The open battle waged by the popular masses when they imposed the fait accompli and forcibly opened the Al-Rahma Mosque on 22 February has not ended yet. It was clear that Israel’s retreat was tactical in order to avoid largescale confrontations that could have broken out if the occupation authorities did not back down in favour of calm and quiet gradual work. While this battle exposed, once again, the occupation authority’s old plans for Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Holy Basin. It opened the door for an intifada which has been on the verge of occurring since the electronic gate battle in October 2015 from which they also emerged victorious.
While all forms of attacks by the settlers and Israeli army and police officers continue against the citizens and their property in the West Bank, the Israeli leadership has moved to escalate and increase its pressure on Gaza. Although Benjamin Netanyahu and his opponents were preoccupied with their election campaigns, the settlement and Judaisation programmes were not affected and did not stop, but increased. All of this is occurring at a time when confusion and foolishness continues on the Palestinian side. The two major parties continue their actions and await the outcome of the elections, as if anything will change depending on who wins.
After the Jerusalemites opened Al-Rahma Gate by force, and in an effort by the occupation authorities and police agencies to prevent largescale confrontations, the Egyptian and Jordanian mediators were called upon to intervene to find a “compromise” that would postpone the clash if it did not achieve the Israeli goals. The Israeli court issued a decision stipulating that Al-Rahma Mosque be closed again and gave the Islamic Waqf a week to respond to the decision. However, after holding an emergency meeting, the Waqf announced that Al-Rahma Gate will not be closed and that it is under the control of the Aqsa Council, and therefore no one has authority over it other than the Awqaf.
When the occupation authorities agreed to the renovation of the mosque, it stipulated that the Israeli Antiquities Authority oversee the renovation, which was rejected by the Waqf. The situation has not changed and the settler intrusions have not stopped. These settlers regularly call for intrusions of the mosque and turning it in to a synagogue. However, the situation is still the same even after the intense talks between the Israelis and Jordanians, despite rumours that a compromise was being formulated. Israel’s goal is to achieve a gradual closure that leads to the complete closure without engaging in largescale confrontations that could escalate to something more.
It is said that Benjamin Netanyahu wants calm in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem until the elections are over, but the Israeli measures, actions and attacks on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza Strip indicate otherwise. They indicate that this desire is a desire for calm that does not interfere with the occupation, settler and army’s actions. The incursions on Al-Aqsa Mosque and Al-Rahma Gate, as well as the raids and attacks on Gaza are ongoing, which leaves the door open to an explosion here or there. However, this is dependent on the positions adopted by the PA in Ramallah and Hamas in Gaza. In Jerusalem, the failure to reach a solution regarding the siege on Al-Rahma Mosque that pleases the Jerusalemites will ultimately lead to the explosion of the situation in Jerusalem and perhaps in the West Bank.
Meanwhile, the leaks regarding the understandings between the Israelis and Hamas after the last two visits by the senior-level Egyptian security delegation to Gaza suggest that efforts are being made to alleviate the blockade imposed on Gaza and to leave the West Bank crushed between the occupation’s teeth.
In light of the conditions that are on the verge of explosion in the West Bank, leaks about the “deal of the century” are increasing. Moreover, the haste to normalise relations with Tel Aviv is playing a role in encouraging the Israeli leadership and the American administration to implement and accelerate what is left of Trump’s liquidation plan. This leaves the Palestinians with no other choice than to end the occupation, which confirms the need for a comprehensive uprising that will thwart the plots. If the Palestinians’ official positions in Ramallah and Gaza truly oppose the “deal of the century”, then there are no hindrances other than the irresponsible factional positions and actions carried out by those who consider themselves responsible for the national cause!
This article first appeared in Arabic in Alkhaleej on 14 March 2019
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.