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The Idea of “Occupation” Has Become a Weapon in the Hands of the Palestinians

Oct. 11 2017

For Palestinian leaders, mere mention of “the occupation” is used not only to justify anti-Israel violence but as an excuse for all manner of internal ills. For them, the term refers to the situation both of Gaza (from which Israel withdrew completely over a decade ago) and of those parts of the West Bank under the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Asaf Romirowsky explains:

[P]rogress in Palestinian economics, institution-building, or civil society [is not] possible, because—as Nabeel Kassis, the Palestinian minister for finance, put it—“Development under occupation is a charade.” Even the Palestinian Authority’s own repression and crackdown on freedom of the press are, according to Hanan Ashrawi, caused “of course [by] the Israeli occupation.” And despite the palpable underdevelopment of Palestinian institutions and civil society, Europe must keep funding them. . . .

Palestinians and their supporters want to have the occupation both ways. It is the trump card for their own refusal to negotiate and failure to develop their own society, but it is also a useful tool for further internationalization of the conflict and prolongation of their international welfare status. . . . Hence the plan to change the international definition of “Palestinian territories under occupation” into “a Palestinian state under occupation” [by declaring a Palestinian state]. This would shift attention back to the “occupation” while requiring nothing from the Palestinian Authority.

Of course, declaring a de-facto state does not make it a reality. Nor will declaring that state to be “under occupation.” The reality is that both the essential non-existence and the claim to victimization of the [putative] Palestinian state represent a conscious decision to embrace failure. This will not change unless there are direct negotiations, a choice the PA has consistently refused. . . .

Whether Palestinians think they are an “occupied state” or “Palestinian territories under occupation,” as long as Palestinians cling to the notion of being “occupied” and Israel remains the “occupier,” we are destined to see more of the dynamics of the past and fewer possibilities in the future. Until we see more self-awareness, self-criticism, and a sense of accountability, Palestinian identity and statehood will remain occupied in perpetuity.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian statehood, Palestinians

Europe Has a Chance to Change Its Attitude toward Israel

Dec. 15 2017

In Europe earlier this week, Benjamin Netanyahu met with several officials and heads of state. Ahead of his visit, the former Italian parliamentarian Fiamma Nirenstein addressed a letter to these European leaders, urging them to reevaluate their attitudes toward the status of Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Israel-Palestinian peace process, the gravity of European anti-Semitism, and the threat posed by Hamas and Hizballah. In it she writes:

For years, the relationship between Europe and Israel has been strained. Europe tends to criticize Israel for simply defending itself against the continual threats and terrorist attacks it faces on all its borders and inside its cities. Europe too often disregards not only Israel’s most evident attempts to bring about peace—such as its disengagement from Gaza—but also chides it for its cautiousness when considering what solutions are risky and which will truly ensure the security of its citizens.

The EU has never recognized the dangers posed by Hamas and Hizballah, as well as by many other jihadist groups—some of which are backed by [the allegedly moderate] Fatah. The EU constantly blames Israel in its decisions, resolutions, papers and “non-papers,” letters, and appeals. Some of Europe’s most important figures insist that sanctions against the “territories” are necessary—a political stance that will certainly not bring about a solution to this conflict that . . . the Israelis would sincerely like to resolve. Israel has repeated many times that it is ready for direct negotiation without preconditions with the Palestinians. No answer has been received.

The European Union continues to put forth unrealistic solutions to the Israel-Palestinian issue, and the results have only aggravated the situation further. Such was the case in 2015 when it sanctioned Israeli companies and businesses in the territories over the Green Line, forcing them to close industrial centers that provided work to hundreds of Palestinians. The Europeans promoted the harmful idea that delegitimizing Israel can be accomplished through international pressure and that negotiations and direct talks with Israel can be avoided. . . .

[Meanwhile], Iran’s imperialist designs now touch all of Israel’s borders and put the entire world at risk of a disastrous war while Iran’s closest proxy, Hizballah, armed with hundreds of thousands of missiles, proudly presents the most explicit terrorist threat. Europe must confront these risks for the benefit of its citizens, first by placing Hizballah on its list of terrorist organizations and secondly, by reconsidering and revising its relationship with Iran.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Europe and Israel, European Union, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy