A Mirage of Calm

The quiet on the security front in recent months is illusory and misleading.

The quiet on the security front in recent months is illusory and misleading. While the residents of sovereign Israel enjoy relative tranquillity and even prosperity, across the Green Line the reality of the occupation continues in all its brutality, without getting much attention. Amira Hass described the events of one ordinary day in the territories in yesterday's Haaretz: On February 24, there were no fewer than 212 occupation-related incidents, including four physical assaults on Palestinians, eight military shooting attacks, 39 military raids and the destruction of five wells.

The year 2009, marked in Israel as an especially peaceful year, was characterized by a large number of violent events in the occupied territories: Israel demolished 225 homes, uprooting hundreds of Palestinians, and arrested no fewer than 700 minors.

Even if most of these incidents go unreported in the Israeli media, it's impossible to ignore them. They sow the seeds of even more frustration and hatred, belie the government's depiction of life in the territories as serene and peaceful, and may yet ignite a new popular uprising.

It's true that some restrictions have been eased in life under the occupation in the past year. But this is not enough to change the whole picture: The Palestinians still live under the brutal jackboot of the Israeli occupation, even if the pressure has been slightly relaxed. As long as this is the reality, all of us, Palestinians and Israelis, will be living on top of a powder keg that could explode at any moment. Any provocation could provide the match that sparks the conflagration anew. No easing of restrictions can cover up for the continuation of the occupation and the total deadlock in the diplomatic process.

Palestinian terror has ceased almost completely, but the violence of the occupation has not. In the absence of terror, Israel has no pretext for not getting the peace process moving, both by negotiations and practical measures such as an evacuation-compensation program. This would precede the dismantling of settlements and the establishment of a Palestinian state, to which the prime minister has committed.

If nothing is done, we should not be surprised if the flames break out again, not only in the territories but also in complacent, tranquil Israel.