Last week, I was interviewed by Eurasia Diary about what lies behind Israel’s violent response to peaceful protests against its occupation regime in Gaza. The way they edited it, there is no clear delineation between the author’s words and my own, plus they didn’t publish my full replies–the last of which they omitted although it was the most important part! So I’m reproducing the entire interview in full for you here. The questions from the interviewer, Farid Hasanov, in bold, are verbatim as delivered to me:
What makes Israel to act aggressiv (if we can call it aggressive) against Palestinian protesters?
The calculation of Israeli policymakers is that they must forcibly repress any form of resistance to their occupation regime, including non-violent resistance like protests. The fundamental assumption behind the policies of that occupation regime are that the Palestinians can be brutalized into submission and made to surrender their rights.
That, of course, is not going to happen. The Palestinians have persevered the ethnic cleansing by which Israel came into being, and they have persevered under the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank that has been ongoing since 1967.
Liberman claimed that they were members of Hamas which is known as terrorist organization. He said “five of the dead were members of its armed wing, eight of the 15 belonged to Hamas, and two others came from other militant factions”. My question is that how much is it possible to define immediately during the demonstration whether those are members of armed wing, or belonged to Hamas, or came from other militant factions and justify the killing of them? Even if they were members of Hamas, why Israel didn’t arrest them until demonstration? What is your opinion about Israel’s comments on this incident?
The assumption underlying your question is exactly correct: the fact that a protester may have been a member of Hamas does not justify killing that individual. Were these alleged Hamas members engaging in armed violence during the protest? Were they firing rockets at Israeli civilian population centers? Were they shooting across the border fence at Israeli soldiers? Israel’s suggestion that just the fact that an individual is a Hamas member justifies killing them has no basis in international law.
This is the same logic Israel has used to destroy civilian infrastructure during its military operations in Gaza. For example, during “Operation Cast Lead”, the IDF assassinated Hamas official Nizar Rayan in his home, killing numerous members of his family, despite the prohibition under international law of this type of attack. Rayan was not engaged in combat at the time, and the laws of war require Israel not to direct attacks against targets when they can be expected to result in civilian casualties.
This and numerous other war crimes committed by Israel, for which it employed the same false justification, are documented in my book Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
How this actions will influence future prospects of negotiation proccess and why Israel purposely goes to violent action?
I don’t think this event will impact the prospect of future negotiations because I think that prospect was dead already. The Trump administration made sure of that by declaring that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, even though under international law, East Jerusalem remains “occupied Palestinian territory”, and even though the US is obligated as a party to the UN Charter not to establish its embassy in Jerusalem, which would violate a UN Security Council resolution calling on member states not to do so.
The reason for this resolution is that, since Israel claims the “undivided” city of Jerusalem as its capital and has taken illegal measures to annex the city, doing so would be greatly prejudicial to the rights of the Palestinians.
In a way, this move by the Trump administration is a good thing because it has laid bare the duplicity of the US and eliminated the prospect that any future negotiations under the auspices of the US-led so-called “peace process” could have any amount of credibility. He’s basically done the Palestinians a favor by eliminating whatever final shreds of perceived credibility the US had as a supposed “mediator”. In truth, the “peace process” has long been the process by which Israel and its superpower benefactor have blocked implementation of the two-state solution. I document this, too, in Obstacle to Peace.
What else would you like to add?
The path forward lies in the Palestinian leadership utilizing the international legal mechanisms now available to them since the UN recognized Palestine as a state in 2012. However, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been reluctant to pursue remedy through institutions like the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or International Criminal Court (ICC).
This is due to the purpose of the PA, which was established under the Oslo Accords essentially to serve as Israel’s collaborator in enforcing its occupation regime. Unity of leadership and of purpose will be required. That will not be an easy task for the Palestinians to accomplish, but at this stage, it seems a prerequisite that the PA be dissolved.
The PLO as the PA’s parent organization has the authority to do that, but this would require unity between Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas’s party, Fatah; and Fatah is too much wedded to the PA and its purpose to wish to upset the status quo.
This is why Abbas rejected the Hamas government that was democratically elected in 2006, demanding that Hamas concede to the demand of Israel and the US to “honor prior agreements”, meaning to honor the Oslo Accords and fulfilling the role of the PA as Israel’s collaborator.
Hamas, not being so willing to act contrary to the interests of their own people, had no interest in that, and so was too much of a threat. Abbas therefore conspired with the US and Israel to overthrow that elected government, and so we have the division we see today between these two leaderships, with Hamas remaining governing authority in Gaza while Abbas’s regime rules over the West Bank.
If the PA will not do what is necessary to end the occupation regime, new leadership will need to be found who will be willing to defy Israel and the US.
When Israeli officials fear leaving the territory under Israeli control for fear of being arrested for war crimes, then the end of the occupation will be in sight.