‘New generation is capable of leading a new Intifada’ — Analysis

Just before 2022’s start, Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority) president visited Benny Gantz’s home to discuss the development of “security coordination” between Israel and Palestine. The meeting was the first between Abbas and a senior Israeli official inside Israeli territory since 2010 and was, according to Israeli media reports, focused on discussing the development of “security coordination” between Israel and the PA. 

A few days later, the PA raided Jenin and made a lot of arrests. This was in response to a similar operation by the Palestinian Authority in November that sought to weaken armies in the region. The chief of staff for Israel’s military, Aviv Kohavi, later praised the PA forces for their action, claiming that Israel had been planning a similar large-scale operation in Jenin, but had called it off when the PA began acting first. 

Since last May’s Israel–Palestine crisis, after an 11-day war against Gaza took place, tensions have been continuing to build in the occupied territories. Nizar Banat (a West Bank-based critic) of the Palestinian Authority was tortured to death by PA security forces. This sparked fears of an uprising that could possibly overthrow PA leader Abbas. Abbas’ democratic presidential legitimacy had expired in 2009.

‘My youngest son has seen nothing but violence’ – Palestinian activist on life in West Bank village where Israelis killed a child

Ramzy Baroud is an academic journalist and Palestinian activist who wanted to find out more information about the West Bank uprising and the connection it may have with the Palestinian Authority’s actions. First, I asked him what he makes of Abbas’ meeting with Benny Gantz, and whether this was tied to recent attempts to crack down on the Palestinian armed struggle, to which he answered the following:

“I think that the Palestinian Authority and Israel have something in common and that is to make sure there will be no rebellion in the West Bank.”He also added: “The West Bank, as of last May, is undergoing two types of transformations; one is the rise of the new generation that is capable of indeed leading a new Intifada… the other change that is happening in the West Bank is the rise of the pro-armed struggle narrative.”

The issue was also discussed with a journalist from Ramallah, who requested anonymity out of fear of persecution. I was able to speak over the phone with him and he said that “everyone is fed up with the PA, they know that they simply collaborate with Israel and the people don’t consider them as a representative, but instead part of the occupation.”He admitted that he was sorry. “was even surprised to see the way young people in Palestine are behaving; they are going to other villages to resist the settlers and soldiers, they are attending funerals of martyrs in their tens of thousands, they are much more inspired now.”

When I asked him what danger posed the small but poorly-organized armed groups that seem to have been popping up in refugee camps or villages all across the West Bank, he replied, “It is a threat because they are not well organized.” His answer was that “there has always been groups, which call themselves as being associated with Al-Qassam [Hamas’ armed wing], Saraya Al-Quds [PIJ Party armed wing], Abu Ali Mustapha [PFLP armed wing] or Kataeb Shuhada al-Aqsa [unofficial Fatah Party armed wing], but the problem is that, due to PA spies, groups have little chance at this time to ever pose major threats, but maybe in the future this will change.”He stated that the “biggest threat to Israel are the armed attacks by individuals who decide to carry out an operation without telling anyone, this way there is no way for anyone to get the word out about their intentions and, yes, now we are seeing more of this, it’s no surprise [the Israelis] are scared and that’s why Israeli soldiers are more trigger-happy now than in recent years.” 

Ramzy Baroud was able to explain further this point by asking me about the origins of growing Palestinian resistance within the West Bank. This is specifically what we’ve seen in Jenin. 

“We see this happening in the Jenin area, but we see this happening beyond the Jenin area. Jenin was, in many aspects, freed from the PA’s oppressive control. This has allowed it to be an area where the phenomenon can express itself in an open manner. However, it does exist in other parts of the West Bank and, the moment that an armed rebellion breaks out, I think there will be much more of a popular appeal to it in various other parts of the West Bank.”

Tied up naked and starving for 3 days in an Israeli jail – ex-Palestinian prisoner

Ramzy Baroud said that too “Mahmoud Abbas knows this,”He spoke out about how armed resistance is being seen as the main solution and growing in practice. He stated that Mahmoud Abdulbas is his hero. “is really not fighting for his own survival at the helm of this so-called leadership, he is fighting for the brand that he had created. The brand of corrupt officials and a security force, armed, trained and sustained by American money and military intelligence, Israeli support even, and the support of various corrupt Arab regimes in the region.”

