Dealing with or analyzing a situation while its elements, outcome, or implications are still unfolding may not make sense. The logic goes that an objective analysis and solution proposals are more effective once the crisis has de-escalated. Nevertheless, when it comes to military campaigns and operations carried out by Israeli occupation forces against the Palestinian city of Jenin and the Jenin camp in the occupied West Bank, the situation is entirely different because we are not witnessing a novel situation but rather a scenario that has been repeated at various intervals of time, short or long. In other words, we are ultimately confronted with a tragic scene that we have witnessed many times before and will continue to witness as long as solutions are lacking, inadequate, or inappropriate.
Sadly, the images of violent Israeli incursions into the West Bank, any Palestinian city, or even the Al-Aqsa Mosque no longer excite the world community, which has double standards and only reacts when its economic and security interests are threatened or when the balance of power in the world and in particular regions is disturbed. If not, it adopts the roles of observer, follower, and appealer.
It is utterly perplexing that the international community, and particularly the United States, view Israeli operations against Palestinians as acts of self-defense while denouncing, condemning, and calling for restraint whenever a Palestinian conducts an operation against Israelis in the occupied Palestinian territories without questioning the motivations behind the operation. In this regard, I reiterate my firm rejection of any and all acts of violence against defenseless people anywhere in the world.
And now we come to the recent Israeli offensive against Jenin and the Jenin camp, which started on 3 July and is being portrayed or promoted by Israeli media or officials as a war between the State of Israel and the State of “Jenin”. This is amply demonstrated by Israel’s use of its air and ground military arsenals to attack the wounded Jenin camp in that wounded city inside the wounded West Bank. All of these wounds are primarily the result of the procedures that the Israeli forces routinely carry out, including assassinations, arrests, raids, and other measures, which my pen cannot adequately express the depth of their unanimity, inhumanity, and cruelty.
Aside from the specifics of what is occurring in Jenin, which are no longer a secret to any observer, I feel compelled to clarify a few facts that everyone should be aware of and then to pose some questions to those in Israel who hold the reins of power. By writing this article, I hope to invite and encourage the Israeli decision-makers to consider the nature of the current situation, its ramifications, and potential steps toward gradual solutions before it blows up in everyone’s face.
I will start off by outlining six crucial facts:
- Since 1993, or three decades ago, there has been mutual recognition between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, when the Oslo Accords were signed and should have resulted in a final resolution of the Palestinian issue had it not been for the intransigence of successive Israeli governments that refused to implement any clause in favor of the Palestinians. In other words, Israel is to blame for the collapse of these accords.
- No Palestinian leader, past, present, or future, has the power to disregard Palestinian constants because they are unique to the Palestinian people, particularly when it comes to the refugee and Jerusalem issues. Israel must be fully aware of this, just as it must understand that the creation of a Palestinian state is merely a matter of time and that none of its efforts will be able to stop history’s hand or the will of the Palestinian people.
- The current Palestinian Authority, led by President Abu Mazen, is a very moderate authority that is eager to make peace with Israel while adhering to the two-state solution’s guiding principle. Although the international community accepts the two-state solution, it regrettably does not work to put it into practice for a variety of reasons, including unwillingness or helplessness.
- The Palestinian Authority has never objected to Israel meeting its security needs as a counterbalance to the creation of a Palestinian state, provided that this does not infringe upon Palestinian sovereignty.
- Arab countries, including the Palestinian Authority, presented their vision for resolving the Palestinian cause more than two decades ago, based on the Arab Peace Initiative principle of “peace and comprehensive normalization in exchange for complete withdrawal.” Israel, however, was not satisfied with merely rejecting this initiative; rather, it refused to provide its official vision and tended to support undesirable ideals such as economic peace. More recently, Netanyahu reiterated his steadfast opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state.
- Israel no longer has any leaders who are capable of making strategic decisions, as was the case when the 1993 Oslo Accords and the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty were signed. That, in my opinion, is the real challenge facing the current Israeli leadership and their capacity to make firm decisions in favor of Israel’s security and stability by accepting the establishment of a Palestinian state through negotiations instead of the continuation of this heinous occupation in all its manifestations.
On the other hand, and in light of these facts, I feel compelled to pose the following six questions to the current Israeli leaders. I will not ask them to respond, but rather to consider them for a moment:
- Has Israel come to the firm conclusion that the Palestinians, whose lands it has been occupying since 1967, have renounced all claim to their lands and that they will not rebel against the occupier at any time or by any means they possess, create, or invent? Perhaps the first Palestinian intifadas in 1987 and 2000 are the best evidence of the Palestinian people’s steadfastness and resolve to resist occupation by any means necessary to obtain their legitimate rights.
- Does Israel believe that its extreme actions in the Palestinian territories, in Jerusalem, and at Al-Aqsa Mosque will go unpunished and that there will not be a response from the Palestinian youth who witness these actions every day and are burned with their fire? Have the diverse Israeli deterrence measures been successful in putting an end to the resistance?
- Does the current Israeli government recognize that the operations it is conducting in the West Bank, particularly in the resolute Jenin, can support the government’s precarious position, save its collapsing popularity, and then put an end to the protests against the government’s plans for judicial reforms?
- What does Israel expect from a people who lose their hopes and dreams of living in an independent, secure, and sovereign state like their neighbor, Israel, knowing that the Palestinian people have consented to build their state on 22 percent of the territory that used to be known as historical Palestine?
- Does Israel think it will benefit from the demise of the current moderate Palestinian Authority? In my opinion, if this authority falls, Israel will suffer more than it anticipates.
- Does Israel think that the recent and upcoming normalization agreements with the Arab countries will provide a solid foundation for the security and safety of its citizens? Whatever the size of these agreements, they, in my opinion, will not provide Israel with the security it seeks, even if they result in some economic gains.
In conclusion, the tragedy in Jenin was not the first and will not be the last, like all Israeli offensives against the Palestinians. The Israelis must be convinced that the cycle of violence will not end and that Israeli security cannot be achieved without the establishment of a Palestinian state whose parameters can be negotiated through political negotiations. Since the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip no longer have anything to lose, they are prepared for a long-term battle even without possessing the military arsenal that Israel possesses, and if Israel continues with its current arrogance and intransigence, Israel will be the biggest loser.
So, what can be done to break the cycle of violence?
No matter how big, violent, or strong the Israeli security measures are, I believe they will fail miserably to stop this spiral of violence. While I applaud and support the significant steps taken by the Palestinian leadership in response to the Jenin raid, I believe that the only way forward lies in the political realm, which most parties have been hesitant to enter until now. As such, I continue to be fully convinced that Egypt is the leading country that must initiate the call for negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, and then, in coordination with some of the concerned parties, it can establish the mechanisms of the negotiation process. We need to take this challenging route that has been blocked for roughly ten years and see its results, which are bound to be more positive and effective than the status quo of perpetual violence.