By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.
Despite the exceptional Israeli measures and precautions to tighten control over the situation in Jerusalem and the occupied Palestinian territories, there are still possibilities for the outburst of clashes, towards an Intifadah, or a large-scale clash and for the situation to get out of control and even for the Israeli government to collapse.
For months, there were warnings that the situation might explode, due to the overlap of Ramadan with the Jewish Passover, and the attempts by Temple groups and the Zionist right to escalate in order to establish new facts and practices on the ground that they would turn into “acquired rights.” One of the most prominent manifestations in this context is the call to slaughter sacrifices in al-Aqsa courtyards.
Israel is haunted by the results of the Sword of Jerusalem battle last Ramadan (May 2021), which ended up by the Palestinian resistance leading the scene, thwarting Zionist plans at the time in Jerusalem, the faltering of the normalization path, the deterioration of Israel’s image globally and the Palestinian Authority (PA) being embarrassed. Therefore, it has sought, along with the normalizing countries, the US and other allies, to pass this month of Ramadan without entering into a wide military confrontation with the resistance, especially in the Gaza Strip (GS).
Thus, considering the above as well as the Russian-Ukrainian war and its potential ramifications, it was not surprising that on Tuesday 22/3/2022, a tripartite summit was held between the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the Egyptian President ‘Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, and the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Zayed. Although the summit sought to address an alliance confronting Iran and the repercussions of the Russian–Ukrainian war on food and energy security, discussions tackled the security situation in Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine during the month of Ramadan (of which the summit was held ten days ahead) and the need to maintain stability. For they realize the serious negative repercussions on them in the event of an outbreak of the situation.
A few days later (March 26–27, 2022), a meeting was held in the Negev, in which the Israelis hosted the foreign ministers of the US, Egypt, UAE, Morocco and Bahrain; at the center of their agenda was a discussion of ways to promote a peaceful Passover and Ramadan atmosphere. This was followed by the meeting of Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz with King Abdullah in Jordan, on March 29th, where they discussed calm and “preventing provocations” in Jerusalem. On the following day, the King of Jordan received Israeli President Isaac Herzog, where the same issue was discussed.
The convening of such summit meetings reflects the extent of concern of Israeli, Western and Arab “normalizers” regarding what might happen during Ramadan, thus there were coordination efforts to avoid any undesirable developments in Jerusalem.
Second, the world is preoccupied with the Russian war on Ukraine; with the US and its European allies seeking to provide full support to Ukraine and mobilize the international environment against Russia, therefore, it does not wish, at this particular sensitive time, to be preoccupied again with the Palestine issue. This is the case, particularly when there is the possibility of comparison, which would reveal Western hypocrisy and its double standards in dealing with the Israeli occupation and its brutality and destruction besides providing the necessary cover for it, whereas in a similar case implementing the harshest sanctions against the Russian attack or occupation and providing Ukraine with military, political and media support to confront the Russians.
In addition, the world needs a suitable Arab environment to provide the US and Europeans with alternative energy sources instead of Russian gas and oil, where the Arab world being the main candidate for such alternatives.
Third, the four resistance operations in Bir al-Sabe‘, al-Khadira, Bnei Brak and Tel Aviv, three of which stroke the Israeli security a few days before Ramadan, while the fourth, perhaps the strongest and most severe, took place in the first week of Ramadan, have put the Israeli government and security forces in a state of high alert and confusion, while facing overlapping and complex considerations. The operations—although their perpetrators were characterized with “religious commitment”—were on an individual basis, and none of the factions directly bore responsibility for them, which made revenge even more difficult. The Israeli government is aware that the escalation with GS or unleashing settlers in Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank may have disastrous consequences, which it had sought to avoid, in coordination with the US and the Arab normalizing countries, before Ramadan. It also realizes that its appearance as helpless, while including the extreme Zionist right in its leadership, may lead to its disintegration and downfall. In return, the war on GS or the involvement in the schemes of Judaizing al-Aqsa Mosque will lead to the withdrawal of the Arab party participating in the government coalition, and the downfall of the government as well. This is what makes government considerations critical.
To balance matters, the Israeli government deployed large numbers of police and army forces, encouraged the arming of the Israelis in occupied Palestine in 1948, and gave a green light for more settlement schemes, including providing electricity to settlement outposts, and it showed tolerance with settlers’ incursions into al-Aqsa Mosque. However, the matter was different when Jewish groups tried to slaughter sacrifices in al-Aqsa, where such attempts were faced with firm and open threat from the resistance forces in GS, which declared alert and popular mobilization, while reiterating readiness to enter a new battle with Israel. This forced the Israeli government to deny any support for the slaughter of sacrifices and to announce the exclusion of the person responsible for such plans from Jerusalem’s Old City until mid-May, that is, until after Ramadan.
Fourth, the expectations of Sheikh Bassam Jarrar regarding the demise of Israel in 2022 (aside from its credibility) have made parts of the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim environment anxious, thus pushing towards escalation against the occupation.
Moreover, the resignation of Member of the Knesset (MK) Idit Silman from Bennett’s Yamina party on 6/4/2022 to join the opposition may make the government lose its parliamentary majority and become vulnerable to collapse at any moment. Moreover, the concern of MK Nir Auerbach and his threat to withdraw from Yamina also puts this government in jeopardy. Ultimately, the government may be exposed to a severe test in the event of a vote of confidence in May 2022 when the Knesset reconvenes.
In general, the main partners in the Israeli government do not want its collapse, and they will do everything they can to overcome their critical situation, especially since they are unanimous in rejecting Netanyahu’s return as prime minister. However, the “mosaic” situation that brought them together remains in danger of disintegration at any moment.
As for the Arab normalizers, they are more concerned about the outbreak of any comprehensive confrontation because the normalization process is a superficial shell going against the will of the peoples. Also, the escalation of resistance in Palestine means the fall of the normalization schemes, and the isolation and “criminalization” of its backers, as well as, the failure of the Israeli and US plans in the region.
Perhaps, the message conveyed by the Algerian child ‘Abdul Khaliq Boudouda to the people and children of Palestine expresses honestly and powerfully the Ummah’s (Muslim nation’s) identity, will and rejection of normalization. This ten-year-old child who won the grand prize for memorizing the Qur’an in the “Psalms of David” competition in Algeria, before the beginning of Ramadan, donated its entire value to the children of Palestine. He wore the Palestinian flag declaring that everything was easy for the sake of Palestine and that he was ready to sacrifice his money and soul for Palestine and its people. He addressed the people of Palestine saying, “All the sons of Algeria are with you, and we shall not rest until we pray in Jerusalem as ‘Umar and Salahuddin prayed. Victory is inevitably coming.”
This discourse is that of a proud Ummah, who love Jerusalem and Palestine, and will not be tamed or silenced by normalization, neither will they deviate from the course of struggle and liberation. It is a discourse that accompanies the positions of athletes, prominent figures and broad popular forces. Therefore, the critical Israeli considerations of Bennett, and even Netanyahu (if he returns to the premiership), are not limited to Palestine and its young pro-resistance generation, they include all young Arab and Muslim generations.
Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 18/4/2022