[Pnews] A Lesson for the Palestinian Leadership: Real Reasons behind Israel’s Arrest and Release of Labadi, Mi’ri
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Nov 14 11:09:56 EST 2019
A Lesson for the Palestinian Leadership: Real Reasons behind Israel’s
Arrest and Release of Labadi, Mi’ri
November 13, 2019
*By Ramzy Baroud <http://www.palestinechronicle.com/writers/ramzy-baroud>*
The release on November 6 of two Jordanian nationals, Heba al-Labadi and
Abdul Rahman Mi’ri from Israeli prisons was a bittersweet moment. The
pair were finally reunited with their families after harrowing
experiences in Israel. Sadly, thousands of Palestinian prisoners are
still denied their freedom, still subjected to all sorts of hardships at
the hands of their Israeli jailers.
Despite the jubilant return of the two prisoners, celebrated in Jordan,
Palestine and throughout the Arab world, several compelling questions
remain unanswered: why were they held in the first place? Why were they
released and what can their experience teach Palestinians under Israeli
Throughout the whole ordeal, Israel failed to produce any evidence to
indict Labadi and Mi’ri for any wrongdoing. In fact, it was this lack of
evidence that made Israel hold the two Jordanian nationals in
without any judicial process whatsoever.
Oddly, days before the release of the two Jordanians, an official
Israeli government statement praised the special relationship between
Amman and Tel Aviv, describing
as “a cornerstone of stability in the Middle East”.
The reality is that the relationship between the two countries has hit
recent years, especially following US President Donald Trump’s advent to
the White House and the subsequent, systematic dismantling of the “peace
process” by Trump and the Israeli government.
Not only did Washington and Tel Aviv demolish the region’s political
status quo, one in which Jordan featured as a key player, top US
diplomats also tried to barter with King Abdullah II so that Jordan
would settle millions of Palestinian refugees in the country in exchange
for large sums of money.
Jordan vehemently rejected US offers and attempts at isolating the
Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.
On October 21, 2018, Jordan went even further, by rejecting
Israeli offer to renew a 25-year lease on two enclaves in the Jordan
Valley, Al-Baqura and Al-Ghamar. The government’s decision was a
response to protests by Jordanians and elected parliamentarians, who
insist on Jordan’s complete sovereignty over all of its territories.
This particular issue goes back years. Jordan and Israel signed
peace treaty in 1994. An additional annex in the treaty allowed Israel
to lease part of the Jordan Valley for 25 years. A quarter of a century
later, the Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty
<http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/peacetreaty.html> failed to achieve any
degree of meaningful normalization between both countries, especially as
neighboring Palestine remains under Israeli occupation. The stumbling
block of that coveted normalization was – and remains – the Jordanian
people, who strongly rejected a renewed Israeli lease over Jordanian
Israeli negotiators must have been surprised by Jordan’s refusal to
accommodate Israeli interests. With the US removing itself, at least
publicly, from the brewing conflict, Israel resorted to its typical
bullying, by holding two Jordanians hostage, hoping to force the
government to reconsider its decision regarding the Jordan Valley.
The Israeli strategy backfired. The arrest of Labadi – who started a
hunger strike that lasted for over 40 days – and Mi’ri, a cancer
was a major PR disaster for Israel. Not only did the tactic fail to
deliver any results, it further galvanized the Jordanian people, and
government regarding the decision to reclaim Al-Baqura and al-Ghamar.
Labadi and Mi’ri were released on November 6. The following day, the
Jordanian government informed Israel that its farmers will be banned
from entering Al-Baqura area. This way, Jordan retrieved its citizens
and its territories within the course of 24 hours.
Three main reasons allowed Jordan to prevail in its confrontation with
Israel. First, the steadfastness of the prisoners themselves; second,
mobilization of the Jordanian street, civil society organizations and
elected legislators; and third, the Jordanian government responding
the unified voice of the street.
This compels the question: what is the Palestinian strategy regarding
the nearly 5,000 Palestinian prisoners held unlawfully in Israel?
While the prisoners themselves continue to serve as a model of unity and
courage, the other factors fundamental to any meaningful strategy aimed
at releasing all Palestinian prisoners remain absent.
Although factionalism continues to undermine the Palestinian fight for
freedom, prisoners are fighting the same common enemy. The famed
“National Conciliation Document
composed by the unified leadership of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli
jails in 2006, is considered the most articulate vision for Palestinian
unity and liberation.
For ordinary Palestinians, the prisoners remain an emotive subject, but
political disunity is making it nearly impossible for the energies of
the Palestinian street to be harnessed in a politically meaningful way.
Despite much lip service paid to freeing the prisoners, efforts aimed at
achieving this goal are hopelessly splintered and agonizingly factionalized.
As for the Palestinian leadership, the strategy championed by
Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is more focused on propping
up Abbas’ own image than alleviating the suffering of the prisoners and
their families. Brazenly, Abbas exploits the emotional aspect of the
prisoners’ tragedy to gain political capital, while punishing the
families of Palestinian prisoners in order to pursue his own
self-serving political agenda.
“Even if I had only one penny, I would’ve given it to the families of
the martyrs, prisoners and heroes,” Abbas said
<https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5598103,00.html> in a
theatrical way during his United Nations General Assembly speech last
Abbas, of course, has more than one penny. In fact, he has withheld
badly needed funds from the families of the “martyrs, prisoners and
heroes.” On April 2018, Abbas cut the salaries
government employees in Gaza, along with the money received by the
families of Gaza prisoners held inside Israeli jails.
Heba al-Labadi and Abdul Rahman Mi’ri were released because of their own
resolve, coupled with strong solidarity exhibited by ordinary
Jordanians. These two factors allowed the Jordanian government to
publicly challenge Israel, leading to the unconditional release of the
two Jordanian prisoners.
Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinian prisoners, including 500
administrative detainees continue to languish in Israeli prisons.
Without united and sustained popular, non-factional mobilization, along
with the full backing of the Palestinian leadership, the prisoners are
likely to carry on with their fight, alone and unaided.
/– Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of The Palestine
Chronicle. His last book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto
Press, London) and his forthcoming book is These Chains Will Be Broken:
Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons (Clarity
Press, Atlanta). Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the
Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University
(IZU). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net./
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