By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine
Suddenly there is a modicum of optimism in some quarters, especially in Amman and Ramallah, over Binyamin Netanyahu’s reported willingness to defuse tension in Occupied Palestine.
Since the beginning of October, as many as 60 Palestinians, including more than 20 children, have been killed, many in a cold-blooded execution-style, by trigger-happy Israeli soldiers and settlers.
Around ten Israeli soldiers and settlers were also killed in the same period.
The Israeli policy to kill first and ask questions later was effectively, though not formally, adopted in an effort to crush Palestinian protests over reasserted attempts by government backed Messianic Jewish fanatics to arrogate a foothold at the Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest places.
Israeli circles though obviously mistakenly thought that political turmoil in much of the Arab world presented a golden opportunity for Israel to drastically alter the status quo at the Mosque and its spacious courts, including allowing Jews to hold Talmudic rituals, which effectively means partitioning the exclusively Islamic shrine.
Indeed, in addition to killing and maiming hundreds of Palestinians, Israel took draconian measures to crush what seemed to be a renewed Palestinian intifada.
The stringent measures included, inter alia, cordoning off Arab quarters and neighborhoods in Jerusalem, carrying out sweeping arrests, demolishing homes of suspects accused of trying to stab Israelis, and imposing hefty financial fines on the families of Palestinian youngsters involved in the protests.
By way of deception
Unable to crush the protests, which the Israeli media referred to as “Lone-wolf attacks”, Netanyahu has been trying to use sly diplomatic ploys to achieve the same goal.
He repeatedly declared the willingness of his government to maintain “the status quo” at the Aqsa Mosque.
But Netanyahu obviously doesn’t say what he means and doesn’t mean what he says.
He simply lacks the goodwill to pursue any confidence-building measures that would defuse the powder keg at the Haram al-Sharif.
Indeed, when Netanyahu speaks of the status quo, he has in mind something entirely different from what the rest of the world understands.
In fact, Netanyahu’s status quo includes organizing daily or regular encroachments by fanatical Jewish millenarians into the Islamic holy place, escorted by crack soldiers and heavily-armed para-military police units.
Needless to say, we are not talking here about innocent visits or innocent visitors.
Instead, we are talking about conscious and malicious efforts to gradually desensitize Muslim objections to attempts by the Israeli authorities to partition the Aqsa, probably in preparation for a more daring feat, e.g. demolishing the Mosque entirely.
This is not a phobic reaction on the part of the Palestinian community.
Messianic Jews, including members of the Israeli cabinet, make nearly daily statements about the need to achieve “Jewish spiritual fulfillment” by way of “restoring the Temple Mount” to the Jews.
So, Netanyahu is not being honest. The opposite is exactly correct.
Second, the Israeli premier cannot be given the benefit of the doubt in case there is any doubt about his intentions.
In fact, the Israeli government which adopts daily decisions to expand Jewish settlements all over the West Bank can’t really be trusted to pursue just peace.
This week, that government took a decision to build thousands of new settler units in the West Bank, which begs the following question:
Does a government that builds more and more settlements on occupied land and transfer hundreds of thousands of its settlers to live on land that belongs to another people really desires peace with these people?
This is why the relative optimism that Israel will agree to take genuine measures to defuse tension should be viewed with great caution.
Besides, we all know that the ongoing escalation of violence is a mere symptom of the decades-old occupation as well as the de facto elimination by Israel of all realistic chances to establish a viable and territorially-contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Needless to say, this creates a real dilemma for the Palestinians and forces them to either rise up against Israeli oppression and ethnic cleansing or struggle for equality with Jews in the context of a unitary and truly democratic state.
But equality between Jews and non-Jews doesn’t really exist in Zionism’s lexicon. More to the point, Democracy and Talmudic Judaism are an eternal oxymoron.
Hence, the dilemma, which has become conspicuously acute in light of the decapitation by Israel of all realistic efforts to establish a true Palestinian state, worthy of the name.