Would the Israeli occupation allow us, Palestinians, to live under its fold, bleed our sweat and energy in its factories and provide it with the security services that it craves, so that it throws us a loaf of bread, while we praise it day and night?
I do not think so. The Israeli occupation will not accept the mere presence of a Palestinian people on this land as, since the first Zionist invader set foot on the land of Palestine, they have been repeating the words of the former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, “A land without a people for a people without a land.” This is best evidenced by the Oslo Accords, which recognised Israel’s right to most of Palestine and demanded that the Palestinian people lay down their arms and co-exist with the occupiers for a period of four transitional years, after which they would allow the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Did the Israelis accept the equation of Palestinians living under the shadow of occupation?
No, the Israelis did not accept this equation but, instead, were keen to exploit the Oslo Accords in favour of settlement expansion and the restriction of living conditions for the Palestinians. Therefore, the first confrontations erupted in Hebron, then in Jabal Abu Ghneim in 1998, when settlers seized the strategic mountain north of Bethlehem, and turned it into a settlement called Har Homa. The Israeli ambitions did not stop there, and they continued to violate the Oslo Accords, the Hebron Protocol and the Wye River Memorandum.
The Al-Aqsa Intifada was a Palestinian rebellion against the idea of co-existence under the shadows of occupation, and the Israeli response was more killing, repression, slaughter and conspiracy. During that time, Sharon succeeded in cornering Abu Ammar in the Muqata’a compound and imposing house arrest, which was witnessed by all of the Palestinian leaders who are, today, shedding tears for Abu Ammar. Abu Ammar remained imprisoned in AL-Muqata’a, while the rest of the PLO leaders continued to move around, travelled through Israeli checkpoints, crossed from Gaza to the West Bank and, from the West Bank, to Jordan. Farouk Kaddoumi participated in the Arab Summit Conference in Beirut 2002, at a time when the Arab leaders did not allow Abu Ammar to make Palestine’s speech from within the Muqata’a, where Sharon had besieged him.
Abu Ammar was liquidated as a prisoner, while his colleagues, friends and heirs continued to move around. His deputy and Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas, met with Sharon in June 2003 in Aqaba and, in the presence of US President Bush, reached an agreement to end the Intifada and be satisfied with living under the occupation. This led to the liquidation of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, while the security coordination and cooperation became sacred. However, none of this satisfied the Israelis. It did not lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state or stop the killing, intrusions and restrictions on the lives of the Palestinians, until 60 per cent of the West Bank became completely under Israeli control and the Palestinians retreated inside their cities, camps and villages, powerless to defend their sanctuaries.
Are the Israelis satisfied with this equation? Did their leadership stop plotting against the Palestinian presence itself inside the West Bank cities, besieged by settlements and bypass roads? Will they ever recognise the human rights of the Palestinians, after denying their political rights?
The answer that everyone, near and far, now realises is that the Israeli occupation wants the land without the people, even if the people accept to live in Gaza and the West Bank in residential communities, as is the case with their fellow Palestinians in the territories occupied in 1948. The occupation will not accept this equation, and it will not give the Palestinians any equal human rights, which has hurt our people in the territories occupied in 1948, who found themselves, 70 years after trying to co-exist with the Israelis, still being humiliated and suffering apartheid.
Experience is the best teacher, and whoever does not learn from peoples’ experiences remains a failed student in the primary school of security coordination and cooperation, searching for their dreams among the ashes of their mistakes.
This article first appeared in Arabic in the Palestinian Information Centre on 26 October 2021
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.