On December 25, 2013, the International New York Times ran an op-ed by Ali Jarbawi, a former Palestinian Authority government minister and current contributing opinion writer for the Times, titled “The Coming Intifada.” As evidenced by its title, the premise of Mr. Jarbawi’s piece is that a violent Palestinian intifada (Arabic for “uprising”) is looming beneath the surface and could explode sometime in the near future. Most telling in Mr. Jarbawi’s piece is the absence of any support or even mention of moving forward with negotiations.
Mr. Jarbawi writes that despite the appearance of normality for West Bank and Gaza Palestinians, “no one should be surprised if a new intifada erupts in the next few months.” He claims there are four factors contributing to this: an unfulfilled hope for a Palestinian state, Israeli “violations” against Palestinians (of which he includes the scurrilous charge of “Judaizing Jerusalem”), financial challenges facing the Palestinian Authority, and the events of the Arab Spring.
While Mr. Jarbawi goes to great lengths to blame many non-Palestinians – with a heavy focus being Israel - for what he warns is the coming intifada, he assigns no responsibility for the challenges facing Palestinians to the Palestinians themselves. Attacking Israel for the failures of the 20-plus years of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, he makes no mention of the numerous Israeli offers – including from Ehud Barak at Camp David in 2000 and from Ehud Olmert to Mahmoud Abbas in 2008 – rejected by the Palestinians. He also overlooks the repeated statements by Israeli leaders calling on their Palestinian counterparts to return to the negotiating table, which went unheeded until Secretary Kerry’s initiatives this past summer.
He further absolves the Palestinians of any responsibility for their financial predicament by failing to mention reports of rampant corruption within the Palestinian Authority, and instead attacks Arab, European and other international donors for not offering sufficient aid.
Perhaps most disturbingly, however, is Mr. Jarbawi’s claim that Israel is “Judaizing Jerusalem.” The term “Judaisation” is frequently used by those who dismiss the 4,000 year-old Jewish connection to the land of Israel, and implies that Jews have no historical right to a presence in modern-day Israel. Stating, as Mr. Jarbawi does, that Israel is attempting to “impose its presence in the Al Aqsa mosque” further ignores the millennia-old religious connection to Judaism’s holiest site, which shares this tiny piece of real estate, the Temple Mount.
All this speaks to an element of self-deception on the part of the Palestinians at best, and, at worst, lays a foundation to justify Palestinian violence. By refusing to acknowledge complicity in the political and financial predicament they find themselves in, Mr. Jarbawi and his Palestinian colleagues delude themselves into believing that violence is a justifiable reaction to their current situation. They seek to convince others that their current approach towards Israel, including threats of violence, are acceptable, and it is incumbent entirely upon Israel and the international community to change their positions towards the Palestinians in order to resolve the conflict.