Although the Palestinian Authority is based in Ramallah West Bank, it is managed by Fatah party Mahmoud Abubas. However, the party seems to have lost its footing after last year. The PA president called for elections at the beginning of 2021. It caused different Fatah Party lists and parties to declare that they would be running against each other. There was a brief clash of Fatah’s opposing factions. There were also several incidents of Fatah factions launching armed attacks on one another, the most prominent of which was in April, when gunmen in the city of Al-Khalil, Hebron opened fire on the home of Lawyer Hatem Shaheen, who was running as a candidate on the al-Mustaqbal (‘The Future’) list affiliated with former Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan.

Abbas cancelled the election, which was to be the first since over fifteen years. Official PA positions stated that Israeli restrictions were responsible for the cancelation. However, some critics believe that this was actually due to the fear that current leaders would lose power if there was a democratic election. Hamas won last year’s legislative election. Fatah ran so many lists that it seemed likely that Hamas will win. In addition to this, Marwan Barghouti, a prominent Fatah leader now held by Israel as a political prisoner, was threatening to run for Palestinian president and, due to his popularity amongst the Palestinian electorate, it would have been very possible that he could’ve dethroned Abbas.

“There is a serious concern that the moment Mahmoud Abbas disappears from the scene, certain branches of Fatah are planning to wage an internal rebellion for the internal definition and the soul of Fatah,”Ramzy Baroud stated that he thinks the Fatah Party, which is currently in crisis, is at fault. In addition to this, the PA is stepping up coordination with Israel in order to stop armed rebellions in the West Bank.

Baroud said that “Israel is very keen on [a Fatah rebellion]This is not possible. Israel cannot afford to experience the type of rebellion it experienced last May. Israel seemed to be scared for the first time ever in its history. [during the May rebellion]They struggle to hold it all together. It was dangerous precedent. In Israel there was near civil war. The West Bank rose, East Jerusalem was set ablaze, Gaza was fighting back. This was unprecedented. Israel managed to contain that, but I don’t think Israel will be able to contain it again in the future and a similar rebellion could lead to the disintegration of the Palestinian Authority.”

In addition to the growing anti-PA resentment in the West Bank, the latest findings indicating that almost 80% of Palestinians polled say that Mahmoud Abbas should resign, is the question of the Palestinian Authority’s economic downfall. Ramzy Baroud says that the PA’s economic struggle is manufactured and shouldn’t really be referred to as an “economic crisis.” This is because there is no functioning economy in a conventional sense, in the West Bank, because it all goes through Israel. Due to the stranglehold that the Israeli government has on the PA’s finances, Baroud argues that, despite all his threats to do so, “Abbas cannot possibly operate outside of that model that is entirely dictated by Israel,”This is based on the Oslo Accords between Tel Aviv and the PLO. 

Palestinian refugee camps are a tinderbox for civil war

PA forces seem to have been focusing their recent West Bank crackdowns on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This coincides with a rising support for Hamas, as seen in last May’s PA-led raids. Similar actions have been taken in the past. This was most notable after the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, in which Hamas won a stunning victory. This resulted in Fatah, the United States and Israel’s rejection of the elections’ outcome and a planned coup against the Gaza based government, democratically elected in what former US President Jimmy Carter called a “free and fair” election. Despite the ‘Mecca agreement,’ facilitated by Saudi Arabia to form a unity government between Fatah and Hamas, Fatah’s PA went on to receive financial backing from the United States to persecute Hamas. Hamas pre-empted the planned coup – coordinated between the US Bush administration and PA Preventative Security Head Mohammed Dahlan – and defeated Fatah, taking complete control of Gaza. 

Due to this history, a factional analysis is now being made, presenting the issue as again a Hamas-against-Fatah struggle in the occupied territories, but Ramzy Baroud argues that this is a misinterpretation of Palestine’s current predicament.

“I think that we have to be clear here, I don’t think that the issue here is about popularity for Hamas at the expense of Fatah… What I think we are talking about here is a different political model,”He proposed and stated that the “factional narrative of Hamas vs. Fatah or the Socialists, or Islamic Jihad”This is not what we’re dealing with. He believes there is an unifying model that Palestinians can use to abandon their belief in the negotiation for a two state model. Instead, they believe in resistance as a way out.

“The support of the resistance is not necessarily support of Hamas as a political party, but it’s rather the support of anybody that is willing to resist and it just happens that Hamas is the major party that operates in Gaza,”He pointed out that this support can also be allocated to “the socialist groups, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ]Including brigades from al-Aqsa Martyrs [Fatah’s armed wing, not officially connected to the Party] and other Fatah affiliates in the West Bank.”

