Sunday, March 6, 2016

Palestinians: The Right Time to Take Big Steps? - Bassam Tawil



by Bassam Tawil

Despite the "official" surveys taken among Palestinians, which show support for Hamas, the residents of the West Bank are terrified that Hamas will gain control and destroy our lives and property, the way they did in the Gaza Strip.

  • The BDS organizations are trying to boycott products made in the West Bank, which only throws masses of Palestinians out of good jobs in an effort to force Israel into a hasty withdrawal that has no chance of taking place. The Israelis and everyone else remember all too well that the last Israeli withdrawals -- from southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip -- led to the terrorist takeover of the vacuums created.
  • Ikrima Sabri, the former Mufti of Jerusalem, often said that Palestinians were better off with the Jews in charge of Al-Aqsa mosque and Jerusalem, because in the future they could be removed and killed off, but if the Crusaders returned to Jerusalem -- such as an international commission headed by the French -- it would be harder to get rid of them.
During a visit to Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Israel's Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu that now is not time to move forward with the "two-state solution" and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Merkel, evidently seeing Israel as a dam protecting Europe from Islamist extremists, told Netanyahu that while the Germans recognized the terrorist threat faced by Israel, and that a peace process had to be advanced based on two states for two peoples, now was not the right time to take big steps.

Agreed: It's not a good time to establish a Palestinian state. Pictured: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel address a press conference in Berlin, Germany, on February 16, 2016. (Image source: Israel Government Press Office)

The Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip are well aware that they are hostages of the terrorist organizations, in particular Hamas. Jibril Rajoub, a senior official in the Palestinian Authority (PA), told Al-Jazeera TV the same thing just last week.
The Palestinians in the West Bank, regardless of public declarations, also secretly support security collaboration with Israel, which protects us from radical Islamist terrorism. Therefore, despite the "official" surveys taken among Palestinians, which show support for Hamas, the residents of the West Bank are terrified that Hamas will gain control and destroy our lives and property the way they did in the Gaza Strip. We do want a Palestinian state, but one that will preserve the lifestyle and accomplishments we have built over the years -- not a state that will have them fall to the horrors of Hamas and ISIS.
In light of the quiet, passive public support for the regime of Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas is inciting Palestinians against it. Hamas, in an attempt to overthrow the Palestinian Authority, is portraying Abbas's security forces as traitors who transmit information to Israel.
Like Germany -- and unlike Sweden and France -- Britain has recently instituted a more balanced policy. The UK has begun to fight the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) organizations. Matthew Hancock, Britain's Minister for the Cabinet Office, who coordinates activities between various government ministries, is advancing protocols to prevent the ongoing boycotts by the British establishment.
These BDS organizations are trying to boycott products made in the West Bank, but the boycott only throws masses of Palestinians out of good jobs and great benefits in an effort to force Israel into a hasty withdrawal that has no chance of taking place. The Israelis and everyone else remember all too well that the last Israeli withdrawals -- from southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip -- were nothing more than case-studies for the terrorist takeover of the vacuums created, exactly the same way as the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq made room for the Islamic State (ISIS).
As Palestinians we know that the BDS may or may not harm Israel, but it does untold damage to the Palestinians who support their families by working in the settlement factories and would otherwise be unemployed and then, as a scarcity of jobs will have been created, hired by various terrorists. When the SodaStream factory moved out of the West Bank, 500 Palestinians lost their well-paid jobs.
In view of the current U.S. helplessness in dealing with the Russians, Iranians and Syrians, the Obama administration has now chosen to bare its fangs at Israel. Despite what are apparently his predictable personal objections, U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, which includes anti-BDS provisions. It introduces new policy language by including all "Israeli-controlled territories" as part of Israel. Meanwhile, the American customs authority is still continuing to enforce a 20-year-old law, marking products made in the West Bank and hurting Palestinians. Labeling products hurts the Palestinians, who then are driven look for work in the eager arms of the terrorist organizations radicalizing the region.

The French, as usual, slither and shift. A number of months ago, they tried to build up steam for an international commission of inquiry into the Al-Aqsa mosque. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians objected.
Ikrima Sabri, the former Mufti of Jerusalem, often said that Palestinians were better off with the Jews in charge of Al-Aqsa mosque and Jerusalem, because in the future they could be removed and killed off, but if the Crusaders returned to Jerusalem through the back door -- such as an international commission headed by the French -- it would be harder to get rid of them.
The French, fearing for their lives at the hands of their own local Islamist enclaves, are in dire straits and doggedly try one maneuver after another to appease them. In desperation, they have proposed peace negotiations for the Palestinians and Israel "with international mediation." They even brazenly suggested that if the negotiations failed, they would recognize the Palestinian state. The outcome is written on the wall: the Palestinians, who will have no reason to negotiate, will fall over themselves rushing to the conference, then automatically veto every proposal or possible compromise, and then receive the promised recognition of Palestine.
The French are masters of diplomatic flimflam: on the one hand, they will do anything to appease their own Islamists at the expense of Israel, and on the other, they know full well neither Israel nor any other Western country will accept their self-serving suggestion. The French keep revealing their duplicity again and again. They refuse to designate Iranian-backed Hezbollah as a terrorist organization; they instead call it a "political party," despite its full participation in slaughtering Sunni Muslims in Syria. Hezbollah is also one of the main actors pushing the countless asylum-seekers (and occasional ISIS operative) flooding Europe, Turkey and Jordan.
The atrocities committed today in the Middle East are the direct result of the refusal of Europe (including France) and the United States to intervene, and the stunning silence of the Arab states. Unwilling to fight ISIS, they are more than willing to condemn, slander and criticize Israel, while the Middle East slips into anarchy.
The result for us Palestinians will be bloodletting, either in the Hamas-Fatah rivalry, or as collateral damage in the Israelis' war against Islamist terrorism, or, when the Palestinian Authority falls, at the hands of ISIS and Al-Qaeda and the Al-Nusra Front as they sweep through the Jordan Valley on their way to attack Israel.
Al-Jazeera TV is also trying to serve its master, Qatar, radicalize the Palestinians by saying that the Palestinian Authority's security coordination with Israel, which benefits everyone here by keeping out Islamic terrorists, is betraying the Palestinian cause. In addition, Israeli intelligence, by saying that a seaport for Hamas should be built is, for some mysterious reason, trying to kill off the Palestinian Authority by strengthening Hamas. Both the Egyptians and we Palestinians -- and even the Israelis -- do not need Hamas strengthened at our expense. Hamas and the many other extremist organizations that have infiltrated the Gaza Strip, including ISIS, are what enable Israelis to justify their security concerns as well as those regarding peace negotiations with the Palestinians, and that prevent a withdrawal from the West Bank. Given the current situation in the Middle East, Angela Merkel was correct. It is not the right time now to take big steps. 

Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/7544/palestinians-big-steps

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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