10 novembre 2013 7 10 /11 /novembre /2013 00:55
05-11-2013 08:08PM ET
Does Israel want a new Intifada?
Amid provocations on Al-Aqsa, Israeli disinterest in direct negotiations is once again undermining all chances of peace, writes Khaled Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem
Taking advantage of the ongoing turmoil in the Arab world, Israel has introduced another potentially lethal hurdle to the already moribund peace process with the Palestinians by tabling a draft law in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, which would formally allow Jews to pray at the Al-Aqsa Compound in East Jerusalem.
The move, Palestinians argue, is a step towards the seizure of the holy shrine, exclusively Islamic since the Muslim conquest of Palestine more than 14 centuries ago.
The Israeli Knesset, dominated by Talmudic-minded and other extremist millenarian Jews witnessed acrimonious discussion Monday as lawmakers made inflammatory calls, urging the Israeli government to “partition” the Islamic sanctuary between “Arabs and Jews”.
The provocative discussion prompted Arab Knesset members to abruptly leave the plenum. “You are playing with fire; you are turning the entire Middle East into a tinder box,” said Arab MK Ahmed Teibi as he left the Knesset hall.
“He who plays with fire will have his fingers burned,” he added.
Observers in occupied Palestine argue that no other provocation has the potential of “turning things upside down in the region”. “I don’t imagine any other issue having the potential of mobilising and galvanising the Arab and Muslim streets and, of course, the Palestinian street,” said Hani Al-Masri, a prominent political analyst based in Ramallah.
“If Al-Aqsa Mosque won’t move the people, what will?”
The latest Israeli provocation comes at a time when peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) reached a virtual deadlock.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas told a Fatah consultative body in Ramallah on Monday that, “There has been no progress in the talks with Israel.” Abbas also warned that the continuing stalemate was creating an incendiary situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.
He added that the Ramallah leadership would contact “international organisations”, including the UN Security Council, in the hope that these entities would exert pressure on Israel to end its decades-old occupation of Palestinian land.
Last week, it was rumoured that Palestinian negotiators submitted their collective resignation to Abbas over what was termed as “Israeli intransigence and lack of seriousness in the talks”.
Palestinian and Israeli officials had pledged to refrain from leaking any news about the ongoing talks to the media.
However, one PA official who is close to the talks and who is briefed regularly by the negotiators themselves accused Israel of “reneging on all agreements and understandings reached by both sides since the conclusion of the Oslo Accords”.
“Israel is not treating us as an equal peace partner, they are dealing with us as a vanquished supplicant, very much like a beggar, who has no rights and who should settle for whatever Israel chooses to give away to him.”
As for the American role, the official lashed out at the Americans, describing the US as “the mother of all trouble”.
“The Americans are Israel’s enabler, bankroller and guardian-ally. The Americans are playing the role of a judge who tells a rapist and his victim to sort it out among them.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry was supposed to meet with Palestinian and Israeli officials Tuesday in an effort to save the talks from what appears to be an imminent collapse.
Kerry and other American officials reportedly have hinted that the US will make “final bridging proposals” in order to save the talks and prevent the two sides from returning to zero.
The Palestinian leadership interprets the reported American proposals as a euphemism for imposing a solution, especially on the weaker side — the Palestinians.
During his visit to Saudi Arabia this week, Kerry denied that his country would impose a solution on the Palestinians and Israelis.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government is doing all it can to frustrate the PA, ostensibly in the hope of prompting it to quit the talks.
Indeed, in addition to the latest provocations regarding Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israel has announced plans to demolish dozens of Arab buildings in East Jerusalem, which would render more than 16,000 Arabs homeless. Israel also announced this week that it would build another 3,500 settler units in the Jerusalem area.
The latest scheme has been described as the most “ambitious act of ethnic cleansing” against the Palestinians since 1967.
Furthermore, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said this week Israel would build a huge wall along the Jordan River. Pundits, both Arabs and Jews, interpret Netanyahu’s announcement as reflecting both disinterest in and hopelessness about peace with the Palestinians.
According to the latest opinion poll, 60 per cent of Palestinians said they expected an Intifada, or uprising, to erupt if current peace talks reached a dead end.