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The Israeli West Bank operation: Causes & consequences
Published Thursday 26/06/2014 (updated) 29/06/2014 14:24
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Israeli forces near a PA police station in Ramallah during a raid on Sunday
(MaanImages/Samer Nazzal)

Al-Shabaka is an independent non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and foster public debate on Palestinian human rights and self-determination within the framework of international law.

This policy brief is authored by Mouin Rabbani, a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies and a Contributing Editor to the Middle East Report.


The disappearance of three Israeli youths in mid-June 2014 while hitchhiking home from a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank has brought an already volatile situation to the boiling point.

At a time of growing Palestinian agitation on account of a mass hunger strike by prisoners and amidst Israeli legislative initiatives to authorize force-feeding them, the Israeli military has launched its largest offensive in the West Bank since the end of the 2000-2005 Palestinian uprising.

The Israeli government instantaneously blamed Hamas for the alleged abduction, yet almost two weeks on has yet to provide a shred of evidence to validate its assertions. It was a transparently political claim made well before the Israeli security forces were in a position to seriously examine the matter.

Similarly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has held Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas directly responsible for the fate of the missing Israeli youths, even though their last known position was in an area of the occupied West Bank under the sole and exclusive control of the Israeli military, and there is no evidence the youths were subsequently moved to an area under Palestinian Authority control -- areas where Israeli forces have in any case been operating without restriction for over a decade.

What is clear is that the search for the missing youths is at best a secondary objective of Israel’s current organized rampage throughout the West Bank. No one, for example, seriously believes that the missing youths would have been transported from Hebron to Jenin or Salfit in the far north of the West Bank.

The campaign's key aims, which Israeli leaders have hardly been coy about, are to deal a significant blow to Hamas in the West Bank, and more importantly to undermine the recent Palestinian reconciliation agreement to the point where it begins to unravel.

It additionally hopes to even further weaken Mahmoud Abbas so that he becomes more pliable, dependent and responsive to its demands when bilateral negotiations are resumed or Israel implements unilateral measures in the West Bank. The prospect of a renewed Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip should also not be discounted.

Many have speculated that Israel is also seeking to provoke mass Palestinian unrest at a time when Palestinians remain fragmented and are insufficiently organized, and can be more easily beaten down. The Israeli campaign may also produce sustained protests against the Palestinian Authority, which to the growing anger of its constituents has maintained unconditional security coordination with Israel -- a relationship Abbas recently characterized as "sacred."

These developments are of course not transpiring in a vacuum. Israel is facing growing diplomatic isolation, and today even its closest allies are warning it of the consequences of its blatant violations of Palestinian rights and international law, and have all, at least implicitly, recognized the new Palestinian government without much talk of the sanctions that have accompanied previous reconciliation agreements.

From Israel's perspective, changing the narrative from colonialism to terrorism -- even as its soldiers have killed five Palestinians, including a 15-year-old boy -- has obvious advantages.

For the Palestinian people at large, Israel's military crackdown poses one of the most serious challenges since the Hamas-Fatah schism of 2007. Palestinians within and without the occupied territories will be challenged to find ways to respond that strengthen their position rather than complicating it further.

First and foremost, they need to properly rebuild national institutions so that these develop into an inclusive, representative, and dynamic national liberation movement capable of formulating and implementing a coherent and effective strategy, both on the ground and around the world.

Secondly, Palestinians must pursue a serious strategy of internationalization that is based on attaining their inalienable rights, first and foremost the right to self-determination on the basis of the prevailing international consensus and international law. It is an approach incompatible with the Oslo process and therefore requires an irrevocable disengagement from it.

The challenges are huge but hardly insurmountable. Implemented properly, a dynamic Palestinian strategy can turn Israel’s continued depredations against the Palestinian people into an effective weapon against its extremist leaders, robbing the latter of the structural advantages they seek to derive from their colonial project and organized rampages such as we have seen in the past two weeks.

As always, the key objective should be to arrest and reverse Israel's impunity in its dealings with the Palestinian people and to replace this with effective and meaningful accountability.

