Israel’s Recent Attempts to Marginalize the Palestinian Authority

Prof. As’ad Abdul Rahman

The ongoing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian land have taken a very sinister direction where Israel now completely ignores the Palestinian Authority (PA) and acts as if it does not exist. The present government of Benjamin Netanyahu is making every effort to marginalize the PA by going over its head in a bid to isolate the Palestinian people. Israel never ceases to wreck every Palestinian or international move to stop Israeli violations of human rights and to restart the peace negotiations on a firm basis to produce a political settlement based upon a two-state solution that safeguards Palestinian rights.

One of Israel’s recent politically motivated attempts is the measures taken by its military authorities governing the occupied West Bank which are far from being innocent or humane. The process involved increasing the number of ‘permits’ given to Palestinians who wish to visit and pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem while taking security measures to prevent Israeli colonial settlers from interrupting their prayers.  Israeli Authorities have recently removed the 50 year age limit that prevented younger Palestinian Muslims of 1948 from praying in the Mosque on Fridays. They have even allowed a limited number of Palestinians in Gaza to travel on Friday to pray in Al-Aqsa along with some families to visit their relatives in the West Bank and in Israel (Palestinian lands occupied in 1948).

In the years that followed the 1993 Oslo accord and the subsequent two Palestinian “Intifadas”/ rebellious, the number of Palestinian workers with ‘permits’ filling jobs in Israel decreased. But that number is now increasing, according to figures posted by the Central Bank of Israel. Palestinians entering Israel with work permits exceed 59,000, not including Palestinian workers employed without permits in the Israeli colonial settlements in the West Bank whose entry was arranged and encouraged by the Israeli army and police and whose number now exceeds the 20,000 mark.

Israel never misses any opportunity to point out and remind the Palestinian people and the world, at large, of how it is being more humane and helpful than the Arab countries controlling crossing points used by Palestinians in an apparent reference to Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza that only opens for a few hours!  Israel appears proud to point out the fact that, so far, it has allowed passage of more than 660 big trucks filled with relief materials  and most of the construction material sent  to Gaza by  Qatar, to rebuild  demolished homes and infrastructure in the war-hit Strip.

Israel recently announced new measures to ease the travel of Palestinians using the Beit Hanoun crossing point. More students and Palestinians seeking medical care are now crossing with ease along with a bigger number of Palestinian merchants travelling to the West Bank and Israel.  VIP permits, once limited to 400 travelers per day, are now being issued to 800. Permits given to Palestinian merchants per month have increased from 3000 to 5000, allowing Palestinian farmers in Gaza to sell their produce in Israel.

All the above measures are good and are easing, somehow, the long suffering and misery experienced by Palestinians for decades under the Zionist colonial occupation. Yet, it is clear they are designed to win the Palestinians to the side of their occupiers. Bypassing the PA with such measures and letting the Israeli military deal directly with the Palestinian people is meant not only to marginalize it, but appears also as a prelude to dismiss it altogether for being ‘unneeded entity’! The PA is now recognized by a great number of world countries with many European states granting its missions diplomatic status as embassies of the State of Palestine which now has a membership in The International Criminal Court, a fact causing Israel nightmares. Israel wants to eliminate the presence of the PA (that was supposed – in the Israeli eyes – to serve the Zionist expansion and protect it with its security forces and endless negotiations). But the PA has now come out in force in the international arena, seeking real independence and the world’s recognition of the national Palestinian rights, long trampled by the boots of the Zionist military colonial occupation.

Israel has also been trying to revive ‘Rawabit Al-Qura’ or leagues of villages, once created in the wake of its occupation of the Palestinian West Bank in 1967. Similar groups were set up by the Nazi regime, in the European countries it had occupied during World War II. Such leagues were meant to serve the occupation and increase inner tensions among the various Palestinian factions in a bid “to divide and rule”. A position strategic paper prepared in 2010 by Major General Giora Eiland, Israeli National Security adviser at the time, advocated a final division between the West Bank and Gaza, designating the latter as “the future Palestinian state” with complete sovereignty and with an airport and sea port to connect it with the rest of the world. This is a satanic project that extremely needs “a long term armistice with Hamas and the material rewards would be plenty to make Gaza in the likes of Dubai”.

It is indeed time for a wakeup call for the Arab government as well as the two major Palestinian organizations Fatah and Hamas and for the remaining Palestinian organizations  to stand up and end their petty squabbles and unite to face up to this looming catastrophe with clear minds, workable strategies and determination.