An example of the support for any resistance figures, Ramzy Baroud argued, came when six Palestinian political prisoners escaped from Israel’s Gilboa Jail last September. Zakaria Zubeidi is a Fatah member who once led Al-Aqsa Martyrs brigades. He called the unification on Zubeidi across Party boundaries. “unprecedented.”

Israel called on foreign countries to provide more aid for the Palestinian Authority in late 2013. The Israeli government also seems to be eying the prospect of boosting their own aid to the PA, but notably there are no high-ranking Israeli government officials who dare call for dialogue to discuss a two-state solution, as was the case in the past, when the Palestinian Authority’s leaders had formed such strong bonds with their counterparts in the Israeli government. Both the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet and his power-sharing counterpart, Yair Lepid, are against the idea of a Palestinian State that comes from a full dialogue with the PA. This adds pressure to the situation, pitting them directly in opposition to the international consensus on ending the conflict. Unlike the situation under the former US administration of Donald Trump, the Israelis are not being given a direct say on what Washington’s policy will be when it comes to the Palestinians. Although he is staunchly pro Israel, President Joe Biden has returned to US support for the international consensus. This could be bad news in Israel.

It may not suffice to strengthen the Palestinian Authority with more weapons and economic support in the West Bank. The closer Israel becomes to Mahmoud Absbas, the more isolated the Palestinian people feel. Elements of the Israeli government, including its current Prime Minister, also seem to be opposed to the US plan to strengthen the PA’s standing with moves such as opening a consulate to deal with the PA in East Jerusalem. If Israel’s government cannot decide on a unified position on how to support the PA, this could also make its plan to prop up the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority a more arduous task.

If the Palestinian Authority, lead by Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah Party, fails to consolidate power and hold on to its current position in the West Bank, it is very possible that a new phase in the Palestine-Israel conflict will be reached. Beginning in 1993, the Oslo Process ended the Intifada, a large-scale Palestinian revolt that broke out in the occupied territories in 1987. It also ushered into an era failed dialogue. By accepting UN Resolution 242, the Palestine Liberation Organization had recognized Israel as an independent state. It also accepted the fact that Palestine’s future states could only be established in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority, which was created out of Oslo and was responsible for managing small parts of Gaza and West Bank was established. Although this model of partial PA control was supposed to lead to their expanded control over the territories, Israel refused to withdraw incrementally, as was stipulated in Oslo II, and instead, through settlement expansion, the Israeli presence — called ‘occupation’ by its opponents — became even more deeply entrenched.

Israel is picking so many fights on multiple fronts that several wars could break out at any time. Meanwhile, the US stays silent

The Second Intifada, in 2000, erupted out of the failure of the Peace Process to produce tangible results and, following the death of former PA President Yasser Arafat in 2004 after he was besieged by the Israeli military, the new PA model began under Arafat’s successor Mahmoud Abbas. The model set forward was a ‘status quo’ model, which has essentially led to the building discontent seen inside the occupied territories today. There is no longer any hope for the revival of the ‘Peace Process’ between the PA and Israel, in large part due to this being seen as unacceptable by most Israelis and, therefore, not worthy of support by its politicians. 

On November 2, a new Palestinian organisation was founded, the ‘Masar Badil,’ calling itself the alternative to the Oslo Process and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The ‘Masar Badil’ has received open support from Palestinian political parties, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement (PIJ), and it seeks to continue this support. “all the resistance forces inside Palestine”In order to liberate Palestine completely. I spoke to some of Masar Badil’s founding members, asking for a comment on the rise of an armed rebellion in the West Bank, and got the answer that the organisation believes the young generation have reached the point where they’re on the verge of a new uprising.  

Khaled Barakat is a founder member of Masarbadil. He views the armed struggles element as something that must be seen in their context. He stressed that the lack of any positive outcomes attained by corrupt and elitist leaders has led to an uprising to liberate themselves using armed force instead of empty platitudes or meaningless dialogue.

The Israeli government and its allies seem to be trying to keep the status quo and may be considering the likes of former Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan – who currently works as Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayid’s right-hand man – as a valid replacement in the absence of Mahmoud Abbas. There was one mistake and there wasn’t a consensus in Israel about how to keep the PA and status quo. Israel could be faced with a new Intifada and have to accept compromises to end it. If the majority of Palestinians now really support armed uprising, then all attempts to strengthen the PA at this time may be futile or, at the very least, may prove unsustainable.

Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He is currently a journalist and documentary filmmaker based in London, UK. 

Statements, opinions and views expressed in this column do not reflect those of RT.



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