Editorial |

The Occupation Is Spinning Out of Control

Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial
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Israeli soldiers confront demonstrators protesting the killing of four Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp on Wednesday.
Israeli soldiers confront demonstrators protesting the killing of four Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp on Wednesday.Credit: NEDAL ESHTAYAH / Anadolu Agency via AFP
Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

The violent clash between soldiers and armed Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp on Wednesday, in which four Palestinians, including two wanted men, were killed, may be the most serious incident that occurred recently, but it shouldn’t be seen as an unusual one. Over the last year, a difficult military situation has developed in the West Bank; dozens of Palestinians have been killed, hundreds have been arrested and the number of warnings of planned terror attacks has soared.

Some of these developments can be attributed to the fact that the army routinely breaks into Palestinian homes to carry out missions of marginal importance, the unbridled clashes between settlers and Palestinians and the fact that the Palestinian security services have refrained from taking forceful action against armed militants.

But this narrow perspective completely ignores the fundamentals that are driving this Palestinian uprising – the expansion of the settlements, the expropriation of land, the erection of hundreds of checkpoints, the severe violations of human rights and, above all, the systematic crushing of every initiative for diplomatic negotiations. Israel assumed it could force the Palestinian Authority to act against terrorists and terrorist organizations even though it was failing to uphold its own part in the agreements it signed with the PA.

In response to the growing violence, the solutions being proposed are primarily tactical, like reducing the scope of the army’s operations in the West Bank or, alternatively, pinpoint operations and sophisticated weaponry like drones and remotely operated guns that shoot ammunition at demonstrators, and ultimately, even a large-scale military operation. These ideas show Israel has concluded that there’s no point in security cooperation with the PA, since it expects the authority to collapse in any case, and has abandoned any attempt to resume dialogue with it.

These working assumptions aren’t disconnected from reality, but neither are they necessitated by reality. Those pushing for a military operation in Jenin can’t guarantee that such an operation won’t ignite the entire West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip. Those pushing the PA into collapse aren’t prepared to run Palestinian areas of the West Bank without the PA. And those clinging to political unfeasibility as a justification for running away from negotiations will find themselves facing a military reality that dictates political decisions instead of vice versa. The occupation is showing signs of losing control, and despite the imminent election, the prime minister must stop this headlong military rush and keep Israel from sliding into a war whose results can’t be foreseen.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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