Despite Tel Aviv’s clear plan not to show its concerns about the March of Return which Palestinians are organising to take place soon, and which includes a huge mass mobilisation towards the borders between the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948 and those occupied in 1967, all indicators show that the Zionist decision-making circles are dealing with this development as a first degree political and security threat.
The official television channel Kan revealed on Friday that the Security Cabinet had listened to various reports and estimates from Israeli security and intelligence institutions about the upcoming march and its various repercussions.
It is clear that Tel Aviv is dealing with the event as the embodiment of its worst nightmares because of the potential energy it contains, especially in terms of affecting Israel’s international standing, as the ability of the occupation army to deal with large masses of defenceless civilians will be limited. The use of military weapons to attempt to disperse the march can indicate the collapse of the security situation in full, while Tel Aviv won’t be able to market its use of such weapons internationally.
Adding to the complexity of the situation for the Zionists is the fact that setting the date of the march to be the day the Trump administration moves the US embassy to occupied Jerusalem carries with it an additional opportunity to ignite the security situation in the West Bank. Hence, Palestinian protests against the transfer of the embassy will expand the public reaction to the military responses to the march.
Last Friday, Ala Qabha’s actions were an omen of pessimism for the Zionists as an indication that the relative calm in the West Bank is misleading and that there is a lot of fire under the ashes.
In addition, the Zionists found that the economic and social reality in the West Bank was worse than they thought. The latest data released by the World Bank showed that economic growth has slowed and unemployment among young people has jumped to 40 per cent. This means that betting on the differences in the economic situation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will not pay off.
At the same time, the rise of the Trump administration and the madness of extremism characterising the right-wing government in Tel Aviv reinforce an environment in which the situation can be flammable, and this in turn increases Zionists’ concerns that the March of Return can contribute to realising their worries.
There is no doubt that the most sensitive issue to the Zionist entity, the Trump administration and the Arab regimes is that this march can end up imposing a regional agenda that leads to destroying the conditions that Washington and Tel Aviv have been trying to prepare in order to propose the “deal of the century”; the deal that is clearly and explicitly aimed at ending the Palestinian national cause.
Trump’s administration is concerned about maintaining relative calm until the deal is announced. The Americans know that an explosion of the security situation before the deal is announced is a drag on the Arab rulers, who Washington is betting on to get the deal passed.
The outbreak of confrontation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will reduce the margin of manoeuvre those rulers have with public opinion in terms of cooperating with the deal.
Perhaps one of the main reasons why the Trump administrations held brainstorming sessions in the White House and Brussels on the situation in the Gaza Strip was to reduce Palestinians’ enthusiasm so they won’t participate in the march.
Hence, it was not surprising to see some regional powers intensifying their contacts with the Palestinian forces inside the Gaza Strip to try to influence the political environment in a way that would reduce the enthusiasm of Palestinians to join and participate in the march.
What concerns the Zionists, the Americans and those Arabs that revolve around them is that the March of Return can provide Palestinians with a platform that helps them regain control of their own cause, while many parties, including regional parties, are seeking to harm the Palestinian cause in order to strengthen their position with the Trump administration.
This article first appeared in Arabic in The New Khaleej on 19 March 2018
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.