Sep 28,2022 – JORDAN TIMES /
The Western powers’ preoccupation with the war in Ukraine has sidelined existing conflicts, economic meltdowns, illegal occupations and humanitarian crises elsewhere in the world and taken the focus off climate change, which threatens and impacts the West as well as the rest.
The avoidable Ukraine war is not the first European conflict since Word War II or, even, since the dismantlement of the Soviet Unio in 1989-90. Europe has been afflicted with civil conflicts, invasions, violent secessions and unrest, but none have prompted the West and NATO to respond as they have to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. For the West, this provides an opportunity to eliminate Russia, the core of the Soviet Union, as a global power.
Meanwhile, overwhelming publicity given to the Ukraine war appears to have inspired and empowered Iranians to mount sustained protests against compulsory hijab for women, human rights abuses and economic hardship and West Bank Palestinians to step up resistance to Israel’s occupation. While the Iranian revolt has captured the attention of Western-dominated media, desperate Palestinian efforts to secure their rights have been ignored. Why? Iranian risings are reported and cheered because the clerical regime in Tehran has long been regarded as an antagonist of the West. Palestinian anti-occupation street protests are dismissed and Palestinians who attack Israelis are branded as “terrorists”. Israel is the West’s colonial creation. What Israel wants; Israel gets.
Israel is never held to account for expropriating Palestinian land, ethnic cleansing Palestinians, imposing apartheid on Palestinians living in the West Bank and violating their rights while besieging and blockading Gaza. By contrast, Russia has been sanctioned from day one during its invasion of Ukraine and the US has sanctioned Iranian morality police for killing 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for “improper hijab”, not wearing her headscarf as prescribed, prompting mass nationwide protests.
The latest round of West Bank Palestinian violence has been launched by a surge in nightly Israeli army raids across the occupied territory mounted in response to Palestinian attacks which killed 17 in Israel in the spring. At least 90 Palestinians have been killed during this period, including 18 teenagers under 18-years-old and six women. Israel claims most were militants or local youths who hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at troops, although several civilians were slain. Israel has consigned 600 to administrative detention, which can result in indefinite imprisonment without being charged and tried.
Israeli raids are not only conducted in the 60 per cent of the West Bank which is under full Israeli military control, but also in the 18 per cent where the Palestinian Authority is meant to provide internal security, and in the remaining 22 per cent which the Authority administers but the Israeli military handles security. This being the case, the Israeli army is free to raid homes and seize individuals on the pretext of providing security for Israel and its illegal colonists.
The northern cities of Jenin and Nablus have been at the heart of the revolt, which is fuelled by deterioration of the economic situation, denial of opportunity for youth and a lack of political horizon for the entire society.
While unemployment stands at 25 per cent in the West Bank, this figure covers Palestinians who are ready to take jobs but cannot find work not Palestinians who do not belong to the workforce. Youth unemployment is more than 36 per cent while 47 per cent of women are unemployed. The Palestinian economy remains mired in recession and the poverty rate was 27.3 per cent in 2021, according to the World Bank.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development reports, “The occupation denies the Palestinian people their inalienable human right to development and imposes heavy economic costs on them. [A UNCTAD] study estimates the cost of the closures and other measures of Israeli occupation in the West Bank since 2000 at $58 billion.” The study also says that “poverty and inequality rosedramatically in the aftermath of the second intifada [2000-2005]”.
The most recent round of negotiations ended in 2009 over the Palestinians’ call for a halt to Israeli colonisation of the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem which they demand for their state. Since occupying the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel has planted 500,000 Israeli colonists in the West Bank and 230,000 in occupied East Jerusalem. Since the 1967 conquests, Israel’s objective has been to settle enough Israelis in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem to make it impossible for Israel to withdraw in line with UN Security Council resolution 242 and permit the implementation of the “two-state solution”involving the emergence of a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel.
When addressing the opening session of the UN General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid declared: “An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two States for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy and for the future of our children.” He also said that most Israelis support this solution and announced that he is one of the backers. He was wrong: 58 per cent of Israelis oppose the two-state solution.
Although Lapid is likely to be replaced by Binyamin Netanyahu following the November 1 Knesset election, this statement was cheered by many world leaders, including US President Biden. Biden and the other leaders know full well that Israel has no intention of permitting a Palestinian state to emerge and such pronouncements are bunkum. They amount to denial of the situation on the ground in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem wrought by Israeli colonisation.
Israel had two serious opportunities to rein in the Zionist enterprise and reach a deal with the Palestinians. The first was in the aftermath of Israel’s brutal invasion of Lebanon in 1982 when for the first time Israel had a popular peace movement which included senior army officers, whoformed Peace Now, and leftist parties remained viable. The second was between 1993-1999, the period defined by the Oslo agreement during which Israel would withdraw from the West Bank and negotiate with the Palestinians an agreement on occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, Israeli colonies, security and resources. The interim Palestinian Authority, established under Oslo, was supposed to hand over to a fully-fledged Palestinian government by 1999. However, Israel showed bad faith by continuing colonisation in the West Bank, occupied East Jerusalem and Gaza from which it withdrew in 2005 in order to focus on the West Bank. Israel also stalled over other issues until the second Intifada erupted.
Today the Authority continues to administer West Bank Palestinian cities and towns while Israel is ultimately in charge. Israel has occupied East Jerusalem and dominates Gaza from land, sea and air. Meanwhile, the West ignores Palestine and provides Ukraine with the funds and weapons it needs to defend against Russia. No wonder Arabs speak of double, triple and quadruple standards.