Originally published on Al-Shabaka's website on June 26, 2014.

The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect Ma'an News Agency's editorial policy.
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1 ) John Cronin / UK
26/06/2014 23:12
This may a valid assessment of the Palestinian position but, if it is, it simply mirrors much the same attitude that Israelis take in their view of the matter. Everyone's rights are being trampled upon but no one is prepared to come up with any original ideas to solve a problem that's been around for generations. Stating what might seem obvious to one side is unlikely to move the other in the desired direction. Sometimes you just have a little bit smarter that that. www.laxiankey.com

2 ) Truth And / Consequences
26/06/2014 23:25
The Causes and the Consequences of the Israeli West Bank operation are both Simple And Obvious, where: * The Cause - Three Teenage Israelis were kidnapped, and * The Consequences - Searching for the teenagers, with a by-product of arresting and detaining 100s or soon 1,000s of Palestinians, and * Unless the teenagers are freed, the Searching may continue forever !!!

3 ) Outlier / USA
27/06/2014 05:53
The cause - without it, nothing would have happened - was the disappearance of three teenagers. The full consequences of that event and the aftermath are not yet known, but likely won't make life better for Palestinians. They also likely won't provide an effective weapon against Israel, either (anyone with a child will consider Israeli actions justified, irrespective of where it happened).

4 ) JoeFattal / USA
27/06/2014 18:58
Its going to be a long operation slowing down from now and then either to find the settlers or the alleged kidnappers just enough to deny the Palestinians to use their unity for any future negotiations.

5 ) Rondo Mondo / Canada
27/06/2014 20:18
#1 Many original ideas have come up over the years. In 1965 Tunisian president Habib Bourguiba proposed a "pacific solution in which there would be neither victor nor victim." He wanted the Palestinians to negotiate along the lines of the Partition Plan rejected in 1947. The Arabs and Palestinians rejected this proposal. Golda Meir called for a meeting with Bourguiba. The PLO moved to kick Tunisia out of the Arab League. Arabs instead wanted war and got war which saw them lose again.

6 ) Rondo Mondo / Canada
27/06/2014 20:26
2. In 1978 Egypt and Israel proposed that the Palestinians join the peace talks at Camp David to discuss autonomy for them. Sadat envisioned that autonomy would lead to statehood. We never got to see where Camp David would lead to because the Palestinians chose war over peace negotiations. In 2000 and 2001 Barak made far reaching proposals which the Palestinians responded to with the 2nd intifada. Olmert improved the offer in 2008 and Abbas walked away. Little chance of peace now remains.

7 ) Mel / USA
27/06/2014 22:40
Action=Zionism's brutal persecution,disruption,"transfer",massacre/execution/detainment/internment of,theft from & bigotted,racist apartheid occupation of,MILLIONS of Muslims &Christians,&their CHILDREN,in PALESTINE,for 67yrs.That was the plan when Zionist's were still in Europe.They took a'leaf'out of Nazism's Final Solution'book'&applied it to INNOCENT Palestinians.Just,for NOT being Jewish!All else since then,is REACTION!"Remember & Never Forget" &"Never Again",meant ONLY FOR Jews! Nauseous!

8 ) Rafael / USA
30/06/2014 22:21
Cause and affect. Denial of Jewish state by Arabs/Palestinians and subsequent terrorism for 100 years equals all the things the Palestinians rightly or wrongly complain about.

9 ) Outlier / USA
30/06/2014 23:38
With the bodies found, now come the consequences. Expect the costs to be high and expect the costs to be painful: Palestinian access to Al-Aqsa, Palestinian freedom of movement in East Jerusalem, greater limitations of Palestinian workers in Israel, elimination of fuel sent to Gaza and more. Make no mistake, the guilty WILL be punished, but so will the innocent.

10 ) inbound39 / New Zealand.
02/09/2014 15:13
Long Term the consequences will be far greater for Israel. The cost is already beyond what Israel can sustain. Global patience with Israel is a gnats hair from breaking.
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