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The Palestinian Authority and the inactivated pressure cards it has against Israel

Israel always tries to give the impression that the side that holds the cards can dictate what it wants to its enemies, where enemy leaders would have no other choice but to accept what Tel Aviv has to offer.

So, in response to the PA leadership's decision to go to the UN and President Mahmoud Abbas' signing of documents that entitle Palestine to join international organisations and treaties, Israel rushed to impose sanctions against the PA, which included stopping the transfer of tax revenues collected by Israel for the PA, imposing restrictions onto a number of infrastructure projects the PA is working on in cooperation with the international community.

But the Israeli leadership realised that the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)'s leadership holds enough cards that can greatly harm the Zionist entity.

Decision makers in Tel Aviv also realise that in case the PLO leadership considers the decision to go to the UN to be a comprehensive struggle strategy against the occupation, then it can teach the Israeli government a lesson it will never forget and that will expose leaders of the Zionist entity not only in front of the world, but will also embarrass them in front of the Israeli public after Israelis discover the poor outcomes of the strategy adopted by this entity in dealing with the Palestinian case.

Although there seem to be signs that the PA leadership is not concerned with going through a real and comprehensive confrontation with Israel, in case the opposite proved true, and the latest Palestinian steps were part of a comprehensive struggle strategy, then this strategy must contain the following components: dissolving the PA, activating a diplomatic struggle and agreeing to a comprehensive national programme.

Benefits of dissolving the PA

During their recent meetings with their American and Israeli counterparts, Palestinian officials continue to threaten to dissolve the PA in response to the continued settlement projects because they realise the nature of Israeli fears of the consequences of any Palestinian decision to dissolve the Palestinian Authority.

Regardless of the seriousness of these threats, the decision to dissolve the PA will lead to the piling of huge security, political and economic burdens onto Israel's shoulders and will reduce, to a large extent, the Israeli leadership's margin of manoeuvre.

Dissolving the PA will deprive Israel of the advantages of "luxury occupation", represented in enjoying the revenues of the occupation that come to it through continued Judisation, settlements and making occupied Palestinian land a market for Israeli goods, and at the same time holding the PA responsible for providing service to the Palestinians, which is a responsibility Israel must be taking as an occupying power.

In case the PA is dissolved, Israel will be required to carry out its responsibilities as an occupying power, providing the minimum/basic requirements of living for Palestinians, in regards to aid, health, education and others, which will be a huge financial burden to the Israeli budget which will be no less than $7 billion (Globes magazine, April 7, 2014), noting that other Israeli estimates say that the burden will not be less than $20 million per year (Yedioth Ahronoth, April 20, 2014).

If we take into consideration the financial hardship Israel is suffering from which is reflected through two problems: housing and the high cost of living, which pushed many young Jews to leave Israel and look for other opportunities outside, the financial burdens of dissolving the PA will aggravate economic problems in Israel in an unprecedented way.

However, economic burdens will be the lesser consequence in comparison to the security burdens resulting from dissolving the PA.

Dissolving the PA will deprive Israel from the outcomes of the security cooperation between the PA security forces on the one hand, and the Israeli army and intelligence on the other. General Eitan Danjut, coordinator of Israeli government operations in the PA territories, spoke very clearly when describing the huge outcomes Israel is harvesting through the cooperation between PA security forces and Israel. He confirmed that this cooperation helped improve the security environment inside the West Bank and Israel in an unprecedented manner and drastically reduced the magnitude of burdens incurred by Israeli security forces (Israel Today newspaper, January 3, 2014).

In case the PA's security forces stopped playing their role of facing Palestinian demonstrations against the practices of the Israeli army, occupation and settlers, which are represented in confiscating land, building settlements, attacking holy sites and systematic attacks, then this may lead to inclusive confrontations between Palestinians and occupation soldiers, which can develop into a third Intifada that can blow the security environment which now exists in the West Bank and Israel; this at a time when the Israeli army is on high alert to face consecutive developments in the Arab world.

The change in the security environment in the West Bank as a result of dissolving the PA will lead to a dramatic change in the settlement project in the West Bank and Jerusalem and will deprive it of its most important elements of sustainability.

