Ultra-Orthodox Jews look at the Dome of the Rock in the Old City during a demonstration of some 200 right-wing Israelis in Jerusalem on August 8, 2002. REUTERS/Oleg Popov/File Photo
CAIRO – 6 December 2017: “Shamelessness” is an Israeli habit par excellence, but we have to admit that it is always used at the right time and place. In every shameless act lies important messages that should not be overlooked. We all know Israel strove and still strives to get rid of the Palestinian burden without sacrificing its ideologies or full control of the occupied West Bank. We also know Israel cannot wait to wake up one day and find not a single Palestinian there in the West Bank, which it named Judea and Samaria Area, to assert its so called “historical and Biblical Jewishness”, making it impossible to give up.
To Israel, this land must be fully dominated by Jews after evacuating it from Palestinian “intruders”. However, this dream turns sour with the fact that there are four million Palestinians living on this land, besides 1.8 million others in the West Bank. These people also believe this is an Arab and Islamic land that is impossible to give up; that it constitutes an inseparable part of their history and present, and that they will never leave it regardless of the pressures exerted upon them, restraints imposed on them or temptations offered them to venture into the unknown.
We have to keep all this in mind when reading the shameless statements that Minister of Social Equality Gila Gamliel made as she participated in an international conference sponsored by the UN in Cairo. She said that the realistic solution would be for Palestinians to establish their state in parts of Sinai, while Israel annexes the West Bank, making it impossible for a Palestinian state to ever be founded.
The same minister had made detailed statements a few days ago to an Israeli magazine, where she provided further details about this worthless vision, as she linked Egyptians’ waiving of parts of Sinai with providing it with economic support. She pointed out that the ISIL crisis in Sinai is deepening, which threatens Egypt’s stability, and said she considers this to be in the best interests of both Israel and Egypt.
The Israeli minister’s shamelessness does not only stem from making the statements while she was in Egypt, but also from giving herself the right to think on behalf of the Egyptian state, and specifying for us as a government and as citizens what lies in our best interests, citing getting rid of the ISIL danger threatening us.
As for the statements themselves, proposing that Gaza becomes the only Palestinian state without any connection to the West Bank is an old Israeli proposition. Israel brings it to the fore every time there exists an international or American plan that seeks to find a historical solution based on giving Palestinians part of their legitimate national rights by giving them a “state” in Gaza, in exchange for guaranteeing Israeli security, and an Israeli-Arab normalization, making Israeli occupation of another part of the historical land of Palestine “legitimate”.
In the past, Israelis successfully stifled all rational ideas for a solution, and held on to their extremist demands. They made the best use of the bitter Arab reality since 2011, including the Palestinian division, which was akin to a historical gift to Israel. Israel could perfectly employ said division in delegitimizing Palestinian delegates, and implementing policies for the active establishment of fast-growing settlements in the West Bank. The number of settlers rose to 120,000 in more than 100 settlements. Some estimates indicate that there are even 320,000 settlers on Palestinian lands, especially Area C, which is still under Israeli security’s control.
Just as us, Arabs, are anticipating what Trump will bestow upon the region and its people, they too are waiting for the day to come when the American plan will be declared by the beginning of next year. We know that the team which will develop it consists of four individuals, and that three of them are Zionist Jews who believe in Israel’s unlimited entitlements at the expense of Palestinians and Arabs.
The Israeli Right, however, is probably concerned that this American plan could ask for concessions with unacceptable consequences. In that case, extremist rightists will make statements that will count as messages to those in charge of the anticipated plan, warning them to keep Israeli demands and visions into consideration while at the same time warning them against pressuring Israel.
The almost confirmed leaks published by the New York Times mid-November demonstrate some aspects of the anticipated American plan. It includes Israeli steps to build trust before withdrawing from Area C, leaving it to the National Authority, and other steps to improve economic and living conditions in the Gaza Strip. A Palestinian state shall be established based on “land exchange”, not on what former American presidents agreed on.
In the past, exchange of lands used to be limited to only Israel and Palestine, the West Bank and what is known as “Israel”. However, today, this exchange of lands will involve other countries. Perhaps the Israeli minister’s statements are an indicator, albeit limited, of President Trump’s plan which is yet to be officially announced.
It is noteworthy that, in statements to the New York Times, the White House’s spokesperson said that a new approach is being followed, which differs from past approaches, and that all visions to resolve the conflict will be taken into consideration. It is well-known that there are many visions, and some of them promote Israeli settler colonialism, whereas others seek out a more balanced solution. A third vision overburdens nobody but Arabs with finding a solution.
The Trump Administration has no intentions of imposing any solution on stakeholders, according to Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Special representative for international negotiations. Greenblatt emphasized that there is no specific deadline for negotiations, and that procedures will be taken to build trust and that stakeholders will be given the opportunity to interact with all ideas as they wish. This means Americans will not be involved in the conflict which could ensue if their plan is not welcomed, and that they will not go the extra mile to conclude the so called “Deal of the Century”.
This only means that the deal will only constitute a new opportunity for Israel to create more settlements, and impose further restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. As for the Palestinian state, this would not be the time for it.