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Abbas won’t discover the ‘political horizon’ he’s searching for

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On December 28, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz held a gathering on the latter’s home. This was their second official encounter because the present Israeli authorities took energy in June. The two had beforehand met in August and had had a cellphone name a number of weeks beforehand.

Gantz and Abbas mentioned deepening safety cooperation between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Israeli authorities and measures to ease the extreme financial disaster within the West Bank.

The assembly was seen as controversial on each side. Hamas and different Palestinian factions declared the assembly futile, because it didn’t advance in any means the Palestinian nationwide trigger, whereas numerous Israeli political figures, together with members of the ruling coalition, noticed it as step one in direction of making undue “concessions” to the Palestinians.

It is unlikely that Gantz and Abbas didn’t count on the controversy that their assembly would trigger. So why did they proceed with it anyway and what does the persevering with engagement between the 2 imply for the Palestinian-Israeli battle?

Political calculations

Having suffered worldwide isolation below the earlier United States administration, Abbas has been desirous to return to the worldwide area after US President Joe Biden took workplace in January 2021 and a brand new Israeli authorities was shaped with out longtime Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later within the 12 months.

The Palestinian president seemingly thought-about Gantz’s outreach in July as his greatest probability to take action. It can also be doable he hopes that the Israeli defence minister could comply with within the footsteps of the late Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, who was keen to have interaction the Palestinian management and even signal a peace settlement with Yasser Arafat.

Abbas visited Gantz’s home in search of a “political horizon” with a view to proceed down the trail of the Oslo Accords, of which he was the godfather. But in Israel, nobody is speaking a couple of political course of with the Palestinians and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has made it fairly clear there received’t be one below his authorities.

That is why, Abbas solely managed to safe some financial measures from Gantz, which are supposed to assist alleviate the PA’s financial disaster. These included Israel sending an advance cost of $32m of tax cash to the PA and offering extra work permits for Palestinian employees and entry permits for Palestinian businessmen.

According to Israeli media, Gantz additionally knowledgeable Abbas that the Israeli authorities agreed to permit some 6,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and three,500 from the Gaza Strip to be registered within the Palestinian inhabitants registry and issued identification paperwork. The registry is instantly managed by the Israeli authorities and the PA can’t add anybody to it with out Israeli permission, leaving tens of 1000’s of Palestinians with out paperwork.

For Gantz, engagement with Abbas permits him to take over the Palestinian file utterly and construct his home and worldwide political standing utilizing it. This initiative wins him favour with the Biden administration, which has been placing strain on each the Israeli authorities and the Palestinian Authority to renew talks. It additionally permits him to face other than Bennett, who, fearing that his right-wing allies could abandon him, is reluctant to have interaction instantly with the PA.

The Israeli authorities, regardless of its far-right rhetoric, does have an curiosity in protecting shut relations with the PA, notably a safety one.

The assembly with Abbas got here amid an escalation of resistance operations within the West Bank all through final 12 months and an uptick within the violence of settlers and occupation forces towards Palestinian civilians. These assaults have resulted in quite a lot of Israeli and Palestinian deaths and accidents.

Both Gantz and Bennett know that the safety of the a whole bunch of 1000’s of unlawful Jewish settlers within the West Bank will depend on the PA’s cooperation. The Israeli defence minister sought and acquired such safety ensures secured from Abbas in change for the financial measures he provided.

The Israeli authorities can also be propping up the PA as a result of it fears that an inner collapse might result in a Hamas resurgence within the West Bank.

No means ahead

The solely stakeholder within the Israeli-Palestinian battle that appeared to welcome the engagement between Abbas and Ganz was Washington. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan labored onerous to deliver the views of each side nearer on numerous points and be sure that the assembly would happen.

But even the Biden administration is just not pushing for a significant reset in Israeli-Palestinian relations and the resumption of political negotiations. It appears it’s happy with this low-level engagement, recognising that resuming talks could also be unimaginable in the meanwhile because of inner Palestinian divisions, the right-wing authorities in Tel Aviv, and Washington’s personal preoccupation with regional and worldwide points that it deems extra urgent than the Palestinian-Israeli battle.

Although Bennett is publicly against engagement with the PA, he has not stopped it as a result of he doesn’t wish to upset Washington, particularly at a time when the Iranian nuclear deal is being renegotiated. He sees no level in getting into right into a political confrontation with US allies as long as the ceiling of the Abbas-Gantz engagement doesn’t transcend discussing the financial situations of the Palestinians.

This technique of swapping restricted financial advantages for deepening safety cooperation could serve nicely the pursuits of the Israeli authorities and its US allies, but it surely does hardly something for the Palestinians. A number of hundred work and entry permits and an advance on tax cash are hardly going to enhance the lives of Palestinians living below Israeli army occupation. They additionally can’t repair the deep legitimacy disaster that the PA is affected by.

Asking for extra safety cooperation from the Palestinian safety equipment at a time when settler assaults on Palestinians are peaking wouldn’t assist repair Abbas’s dismal public picture in Palestine both. It could quickly assist Israel stem the assaults within the West Bank, however with the basis causes of the violence remaining unaddressed, it’s sure to surge once more.

Furthermore, the mobilisation throughout historic Palestine that we witnessed in 2021 towards the Israeli occupation exhibits that the technique of divide and rule now not works. Treating the financial disaster within the West Bank as a separate problem from the struggling of Palestinians in Gaza and inside official Israeli borders wouldn’t deliver peace and stability. In reality, the extra the political calls for of the Palestinians stay unaddressed, the higher the stress grows and eventually it could erupt into a 3rd Intifada.

The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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