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Will allowing Palestinians from Gaza to work in Israel be a bribe or a defeat?

July 17, 2019 at 12:24 pm

The Israeli occupation authorities are discussing the possibility of allowing Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip to enter and work in the Zionist state. This is a sudden and surprising development which has not been proposed before as part of any deal.

Perhaps Israel is trying to escape from the political, logistical, moral and psychological pressures put on the government by the peaceful Palestinian Great March of Return protests, which have been taking place every Friday since 30 March last year. These protests — and Israel’s brutal response — have embarrassed the occupying state around the world, even while it is still engaged in escalating operations week after week. The Great March, meanwhile, gains in popularity across all sections and factions of Palestinian society in the Gaza Strip.

This Israeli move may be a bribe to the Palestinians in an effort to convince them to reduce the pressure by stopping or cutting back on the intensity of the protests. The occupation authorities do not know when the protests are due to stop, as they are always growing and the people are committed to taking part.

READ: Unemployment, poverty rates in Gaza hit record high

Whatever the official reason might be, though, an independent analysis might conclude that it is actually an overwhelming defeat inflicted by the Palestinians in Gaza on the occupation, which gives every appearance of being confused in its actions, decisions and approaches. Thus, on the one hand we see Israel threatening to carry out a large-scale, no doubt very destructive, military offensive against Gaza in response to the continued protests and the people’s rejection of the occupation’s conditions and demands. On the other, though, it is hinting at allowing Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip to work inside Israel as part of an easing of the suffocating economic siege imposed on the enclave. The occupation state is offering this tempting titbit, but it knows very well that so much more is demanded of it.

The possibility of this concession must be met by the Palestinians with further pressure and the reiteration of the need for Israel to meet all of their rights and demands. They must raise the ceiling of expectations and call for them to be implemented as one package and refuse to accept their fragmentation, which is what Israel usually does. In fact, Israel typically implements a few demands but does not commit to or abide by any agreement, promise or treaty that it signs. It is known to deny its obligations and actually do the opposite on the ground.

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The peaceful Palestinian protests have defeated Israel and pushed it into a corner. All that it can do is either use more violence or withdraw. It is suffering from imbalance due to the failure of the “deal of the century” and the lack of any achievement related to the US deal before September, when the General Election is due to be held.

Waging a war against the Gaza Strip is said to be one of the options open to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who is almost certainly going to be removed from the political arena — in order to get out of the current dilemma. Not only does he still face corruption charges, but he is also facing strong opposition from various coalition groups who see the election as the perfect opportunity to get rid of him. Despite all of this, he is still trying to give the impression that he is very strong, although the reality is that he is at his weakest.

The Palestinian position in dealing with the Israeli response to the Great March of Return protests will be a factor in determining the direction that the occupation authorities take. It could also prevent Israel from achieving its goals and imposing its conditions on the people of Palestine.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Addustour on 16 July 2019 

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