Opinion |

We Don’t Want Peace, but We Want the World to Keep Funding the Occupation

Akiva Eldar
Akiva Eldar
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Palestinian children filling water in Gaza.
Palestinian children filling water in Gaza.Credit: Mahmud Hams / AFP
Akiva Eldar
Akiva Eldar

The End of Days must be upon us. The government of Israel headed by Naftali Bennett – the leader of the Yamina party, who called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “a terrorist” and “the head of the snake of incitement” – is begging the international community for donations to the Palestinian Authority, which Abbas heads. He sent a high-level delegation to the conference of donor countries in Oslo last week. Perhaps Army Radio should hold a pledge drive for Palestinian police officers. After all, they’re doing quite a bit for Israel’s national security. Abbas even opened his door wide to the chief of our secret service.

The problem is that the international donor group for Palestine established in late 1993, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, is not a charity. It was supposed to serve as a crutch, helping Israel and the Palestinians down the path of the Oslo Accords to the end of the conflict.

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In 2012 Jonas Gahr Stoere – now the new prime minister of Norway, which chairs the committee’s meetings, he was foreign minister at the time – was interviewed by Haaretz. He stressed to me at the time that “From a strictly humanitarian perspective, there may be poor countries in Africa that need help more than the Palestinians.” (Today we can also add the Syrian and Afghan refugees who are dying of cold on the Polish border.) “But [this] is about our common vision to see the emergence of solid Palestinian institutions” and strengthen the peace process, and immediately added, “which should also be in Israel’s interest.”

Nine years later, Israel’s government proclaims from every stage that its vision does not include any intention to march down the path of peace. Yet, it is nevertheless demanding that the world keep serving as the Palestinian Authority’s private charity – that is, that U.S., European and Japanese taxpayers continue to fund the occupation.

In that interview Stoere warned: “[W]e will not keep the AHLC forever. But my position until now has been that as long as the parties say they want to reach a two-state solution, we have to support it, but within a certain limit. … If there is no progress in the near future, we may miss the opportunity to reach the two-state solution.”

He was aware that Israel was the main beneficiary of the aid. “And who do we hurt if we dissolve the AHLC?” asked Norway’s future prime minister. “Do we have any guarantee that the Israeli government will take responsibility for the welfare and security of the Palestinian people if the PA collapses?” I reminded him that Israel did so from the beginning of the occupation, in 1967, and that the “Oslo criminals,” as they were called by Bennett and his friends, liberated Israel from this burden.

Stoere warned that “Once it will be clear to everyone that the donors’ mechanism is perpetuating the status quo rather than contributing to peace, we will have to reconsider. We are not quite there yet.”

What would have to happen for the donors countries to reach the conclusion that their money is not only perpetuating the status quo, but also intensifying it? Isn’t it enough that their money freed up billions of dollars in the state budget, that the state was able to use to pay for services and infrastructure for the settler population, which has increased fourfold in the years since the establishment of the mechanism that was meant to facilitate the peace process?

Based on the principle of reciprocity in relations with the Palestinians, as preached by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu (“If they give, they’ll get, if they don’t give, they won’t get), the leaders of the donor countries must inform Israel that it will not receive a single additional dollar until the last of the illegal settlement outposts and “individual farms” are evacuated. At the same time, the government must propose dates for renewing talks aimed at reaching a fair and negotiated solution for all the core issues.

There’s no such thing as a free occupation.

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