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Palestinian steps toward reconciliation met with Israeli intransigence and incitement

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Last week the Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas reached a reconciliation agreement after 11 years of bitter rivalry and violence. In contrast to failed attempts of the past, the agreement was possible due to an alignment of political interests, which included Egyptian, Israeli and American efforts aimed at weakening Iranian influence, in tandem with bolstering their image and credibility.

Though the agreement is far from perfect for all Palestinians, a reduction of tensions within Palestinian society has positive aspects that should be celebrated.

Israel, on the other hand, has been consistent in its intransigence, and continued incitement against Palestinians and any of their advocates, such as those involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement both in Palestine/Israel and abroad.

Netanyahu’s response

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to Palestinian reconciliation was characteristically reactionary. As part of a long message on Facebook, Netanyahu wrote:

“Israel opposes any reconciliation in which the terrorist organization Hamas does not disarm and end its war to destroy Israel.

“There is nothing Israel wants more than peace with all our neighbors.”

In spite of Netanyahu’s statement here, Israel has consistently sabotaged any efforts at peace and security with its neighbors by maintaining the occupation and oppression of Palestinians in the West Bank and the brutal siege on the Gaza Strip, among other reasons.

Israel will undoubtedly use the Palestinian reconciliation agreement as an excuse for its continued intransigence and as an after-the-fact justification for its unprecedented levels of settlement expansion.

Erdan’s response

Netanyahu’s call for Hamas’s disarmament was all the more cynical and hypocritical in light of the statements made by his Minister of Public Security – Gilad “anti-BDS Czar” Erdan.

At the inauguration of a new firearms licensing bureau in Ramla, Erdan encouraged Israelis to acquire more guns as a means of self-defense against future “incitement and attacks” that will be more likely, according to Erdan, as a result of Palestinian reconciliation. At the ceremony he said:

“We will no doubt find ourselves in even more complex situation (sic) and waves of severe incitement, which will lead to more terrorists deciding to carry out attacks.”

Erdan’s reactionary appeal for armament continues his recent call to expand the use of guns among settlers, a sector of the population that is already armed to the teeth. Alarmingly, this prevalence of guns within settler communities is often complimented by firearms training sessions for children as young as 10.

Furthermore, Erdan’s efforts come at the wake of sweeping Israeli support for Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier who summarily executed an incapacitated Palestinian man and whose ludicrously lenient 18-months sentence was recently shortened by 4 months.

In line with his call for arms, Erdan recently endorsed another reactionary effort, a “university prison” collaboration between the Israeli government and Bar Ilan University. Erdan hopes that the project “will inspire other countries”.

With this endeavor he signals Israel’s intent on capitalizing on the growing needs of a global prison-industrial complex in addition to its already established and controversial weapons export and security industries.

A Palestinian example of efforts to disarm and heal

While Netanyahu and Erdan continue to incite against Palestinians and drive Israeli society in a violent and xenophobic direction, it is instructive to examine a new initiative by the NGO the Abraham Fund, which aims to disarm and heal Palestinian communities in Israel plagued by gun violence and the Israeli response to it. Notably, the organization promotes cooperation with Israeli police forces (for which Erdan is responsible). Thabet Abu Rass, Abraham Fund co-director described it thus:

“The idea is to raise awareness that we have a problem of illegal weapons, that these weapons feed violence, and to put the issue on the table so that it is a serious issue for serious discussion in the Arab community”

In addition to directly confronting violence with these sorts of initiatives, the Abraham Fund aims to encourage reconciliation and equality between Palestinians and Israelis.

So far, the disarmament program has been met with little enthusiasm from the Palestinian population in Israel, which has an understandably deep distrust of the Israeli police forces.

But instead of extending the police amnesty program as a means of supporting the Abraham Project’s objectives, Erdan was quick to declare the police’s participation a failure.

As these recent events demonstrate, whereas Palestinians are actively making efforts toward reconciliation, prevention, peace and security both in the Occupied Territories via reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas and within Israel by calls to disarm and heal, Israel’s vision for the future is clearly one of guns, prisons, violence, security and continued xenophobia and intransigence.  

