Palestinernes selvstendighetssøknad er en stor gamble. Selvstyremyndighetene ser ut til å forvente demonstrasjoner og uro, uansett utfall.

Drømmer de om en ny intifada? Den kan i så fall sette palestinerne tiår tilbake.

Are Palestinians Preparing For Another Intifada?

It is still not clear if the Palestinian Authority leadership will proceed with its plan to ask the UN in September to recognize a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines.

But what is clear is that the Palestinian Authority leaders have recently been talking about the need to escalate «popular protests» against Israel.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who says he is opposed to an armed struggle mainly because it would be counterproductive and inefficient, has repeatedly voiced his full support for a «popular intifada» in the West Bank.

Abbas would like to see more Palestinians joining weekly demonstrations against settlements and the security barrier. He and other Palestinians have expressed disappointment over the fact that the number of foreigners and Israeli Jews participating in the protests is higher than the number of Palestinians.

Palestinian Authority representatives would like to see the Palestinian masses march on Israeli military checkpoints and settlements after September, regardless of whether the statehood bid at the UN succeeds or not.

If the UN does vote in favor of the Palestinian state, the Palestinian Authority is hoping that tens of thousands of Palestinians would take to the streets to «celebrate» independence and demand a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines in compliance with the new resolution.

And if the statehood bid fails for any reason, including a possible US veto, the Palestinian Authority still wants Palestinians to take to the streets to protest against the Americans and Israel.

Under both scenarios, clashes will erupt between Palestinians and the Israel Defense Force at checkpoints and entrances to settlements.

The «popular intifada» that the Palestinian Authority is seeking would then quickly deteriorate into an all-out confrontation similar to the one that erupted in September 2000.

A popular uprising means that Palestinians would also be throwing stones and firebombs at soldiers and settlers. It means that Palestinians could get killed if the lives of soldiers or settlers are in danger.

The road from there to the resumption of Palestinian terror attacks is very short. Fatah still has many militiamen who are ready to open fire «to defend Palestinians against Israeli aggression.» The Palestinian security forces could also join the fight against Israel once things get out of control.

Then there is Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which is saying that only the armed struggle, and not the UN, will bring the Palestinians a state. Hamas has even mocked at the Palestinian Authority’s talk about a peaceful and unarmed intifada against Israel.

In any case, both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas will blame Israel and the US for the next cycle of violence, as they have always done in the past. Israel will be blamed for refusing to accept all Palestinian demands, especially the territorial ones. The US, on the other hand, will be blamed for siding with Israel and thwarting Palestinian efforts to achieve a state.

The only way to avoid such grim scenarios is by making clear to the Palestinian Authority that its statehood bid, which does not even seem to enjoy the support of many Palestinians for various reasons, could plunge the region into a new round of violence and bloodshed. The Palestinian Authority needs to understand that it is taking a big gamble by embarking on this adventure.

A new intifada will not only harm Israel, but also the Palestinian Authority and its leaders. The second intifada, which erupted in 2000, undermined the Palestinian Authority and resulted in the destruction of most of its institutions and security forces. The Palestinian Authority could now be digging its own grave by encouraging Palestinians to launch a new intifada.

by Khaled Abu Toameh
August 12, 2011 at 5:00 am

Abu Khaled Toameh arbeider som journalist for Jerusalem Post. Document takker for generøs tillatelse til gjenbruk