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The “occupation” is not the problem

Jul 12, 2016 ,

This is what the Israeli-British historian Efraim Karsh writes in an article published on Monday 4 July 2016 ( English ) on the website of The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA).

Karsh is Professor Emeritus and Founder of the Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at Kings College London. He also works as a Professor at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan in Israel, and has been the Center Director at BESA since November 2016, having been a senior researcher at the same place for several years.

Karsh begins by quoting statements made by Israelis in the days after two Palestinian terrorists killed four Israelis in a shooting attack in Tel Aviv on June 8 ( Norwegian ) .

“While the blood clotted at the scene of the last massacre in Tel Aviv, the city’s spokesman was quick to express empathy with the terrorists’ motives,” he writes.

Karsh quotes the spokesman as saying: “We may be the only country in the world living in another nation under occupation and without civil rights. You cannot force an entire people into a state of occupation and hope that they will come to the conclusion that everything is fine. “

This prediction was quickly followed up by the usual Israeli “hope sellers”, Karsh continues.

“The terrorism we continue as long as the Palestinian people see no hope on the horizon. The only way to deal with the terror is by freeing the Palestinian people from the occupation,” he quoted from a leading article in the left-wing newspaper Ha’aretz ( English – for subscribers ) .

– But that is exactly what Israel did twenty years ago, he writes.

– The claim that the “occupation” is to blame for the Palestinian terror is disproved by history, today’s reality and all logic.

“Israel has had virtually no control over the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza since 1996. The notion that terrorism is a natural reaction to the occupation is not just unfounded, it is the exact opposite of the facts,” Karsh said.

Oslo 1 Agreement

The Declaration of Principles of the Palestinian Authority (PA), also known as the Oslo Accords ( Norwegian ) , , which was signed in September 1993 at an official ceremony in the US capital, Washington, laid the foundations for the Palestinian Authority ( Norwegian ) control over the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip.

According to the agreement, Israel and the Palestinians were to negotiate a permanent peace agreement over the next five years.

By May 1994, Israel had completed a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip (with the exception of a minor stretch with a few Israeli villages evacuated in 2005), and from the Jericho area in the West Bank.

– PLO leader Yasser Arafat arrived in Gaza on July 1, 1994 in triumph, and shortly after, the newly established Palestinian Authority, under Arafat’s leadership, took control of this area, Karsh continues.

Oslo 2 Agreement

– Despite PA doing a lousy job of cracking down on Palestinian terrorist activities, on September 28, 1995, Israel and the PA signed a temporary agreement (in Taba, Egypt) called the Oslo 2 Agreement ( English ) By the end of the year, Israeli forces had withdrawn from the West Bank’s most populated areas, with the exception of Hebron (this regrouping was completed in early 1997) Elections were held on 20 January 1996 to the Palestinian Legislative Assembly, and soon after, the Israeli civilian administration and military regime were disbanded.

“As of today, there is a Palestinian state,” Arafat’s Israeli adviser Ahmad Tibi said the day after the election.

– This uplifting description was repeated by the Israeli Minister of the Environment, Yossi Sarid, all the while the chief architect behind the Oslo agreement, Yossi Beilin, declared that the election had meant that the political process could not be bent.

Beilin was relieved that the Israeli occupation of the inhabited Palestinian territories had ended and said: “We have been relieved of a heavy burden. I never believed that the occupation could be reported. It was necessary to remove this burden to avoid to be made a target for organizations around the world that see us as oppressors. “

– The intoxication of happiness was noticeable, writes Karsh. While the geographical area of ​​the Israeli withdrawal was relatively limited (the land left over accounted for about 30% of the West Bank territorydelirium),

Was the impact on the Palestinian people revolutionary, Karsh points out.

The Palestinians are governed by their own

– With one blow, Israel relinquished control of virtually all of the 1.4 million Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank. Since then, almost 60% of them have been under full Palestinian jurisdiction (in Area A). About 40% live in cities, villages, refugee camps and areas where the PA exercises civil authority, while Israel has the overriding responsibility for security, as provided for in the Oslo 2 Agreement (Area B).

