The blusterous Jasmine revolution that changed the political landscape of the Middle East seemed more like a whimpering draught when it blew over Palestine. You would not be wrong to assume that Palestinians slept through the Jasmine Revolution. However on the weekend of May 14th-15th, – a period the Palestinians call naqba, a day of great catastrophe when Israel was created 63 years ago, hundreds of unarmed Palestinians stormed Israel’s defences and entered the Jewish nation.
This event, seen as the beginning of their third intifada (uprising), set in motion demonstrations and protests across the borders of Israel. However, what looked like Palestine joining the list of countries that toppled governments and dictators during the Arab spring slowly withered away as losses mounted in the face of Israel’s crackdown. Nevertheless, the en masse has emboldened Palestinians who have seen decades of diplomacy and violence failing miserably in bringing peace and recognition to the Palestine state and its people. The demand by Palestinian moderates to Israel asking tit to return to the 1967 borderlines, the period before Israel captured major chunks of Palestinian land during the Six Day war between Israel on one side and Egypt, Syria and Jordan on the other has been categorically rejected by Israel’s right wing Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.
For the Israelis the main reason for repudiation of demands lies in its concern about the security of the Jewish homeland and the control of the holy land of Jerusalem. Israel opposes the binational solution of 1967, as it burdens it with the challenging task of relocating about half a million Jews settlers living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Palestine believes belongs to them. Netanyahu sees this and the exponential population growth of Arabs living in Israel as the biggest internal threat to Israel.
For this very reason, since the days of its charismatic leader in the 1960s, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians has been to rid Israel of non-Jews. Understanding the political futility of such a task, Ben-Gurion tried, rather unsuccessfully, to force the Palestinians to leave by restricting job opportunities, reducing land holdings, and cracking down on dissent that has risen from a few thousand Arab Israelis.
However, four decades of subterfuge have cost Israel its global standing where it is increasingly seen as am obstinate and aggressive nation. Facing pressure from its oldest ally, the USA, and following President Barack Obama’s speech asking Israel to return to 1967 borderlines, (a demand, once again furiously refuted by Netanyahu) has led to the lowest ebb in US-Israel relations. President Obama, running for a re-election risked riling the powerful pro-Israeli lobby even though it wields enormous clout in American politics. This sudden change in American foreign policy is because of Netanyahu’s continuous refusal to halt the expansion of Jewish settlements in West Bank and the US Government’s frustration with the Israeli obfuscation.
Netanyahu must realize the futility of this sparring as unlike last time, Obama is now riding on popular wave following the death of Osama Bin Laden. By trying to bundle the Al Qaeda and Hamas – the Palestinian party that runs the Gaza Strip, and portraying the Palestinian Government as one run by a terrorist organization with who compromise is not an option Netanyahu is trying his best to appease his right wing coalition government. His rejection of Palestinian demands has brought to fore the Jewish-Arab Israeli relations that have been superficially amiable since the 1967 war. However, the fallout in the binational talks will lead to things becoming increasingly dangerous as more Arab Israelis are empathizing with their Palestinian cousins.
Decades of suppression have seen a distinct rise in radicalism in Palestine. Ignoring this movement will cost Israel dearly and put the two groups on the path of collision such that every Israeli will see every Palestinian new born as a potential dissenter and every Palestinian will rise up in revolt as they prepare for the third intifada – the final uprising to avenge its humiliation.