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Israel’s annexation plan relies on the obvious limitations of the PA’s response

Palestinian citizens wear masks to protect themselves from coronavirus (COVID-19) at public places in Bethlehem, West Bank on 5 March, 2020 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian citizens wear masks to protect themselves from coronavirus (COVID-19) at public places in Bethlehem, West Bank on 5 March, 2020 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Anadolu Agency]

The Zionist plan to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank comes in the midst of a complex Palestinian reality at several levels. Perhaps the most prominent challenges facing the Palestinians as they stand up to the annexation is the new wave of coronavirus infections. This is compounded by the latest delay in paying salaries, for which there is no clear end in sight.

All of this combines to make many citizens sceptical of the leadership. Although indulging in conspiracy theories on this issue involves obsession, exaggeration and a lack of understanding, it is based on ordinary Palestinians’ lack of confidence in the PA as well as doubts about the measures it is taking, and even its media and news reports.

The PA is largely responsible for damaging the trust between itself and the general public, but the result is that people on the street are deeply concerned with the Covid-19 developments and theories related to it, despite the fact that most of these theories are false. In reality, the official infection statistics cannot be fake and the PA can have no interest in claiming that the virus has spread in the areas under its control.

As for the salary delays, it is not known how serious the matter is, given that this interruption has coincided with the annexation plan. However, the PA is already facing financial hardship, but we do not know if it is so severe that it cannot pay civil servants their salaries. The reality facing Palestinians now is the lack of salaries for tens of thousands of them on one hand and the failure of the already shattered economy due to the coronavirus on the other, to an unprecedented level within the West Bank. This has a direct impact on the ability and potential to challenge the annexation plan as it creates many issues that divert attention from any possible resistance to Israel’s illegal proposal.

READ: Top Trump officials to hold two key meetings to discuss Israel’s annexation plans

This has not prevented the PA’s media discourse from including a lot of exaggeration and intimidatory rhetoric when talking about its preparations to confront the annexation. The tone appears to be intended to reassure a domestic audience that the authority is prepared for the confrontation and ready to thwart the plan. The truth is that none of its alleged actions will result in anything tangible on the ground, especially when we note that this tone is limited so as not to jeopardise international legitimacy and to preserve the peaceful nature of any protests. The sub-text is that the PA would be the first to stand in the way of any armed challenge to Israel’s annexation of Palestinian territory.

This policy achieves nothing in the face of a threat as serious as the annexation plan, especially when the most important result will be the end of any remaining chance for a viable independent state, imposing a new reality that does not take envisage any Palestinian presence in historic Palestine whatsoever. It looks as if the PA is going into a fight unarmed and unprepared. If it was relying on a mass public response to its calls, it was mistaken. Apart from the fact that the aforementioned challenges will hinder any such move, the general public is not convinced of the usefulness of such protests.

If the PA is really willing to face up to the annexation plan, then it must let go of many of the prohibitions it imposes on the people before doing anything else, and allow them to do what it is unable to do, instead of forcing everyone determined to confront Israel to stick to its self-imposed and very obvious limitations. The latter may prevent any popular deterrent action, disrupt public confidence in both the possibility and usefulness of such action as long as the PA is present, and reassure Israel that its latest colonial invasion will not provoke a new resistance reality with explosive and escalating results.

READ: Israel takes steps to isolate Jordan Valley in preparation for annexation

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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