This is not the third intifada

Joseph Dana writes: When the hawkish Israeli politician Ariel Sharon visited Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa compound in September 2000, Palestinians were on the verge of a second uprising, or intifada, against Israeli rule.

Fed up with the 1993 Oslo Accords that failed to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinians made a decision to change the status quo through armed resistance. Five years after that fateful visit, the Palestinians were left with deep wounds in a worse-off position after fighting the Israeli army.

Last week, one of Israel’s largest newspapers ran the front-page headline “The Third Intifada”, regarding the violence currently consuming Jerusalem and the West Bank.

This was deliberately misleading. Palestinians know they must reform their own leadership and its relationship to Israel as part of any genuine uprising against Israeli rule — something that doesn’t appear likely in the short term.

Intifadas are strategic, not simple reactions to isolated events, or even sustained Israeli incitement. The first intifada was a declaration that Palestinians refused to accept Israel’s slow annexation of the West Bank and the expanding occupation. The second intifada was an attempt to use violence to change the status quo.

Since the arson attack that killed a Palestinian family in the West Bank village of Duma in late July, Palestinians have reacted to the rising tensions on the ground with no clear goal or end point. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ reticent approach towards popular uprisings and the fear of repeating the mistakes of the second intifada add to the lack of appetite for full-scale rebellion in the West Bank. [Continue reading…]

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