Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Third Intifada?

Amidst diplomatic crises and clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli army in Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, there is talk of a third intifada.

Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas in Gaza, talks of religious war in Israel and keeps calling on the West Bank to launch a third intifada.

PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Qrei'a worries that if Israel continues building illegal settlements in East Jerusalem and attempting to Judaize the city, a third intifada will ensue whether we like it or not.

With failing proximity talks (before they even started), the continued expansion of Israel's illegal settlements, rumors of an Israeli take-over of Al-Aqsa, it seems as if the situation is indeed building up to yet a Palestinian uprising. And who can blame them? Living under occupation, being restricted, enclosed, besieged, marginalized out of existence, who wouldn't revolt?

But before any premature moves are made, let's ask who would win and who would lose out if a third intifada is launched?

Certainly, a third intifada would play directly into the hands of Israel. Not only would it divert attention from their illegal settlement expansions, but it would provide a perfect excuse not to go down the negotiations-road that will lead to an eventual two-state solution.

Because let's be honest: academics can point out all they want that it is in Israel's own interest to see to it that a two-state solution is reached--in order to avoid the "demographic threat" and whatnot--but Israel doesn't want peace anyway.

They'd much rather follow the plan they devised in the late 60s (when it was obvious that forcible expulsion of Palestinians didn't slip by the rest of the world unnoticed any longer). The plan to slowly but surely take over all of historic Palestine by simply transferring parts of the Israeli population into the occupied territories, restricting movement for Palestinians, denying basic rights, and making life next to unlivable for the average Palestinian, so much so that Palestinians eventually emigrate on their own accord. So-called "soft transfer".

Why go back to peace talks that will inevitably lead to a two-state solution and a whole bunch of concessions on Israel's part, when they can get the whole cake by simply inciting violence on the Palestinian side so that the blame for failed peace talks can be put squarely on Palestine once again? While they can keep building their settlements in peace (well... it's a saying).

Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary-general of the executive committee of the PLO, is of the same opinion. He says that the recent policies is all a part of Israel's plan to push the Palestinian people back into the battlefield so that they lose their connection to the political arena and popular, peaceful resistance. All that has been gained over the past few years--the rebuilding of the West Bank since the last Israeli invasion, the preparations for an autonomous state with institution-building, economic development,  improvement of the educational system--will be lost. Lost. Lost. In military attacks, increased restrictions of movement, closure, arrests, detentions... the people of the West Bank will gain nothing and lose everything if a third intifada is launched.

The people of Gaza are already under siege and have very little left to lose, but nothing really to win either by having Israel clamp down on their brothers and sisters in the West Bank. The only difference would be that their de facto Hamas government will get a chance to advance their position if the PLO and the PA are weakened, which would further play into the hands of Israel. If Hamas takes over the West Bank too, peace talks would be really dead. Because Israel can't negotiate with terrorists! God forbid.

Abed Rabbo, again, is reassuringly sane and assures that “The Palestinian people are aware of these plots, and can take their own decision."

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