Yoav Litvin

Yoav Litvin is a doctor of psychology/behavioral neuroscience, a documentary photographer and writer living in New York City. You can find him at

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9 Responses

  1. Ian Berman on October 20, 2017, 6:49 pm

    Well done Yoav.

    You mentioned how despite this quote, Israel has “consistently sabotaged” peace.

    “There is nothing Israel wants more than peace with all our neighbors.”
    – PM Netanyahu

    At Palestine 365, the Ongoing Oppression and its predecessor, Palestine 365, we document a small sample of the large number of ways Israel constantly provokes Palestinians. Israel does not want peace. It wants a constant, manageable conflict so it can continue its process of taking all but a few Bantustans of the land called Palestine before 1948. Meanwhile the West focuses on the “conflict.”

    Palestine 365, the Ongoing Oppression

    Palestine 365

  2. RoHa on October 21, 2017, 2:03 am

    “There is nothing Israel wants more than peace with all our neighbors”

    So Israel wants peace with all the neighbors is more than it wants to maintain a Jewish state, or support the Zionist “settlers”, or keep out the Palestinian refugees, or oppress the West Bank Palestinians, or torture the Gazans?

    That has to be good news.

    Oh, wait.

    What does he mean by “neighbours”?

  3. Paranam Kid on October 21, 2017, 2:27 am

    There is nothing Israel wants more than WAR with all its neighbours in order to destroy & remain as the sole hegemon in the region.

    And for internal purposes WAR is a powerful tool too to keep the populace charged up & in favour of the extremist, settler/Orthodox-dominated fascist government, and keep the prosecution of Netanyahu below the radar.

  4. Marnie on October 21, 2017, 4:43 am

    If I remember correctly, israel chose to launch an offensive on Gaza the last time Hamas and the PLO were trying to negotiate a peace between themselves. Israel reacted to this as by making a war on civilians, killing over 500 children out of the +2200 Gaza fatalities, the majority of whom were civilians. I am worried by the latest venom sprayed by netanyahoo and his govt with these latest peace talks between the PLO and Hamas. And they would do that too because first its been over 3 years since the last one so the lawn mowing services provided by the IOF is overdue and secondly, per blueberry netanyahoo, ‘there is nothing Israel wants more than peace with all our neighbors’. When he says peace, he means to unleash hell.

  5. James Canning on October 21, 2017, 1:33 pm

    Netanyahu wants “peace” with Israel’s neighbors? Why didn’t Israel accept Syria’s offer of peace in 2008? Netanyahu will continue to exploit Palestinian divisions in order to grow yet more illegal colonies of Jews in the occupied West Bank.

  6. shaun patrick on October 23, 2017, 12:53 am

    Israel’s excuse is there’s no partner for peace as the PLO does not represent all Palestinians so now the argument is Israel wont negotiate with a unity government that way Israel never has to negotiate. The only thing all Israeli governments want is the complete annexation of all former Palestine and the eviction of all West Bank Residents to Jordan and all Gaza residents to Egypt and they are using violence and brutal suppression to try and achieve this..

  7. eljay on October 23, 2017, 8:54 am

    … Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to Palestinian reconciliation was characteristically reactionary. As part of a long message on Facebook, Netanyahu wrote:

    … “There is nothing Israel wants more than peace with all our neighbors.” …

    Except, he added sotto voce, to remain a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine and to be absolved of all obligations under international law and of all responsibility and accountability for past and on-going (war) crimes committed.

  8. Mayhem on October 28, 2017, 9:04 am

    This supposed reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas means very little.
    Why Fatah and Hamas won’t reconcile
    “The latest episode of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation saga is by no means a step closer to a unified government and an end to a 10-year political schism, analysts say” –

    • eljay on October 28, 2017, 12:07 pm

      || Mayhem: This supposed reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas means very little. … ||

      Yup, it’s a shame that democracy in not-Israel has been and continues to be intentionally thwarted, destabilized and undermined by Israel and the U.S.

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