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Our Leaders Declare Victory; Victory in Defeat

By Jonathan Cook, Electronic Intifada  Posted by Jason Paz (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Israel has been moving ahead with creating two Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip who are sinking ever deeper into chronic dependency on Israeli goodwill. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, has been much criticized in Israel, as well as abroad, for failing to present his own diplomatic initiative on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to forestall US intervention.

Netanyahu may have huffed and puffed before giving voice to the phrase "two states for two peoples" at Sunday's cabinet meeting, but the contours of just such a Palestinian state -- or states -- have been emerging undisturbed for some time.

In fact, Netanyahu appears every bit as committed as his predecessors to creating the facts of an Israeli-imposed two-state solution, one he and others in Israel's leadership doubtless hope will eventually be adopted by the White House as the "pragmatic" -- if far from ideal -- option.

While Israel has been buying yet more time with Washington in bickering over a paltry settlement freeze, it has been forging ahead with the process of creating two Palestinian territories, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, that, despite supposedly emerging from occupation, are in reality sinking ever deeper into chronic dependency on Israeli goodwill.

This is creating a culture of absolute Israeli control and absolute Palestinian dependency, enforced by proxy Palestinian rulers acting as mini-dictatorships.

For a growing number of Palestinians, the conditions of bare subsistence and even survival are Israeli gifts that few can afford to spurn through political activity, let alone civil disobedience or armed resistance. The Palestinian will to organize and resist as their land is seized for settlements is being inexorably sapped.

It is little mentioned but Israel all but abandoned completing its massive separation wall in the West Bank some time ago. There are significant gaps waiting to be filled, but, with things having grown so quiet and the cost of each kilometer of wall so high, the sense of political and military urgency has evaporated.

Suicide bombers, had they the determination, could still slip into Israel. But increasingly Palestinians view such attacks as futile, if not counterproductive: Israel simply wins greater international sympathy and has the pretext to turn the screw yet tighter on Palestinian life.
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None of this has been lost on Israel's leaders of either the so-called Left or Right.

Rather than being an aberration in response to rocket attacks, the blockade of Gaza has become Israel's template for Palestinian statehood. The West Bank is rapidly undergoing its own version of disengagement and besiegement, with similar predictable results.

Gaza's blockade -- and the savage battering it took in December and January -- has suggested even to Netanyahu that the Israeli version of the carrot-and-stick approach works.

The stick -- a devastated Gaza unable to rise from the rubble because aid and basic goods are kept out -- has transformed most of the population into a nation dependent on handouts, borrowing where possible to buy necessities smuggled through the tunnels, and concentrating on the lonely art of survival.

As the normally restrained International Committee of the Red Cross reported last month: "Most of the very poor have exhausted their coping mechanisms. Many have no savings left. They have sold private belongings such as jewelry and furniture and started to sell productive assets including farm animals, land, fishing boats or cars used as taxis."
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The carrot -- if it can be called that -- is directed towards Gaza's leaders, Hamas, rather than its ordinary inhabitants. The message is simple: keep the rocket fire in check and we won't attack again. We will allow you to rule over the remnants of Gaza.

In the West Bank, the carrot for the leadership is even more tantalizingly visible. The Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas is colluding in the creation of a series of mini-fiefdoms based on the main cities.

Trained by the US military, Palestinian security forces with light weapons are taking back control of Jenin, Nablus, Jericho, Qalqilya, Ramallah and so on, while the PA is encouraged by promises of economic charity to prop up its legitimacy.

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