Two things to watch in the next few weeks (and a good word for pro-Palestinian activism)

Posted: December 3rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

After PM Benjamin Netanyahu announced his partial settlement moratorium, many observers were right in noting that Israeli leaders had no problems declaring a settlement freeze in the past and than doubling their building efforts in the West bank and East Jerusalem. Therefore, monitoring what’s happening on the ground will play a major role in the months to come.

Before we can hope for renewal of negotiations, there are political developments that will have to play out on both Israeli and Palestinian side. This might take between few weeks, even months.

On the Israeli side, we will have to see if Netanyahu will actually stop construction in the West Bank, or if this is just another one of the Israeli stalling games we have seen before. As I wrote, I don’t trust the PM, but constant pressure from the US and from Labor might actually make him turn his back to the settlers. There is already some minor protest from the right against the moratorium, and it remains to be seen whether this is a real split between Netanyahu and the “ideological right” or just a show for the media. We have known this before as well.

On the Palestinian side, we have yet to find out the effect of the Shalit deal on the relations between Fatah and Hamas. If Abu-mazen does resign in two weeks or so, anything can happen. It can pave the road for negotiations with Israel under a new Palestinian leadership (perhaps Marwan Barguti. there are contradicting reports on the possibility of his release), or it can lead to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority and an end to the peace process as we know it.

During this time, it is important to keep the political pressure on Israel, as this is the only way to bring some results. I think that the combination of the Goldstone report, the Palestinian plan to unilaterally declare independence and the increasing calls for a one state solution took a great part in pushing Netanyahu to declare his moratorium (even though his real incentive might have been his need for Obama’s help in handling Iran).

The international pressure, the work of activists and NGO’s as well as the diplomatic pressure, also plays a major role in preparing the Israeli pubic opinion for concessions (as well as in restraining the IDF recently). I feel that Israelis are much more concerned by this issue than they were a year ago, and even though they still think that “the world is unfair” to them, many of them better understand the need “to do something” on the Palestinian issue. This might turn out to be the most important development of all.

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