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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

Hamas Sets Its Sights on Taking over the PLO

Oct. 20 2017

Examining the recent reconciliation agreement between the rival Palestinian organizations Fatah and Hamas, Eyal Zisser argues that the latter sees the deal as a way to install its former leader, Khaled Meshal, as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and thereby the Palestinian Authority. It wouldn’t be the first time something like this happened:

Even the former Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat . . . took the PLO leadership by force. His first steps, incidentally, were with the Fatah organization, which he cofounded in January 1965 in Damascus, under Syrian patronage. Fatah was meant to serve as a counterweight to the rival PLO, which had come into existence [earlier] under Egyptian patronage. Arafat, however, was relegated to the sidelines in the Palestinian arena. It was only after the 1967 Six-Day War that he exploited the resounding defeat of the Arab armies to join the PLO as the leader of Fatah, which led to his gaining control over [the PLO itself].

Meshal [most likely] wants to follow in Arafat’s footsteps—a necessary maneuver for a man who aspires to lead the Palestinian national movement, particularly after realizing that military might and even a hostile takeover of [either Gaza or the West Bank] will not grant him the legitimacy he craves.

It is hard to believe that Fatah will willingly hand over the keys to leadership, and it is also safe to assume that Egypt does not want to see Hamas grow stronger. But quasi-democratic developments such as these have their own dynamics. In 2006, Israel was persuaded by Washington to allow Hamas to run in the general Palestinian elections, thinking the Islamist group had no chance of winning. But Hamas won those elections. We can assume Meshal will now look to repeat that political ploy by joining the PLO and vying for its leadership.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Fatah, Hamas, Khaled Meshal, Palestinian Authority, PLO, Politics & Current Affairs, Yasir Arafat