Netanyahu needs a reality check

Sunday 24/04/2016
A Palestinian woman cries as she asks for a travel permit to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing, in the southern Gaza Strip, last February.

It is time to remind Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to do a quick reality check.
Netanyahu opened his cab­inet meeting on April 10th lauding Israeli security “deter­rence measures” as the reason for a “significant decline in the scope of terrorist attacks” by Palestin­ians, citing reports by his Shin Bet security agency.
Well, an arrogant politician such as Netanyahu surely would not care to interpret gestures by the people his country has been ruling for nearly five decades, making it the longest military occupation in modern history.
Peculiarly, his right-wing cabi­net, arguably the most hardline in Israel’s history, calls outright for the eradication of West Bank Palestinians. Palestinians, mean­while, are asked to recognise Israel, its Jewish identity and right to exist.
Netanyahu and his extremist bunch do not really get it that Palestinians are not “terrorists” but people whose rights, hopes and aspirations are being con­stantly violated in every sense of the word.
Ruqayya Abu Eid was one exam­ple of Palestinian “terrorism”. The 13-year-old schoolgirl wielding a kitchen knife was killed as she walked towards a heavily armed and fully trained Israeli security guard who wore a bulletproof jacket and helmet. In the January incident at the entrance to Anatot settlement, near the girl’s home, the guard said he thought the teen wanted to stab him.
Palestinians are frustrated with being treated as second-class citizens on their own soil by the occupation authorities and the “newcomers”, a widely used term to describe Jewish settlers from Europe, Russia and elsewhere who immigrated to Israel and are illegally usurping Palestinian lands and homes, often by force.
Legitimately, Palestinians want to see an end to the Israeli occu­pation and the emergence of an independent state.
In the meantime, they only hope to have justice served to ease their despair resulting from their humiliating living conditions, such as the closure of West Bank cities, the siege on the Gaza Strip, Israeli harassment at checkpoints, Israeli land grabs, home demolitions and, most recently, fears that Israel would annex a revered Muslim shrine in Jerusalem.
The punch line in the Shin Bet report is that the drop in Pales­tinian attacks followed Israeli measures in exposing and appre­hending the “Jewish terrorists” behind arson attacks on West Bank churches and a 2015 deadly attack on the Palestinian Dawabsheh family in a village near the north­ern West Bank city of Nablus.
An 18-month-old toddler and his parents were burned to death as they slept in their home in the vil­lage of Duma when it was torched by Jewish settlers on July 31st.
Since last October, Palestinian violence over Israeli provocations at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque and elsewhere in the West Bank has left 200 Palestinians and 28 Israelis dead.
According to Shin Bet, Palestin­ians carried out 123 attacks on Israelis in March, compared with 155 in February, 169 in January, 246 in December 2015 and 250 in November and the same number last October.
The gradual reduction in vio­lence should be no consolation to anyone. It neither means that attacks have stopped nor points to any specific trend. It could be that Palestinians are in a wait-and-see mode, hoping that Israeli practices may change.
In the end, it is not the practices that matter but an end to the oc­cupation that would spare Netan­yahu and the extremists around him the headache of illegally ruling other people and holding their lands.