[News] The ‘Stable’ West Bank Dilemma - Why Israeli Officials are Chuckling

Anti-Imperialist News 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


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, 
not capitulation.

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 
resistance does.

/*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)./

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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