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Why is Israel ignoring the West Bank protests to lift Gaza sanctions?

Charities locked out of Gaza due to the siege [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Charities locked out of Gaza due to the siege [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Despite the “sacred” security coordination between the PA and the Israeli security services, even in suppressing the growing protest movement in the West Bank that is calling for lifting the PA’s unjust sanctions against the Palestinians in Gaza, Israel’s disregard for the protests is obvious. Israel’s officials, spokespeople and even media have ignored the remarkable popular movement, which some analysts expect to expand to reach all areas with a Palestinian presence across the world. Does this disregard reflect Israel’s underestimation of the importance and impact of this movement? Or does it mean Israel is taking it seriously, as a matter of national security, and subject to the consideration of military control and monitoring?

Israel has shown its exaggerated willingness to pursue any movement or anything seeming like a movement that could affect its security in the West Bank. Therefore it is highly unlikely that its official and unofficial disregard for the escalating protest movement is a result of its underestimation of its magnitude and impact. On the contrary, its decision to remain silent or ignore the movement, at least temporarily, indicates the extent of its concern and fear regarding the effects or the potential contribution of its media coverage and officials’ statements will have on supporting or encouraging the movement. At the same time, its disregard indicates the extend of its hopes and prayers that the movement declines and disintegrates, if not because of the PA’s suppression, then because of its disregard of it or at least because of the local or international public’s preoccupation with the World Cup celebrations in Russia.

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It seems that the security coordination agencies failed to anticipate this movement, especially after celebrating the results of what it considered to be a success of the security and economic coordination approach in the West Bank, which endured even the darkest conditions in Gaza on 14 May. The West Bank’s reaction and magnitude of its movement did not exceed offering condolences to the families of the 70 martyrs and praying for the thousands of injured and their families in Gaza. Suddenness and surprise is where danger lies in the eyes of the officials and those monitoring the situation. Suddenness after an accumulation of events is one of the most important features of characteristics of the breakout of mass protests. Therefore, there is no need to preoccupy oneself with the question of “why now?” and instead ask “What next?”

So far, the movement has succeeded in achieving important moral and political goals, beginning with reinforcing and strengthening the feelings of unity and solidarity among the Palestinian people. It also was able to expose the extent of the PA’s security services’ repression and the extent of its inability to combat protest movements, as well as the faire of the PA’s policies towards the West Bank and Gaza. The movement has once again proven that the PA does not possess any national legitimacy and clearly opposes the hopes and demands of the Palestinian people around the world. Will the security coordination policy, which has previously proven its success, confront this new challenge or threat by means of preventing it from achieving the rest of its current goals, i.e. lifting the sanctions imposed on Gaza? Or from developing these goals to impose the people’s demands for reconciliation and national unity? Will Israel’s obvious disregard policy, coupled with the security, moral and financial support for its Palestinian partners in repressing their own people in the West Bank, succeed?

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The answer lies in the extent to which the public persists and perseveres in overcoming the oppressive measures used against them. Despite the limited likelihood of the success of the protests in achieving its final goals or developing them into larger and broader goals due to the state of division, which is hindering all national initiatives or actions, the Palestinian masses everywhere, along with the free people of the world, have not and will not stop creating surprises and innovations.

This article first appeared in Arabic in the Palestinian Information Centre on 14 June 2018

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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