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Mark Regev should calm down and be honest

Israel's Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, in London, UK on 23 January 2019 [Tolga Akman/WPA Pool/Getty Images]
Israel's then-Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, in London on 23 January 2019 [Tolga Akman/WPA Pool/Getty Images]

Senior Israeli diplomat Mark Regev claimed in his weekly Jerusalem Post column that potential economic development in the besieged Gaza Strip could help to avoid another Israeli military offensive. The former ambassador of the apartheid state to the UK overlooked the tight Israel-led and internationally-backed siege imposed since 2007, and instead blamed the Palestinian resistance factions, mainly Hamas, for the deterioration of the economic conditions in Gaza, as well as the four major Israeli offensives since 2008 that have killed and wounded thousands of men, women and children; displaced hundreds of thousands; and unleashed unprecedented destruction on the enclave and its infrastructure.

Referring to the recent economic plan proposed by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Regev said: "All these ideas share a common hope that, in providing economic tangibles for the people of Gaza, it is possible to strengthen the incentive to keep the peace and thereby defer the next round of fighting."

Justifying the illegal Israeli measures against Gaza, as well as Israel's reluctance to accept the internationally-backed solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of a Palestinian state on the land occupied since 1967, Regev claimed that Israel ceded Gaza in 2005, but Hamas seized control and was thus responsible for the Israeli offensives. The current visiting fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv also said that the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan suggested in 2006 that Hamas should reject "terrorism" ( the euphemism for legitimate Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation), recognise Israel and accept previously signed peace agreements between Israel and the PLO. "Sixteen years on, Hamas has failed to meet even one of these requirements," he said.

A lot of things in his article need to be refuted. However, I will deal with just three.

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Regev was wrong to refer to the Palestinian cause as an economic problem. The people of occupied Palestine have never placed the economy at the centre of their struggle, even when under siege. They are fighting to return to their land, towns and village, homes, mosques and churches from which they have been driven at gunpoint from 1948 onwards. They are fighting to protect their current homes from illegal Jewish settlers; to stop their places of worship from being turned into nightclubs, bars and barns.

Regev knows very well what the Palestinians are fighting for, because he has been pushing Israeli propaganda against the cause for years. He knows all about the political prisoners held by Israel in appalling conditions; he knows all about the real status of Jerusalem as an occupied city which contains the most sacred site in Palestine, Al-Aqsa Mosque and its Noble Sanctuary; and he knows all about the legitimate Palestinian right of return. He knows all about all of these things, but chooses to ignore them as he promotes a twisted Zionist narrative.

Palestinians raise the Palestinian flag as Muslim worshippers gather for prayers in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound on 21 May 2021 [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images]

Palestinians raise the Palestinian flag as Muslim worshippers gather for prayers in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound on 21 May 2021 [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images]

He claimed that Israel ceded the Gaza Strip in 2005 and that the Palestinians could have built their state in at least one part of the land occupied by Israel in 1967 if Hamas had not seized control over the coastal enclave and undermined Palestinian statehood. The truth is that, legally and practically, Israel has never really left the Gaza Strip. It may have pulled its illegal settlers out in 2005, but it has kept tight control over Gaza's land border crossings, territorial waters and airspace. In every respect, it is still the occupying power. Moreover, Hamas did not seize control of Gaza; it won the "free, fair and secure" elections in 2006, but Israel and its allies ignored the UN plea to respect the result and helped Fatah to oust Hamas from the West Bank and tried but failed to do the same in Gaza. They have backed the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in Ramallah ever since.

The three conditions cited by Regev as arising with Kofi Annan were actually Israel's conditions passed to Hamas through the former the UN Secretary-General. Whenever legitimate Palestinian resistance is referred to as "terrorism", we know that it is Israel and its supporters speaking, not the UN. When demands are made for an occupied people to recognise the occupier's "right" to occupy their land, it cannot be a genuine UN demand because it goes against UN resolutions and international law. The people under occupation cannot be criminalised for resisting the occupation; the illegal action is the occupation; the criminal state is Israel.

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It is both unreasonable and immoral to insist that the people of Palestine should recognise the colonial-occupation state of Israel. Regev, therefore, wants to eat his cake and keep it; he wants the Palestinians to accept the occupation of their land, but he refuses to countenance even for one moment a State of Palestine with its own sovereignty, borders and armed forces.

In condemning Hamas for not recognising the agreements signed between Israel and the PLO, Regev does not reflect on the fact that Israel has not fulfilled its own obligations under such deals. It is always the Palestinians who must make concessions to please Israel, while the occupation state doesn't do what it is supposed to do to make the agreements work. Such deals are only intended to pacify collaborationist Palestinians in Ramallah while buying time for Israel to steal yet more Palestinian land.

Regev wants the Palestinian resistance to agree on a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip but ignore what is happening in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem. Why? The Palestinians in Gaza and those in the West Bank and Jerusalem are all Palestinians. Logically, if Regev wants the Palestinian resistance to continue respecting the ceasefire in Gaza, Israel must stop its aggression against Palestinians in the rest of occupied Palestine.

Diplomacy has been defined as "the patriotic art of lying for one's country", an art in which Mark Regev excels. Like all Israeli officials — whether far left or far right — he wants everything from the Palestinians without giving anything in return. Palestinians seeking their basic, legitimate rights are denounced by such people as "terrorists". Well, enough is enough. It's time for Regev and those like him to calm down and be honest. We are fed up with Zionist lies.

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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