Ramallah — Benjamin Netanyahu,
Mr Netanyahu may have huffed and puffed before giving voice to the phrase “two states for two peoples” at Sunday’s cabinet meeting, but the contours of just such a Palestinian state — or states — have been emerging undisturbed for some time.
In fact, Mr Netanyahu appears every bit as committed as his predecessors to creating the facts of an Israeli-imposed two-state solution, one he and others in Israel’s leadership doubtless hope will eventually be adopted by the White House as the “pragmatic” — if far from ideal — option.
While Israel has been buying yet more time with Washington in bickering over a paltry settlement freeze, it has been forging ahead with the process of creating two Palestinian territories, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, that, despite supposedly emerging from occupation, are in reality sinking ever deeper into chronic dependency on Israeli goodwill.
This is creating a culture of absolute Israeli control and absolute Palestinian dependency, enforced by proxy Palestinian rulers acting as mini-dictatorships.
For a growing number of Palestinians, the conditions of bare subsistence and even survival are Israeli gifts that few can afford to spurn through political activity, let alone civil disobedience or armed resistance. The Palestinian will to organize and resist as their land is seized for settlements is being inexorably sapped.
It is little mentioned but
Suicide bombers, had they the determination, could still slip into
None of this has been lost on
Rather than being an aberration in response to rocket attacks, the blockade of
The stick – a devastated
As the normally restrained International Committee of the Red Cross reported last month: “Most of the very poor have exhausted their coping mechanisms. Many have no savings left. They have sold private belongings such as jewellery and furniture and started to sell productive assets including farm animals, land, fishing boats or cars used as taxis.”
The carrot — if it can be called that — is directed towards
Trained by the
The leader of a Palestinian non-governmental organization in Ramallah confided at the weekend that what is being created are “City Leagues” — a mocking reference to the Palestinian regional militias known as the Village Leagues armed by
Palestinian prisons are starting to fill not only with those suspected of belonging to Hamas but those who dissent from Fatah rule. The ground is being carefully tended by
The stick, as in
These checkpoints are now more like small airport terminals, with limited numbers of “trusted” Palestinians entitled to pass through. To escape the poverty of the West Bank each day to reach manual work inside
The same NGO leader concluded, again with bitter irony: “Our leaders are declaring victory: the victory of defeat.”
Should Mr Abbas and his PA functionaries sign up to this Israeli vision of statehood, the defeat for the Palestinians will be greater still.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth,
A version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in