories that Israel has established in the industrial areas in Judea and Samaria provide another source of livelihood to the Palestinians. Some of these factories suffer from a reduction in sales as a result of the boycott that some countries - including the Palestinian Authority - have imposed on the products of Judea and Samaria, as a result of demands of the Palestinian Authority and its leftist friends in Israel, and as a result of this, factories have been forced to move their production lines into Israel or to close down the factory altogether. This has caused a loss of livelihood for many Palestinian workers who have been laid off as a result.
From time to time Israel transfers monies to the Palestinian Authority so that it will be able to function and to operate the security mechanisms, so that they will take part in the efforts to cope with terror. But everybody knows that when the command comes down, the people who work in these security mechanisms will turn their weapons against Israel and the Jews.
The Diplomatic Stalemate
The fact that there is no progress in the diplomatic channel also disturbs the Arab population in Judea and Samaria. The diplomatic dead end is caused mainly by the split between Hamas and the PLO, because neither the Palestinian Authority nor the PLO can assure that the agreements with Israel will be honored by Hamas in Gaza, which has been conducting itself as a separate country since June of 2007, when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip.
More and more people in Israel are aware that a new Palestinian country in Judea and Samaria might become within a short time, the inception of an additional Hamas state, whether by means of elections (as happened in January 2006) or by violent takeover (Gaza, June, 2007). Many of the Arabs who live in Judea and Samaria do not want Hamas to be in power, but they know that they will not be able to win in a struggle with the Islamic organization just as the PLO didn't succeed to prevent its takeover in Gaza.
The possibility that a Palestinian country might become a Hamas state prompts thousands of Arab residents of East Jerusalem to request Israeli citizenship, because they know that if they are Israeli citizens they will be able to move freely into West Jerusalem, should Israel give over the eastern part of the city to a Palestinian state. The Palestinians in Judea and Samaria cannot request Israeli citizenship, and therefore they are frustrated about the trap that they are in: They are obligated by the ethos of Palestinian liberation, which might become a slave movement of Hamas. But Hamas would impose upon them an Islamist agenda by force, and they are not interested in it.
For more than four years, Mahmoud Abbas has refrained from attending talks with the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, with the empty claim whose principle focuses on the matter of settlements, but everyone knows the real reason: he is not willing to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish People, is not willing to give up the right of return of the refugees of 1948 from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and the territories of the PA into Israel, and is not willing to leave East Jerusalem, and principally the Temple Mount, in Israel's hands. And since he knows that Israel will not endanger its own existence by giving in on these three things, he prefers to obstruct the diplomatic process, not to meet with Netanyahu even if he freezes the building in the settlements, in order not to go down in history as someone who gave Israel the assurance of its continued existence as the state of the Jewish people.
The diplomatic impasse also bothers the Arab public in Judea and Samaria, because in the absence of progress in the matter, the state leaves the prisoners in prison, and leaves the corrupt people of the PLO, whose legitimacy is questionable, in power.
The agitation of the Arabs in Judea and Samaria began the moment that President Obama's planned visit became known, because it is a golden opportunity to practice their performance for the time of Obama's visit, when the cameras of the whole world that will accompany accompany him. Everyone knows that when a TV channel brings its cameras to Judea and Samaria, the youth immediately gather around and produce a rock-throwing event for the cameras, even if there are no Israeli vehicles in the area. One of the youth volunteers to be "wounded", cries out and falls to the ground, his friends carry him away, and here is an interesting event that brings sympathy for the Palestinian cause in the world.
The visit of President Obama is a golden opportunity to produce such performances, especially with soldiers of the IDF and their vehicles, and this is one of the main reasons for the increase in the number of events in Judea and Samaria since Obama announced his intention to visit Israel.
But the problem is greater than these demonstrations and performances for the cameras, because I have no doubt that terror organizations also intend to produce a bloody event on the background of Obama's visit. We have seen this in the past, during the second intifada; every time an American official came to the area, for example Mitchell and Tenet, terror activity increased, spilling much Jewish blood. Therefore I hereby declare unequivocally: the visit of Obama may, G-d forbid, cost many Jewish lives. You have been forewarned.
The Only Possible Solution
Because of all these things, Israel must change the rules of the game, recognize Gaza as an independent state and establish another seven emirates in the seven Arab cities in Judea and Samaria: Jericho, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, Tul-karem, Qalqilyya and the Arab section of Hebron, while keeping the rural areas under Israeli control forever, to prevent the hills of Judea and Samaria from becoming the hills of Hamas. These Arab emirates will be based on the various urban tribes, which will be homogeneous from the point of view of the composition of population and therefore will be stable and legitimate. This solution is described in the Internet site palestinianemirates.com.
In the absence of a solution, the area may flare up yet again, because the youth of 16-18 year old youths, the "fighters" of today did not participate actively in the Intifada of 2000 to 2006, since then they were children. Now, after having matured, they are new blood in the old veins of the Arab society in Judea and Samaria, and might ignite the area if Israel does not behave correctly. Up until now, Israel has proven that it does not know what to do to prevent the establishment of a second Hamastan in the territories of Judea and Samaria, and as long as the plan of the emirates has not yet been implemented, there is a danger that an Arab state will be established in these territories with territorial contiguity from the outskirts of Be'er Sheva to the hills overlooking Afula, through Ashdod, Yavneh, Rehovot, Rishon leTsion, Tel Aviv, Gush Dan, Herzlila, Hasharon, Netanya, Hadera and Haifa, all of which would be within range of kassam rockets.
If the Arabs of Judea and Samaria are determined enough, and if Israel does not solve the problem, they might realize their dreams: a Palestinian state with territorial contiguity that could threaten Israel's very existence. And Israel is paralyzed because of the attitudes of the international community and Israeli bleeding hearts. The third intifada will come if its results will be greater than the price that its organizers will have to pay.
Until now Mahmoud Abbas, the holocaust denier, does not encourage his people to fight a terror war with Israel. Can anyone say that he - or his successor - will not do so in the future? The lack of a solution brings the constant threat that a third intifada might break out, and after it a fourth, a fifth and so on. Israel must solve the problem in such a way that will assure it true security, and not based on agreements with people who don't' know the meaning of the word "agreement". The solution of the eight Palestinian Emirates is the only solution that can be implemented in reality, if only Israel has the will to do so.
Dr. Kedar is available for lectures
Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Mordechai.Kedar@biu.ac.il) is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.
Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav with permission from the author.
Additional articles by Dr. Kedar
Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the author.