The point of my article yesterday essentially was that there is an attempt on each side, in the leadership, to achieve a specific goal and control the narrative. The Palestinian leadership wishes to maintain and consolidate its position, while trying to create a sense of legitimacy or even a mandate from the P alestinian people. The main problems for Abbas are, one he is not Arafat. Although Arafat did not have a majority of popular support, there was a sense that Arafat had achieved some form of legitimacy. Arafat could do this move (and threatened to in 1999) because he would prepare, if not create, a foundation for such a move. Abbas has not, and will not do this, which only proves this move has no real seriousness behind it.
The more important aspect I wish to talk about today is the role of Israel trying to control the narrative, which to them is more important than anything else at this point. The Israelis at this point as I said are seeing more of a questioning of Israeli policy from places (in an amount) they have seen before. Academics and many more segments of public opinion in the world are not accepting the narratives of Israel anymore. Although if you open many Western papers, many narratives are still perpetuated but that they constantly being questioned in letters to the editor or blogs.
Israel’s most important narrative that is unfortunately still accepted is the issue of Camp David 2000 and is still used as a justification for Israeli atrocities. Without writing a nice thorough 400 page book (such as this) examining all the lies behind the Israeli narrative, I am going with the arguments in said book to prove the central point.
Israel cares about the perception of it being a peace loving and seeking nation, and creates the narrative to go along with it. In 1948, in the Israeli version, Israel wanted peace before, after, and during the war, but there was no Arab partner. This was proved wrong by many Israeli authors including Avi Shlaim in “The Iron Wall.” The next story was in 1967, after Israel initiated a “war of choice” (Ze’ev Maoz’s term) Israel’s narrative was that they offered full withdrawal in return for full peace. Like many Israeli narratives, this was partially true. They offered Syria and Egypt their land back, but never to Jordan or the local Palestinians, hence all parties rejected the platform.
In 1971 Sadat offered Israel essentially what Israel offered Egypt in 1967, the Sinai with nothing about the Palestinians, but Israel rejected it out of hand. In 1976 the 3 main states (and one non-state actor, the PLO) involved, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria offered the original version of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative which called for the internationally recognized principles for resolving the conflict. This included the usual principles of land for peace based off of UN resolution 242, a just solution to the refugee issue, etc. This was vetoed by the United States at the behest of Israel. I could go on if one would like, but the point is all we ever hear about is the Israeli drive for peace with its neighbors from the beginning to present day. As Ze’ev Maoz says ‘most, if not almost all peace maneuvers have been initiated by the Arab side, or an international body.’
Israel wishes to maintain its narrative above all else, but at this point they are still using Camp David as the basis for the current issues. The current narrative Israel seems to be perpetuating is similar to the one they created for Camp David in 2000. The Israelis offer a Palestinian state with a vast majority of land, the Palestinians, inherently violent say no and start the 2nd intifada. Now it seems the Israelis are trying the “we gave them a settlement freeze, they came at the end as a political ploy, they leave the negotiations, go to the UN, start a storm that will be violent and Israel will need to react to protect itself.
The problem for Israel is the Palestinians are in a very different place now than they were in 2000. Hence this same old story of peace loving Israel and the terrorism inclined Palestinians will not play out for the Israelis the way they want it to. Most Palestinians are simply fed up with Israel and struggling against it. Israel has won a war of patience that cannot be dismissed. Palestinians, who have very strong feelings against Abbas, are not suddenly going to think “wow Israel is really pushing the line this time and Abbas is such a fine leader, let’s start another intifada.” This is ludicrous and completely devoid of reality.
The problem is any, even symbolic moves by small groups of Palestinians loyal to Abbas will be crushed by the Israelis, and used a pretext for further oppression and killing of Palestinians. People who might not of otherwise involve themselves will see the des
truction and killing as too much to handle and might involves themselves.
Israel is in control of the whole situation, like usual, and it seems by the moves to arm settlers, conduct extra exercises, etc are the preliminary steps to fulfill their ideas to fit their narrative. Do we really need to let Israel control the narrative again as it has the whole time? Do we really need to let Israel create a third intifada with massive killings just to justify and solidify their narrative?