One day over the line. Reporting from Judea and Samaria. Part I

Our correspondent spent a day in the PA and found out what ordinary Palestinians and Fatah representatives think about the application of sovereignty.

Recently, Binyamin Netanyahu stated that he still plans to apply sovereignty over areas of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley. He also stressed that the plan has not been canceled, but only temporarily suspended. “Sovereignty is not off the agenda,” he said. – But, we will apply it with American consent, and the U.S. has asked for a postponement. The “Cursor” correspondent decided to find out in Palestine how the intentions of the Israeli Prime Minister are perceived behind the “green line.

Under the Dome

Our car drives up to the border, where there is an Israeli army checkpoint. But the military doesn’t ask for documents, and we go to Ramallah unhindered. Since Israelis and Arabs do not drive on the same roads, there are many “hand-holds” extending from the main highway. Some of them lead to Palestine, others to the observation posts of the Israeli army located on the heights. Others go to the Israeli settlements on the mountains, easily recognized by their typical red-roofed houses, white barrels and concrete fences with a “cap” of barbed wire. Israel has covered Palestine with an invisible dome and everything that happens in this troubled land is under control.

There are stores, supermarkets and cafes on the streets of Ramallah. Prices plus or minus are the same as in Israel. Only bread and cigarettes are cheaper (one pack costs 25 shekels, not 30). I notice women dressed in European-style jeans and T-shirts behind the counters. They explain to me that the Palestinian authorities do not interfere in personal and religious matters. Therefore, women’s rights and freedoms here depend solely on their families.

– As my father and my husband say, so it will be,” smiles the pretty saleswoman in the Zara store. – Now we have many women working because it is profitable. After all, according to Palestinian law, women and men are paid the same wage for the same work.

Not far from the Zara store there is a restaurant where I had an appointment with Jagub Basem, former PA Deputy Minister of Energy, ex-governor of the Palestinian Authority Governor’s Office and an active Fatah member. According to him, he decided to meet with me to debunk myths and rumors about Palestine.

– I want you to see that most Palestinians don’t hate Israelis,” he says, shaking my hand. – We are normal people who want a peaceful life.

– What about the statements that Israel must be destroyed?

– Fatah does not say such things, it is not our position. Everyone knows that Mahboud Abbas, head of the Palestinian National Authority, is in favor of a peaceful resolution of issues between Palestine and Israel.

– There is an opinion in Israel that Fatah is responsible for the terrorist activities of Hamas against Israel. They say they couldn’t tame the radical fanatics. Israel will not agree to peace talks until Hamas stops its terrorist activities…

– Look! If Hamas fighters had seized power in Gaza in 2007 against the will of Israel, your army would have kicked them out on the second day. Hamas created the Likud under Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir in order to have two opposing poles in Palestine so that Israel would always be able to say on the international stage: there are no normal people in Palestine who want peace.

– Are you saying that Israel benefits from war, terrorist attacks and the deaths of Israelis?!

– Yes, that’s what I think. Otherwise, why did the bombings stop after the coup in Gaza?

– How could it have stopped if Gaza is now shooting fireballs at Israel, resulting in fires?

– The fireballs are needed by the Israeli authorities to maintain a sense of tension among Israelis. The more Israelis fear Hamas, the more they actively support the government. This is the internal policy of Israel. At the same time, there have been no large-scale explosions for a long time. But that’s not all. I believe that the war between Palestine and Israel is not a religious or historical one. Religious and historical themes are used for propaganda purposes. In fact, this situation is simply beneficial to Israel from an economic point of view.

– Do you have proof of this?

– Yes! Let me remind you that the West Bank of the Jordan River contains strategically important underground water reserves. And just to the south there are oil reserves. And according to our information, Israel has already started secretly extracting it (working behind the fence). At the same time, the Jordan River has excellent land for agriculture. Yes, what can I say! Palestine receives all goods only through Israel. Pays taxes in Israel. It cannot directly receive oil, gas, electricity, or water from Arab countries. We depend on Israel for everything. In fact, Israel has turned Palestine into a very convenient market for itself. What more proof do you need?

– I think the Israelis would disagree with you…

– If anyone wants to study this issue in depth, they will realize that I am telling the truth.

– And how does Fatah view Trump’s plan?

– Our organization is at a loss. We went to negotiate with Israel. It was agreed that our state would be demilitarized and occupy only 22% of historical Palestine, with peacekeeping missions on the border between it and Israel. And, there it is! For us, the annexation of the territories in the West Bank means that there is no hope for a peaceful solution. After all, in essence, Palestine will remain under full Israeli control and we will have a sham instead of a state. Can we agree to such conditions? Accept that all of Jerusalem will become the capital of Israel? Of course not! Let me remind you that earlier it was said that the western part of Jerusalem would remain in Israel and the eastern part would become part of the state of Palestine. This is the only option that could satisfy us.

Terrorist Heroes

With Jagub Bassem we go to Jenin, which is one of the largest Palestinian refugee camps in Judea and Samaria. Now there are about forty thousand people living here.

In 1948, after fleeing from Israel, most of the Arab families settled here directly under the open sky or in tents. Later, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) leased land in the city so that refugees could build homes for themselves.

– Now you won’t find obvious poverty here,” says Jagub Basem. – Although each family has at least 10 children, parents can earn a living. Some work at the market, some at construction sites or in small craft shops. There is also a U.N. mission here that provides humanitarian assistance to refugees by distributing food and sponsoring the construction of schools and hospitals.

At first glance, the streets of the camp do not differ from the streets of any other Palestinian city. Everywhere you look, there are sales outlets everywhere, as if we were in a market. But you shouldn’t relax. First, the locals look at us very suspiciously and unkindly. Secondly, right above our heads on “stretching ropes” hangs huge portraits of Palestinians who took part in the war against Israel. Simply put, terrorists are considered heroes here. Let me remind you that during the Second Initiative, 28 suicide bombers were sent from here to Israel. In April 2002, the Israeli army carried out a special operation there, in which 23 Israeli soldiers and 52 Palestinians were killed.

– The Israeli security services still enter the camp at night and arrest people,” says Jagub Bassem. – But then, as a rule, they cannot prove the guilt of the detainees.

– Surely the locals support Hamas? – I ask him.

– If the elections are held today, I think Hamas will get 30% in the West Bank,” he answers evasively. – And only 15-16% in the Gaza Strip.

– Why so little in the Gaza Strip?

– Because the West Bank does not know what Hamas really is. And the people of Gaza can see with their own eyes that Hamas leaders hide behind religion, but are in fact only concerned with their own enrichment. That is why they seized power in Gaza. Personally, I think that when Hamas started killing its Palestinian brothers from Fatah, it ceased to be part of the liberation movement.

Part II