One thing caught my attention during the latest Israeli escalation in the Gaza Strip, which left dozens of Palestinians dead. It was a video message, in Arabic, by Israeli parliamentarian Avi Dichter, a former head of Israel’s internal security service, Shin Bet. Dichter spent a life time torturing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and assassinating many others, but used the video to offer “sincere” advice to the people of Gaza to rebel against Hamas rule and stop firing rockets at Israel.
In an attempt to blame the victims, he said that whatever misery the Palestinians are suffering from is the result of choosing war against Israel. According to him, in 1947, the UN offered them a partition plan, but they refused it and they chose to fight, and as a result they are now stifled in this tiny piece of land, the Gaza Strip. In his warped logic, they have only themselves to blame for their predicament; they gambled against the Zionist movement and lost.
In an attempt to intimidate the Palestinians, Dichter says that they should learn a lesson from Syria, where almost half-a-million people have been killed and around ten million have been displaced. Only Israel, claims the Knesset member, has helped the Syrian people; he ignores the fact that millions of Syrian refugees stay in neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Not only does he demand that the Palestinians should stop firing rockets, but he also tells them that they will not gain anything by gathering near the Israeli-erected “border” fence for the Great March of Return protests because they have to forget about returning to their land. The only way to stop their suffering, insists Dichter, is to topple Hamas.
This video did not surprise me; Dichter was merely regurgitating decades-old Israeli propaganda. What was a surprise, though, was how similar it was in content to an article in the New York Times on 22 April — “Care about Gaza? Blame Hamas: The world wants to help. The terrorists won’t allow it” — written by US President Donald Trump’s Israel Envoy, Jason Greenblatt. The only real difference resulted from Dichter’s use of Arabic to address the Palestinians in Gaza directly, while Greenblatt chose a prestigious newspaper to speak largely to the American people and the West.
The envoy described Hamas as undemocratic, although it won the majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council in the last free and fair democratic elections held in 2006. For him, “the world”, which actually means the United States, wants to help the Palestinians but they are not working in their own best interest. As far as Greenblatt is concerned, the cause of Palestinian suffering is not Zionist settler-colonialism with the West’s support; nor is it the 12-year-old Israeli-imposed siege on the Gaza Strip; nor Israel’s three military offensives which destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure and economy; nor the US efforts to close UNRWA, the UN agency which helps millions of Palestinian refugees with basic essentials, including education and healthcare; nor the US and Israeli attempts to break the will of the Palestinian people and all those who might think of supporting them. None of those things are to blame, in his view.
In essence, the US envoy has simply reproduced Israeli propaganda. Washington and Tel Aviv alike believe that those they can’t buy they can simply break. If the Palestinians accept America’s definition of peace — that they should deny their own legitimate rights and existence by acknowledging Israel’s colonial occupation of their homeland, and accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in Palestine — then they will get massive financial assistance from the rich Gulf States. This is what the “deal of the century” really entails.
According to the Times of Israel, quoting official sources, the 25-26 June conference in Bahrain brokered by the Americans will not include the core political issues of the conflict: the final borders, the status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and Israeli security demands. Yet Greenblatt seems surprised that the Palestinian Authority has already refused to attend. The rejection did not come from Hamas; it came from PA-Fatah Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh: “Any solution to the conflict in Palestine must be political… and based on ending the occupation. We will not succumb to blackmail and extortion and will not trade our national rights for money.”
The Palestinians should attend the Manama conference masterminded by Jared Kushner and Greenblatt, even though it will eventually legitimise the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, and end the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homeland, and practically undermine any chance of having a state of their own on the land of their forefathers. If they do not attend, then the US “deal” will go ahead in their absence, leaving them to starve to death or be bombed to death, whichever carries the least cost for Israel.
There is a bright side to this tragedy, though; we no longer have to believe in the myth of the left-wing coloniser and the liberal Zionist. According to Professor Ilan Pappé, it is such people who have shielded Israel for the past seven decades and convinced many in the Western world that you can colonise someone else’s land and be good at the same time.
Now we hear no more talk about the “two-state-solution”, and that there is such a thing as a “peace process” which is yet to deliver a miraculous solution that is going to please everyone. From now on it will be crystal clear to Arabs, Muslims and everyone else who cares, who their enemy is and who is cooperating with it in order to facilitate its plans in our region. It is those Arab and Muslim regimes who have thus far used lame excuses to evade their responsibility towards the Holy Land and the Palestinian people which will, shamefully, be exposed.
Just when the Americans think that they have liquidated the Palestinian cause and its legitimacy, they are actually taking the conflict into a new era. Far from solving the Palestine-Israel issue, the US “deal of the century” will take it to an unimagined level, with consequences that Washington never even thought could exist.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.