There is a certain amount of demonization of the Palestinians by Israel. Haaretz journalist, Gideon Levy has written about the cruel treatment of Mahmoud Shawara, a Palestinian labourer who was brutally murdered. Of course, there are the horrific and cruel suicide bombings against innocent Israelis, which has been the result of the violence against Israel over the last six years of intifada. Nobody in his right mind can find any justification for Palestinian terror, which has killed so many innocent people. However, we must differentiate between this and the brutality of the Israeli Border Police and not justify the use of this kind of torture because of Palestinian terrorism. The victims of Israeli Border Police brutality are usually innocent Palestinians. In many cases, there is a fear of reporting these abuses to the right authorities. Many individual perpetrators go unpunished as a result.
The friction between Jews and Arabs in the areas around Hebron is great. There have been reports of zealous Jewish settlers in these areas being responsible for brutalizing the Palestinian population. There have been abuses of human rights in the occupied territories.
However, in order to add a certain amount of balance to the tragic situation between Palestinians and Jews, there must be dual recognition of both sides to recognize each other’s rights to exist. Hebron is a hotbed of right-wing religious Jewish zealotry and hates for the Arabs. There has been the destruction of Palestinian property by these settlers and this has contributed much to the escalation of hate between the two communities.
On the Palestinian side, the rhetoric of uncompromising hate for Israel continues. Mahmoud Abbas has made it clear that the firing of Qassam rockets on the outskirts of Ashkelon, as he put it, has become Israel’s problem. By making these statements, he denies responsibility and eventually, he will bear the consequences. Time is not on the side of the Palestinian Authority but on the side of the Palestinian extremists such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The former will be participating in the Palestinian elections on 25 January. This means further uncompromising positions by the Palestinians towards Israel and the possibility of continued Qassam attacks on the southern border between Israel and Gaza.
The results of all this will be increased roadblocks and Israeli security checks on Palestinian workers who wish to cross into Israel in order to seek a livelihood. This will create further humiliation for them by the Israeli Security Forces even if they have the required permits for entry into Israel.
What is the position of the Israeli left of centre peace groups? On the one hand, the left supporters of peace will continue to condemn the brutality of the Israeli Border Police towards innocent Palestinians, while on the other hand, the Palestinian suicide bombers will continue to attack Israelis. There is no doubt that the left-wingers are in total disarray because of Palestinian terrorist tactics. Now, there is no viable partner for peace negotiations on the Palestinian side. The Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas is in total disarray amongst themselves. Even the Palestinian Security Force (or is it a farce?) do not communicate with the various levels amongst themselves. The left in Israel has become disillusioned with the situation.
Even if Israel decides to withdraw from all the occupied territories unilaterally, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be solved, as extremists in the Palestinian camp would view this as a victory. It could also create a situation of further outbreaks of hostilities in the form of terrorist incursions and further firing of Qassam rockets into Israeli towns.