– About 2% of the West Bank’s population – a few tens of thousands of Palestinians – continue to live in areas where Israel still has full control (Areas C). But even there, the PA enforces “functional jurisdiction,” Karsh writes.

– Since the beginning of 1996, and especially after the PA gained control of Hebron in January 1997 ( English ), 99% of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has not lived under Israeli occupation.

The hateful anti-Israel and anti-Jewish Palestinian media ( Norwegian Article Collection ) and schools ( Norwegian ), and the incitement of progressive religious authorities to violence ( Norwegian Article Collection ), is a clear proof that there has been no actual occupation in these years.

– This means that the notion that terror is a natural reaction to occupation is not only unfounded, but it is directly opposite to the truth, he writes.

Many Israelis have been killed in Palestinian terror

Karsh also points out that the number of Israelis killed in Palestinian terrorist attacks has grown dramatically since the Palestinians gained control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

– 210 Israelis were murdered by Palestinians in terrorist attacks during the first two and a half years after the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, until the government, led by the [Israeli] Labor Party, collapsed in May 1996. This number homicides were nearly three times as high as each year the previous 26 years – on average – were murdered. Before that, only a small number of Israelis were killed in attacks coming from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Karsh writes that the reason for the relatively low number of terrorist attacks in the years between 1967 and 1993 was that Israel had an effective counterplay, the population’s declining awareness of Palestinian nationalism, and the dramatically increasing standard of living that the population experienced under Israeli rule.

In addition, about two-thirds of the victims in the years 1994 to 1996 were killed within the “green line” [the 1967 ceasefire line]. This was almost ten times as many Israelis killed annually in the previous six violent years during the Palestinian uprising [the first Intifada, 1988-1994].

– In September 1996, Arafat escalated the conflict by returning to overt violence. He used the opening of a new exit to an archeological tunnel under the Western Wall, the holiest site of Judaism, to trigger riots – 17 Israelis and about 80 Palestinians died.

The second intifada

Karsh also mentions the war on terror (the second Intifada) that Arafat started in September 2000, shortly after he was offered a Palestinian state formation by the then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak ( Norwegian )

Four years later, when Arafat died, his war – the bloodiest and most devastating confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians since 1948 – had killed 1,028 Israelis in an estimated 5,760 attacks. That was nine times as many as the annual death toll before the “Oslo era” began.

Of these, 450 people (44%) were killed by suicide bombers, a strategy that was largely unknown in the years before the Oslo Accords. In all, more than 1,600 Israelis have been murdered and more than 9,000 injured since the declaration of principles was signed. That is almost three times as many deaths as the average of the previous 26 years.

Karsh also describes in the article how the Gaza Strip has been transformed into a base for terrorists, which poses a clear constant danger to the Israelis.

Important questions

Towards the end of the article, Karsh asks some questions:

– If one assumes that the occupation was actually the cause of the terror, why was there so little terror while Israel had full control over the West Bank and Gaza? And why terrorism rose drastically at the same time as viewsfor the occupation to cease? Why did it escalate into open war after Israel made the most comprehensive concessions ever?

– It can be argued that the absence of the occupation – that is, the withdrawal of Israeli intelligence – is more likely to have opened up the possibility of starting the terrorist war. It was not until Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 that security was improved and the Palestinian terror campaign was (temporarily) halted.

– It is not the “occupation” that is responsible for the absence of “hope”, but the century-long Palestinian rejection of the Jews ‘right to their own state, as described in the League of Nations’ Palestine Mandate in 1922 and in the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan As long as this rejection is tolerated, even encouraged, the idea of ​​Palestinian-Israeli peace will remain a fantasy, Karsh concludes.

Notes, sources, and references (with links)

This article was originally published in Norwegian on July 12, 2016. In Danish by Inger Irene Hansen, March 2018

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