By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.
It seems that the Oslo Accords were an ideal cover for Israel to expand settlements in the West Bank (WB), and establish facts on the ground under the guise of the peace process that actually was being emptied of its content. The Accords’ outcome was doubling the settlements and confiscating lands with Palestinian cover; that of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which abstains from resistance and is committed to preventing resistance action.
Serious Facts on the Ground:
Thirty years after Oslo, Israel has still complete control over Area C, which is about 60% of WB, and also shares the PA the security control of 22% of it. Moreover, and instead of withdrawing from WB to pave the way for the peace process, the number of settlers increased from around 280 thousand in 1993 to over 900 thousand early this year. Israel exploits 76% of Area C and the settlements regional councils are controlling 63% of it, whereas 18% of WB are confiscated for the purposes of military bases and military training locations. It also controls more than 85% of the WB water resources.
At the same time, the Separation Wall has isolated about 11% of WB from the Palestinian surrounding, consequently, more than 219 Palestinian localities were badly affected. The Israeli occupation has confiscated 353 thousand dunams, classifying them as “natural reserves,” which are likely to be used, at any moment, for Judaizing settlement purposes. Lately, the Israelis have extensively spread pastoral settlements, confiscating large areas of Palestinian land.
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), there are 471 settlements, settlement outposts and outposts that are industrial and touristic sites.
The West Bank is torn apart by over a thousand kilometers of Israeli bypass roads (dedicated only to Jews), and is also divided by about 600 fixed and mobile military barriers.
As for Jerusalem, it is the main focus of Judaization plans, where al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy Muslim and Christian sites are targeted, Jewish neighborhoods and settlements surround it, the Separation Wall isolates it, and the Old City is also targeted, in addition to excavations, demolishing homes, withdrawing IDs and targeting educational institutions…
Systematic Escalation Ends the Two-State Solution:
With the dominance of the Zionist right and the rise of extremism in Jewish society, especially in the past twenty years, with the advent of the most extremist government in Israel’s history, and with religious Zionism, led by Smotrich and Ben Gvir, taking over the settlement policy, internal security and administration of WB, Israeli action in WB has become more insolent, exposed, rapid, systematic and organized. The current government doesn’t even bother putting these measures within an acceptable justified context as previous governments did. The Israeli statements have become unambiguous regarding the end of the two-state solution, making the Palestinian self-rule (PA) serve the Zionist project, and regarding its escalating racist rhetoric that’s pushing for the division of PA territories into cantons.
On the other hand, the brutal practices of the Israeli army and settlers against the Palestinians in WB have increased, in order to subjugate them and force them to emigrate. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territory (OCHA-oPt), since the beginning of 2023 and until August, 172 Palestinians were killed, 7,372 were injured and 780 Palestinian-owned structures demolished. During the same period, OCHA-oPt has reported that the attacks of settlers under the protection of Israeli forces against Palestinians in WB reached about 100 attacks per month, 39% more than the monthly rate of 2022. In the first seven months of 2023, the Israeli forces killed 40 Palestinian children in an escalating aggressive atmosphere.
In July 2023, the Wall and Settlement Resistance Commission reported that the Israeli forces and settlers committed 897 attacks against Palestinians in WB, where these attacks ranged from direct assaults on people, vandalism of property, leveling of lands, storming villages, uprooting trees, and seizing property.
This excessive and shameless brutality forced the United States to repeatedly condemn the behavior of the settlers, so as the situation wouldn’t explode. Indeed, a number of Israeli leaders began to consider the behavior of the government and settlers a threat to the Zionist project itself and to the “malicious” way settlement building was managed, which would reveal the false mask through which Israel had been trying to market itself globally.
Former Minister of Defense Benny Gantz considered “the fact that members of the government and coalition support those extremists – a stain that will not be erased on our image, and a danger to our security.” Opposition Leader Yair Lapid said, “The hilltop youth” are turning WB into a “battleground between the terror of Jewish terrorists and the terror of Arab terrorists.” He added, “It endangers the settlements,” and “endangers our soldiers.” Director of the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shabak) Ronen Bar warned that “Jewish terror incites Palestinian terror.”
The Authority Must Face the Truth:
In light of the above, it is clear that the Oslo Accords have lost their meaning and value, and that the concept of the “two-state solution” has been overthrown by Zionist behavior on the ground. Consequently, the PLO leadership, the PA leadership and the Fatah leadership, are now asked a logical question that refuses evasive and ambiguous answers: Why do you insist on this kind of peace process? Why do you insist on security coordination? And why do you insist on promoting the illusion of a two-state solution under the Oslo Accords?
As for the logical answer that every Palestinian, Arab, Muslim and free person in the world knows, the occupation only understands the language of resistance, armed resistance in particular. This is confirmed by opinion polls, and confirmed by the situation in WB, where Palestinian resistance has escalated.
If there is a review of the Oslo Accords and a desire for national unity, let them be based on adhering to the fundamentals, not giving up any rights and supporting the resistance program.
Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 9/10/2023