One of the main reasons that push Israelis, mainly secular ones, to live inside settlements in the West Bank is the improvement of the security environment there thanks to the cooperation of the PA's security services. These Jews do not settle for religious reasons, but rather for financial reasons and in search of a better life, where they can get homes very easily as land is cheap, all due to advantages granted by the Israeli government to settlers.

It is clear that the deterioration of the security situation in the West Bank will not only lead to stopping the movement of secular Jews to live in settlements, but will also lead to Jews emigration from inside the settlements towards Israel itself.

Israelis realise that the commencement of resistance from the West Bank will reduce their security and will affect their morale, deterring foreign investors from coming and investing in Israel, similar to how things were during Al-Aqsa Intifada.

For example, Netanyahu's government is preparing to launch the largest industrial area in Israel in the areas adjacent to the Maale Adumim settlement, located in the northeast of Jerusalem, where the plan includes allocating areas for international companies who are coming to work in Israel.

It is clear that deteriorating the security situation will prevent foreign investors from coming and working in Israel, which will exacerbate the financial price of the decision to dissolve the PA.

A diplomatic chocker

Americans and Israelis realise the magnitude of direct damage that will take place in case Palestine was accepted in international organisations. Israel will face the direct repercussions of this step, especially in case Palestine joined the international criminal court, while Washington's attempts to thwart the Palestinian steps will embarrass the American administration and impose huge diplomatic and political burdens onto it, at a time when it is facing numerous crises, mainly the tension with Russia after the annexation of Crimea.

Dissolving the PA on the one hand and accepting Palestine in international organisations on the other can change the legal status of Palestinian territories according to international law, where any decision to build settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem would be considered an illegal decision that requires the prosecution of Israeli officials.

If we take the fast growing international boycott campaign which Israel is being subjected to into consideration, then Palestinian steps in the international arena may become a diplomatic choker that can also decrease Israel's international status.

Also, the economic, security and political prices which Israel will pay as a result of dissolving the PA and taking steps on the international arena will expose the ruling right wing coalition in Israel and destroy its trustworthiness in front of the Israeli public.

Although the group of factors affecting the political and ideological directions of Israelis is wide and branching, the failure of the current government in managing the conflict with Palestinians can lead to a change in the internal power balance, and may lead to the rise of the centre and centre-left coalition again to the government.

It is true that the most that is offered by the Zionist left party does not meet the minimum of what is accepted by Palestinians, but this transformation, if it takes place, will lead to an erosion in the Zionist position towards the case, after Israelis realise the limits of their stale power in the face of a people that are holding strongly to their rights of freedom and life. The outcome will be that Israelis will stop their impossible demands, such as the demand to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state.

Comprehensive national programme

It is clear that achieving all that was mentioned depends on how capable the PLO is when it comes to ending the divisions and regaining national unity. This is of particular importance at a time when Israel is challenging the legitimacy of Abbas' representation of Palestinians is one of the most dangerous obstacles that face the Palestinian steps in international forums.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says that at his best President Abbas represents half of the Palestinian people, and no deal can be agreed with him unless Palestinians agreed to his representation.

Ending the division will not only improve the chances of successful Palestinian steps in the international forum, but is also expected to lead to a Palestinian consensus on a comprehensive Palestinian agenda that reduces Israel's ability to use Palestinian internal conflicts as a tool.

It is certain that dissolving the PA will remove many obstacles that stand in the way of ending the divisions because it will remove from the agenda all items that concern dividing the shares of authority, elections and others, which have been fuelling the internal polarisation.

At the same time, the national programme must contain a Palestinian consensus on how to manage and adjust the conflict in the face of the occupation, where it would increase the Palestinian influence on one hand, and on the other it would decrease Israel's ability to use the discrepancies in the behaviour of Palestinian factions.

The PA leadership would be mistaken if it sought to use its steps in the UN to bargain with Israel and to convince its government to go back to the absurd negotiations through the release of a number of Palestinian prisoners.

Recently Abbas promised the Revolutionary Council of Fatah that he will not give in to Israeli and American demands and that he is not willing to end his life with "treason", because he realised that the path of negotiations, as planned by Washington and Tel Aviv, pushes him to give up on the Palestinian national cause.

Needless to say that Abbas' agreement to resume the negotiations will destroy his trustworthiness and will ascertain his keenness to disable the pressure cards which the PA has in the face of the illusion of negotiations.

Translated from Al-Jazeera net, June 9, 2014

 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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