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Netanyahu hints at expanding colonial violence to the Occupied West Bank

December 12, 2023 at 7:19 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on December 10, 2023 [RONEN ZVULUN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, made an erroneous but revealing statement during Monday’s Knesset meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee. “The difference between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is only that Hamas wants to destroy us here and now and the PA wants to do it in stages,” Netanyahu stated. While Netanyahu was speaking of the hypothesis that the PA returns to a governing role in Gaza, which runs against Israel’s interests, there are implications of expanding colonial aggression in the Occupied West Bank, using the terror narrative as a pretext.

To begin with, crediting the PA with such an aim is a ridiculous statement, given that its existence supports Israeli colonialism and would disintegrate completely without donor funding. The PA has no incentive to destroy Israel and no political direction, except what is mandated by its foreign donors. Palestine in PA rhetoric is as much an external concept as it is when the international community decides what Palestine should or should not be.

However, by equating Hamas and the PA, Netanyahu has stepped up Israel’s fabricated security narrative. In the Israeli narrative, Hamas is a “terror organisation”, not a liberation organisation. And since Israel’s narrative only has space for terror, not decolonisation and liberation, Netanyahu is laying the foundations to justify a future aggression in the Occupied West Bank. Not only that – his statement also testifies to how disposable the PA is, as well as the certainty that the international community will not step in to at least save the entity it funds. And if the international community will not save its investment, why would it save Palestinians from Israeli massacres?

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In July this year, Israel bombed the Jenin refugee camp on the pretext of eradicating terrorism. While Israel is bombing Gaza, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) incursions in the Occupied West Bank have continued with less media scrutiny. The same with settlement expansion, which has become a normalised colonial action despite the international law violations. In both Jenin and Gaza, the latter on a larger scale, Israel’s targeting of the Palestinian refugee population is indicative of its strategy – that of rendering Palestinians perpetually forcibly displaced.

The overt support Israel received from the international community over its genocide in Gaza has certainly strengthened future colonisation plans. Netanyahu is no longer differentiating between the resistance movement and the authoritarian echelons in Ramallah – a fabricated equivalence between both will soon be part of Israel’s colonial narrative. As a result, if the international community does not act to intervene in Gaza as these months have evidenced, similar tactics will eventually be used in the Occupied West Bank. The equivalence will then be evident in the way Israel treats Palestinians in Gaza and the Occupied West Bank – all victims of genocide, because the international investment in Israel’s colonial expansion is too high to relinquish.

Such a statement from Netanyahu should have the international community convening to stop Israel. But then, current displays of genocide in Gaza had world leaders assuming the role of spectators even more than the citizens they rule over. What is the international community funding, exactly, when it bolsters the PA financially? What of the narratives, so prominently promoted in the past years, that the Occupied West Bank is synonymous with Palestinian statehood, elusive as it is? So far, the international community has acted as if Gaza is dispensable but, if, or when, Israel shifts its narrative to include the Occupied West Bank, the entire political debacle will crumble, with the death toll of Palestinians as witness to the premeditated slaughter Israel will be eyeing in the future.

READ: Netanyahu: Planning for a buffer zone between Gaza and Israel

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