By Ahmed Mansour
Those who take notice of such things will know that Israel, generally, is working according to a long-term strategy with the complicity of the Palestinian Authority on one hand, and the Arab states with which Israel has diplomatic relations on the other. US policy guides the actions of the PA and those compliant states. Political standpoints and actions taken by the Arab states are usually limited to reactions to what Israel says or does; they do not have any clear strategies for tackling or countering Israel and its plans.
The latest Israeli scheme to expel thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank on the pretext that their residence papers are not in order is simply an extension of the ethnic cleansing that has taken place against the Palestinians since 1948 and the creation of the Zionist state. Ever since the “Nakba” (catastrophe), Israel has expanded, through war and the illegal settlement policy, house demolitions, the “Judaisation” of Jerusalem, Hebron and other areas, and has been quite explicit about its objectives.
We have to look at these deportations in context; a report was published in mid-April, quoting a European diplomat with regards to a scheme sponsored by the US administration which calls for the “resettlement” of a large number of Palestinian refugees from Lebanon to Iraq and the border area between Egypt and Libya. As part of this plan, some Western countries, including Canada and Australia, have agreed to accept a limited number of Palestinian refugees.
The proposal also provides for refugees living in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and other countries to have the right to settle permanently in those countries. Thus do we see the first stage of the process of closing the file on refugees’ right to return to Palestine, which is regarded as one of the main stumbling blocks to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
At the same time, France is trying to provide guarantees to Israel, including the establishment of an international fund supported by Arab oil wealth, to pay compensation to Palestinian refugees whose homes and land have been plundered by the Israelis. France hopes that this compensation – bearing a strong resemblance to bribery – will basically buy the refugees’ silence on the loss of their legally-recognised right of return.
Meanwhile, according to Italian press reports, official Israeli documents claim that there is a big increase in the number of meetings held between Israeli and Palestinian security personnel to coordinate tactics against the Palestinian resistance to the occupation of their land; in the West Bank, where Israeli authorities are currently expelling Palestinians, 1297 coordinated security actions took place in 2009, a 72% increase on 2008. These meetings, the reports claim, are attended by senior officials from Israel and the Palestinian Authority, under the sponsorship of US General Keith Dayton.
An important question in all of this is the nature of the Arab situation: is the confusion, fragmentation, lack of vision, weakness and shame currently experienced across the Arab world the same as that experienced after the UN partition of Palestine in 1947 or the establishment of Israel on the ruins of Palestine in 1948?
Whatever the answer, there is some hope, from inside and beyond the Arab world. Internally, popular resistance appears to be determined to continue, despite international pressure. Externally, we have statements such as those made by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who rarely misses the opportunity to remind the world that Palestine and Jerusalem are very important across the Muslim world and is confident enough to criticise Israel for its occupation and unjust policies. From the Davos conference last year to the receipt of his honorary doctorate from the Islamic University of Gaza this month, Mr. Erdogan has become the international conscience of the Palestinian cause.
One result of this support from Turkey will be a convoy of ships sailing from Turkey to break the siege of Gaza next month. Organised by the Free Gaza Movement and the Relief Foundation of Turkey, the convoy will include materials and support from Europe and Malaysia, as well as Turkey and Arab organisations. Despite the risk of direct action by the Israeli navy against the convoy, the participants are determined to press ahead. The convoy represents very positive forces that seek to break the illegal and immoral blockade on Gaza imposed by Israel, despite the international conspiracy that works with Israel and is complicit in its crimes.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.