ISRAEL’S THREAT: “Although President Mahmoud Abbas has unequivocally declared (in a statement Hamas hesitantly concurred with) that the new Palestinian government would be his, that its program would be his, that it would recognize Israel and abide by all agreements signed with it, that it would be a government of independent technocrats, that its head would be the outgoing Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, and that many of its ministers would be the same ministers from the outgoing government, Israel still threatens to launch a campaign intended to persuade the international community not to recognize it,” notes leading Palestinian commentator Hani al-Masri on the independent Palestinian website www.masrat.ps
And although Abbas capitulated to (direct or indirect) pressure from the U.S. and EU (through threats to cut off financial aid, to prevent money being spent on ‘terrorist’ suspects) to abolish the ministry of prisoners and turn its responsibilities over to a PLO-linked bureau, Israel still seems determined to carry out its threat.
And although Abbas publicly declared that security cooperation with Israel was a sacred cow, and that the Palestinians would maintain it despite political differences with the Israelis, Israel announced that it had launched an international campaign – that will focus on the United States – to persuade the international community not to recognize the new Palestinian government because it is based on an alliance with Hamas, which the Israelis say the world recognizes as a terrorist organization. The Israelis also say that by choosing to take part in such a government, Abbas has proven himself not to be an appropriate partner for peace.
To demonstrate its seriousness on the matter, Israel refused to issue permits to Gaza-based ministers to travel to Ramallah in order to take part in the new government's swearing in ceremony. This was part of a package of punitive measures designed to deny government members freedom of movement, which include withdrawing VIP badges and stopping the transfer of customs revenues to the PA.
In response to the Israeli decision to boycott the new Palestinian government, President Abbas declared, ‘Each Israel punitive measure will have an appropriate Palestinian response,’ adding, ‘We will respond in a stepwise fashion. We will not initiate steps, but each Israeli step will elicit a response.’
In light of this statement potential Palestinian retaliatory steps could include:
-- Proceeding with all haste to conclude the reconciliation process by forming a government of national accord, building on that achievement by coming up with new strategies and programs that reflect common positions, agreeing on the foundations of genuine political partnership, rebuilding and unifying the security forces, and creating an interim leadership framework for the PLO as a first step towards revitalizing the organization on patriotic and democratic foundations such that it includes all forces forming the Palestinian political spectrum.
Moreover, the Palestinians could disregard Israeli and American threats of sanctions, such as the recent statements by NSC head Susan Rice and Secretary of State John Kerry that the U.S. administration is going to put the new government 'under observation' and judge it by its actions especially as far as the influence brought to bear on it by the (Hamas-dominated) Palestinian parliament.
-- Demanding that international bodies and the International Quartet intervene to stop Israel from enacting punitive measures because of the detrimental effects such actions would have on the entire region, especially since Palestine has gained international recognition as a state and must be dealt with on that basis. The Palestinians must demand that an Arab and international safety net be set up to compensate the funds stolen by Israel.
-- Activating and implementing UN resolutions, including decisions by the ICJ and the Goldstone Report, and seeking to enact further resolutions against settlement expansion and other measures taken by the occupation, now that Israel has been exposed as a threat to peace and security in the Middle East and around the world.
-- Signing more international conventions and agreements, and seeking membership of international bodies, including the International Criminal Court.
-- Putting in place a systematic plan to roll back the political, security, and economic commitments enshrined in the 1993 Oslo accords, especially as successive Israeli governments have totally ignored honoring Israel's commitments.
-- As a start, the Palestinians should perhaps retract Abbas' statement that security cooperation with Israel was 'sacrosanct.' The Palestinians must make clear that the PA would henceforth not honor any agreement unilaterally without Israeli reciprocity. This would be in line with international law, which stresses the principle of reciprocity in bilateral agreements, especially those reached under international supervision.
-- Launching an international campaign of academic, economic, and political boycotts of Israel (the settlements in particular), and providing it with all available means of political, material, and media support.
-- Adopting popular resistance in word and deed, and providing it with all it needs to flourish such that it begins to make the occupation more costly for Israel and its backers.
-- Radically rethinking the process of rampant normalization with Israel, including the activities of the so-called committee for interacting with Israeli society. The committee's record must be reviewed to see whether it succeeded in recruiting support from amongst the already diminished Israeli peace camp, or whether it only allowed the Israelis to infiltrate and undermine Palestinian society through the unending series of concessions the Palestinians had to make to their Israeli counterparts, most of whom do not support Palestinian rights and do not express opposition to the occupation.
-- Adopting plans and programs intended to consolidate Palestinian steadfastness and continued presence in the Palestinian homeland, especially in those areas targeted with continued settler onslaughts such as Jerusalem, and Areas C.
“Renouncing Palestinian acquiescence (given at Camp David in 2000) with the principle of land swaps, a decision that whetted Israel's appetite for more and more Palestinian concessions and led to more settlement expansion espec