Netanyahu is set to double down on West Bank occupation – but he won’t face any cohesive resistance

By Matt Trinder

AN INCOHERENT revolutionary strategy by the Palestinian leadership has hampered any chance of resisting illegal settlements, an activist has told Redaction Politics.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was sworn into office earlier today, renewed his vow to annex West Bank settlements.

Mr Netanyahu called on Israel to assert its “sovereignty” over the occupied Palestinian territory as part of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan.

Unveiled in January, the controversial plan dubbed the “deal of the century” by Mr Trump, gave a green light from Washington for Israel to annex Jewish settlements, considered illegal under international law.

Screenshot 2020-05-17 at 16.57.55
Image: Pixabay

“It’s time to apply the Israeli law and write another glorious chapter in the history of Zionism,” Mr Netanyahu told the Knesset [Israeli Parliament].

“These territories are where the Jewish nation was born and grew,” he said.

Mr Netanyahu was speaking ahead of his swearing-in for another term as Prime Minister today. He now heads a coalition government, agreed with former rival Benny Gantz following a series of inconclusive election results.

Jordan’s King Abdulla II warned of a “massive conflict” if Israel went ahead with the move, possibly as soon as July 1, with the European Union calling for a diplomatic solution.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was one of 145 UK parliamentarians to send a signed letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on May 7 arguing annexation would be an “act of aggression” and should lead to sanctions.

Palestinian leaders have threatened to abolish bilateral agreements with Israel. However, according to a volunteer worker who visited the West Bank earlier this year, the lack of a united resistance movement will hinder any response to annexation.

Daniel Schafer Tabraue, 19, who is of Palestinian descent, spent nearly two months teaching English in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem earlier this year.

Mr Tabraue told Redaction Politics: “The whole movement [in the West Bank] is very fragmented, there’s no real unity.

“People don’t really trust the Palestinian Authority because they keep going to the negotiation table and the Israeli government just slaps them in the face and they do nothing about it. They’ve lost respect among a lot of the population in the West Bank.

“I was there when Trump’s deal came out, and the next day there were a few protests, but nowhere near as much as I thought there would be.

“Some people said if we only protest the once, it won’t make a difference. In Gaza they go to the fence every Friday and protest, and sadly some of them get shot every week, and that gets a lot of attention.”

The Gaza Strip, separated from the West Bank by Israeli territory, has been subject to a crippling Israeli and US-led international economic and political boycott since Hamas, considered a terrorist organisation by many governments, seized control of the area in 2007.

“There are some people who do believe in the more violent approach that Hamas has taken, and there’s people who believe in the Palestinian Authority’s way of dealing with things,” Mr Tabraue said.

“I’m sure if they start to annex the West Bank, I think there will be a reaction from Gaza. Hamas are known for firing rockets into Israel, and I’d expect more of that, but nothing like that in the West Bank.

“There’ll be more protests, probably stronger than anything there has been for a while, but no rockets.”

The Aida refugee camp is massively over-populated, with over three thousand men, women and children living in just 0.71 square kilometres.

“The camps are incredibly cramped. There are people wherever you look, there isn’t much privacy,” Mr Tabraue explained.

As a result of such conditions, there were fears for the welfare of those in refugee camps throughout Palestine as coronavirus spread, but rapid largely self-imposed isolation early on in the crisis has helped to keep the numbers of cases and deaths very low so far.

Mr Tabraue said: “What’s really helped the Palestinian people is that they are used to being in quarantine, and that during times of escalated violence they know how to live at home, and they do it when they’re told.”

Aida has been subject to many violent incursions by Israeli Security Forces since its establishment in 1950, two years after the creation of Israel which caused a massive displacement of Palestinians.

In 2015 an Israeli military vehicle threatened to gas Aida residents “to death” if they did not desist from stone throwing.

Mr Tabraue said: “A Palestinian man involved in the volunteering organisation told me he had his house raided and he went to an Israeli prison. He was throwing stones, and did a bit of graffiti on the wall, and that was enough to warrant a night raid.

“It’s just a joke considering that Israeli settlers are getting away with murder, literal murder, as well the [Israeli] soldiers themselves. It just shows the injustice that’s going on.”

The UN’s Middle East envoy Nikolay Mladenov described violence committed by a minority of Israeli settlers in the West Bank as “shocking and unacceptable” in January 2019.


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