In the face of the collapsing peace talks, Israel has responded to the Palestinian Authority with economic sanctions. What this has effectively done, is freeze the majority of Palestinian’s monetary assets. On top of that, Israel is now restricting all access to their banking deposit operations. These actions, spearheaded by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is a direct consequence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to reach out to the international community. Abbas has asked to be recognized as their own state, and to join 15 international conventions.
Israel, who has been oppressing and colonizing Palestinian lands for much of the last half century, does not like this. Netanyahu’s government, in line with many of its tyrannical predecessors, sees the people of Palestine as a major threat to the existence of the Jewish state. In response to perceived threats, the Jewish state has colonized the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem. In 1967, they even managed to secure the Sinai peninsula, which played a hand in setting off the First Palestinian Infitada. Colonization has not been pretty for the Palestinians, nor has it been peaceful. The price paid for Israel’s existence has been exacted on Palestinians. Many have been killed in cold blood, and the respective governments have exchanged missiles into each other’s territories, further complicating the animosity.
The first Infitada of Palestine, set off by the numerous killings of Palestinians by Israeli hands, lasted from 1987-1993. In this era of history, the Palestinians rebelled against Israeli authorities with massive protests. This resulted in the death of many protesters, and also resulted in the death of innocent Israeli civilians.
For anybody who has ever wondered why Secretary of State, John Kerry was so embroiled with the peace talks process, it is easy to understand the motives when looking at past events in history. The stakes are incredibly high for stability in the Middle East, with threats from Iran against Israel, an all out proxy war disguised as a civil war in Syria, its neighbor (which America, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, and Iran all have their hands dipped in), and increasing regime politics in the new military government of Egypt, right next door. Among all the chaos, it only makes sense for Israel to sacrifice something for the Palestinians to coexist peacefully. However, they choose to continue playing games with politics, coming at an enormous cost; more so literally at the expense of responsive sanctions.
It goes beyond maniacal game playing, though. Israel is continuing its settlement process in Jerusalem with its addition to 700 housing units in the eastern section of the city. This is the parcel of land that rightfully belongs to the Palestinian people, and Netanyahu has continually given the orders to proceed building on it, despite the ongoing, but basically now defunct, peace talks. This only adds fire to an already, at best, precarious situation. Netanyahu’s government also continues to hold hostage hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, many of whom were promised a release. Although some batches of the prisoners have been released, a compromise seen by many, they still keep some as political leverage.
As the peace talks between Israel and Palestine start to disintegrate into what appears to be the brewing of another Palestinian Intifada, John Kerry has ever so gracefully backed out of the process; claiming that it is up to Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu to make the compromises, and decisions necessary for peaceful coexistence. Now, that is true, but seems awfully disingenuous on the part of Kerry and the American government when they have been the ones holding Israel’s hand throughout the entire process. It is, to say the least, an embarrassment to send the two governments on this chaotic trajectory, and then say that America has no responsibility for the consequences. An even bigger embarrassment yet, Israel continues to kill Palestinians to this very day, and they do not hold themselves accountable for the aftermath. Instead, they call it “their right to exist as a Jewish state.” Then they respond to Palestinians with economic sanctions when they ask to be part of the international community. That is a slap in the face.
Opinion by Tyler Collins