As Israeli voters head to the ballot boxes to elect their new representatives, Palestinians say they are preparing for another war with Israel.
The preparations came even as US Secretary of State John Kerry and some Israeli candidates, especially Zionist Camp leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, continue to talk about the need to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process after the election.
For some Palestinians, the election is not about removing Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu from power. Rather, it is about removing Israel from the face of the earth and replacing it with an Islamist empire.
The next Israeli government will face a two-pronged attack on the Palestinian front — one from the Gaza Strip, where Hamas and Islamic Jihad say they have just completed preparations for the next conflict with Israel, and another from the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority (PA) says it is determined to pursue its «diplomatic war» against Israel in the international arena.
On the eve of the election, Kerry expressed hope that Israelis will elect a government that «meets the hope for peace.»
Kerry’s statement about the revival of the peace process shows that he remains oblivious to the reality in the Middle East, particularly with regards to the Palestinians.
Kerry is ignoring the fact that the Palestinians are today divided into two camps; one that wants to destroy Israel through terrorism and jihad, and another that is working hard to delegitimize and isolate Israel in the international community with the hope of forcing it to its knees.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to scoff at Kerry’s talk about the resumption of the peace process. The two groups, which control the 1.7 million Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, actually have other plans for the post-election era. Their main plans center around preparing for the next war with Israel.
|Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (left) and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (right, in blue shirt).|
As Kerry was talking about the revival of the peace process, Hamas’ armed wing, Izaddin al-Qassam, announced that it has completed preparations for the next confrontation with Israel.
These preparations, according to the group, include the reconstruction of Hamas military bases and training centers that were destroyed during the last war, known as Operation Protective Edge. The group says that it has not only rebuilt the destroyed sites, but has also set up new military posts, especially along the border with Israel.
Of course, when Hamas talks about «military bases,» it is also referring to the underground tunnels that it is hoping to use in the next conflict to infiltrate Israel.
Some of the bases are located only a few hundred meters away from the border with Israel, such as the Yarmouk and Palestine posts. Hamas says that the decision to build the military bases so close to the Israeli border is aimed at sending a message of defiance to Israel.
Islamic Jihad also does not seem to be impressed with the recent talk about the resumption of the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis.
Earlier this month, Islamic Jihad too unveiled its preparations for war, by inviting journalists on a tour of its tunnels inside the Gaza Strip.
«We’re on our highest level of alert to counter any attack. We’re used to the occupation breaking its ceasefires,» senior Islamic Jihad commander Abu al-Bara told Agence France Press. «It’s a war that never ends. We’re ready to go to another level against the Zionist occupation and carry out actions we’ve never done before.»
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority is also preparing for a confrontation with Israel, albeit one of a different nature.
The PA says it is determined to pursue its effort to seek worldwide support for imposing a solution on Israel. It is hoping to do so with the help of the United Nations, the European Union, the Obama Administration and some Arab countries.
In order to achieve its goal, the Palestinian Authority is currently waging a massive campaign in the international arena whose goal is to delegitimize, isolate and weaken Israel to a point where it would be forced to succumb and make far-reaching concessions, such as a full withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas will find it almost impossible to return to the negotiating table with Israel now that he has told his people that the Palestinians’ next step is to file «war crime» charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court (ICC). Abbas’s aides have even set a date for the filing of the first anti-Israel case with the ICC: April 1.
Even if Abbas does return to the negotiating table — under heavy pressure from the Americans and Europeans — he would be doing so not in order to achieve an agreement with Israel, but to try to show the world that Israel does not want peace.
Abbas will come to the talks with the same demands he and his predecessor have made over the past two decades, namely a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines. When Israel does not accept all his demands, he will again walk out and demand international intervention to impose a solution on Israel. And while he would be waging his diplomatic campaign, Hamas and Islamic Jihad would resume their terror attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip.
Under the current circumstances, where some Palestinians continue to seek the destruction of Israel and others are unable to make any concessions for peace, any talk about the resumption of the peace process is nothing but a silly joke.