Grecko in Proceso on next Intifada
Témoris Grecko in Proceso, 6 de Septiembre 2011
translated from Spanish to English by George Salzman  
initial posting 06 Sept 2011 - last update 08-Sept 2011


      Barcelona.- The Israeli army will prepare its military units and civilian security committees of the Jewish settlers in the occupied territories [Cisjordania] to confront “massive disorders” beginning next Tuesday the 20th, when the Arab mobilizations to help the appeal for incorporating Palestine as a member state of the United Nations. Already the past 8th of August the Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman had given assurance that the Palestinians are planning to cause “bloodshed as we have never seen before”.

      A document of the Israeli Defense Forces leaked to the daily Haaretz the 30th of August indicates that “since some weeks” Israeli soldiers have been training groups of settlers and turning over to them shock grenades and tear gas, which could be us3ed against demonstrators if they exceed certain boundaries drawn on maps about the settlements; a second group of lines, equally invisible on the ground but called “red”, will mark the areas in which the soldiers will shoot at the feet of the Palestinians that invade [the settlements]. This information accompanied a series of warnings for discouraging the Palestine National Authority (ANP) in its effort to obtain recognition of the international organization [the UN]: the Israeli government withdrew the deposit of shekels (106 million dollars) that they should have paid for the customs that they had taken in the name of the ANP. Also the United States threatened “punitive measures” if the Palestinians present their petition to the UN, as opposed to the financial help that they give, equivalent to 12.5% of the budget of the ANP.

The anger of Israeli citizens
      Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Israeli government faces this challenge at a complicated moment: internally there is a civil movement inspired by the Egyptian insurrection in the Tahrir Plaza and by that of the indignant of Madrid’s Puerta del Sol [Doorway of the Sun]. This past 12th of August 300 thousand people protested in the streets of various cities of Israel, which has only 7 million inhabitants. This movement demands a series of reforms to reduce the
As if the Arab world was not sufficiently convulsed, now the Israeli government assures the world that the Third Intifada will explode in flame. Palestine wants to be recognized as a State, a Nation, and applied to the UN to honor it with this status. To support that petition, a peaceful mobilization was announced for Tuesday the 20th. The Israeli army doesn’t believe it and will prepare to repress it. In addition Tel Aviv is facing an internal crisis: popular discontent with the Jewish economic model . . .

growing breach between rich and poor, and to conclude this effort it’s proposed to exceed at the same time a “march of 1 million” Israelis, announced on Saturday the 3rd. On the other flank appears the crisis that was defanged in the Gaza Strip the 18th of August, when a command unit of the Palestinian Committees of Popular Resistance infiltrated in the Egyptian Sinai and, by this route, into Israeli territory where it attacked civilian and military vehicles. Eight people were killed, 40 were injured and 10 attackers were lost. Ten days following the attacks Israelis responded to the Palestinians with rockets, which left 26 dead in Gaza and one in Israel. By a series of cease fire declarations a tense calm was imposed that no one strayed from.

      The most serious consequence for Israel, however, was the damage to its relations with Egypt. The alliance with this Arab country was consolidated in the Camp David agreements of 1977. By these accords Israel returned the Sinai in exchange for security at its southern frontier. The fall of Hosni Mubarak on February 11 appears to threaten its security. Although the deposed ruler was replaced by a junta of his former military companions, the political process that the revolution of the Tahrir Plaza drove the officials to be more sensitive to public opinion. This 18th of August, according to the Egyptian version, Israeli units that were pursuing Palestinian commandos invaded territory of the Sinai and killed six Egyptian soldiers and police who were defending the frontier. The Israeli government did not admit direct responsibility but promised an investigation. After a moment of baring its teeth, in which the Egyptian military Junta threatened to recall its ambassador from Tel Aviv, Netanyahu made the unusual gesture of acknowledging how he “lamented” the Egyptian deaths, after which a messager of his — whose identity was not revealed — went secretly to Cairo in order to smooth things over.

      Both governments came to a surprising agreement: Although the Sinai is under Egyptian sovereignty, Israel Israel only agreed to sign the Camp David accords on the basis of the demilitarization of the zone, which is patrolled by an international force and monitored from the air by the United States. However, this situation has allowed the proliferation of a series of armed bands, from criminals and Bedouin tribes under the control of Islamic groups and radical Palestinian organizations. The attack of August 18th convinced the Israelis of the urgency of imposing a certain kind of control. Because of that they agreed to allow Egypt to deploy some thousands of soldiers in the Sinai, still knowing that they will not return in the future. “At times they have to subordinate strategic considerations to tactical necessities”, explained to the press Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense Minster and ex-Premier.

