Whenever peace talks are close at hand, the Palestinians ratchet up the pressure by launching a wave of violence. The goal is to improve negotiating position and to ensure that after Israel gives up something new, that the talks will be torpedoed anyway. This helps the Palestinians immensely because they always demand that the new round of talks begin where the last one left off.
There has been minimal violent protest by the Palestinians in West Bank/Judea and Samaria over the past couple of years, even though talks were ongoing in 2008. This was because the PA had to behave since the Israelis were protecting the PA from Hamas and the US was training a large Palestinian army with the stated goal of giving the PA the tools needed to manage its own society.
Also, the Palestinians had been finding their pseudo-non-violent protests at Bi’lin and similar villages to be so effective, especially with their shills abroad and their BDS movement, that both the PA and Fatah called for this movement to grow.
And yet, over the past few days, there have been numerous incidents of violence and rioting by the Palestinians. As always, in these early days of the war, it’s mostly youth they are sending out. It makes for effective news and propaganda to have Israeli soldiers “fight” boys who are merely “throwing rocks.” Eventually, however, it is very likely that as the clashes escalate, that adult Palestinians will enter the fighting, just as they did in 2000 and 2001 with their guns and bombs. This time, Israel may have to contend with a 30,000-strong American-trained Palestinian army or soldiers from that army.
Did I mention they have American and Israeli weapons?
For the escalation and especially for its timing, we can thank President Obama who took a diplomatic snafu by Israel, one for which the Israelis apologized profusely and immediately, and turned it into a major diplomatic crisis between Israel and the US. By displaying such anger over what had not caused violent Palestinian protests previously, he forced the hands of the PA, which has been forced to compete with his petulance by expressing similar anger when speaking to their people.
It’s true that some of the violence was instigated by the PA over the construction and re-opening of the Hurva synagogue in Jerusalem’s Old City. This building, with a history going back many centuries, was destroyed by the Jordanians after they took over the Old City in 1948 and after they ensured that every last Jew was evicted from land under their control. It took until now to rebuild it and the photos I’ve seen show it to be beautiful. Perhaps having a building of such importance rebuilt in the heart of the Old City’s Jewish Quarter – previously emptied of Jews by the Arabs – and particularly because it has a religious function, made the Palestinians seek to express their rancor. This time, as they often do, they began with a stone-throwing exhibition from the Haram Esh Sherif compound down at people (you know, Jews) below them praying at the Western Wall. This led to clashes with Israeli police. It is very possible to claim that these activities were the result of the Hurva re-opening.
However, the clashes have really not ended since then and are spread around the West Bank/Judea and Samaria. One has to ask why, and the only logical explanation is that Obama’s got Abbas’s back. By taking such strident and public steps to punish Israel for announcing the construction of new homes in Ramat Shlomo, Obama made it clear that Israel had crossed a line in the sand that he felt they had no right to cross. This left Abbas with little recourse but to ensure that his people knew that he also has a line in the sand and if crossing it is so egregious that the US administration can attack and humiliate Israel, then what else can Abbas and his people do but use their tried and true method of gaining attention and sympathy? And, of course, Obama can’t say anything because he’s the one who expressed such rage at the announcement of the addition to this Jewish neighborhood.
This serves nobody. It is not in America’s interest to have another Palestinian war, it is not in Israel’s interest AND it is not in the Palestinians’ interest. Until now, they have been watching their economy boom as Israeli goodwill measures freed up Palestinians’ movement to some degree. Business is thriving. However, this intifadah/war will undermine this progress.
Did I mention that many Palestinians and Israelis could die in such a war?
Maybe Obama should vilify and attack the PA now? I mean, they are rioting violently and just this week they commemorated a terrorist who murdered about 37 Israeli civilians. That commemoration was planned before the so-called “proximity talks” were to begin. Of course, being a pseudo-dictatorship, it was easier for them to control the negative event than for Israel with its coalition government. But these are very good reasons to criticize the PA. It’s not as if Obama wasn’t given the pretext to attack the PA and using the same logic he used in attacking Israel. In fact, considering the circumstances and the stated goals of the US administration regarding this conflict, it would seem that going after the PA would be a no-brainer.
It’ll happen when cows fly.