[News] The ‘Stable’ West Bank Dilemma - Why Israeli Officials are Chuckling
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Apr 17 12:27:45 EDT 2014
April 17, 2014
*The ‘Stable’ West Bank Dilemma*
Why Israeli Officials are Chuckling
by RAMZY BAROUD
Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Ze’ev Elkin, is a member of Benjamin
Netanyahu’s Likud party and his predominantly rightwing cabinet. In a
recent interview with The Economist, Elkin used the familiar tone of
being conceited and oblivious to such notions as international or human
rights, and reaffirmed his rejection of a Palestinian state.
Instead, Elkin wants Israel to annex a chunk of the West Bank. There is
nothing new here, as such language is now official Israeli discourse.
But one statement stood out, one that many Palestinians would find
bewildering and exasperating.
These days, said Elkin with a chuckle, the West Bank is “the most stable
part of the Middle East”.
The bewilderment would stem from the fact that the West Bank is an
occupied Palestinian territory. Its population is held at gunpoint; they
have no freedom, and enjoy no rights. Their land is seized by force to
make room for more settlements and illegal Jewish settlers, now
numbering well passed the half million mark.
Needless to say, the West Bank should not be stable.
Instead, Palestinians should be leading their own revolution until they
achieve their full rights and freedom. This is not a call for violence,
but a natural human course. However, Palestinians are not rebelling.
Many factors are holding them back, one of which is the very Palestinian
Authority in Ramallah. Its troops are in constant ‘security
coordinations’ with Israel. Its ‘elite forces’ are trained by US
generals and Arab armies. The PA mission is not to liberate Palestine,
but to ensure the subservience of the Palestinians while Israel carries
on with a colonial project that has extended for decades.
Deputy foreign minister Elkin knows this. Netanyahu himself, along with
every Israeli official, understands that the PA, despite Mahmoud Abbas’
occasional attempts at appearing defiant and rebellious, is no threat to
Israel, nor will it ever be. This will be so even if the US-imposed
April 29 deadline for a ‘framework’ agreement between the Israeli
government and the PA passes and even if Abbas took the seemingly daring
step of signing the applications to join 15 international organizations.
Abbas and his men understand that there are red lines which they cannot
cross under any circumstances.
Abbas may be weak, but he is clever. He knew that Kerry’s peacemaking
efforts would not go anywhere and that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu would find a way to thwart the process. If Abbas were lucky,
Kerry could even blame Israel for derailing the peace process, as he
already has. Then, Abbas would do what many would find reasonable; seek
further international recognition for the state of Palestine. This might
frustrate the Americans a little, anger the Israelis a lot, but it would
give his supporters reason to promote the 79-year-old leader as another
Yasser Arafat, heroic and defiant to the very end.
The Israelis still need Abbas. He is important in maintaining
‘stability’ in the West Bank. This means the continuing of the security
coordination that ensures the safety of the armed settlers, providing an
extra layer of protection to Israeli soldiers as they kill at will,
seize more land, demolish homes and trees, erect walls, dig trenches,
and level mountains. So what if some imaginary state existed on papers
in the files of some international body in Geneva or Brussels. For
Israel, the law is that of its military, and reality is what is taking
place in Area C, not in some European capital.
This is why Elkin is chuckling. He is at ease, in the same way the
Israeli political establishment is. Since the signing of the Oslo
Accords in 1993, a deal was struck between Israel and what became a
pervasive, controlling and corrupt Palestinian political class. Israel
maintained its military occupation, carried on with its colonial project
and continued to disfigure the occupied territories in any way that it
found consistent with its ‘security’ needs. Palestinian elites were
granted economic privileges and access that is denied to the vast
majority of the Palestinians.
The PA’s constant challenge is to maintain a level of legitimacy. True,
it uses its monopoly on force, which is readily sanctioned by Israel, in
order to arrest, torture and kill resisting Palestinians when necessary.
It uses the logic of trickledown economics to hold the bulk of
Palestinians hostage to winning their daily bread. But that is not
enough. It needs a brand to market itself as the exclusive harbinger of
freedom for Palestinians. It uses slogans, flags and kuffiyas to promote
that brand through its control of the media. Many PA supporters dance to
that tune and playact that Abbas and only Abbas is capable of exacting
the coveting liberation of Palestine from the obstinate hands of the
Israeli prime minister.
Palestinian officials are proficiently inflating Abbas’ image to ensure
that Palestinians don’t question the wisdom of their aging leader, after
the latest and predictable failure of the peace process, which was never
truly meant to succeed anyway. A Palestinian official spoke of Abbas’s
refusal to heed a call by US Secretary of State John Kerry to halt
applications to join international treaties. He claimed that Kerry
warned Abbas of a ‘strong (Israeli) response to Palestinian action.
Abbas replied: “Israel’s threats scare no one. They can do what they like.”
The words were repeated in Palestinian media. The Abbas image is being
overstated once more. There is no space for those who question the man’s
credibility, legitimacy or failed methods. More posters of the old man
are now erected in the occupied Palestinian towns. His latest antics
will help perpetuate the myth that the PA is a platform for resistance,
As long as the West Bank is ‘stable’, and as long Abbas, and those that
follow him continue to sell Palestinians old illusions of revolutions
that never took place, and heroes that only exist on colored posters
hung around the streets of Ramallah, Elkin will continue to chuckle.
And as long as the West Bank is ‘stable’, Palestinians will never
achieve their freedom, for submission achieves no rights; only
/*Ramzy Baroud* is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media
consultant and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com
<http://www.PalestineChronicle.com>. His latest book is “My Father Was a
Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London)./
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