      However, this understanding did not convince the Egyptians in the streets, who are maintaining pressure on the military Junta which already has enough problems governing the situation. Multitudes accuse the Israeli Ambassador of demanding repression of the Egyptian people, and a bricklayer, Ajmed al Shajat, was converted into a popular hero, now named Flagman, when he evaded the soldiers who were protecting the building of the diplomats, scaled its walls up to the terraced roof and threw down the flag of David in order to hoist the Egyptian flag. Amr Moussa, a presidential candidate who until the beginning of the year was the Secretary General of the Arab League, wished to formulate the feelings of the Egyptians: “Israel and every other country must understand that the days when they kill our children without a strong and appropriate response have been left behind and will not return”.

The Palestinian Gamble
      In a petition by the Palestine National Assembly (ANP), it is the Arab League itself that has asked for the entry of Palestine into the United Nations (ONU). This is already ruled out because the admission of new members must be approved by the UN Security Council, and the government of Barak Obama already said that the United States will veto such a proposal. But the true gamble of the Palestinians is for their plan B. Since 1998 the Palestine National Assembly (ANP) has had a special intermediate statusin the UN, between the States and the non-state observors (that is to say, international organizations such as the Red Cross). The General Assembly can raise its status to that of a non-member state observer, like the Vatican, which would imply the recognition by the United Nations of Palestine as an independent State.

      Palestinian diplomats affirm that they are counting on the help of 124 of the 193 member states, a sufficient majority that will have to to approve this change during the debates of the General Assembly that will take place this Wednesday the 21st and Friday the 30th. On the 26th of August Saeb Erekat, Chief Negotiator of the Palestinian National Assembly (ANP) declared that the United States Consul in Jerusalem threatened withdrawal of the aid from his country (470 million dollars yearly, 12.5% of the annual appropriation of 3 thousand 700 mllion [this means 3,000 × 700,000,000 dollars]) among other “punitive measures” if they maintain their application. Neither can they hope that the Israeli Government will agree to come to an accord that will allow the immediate creation of the Palestinian State.

      Netanyahu and his cabinet have rejected the pressure of Obama for creating minimum conditions for dialogue, such as freezing the expansion of the settlements in the occupied territories. The critics of the manipulations in the UN affirm that, although they will succeed, they will not be more than a symbolic gesture. One of those critics is the current Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Assembly (ANP), who said on February 7th to the daily The Jerusalem Post that the the emergence of the Palestinian State “would not be something that would occur to the Israelis nor something that would occur to the Palestinians; it is something that grew on both sides as a reality”.

“Skunk spray”
      However the President of the (ANP), Mahmoud Abbas, prefers to go by this route, and towards that end he succeeded last May in coming to an agreement with Hamas, the Islamic Party that helped him in Gaza in 2007 and without whose collaboration there would have been little credible Palestinian efforts. With the slogan “Palestine 194” (South Sudan, the last state admitted into the UN up to now, was the 193rd), leaders from the entire Palestinian Arc, from Abbas to his opponent Marwan Barghouti (jailed in Israel), convoked a series of mobilizations that will begin on Tuesday the 20th of September with a massive march. “We will have activities on all sides”, said Wasel Abu Yousef, of the Palestine Liberation Front, “against the wall, against the settlements (of Jews) and against the occupation. We want to increase all the popular protests”.

      “Millions need to rise” implored Yasir Abed Rabbo, advisor to President Abbas and member of the ANP, before stipulating that they are dealing with “a peaceful popular movement” in which “nothing will be thrown — not a stone “ nor followed by a flower”. Not everyone is in agreement. Followers of Barghouti said to Proceso last April that the objective would be to generate a Third Intifada (Popular Revolution). The earlier ones — from 1987-93 and 2000-04 — ended in defeat. In May Israel succeeded in having Facebook close an activist page that asked for a Third Intifada, but since then several more calls have appeared. “It’s improbable that (the directives of the (ANP)) will be accepted by the activists at the base, involved with popular committees”, said Aleks Kane this week. He is an American journalist who covers Transjordan (the occupied territory) from Amman, Jordan. “A confrontation between the (ANP)) and Palestinian Activists appears probable and in fact there are precedents.”.

      The 5th of August the (ANP) ordered its police to avoid confrontations of the demonstrators with the Jewish colonists and to restrict the marches to the centers of the Palestinians’ cities. But the Israeli Army is not confident, as shown by the document leaked to the daily Haaretz of the 30th of August. The text showed that the protests would include “marches towards the principal intersections, Israeli communities and communications centers, and efforts to damage symbols of the government. Also they might more extreme caos, shooting from within the demonstrations or including terrorist incidents” Because of that the Jewish Army prepared military units, training and arming civilians and included having prepared 200 thousand liters of “skunk spray” (an extremely vile-smelling chemical agent) to shoot at the people. Besides they put out the announcement: anyone who transgresses the red line in the neighborhood of the setlements will be shot at.

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[1] Sketch for a humane resolution of the Palestine/Israel conflict.

George Salzman is a former American Jew living in Oaxaca, Mexico, an ex-physics prof, Univ of Massachusetts-Boston.
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Initial posting of this page: 06 September 2011.
Last update: 08 September 2011