Husam Itani
Dar Al-Hayat (Opinion)
July 27, 2009 - 12:00am

If one were to place side by side Israel’s decisions and stances regarding the conflict with the Palestinians since Benjamin Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister six months ago, the features of an unmistakably organized campaign to do away with what remains of the rights of Palestinians would plainly appear.

From refraining from taking any practical measures to dismantle “illegal settlements” or “hilltop outposts” in the West Bank to the decision of Israel’s Education Minister to remove references to the 1948 “nakba” (catastrophe) from the school curriculums of Arab students in Israel, going through changing the names of Arab sites and intensifying construction in East Jerusalem in an unprecedented fashion. As for the latest innovation produced by the expansionist mind, it is a plan to build thousands of residential units between Jerusalem and the massive Maaleh Adumim settlement bloc in the West Bank.

No fool would accept the nonsense repeated by Netanyahu and his cabinet members, that the necessities of natural growth are what has dictated this new campaign of settlement and Judaization, and no reasonable person could accept Israel’s vision of unbridled building rights on the occupied lands of others, about which innumerable decisions have been issued by every international institution, from the Security Council to the International Court of Justice (decision over the illegality of the separation wall), the UNESCO and others, stating that such rights belong to a state’s exercise of its sovereignty on its own soil.

Thus, there is no need for this wave of settlement other that the needs of the Israeli government and the right-wing parties that control it. One might believe that the decisions which are being successively issued at a fast pace in the past weeks represent the implementation of Netanyahu’s speech at Bar-Ilan University last June. Indeed, removing Palestinian-Arab identity from places and from memory goes hand in hand with preventing the establishment of a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

This does not fall outside the scope of the obvious unless compared with the inefficiency of Arab responses. Moreover, the problem does not reside in what the Israelis do nor do not on lands they have seized by force and weapons, but rather in the situation of those who demand the restitution of the land, as they are with every attempt confronted to the facts of their fragmented political reality, which embraces all kinds of conflicts.

Comparing Israel’s current impetus with the paucity of Arab reactions (from both the camps of defiance and moderation as well as Palestinian forces themselves, without distinction or bias), one can conclude that the issue of Jerusalem and the occupied territories, and the Palestinian cause as a whole, does not represent a true concern outside of the framework of short-term and direct political exploitation. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that the silence prevalent in official Arab headquarters and in resistance movements of various colors plainly states that what the Palestinian cause entails in the present phase surpasses the abilities of Arabs not just to take action (as that was surpassed a long time ago), but even to comprehend and contain it rationally and politically. Such a cause is no longer useful even in the fields of verbal mobilization and exchanged media campaigns, which represented a firmly established phenomenon in Arab policies over decades.

The Palestinian cause is no longer useful, from the traditional Arab point of view which resides between the limits of outbidding and drivel and the vain pursuit of Israeli concessions that will never come. Hence it is no wonder that Netanyahu feels that his hands are free to do whatever he wants without concerning himself with US warnings and objections, whose proponents declare that they will not turn them into sanctions


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