An emerging Third Intifada


The Third Intifada has been around for some time but both Palestinians and Israelis are in denial.

This rising has been called the “Lone Wolf Intifada”, an Intifada of individuals frustrated and furious over the continuation of the Israeli occupation, the inability of the Palestinian Authority to act against it, and the refusal of the international community to put pressure on Israel to end it.

“Lone wolves” have certainly contributed to this Intifada, but there have also been attacks organised by Hamas and other groups so the Third Intifada is mixed in terms of participants.

It is a slowly escalating Intifada, gathering momentum in fits and starts. A creeping Intifada, but no less dangerous than an Intifada that explodes into life with bullets and bombs, stones and Molotov cocktails.

This Intifada could be particularly dangerous because angry young Palestinians could target their own security forces for cooperating with Israel or security men could turn against their apparatus.

Palestinian security men are, after all, Palestinians first and foremost.

The officer who played a key role in restructuring and training Palestinian forces, US Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, warned Israel and the US years ago that their members are likely to join the fight against Israel if there is no progress in the peace process.

Last week, four Palestinians and four Israelis died in Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Palestinians shot by Israeli police and the Israelis shot and stabbed by Palestinians.

Commentators are scratching their heads as they have not been able to make comparisons between the unfolding Intifada and the two previous uprisings.

However, current circumstances are very different from the situations that produced the First Intifada, 1987-93, and the Second Intifada, 2000-2005.

Israeli analyst Jeff Halper told this correspondent last spring that a new Intifada is impossible because of Israel’s total command of the situation on the ground and the isolation of Palestinian enclaves in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

To this must be added cooption of the Palestinian Authority’s security services.

However, there are no reasons why the new Intifada should conform to the patterns set by either of the earlier risings or why latter day resisters should not confine their activities to the enclaves where they live.

Which is what is happening.

Friday night, 19 year-old law student Mohammad Halabi proclaimed the “the Third Intifada has begun” on his Facebook profile only hours before stabbing to death two Orthodox Jewish men and wounding two women and a child in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Shortly after Halabi was slain by Israeli police, a second Palestinian man was killed after stabbing and wounding another Israeli.

These attacks were preceded, on Thursday, by the Nablus area shooting murder of Israeli colonists Eitam and Naama Henken by Palestinians.

Palestinians in Nablus celebrated the killing of the couple as retaliation for the murder of the Dawabshehs — mother, father and 18-month old son — in an Israeli arson attack on their home.

A second child, Ahmed, sole survivor, remains in hospital.

This time round, Palestinians are faced with a rise in violent incidents mounted by Israeli colonists and extremists.

In another departure from previous Intifadas, which were supported by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Authority, which employs some 160,000 civil servants and security agents, and Fateh have condemned Palestinian attacks on Israelis.

Rival Hamas has praised these incidents without claiming them.

The group accused of the Nablus drive-by shooting is said by Israel to be affiliated with Hamas.

Palestinians paid for Arafat’s backing of the 2000 Intifada, which some claim he planned, when then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon invaded and occupied Palestinian administered areas in the West Bank and destroyed a great deal of the infrastructure the authority had built after the launch of the Oslo process in 1993.

Last July and August, Israel rained death and destruction on Gaza after Hamas was blamed — but did not admit to responsibility — for the June abduction and killing of three West Bank Israeli teenagers.

The somewhat self-contradictory results of an opinion poll published last month by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research reveals that 42 per cent of respondents think that only armed struggle will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state and 57 per cent said they support a return to armed struggle in the absence of negotiations.

This figure rose from 49 per cent three months ago.

The majority believes that the two-state solution is no longer a possibility.

Two-thirds want President Mahmoud Abbas to resign.

This demand is certain to gain more support since his pledge to deliver a “bombshell” in his address to the UN General Assembly did not materialise.

He did not declare null and void the 1993 Oslo Accords, did not dissolve the Palestinian Authority and did not step down.

He simply said that if Israel does not carry out its obligations, the Palestinians will cease carrying out theirs.

He gave no time frame or deadline for Israeli compliance with the six agreements which were part of the Oslo process and did not say how the PLO would respond to failure.

If Abbas wanted to be taken seriously, he had to declare an end to the division of the West Bank into areas of full Palestinian control (A), Palestinian administration and Israeli provision of security (B), and full Israeli control (C), and set a date for the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority, defined under the Oslo Accords as an interim administration set to last for five years (until 1999).

He should also have announced that the Palestinian security agencies will cease their cooperation and coordination with Israel.

As the godfather of the Oslo process, Abbas knows better than anyone that Israel has never implemented the agreement.

Palestinian expectations should have been dashed at the outset because Israel did not carry out its commitments from day one and US president Bill Clinton, who oversaw the signing, did not exert serious pressure on then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had denounced Oslo, to meet his country’s obligations.

Between 1993 and 1999, when the first phase of the Oslo process was due to end, the number of Israeli colonists in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories Palestinians demand for their mini-state, increased by one-third, from 268,000 to 357,000.

Israel also confiscated 215,700 dunums of Palestinian land for colony construction, demolished 740 homes and revoked 3,380 identity cards of Palestinian Jerusalemites, driving them from the city.

Israel also denied Palestinians freedom of movement, compelling those seeking to enter Jerusalem to obtain Israeli passes and denying those without passes freedom to pray at churches and mosques in the holy city.

Instead of condemning Israel for its violations of the Oslo Accords and boycotting them, the authority built up the infrastructure of a state as much as possible while the land for the state was being colonised by Israel and the international community did nothing.

Little wonder a Third Intifada is emerging.

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Categories: The Muslim Times

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