Opinion: PM pledges to give colossal loans out of Israeli taxpayer money to financially struggling Palestinian Authority in order to buy peaceful annexation; whether move works out or not, Gantz will share either the glory or the blame
Alex Fishman – www.ynetnews.com
Blue & White Chairman Benny Gantz will today stand at the alter but the groom has already made clear how this marriage is going to look and who will be calling the shots in this relationship.
One issue that is still unclear, for example, are Gantz’ terms for the annexation of the Jordan Valley – but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already taken a mortgage and begun to spend money on preparing the ground for the move.
In recent days, the prime minister has made a weighty political and economic decision – to give a NIS 800 million loan to the Palestinian Authority, of which Israel will very likely not see a single dime back, and another NIS 500 million loan every month for the next six months.
These loans will come out of the taxpayers’ money, even considering the economic recession.
So far, Israel has been handing out Qatari aid money very generously to buy some silence the Palestinians.
Now that a government has been formed, the annexation chain of events has been set in rapid motion, and Israel pulls money out of its pocket to lull the other side.
On one hand, Israel keeps making routine arrests to prevent flaring up tensions as annexation draws near, and on the other hand, greases the cogs of the Palestinian economy.
Netanyahu calls it an “economic peace” – throw the Palestinians a bone, provide them a better life and dissolve ideological fervor.
Israel allows the Palestinians to live in relative comfort, compared to neighboring countries, in hopes this will outweigh their motivation to fight for political goals.
Netanyahu’s method has proven to be a success story over the past decade.
The wars in the Gaza Strip, the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan, and many other events that could have potentially set the West Bank on fire, passed in relative silence.
Although the Military Intelligence Directorate kept crying wolf, the wolf never appeared and Netanyahu, seemingly, has no reason to get too worked up over these warnings.
The Palestinian street remains pretty indifferent to the whole thing.
For example, on Tuesday, outgoing Defense Minister Naftali Bennett announced that a wheelchair lift will be installed at the Cave of the Patriarchs.
Palestinian media frantically declared it was the beginning of the annexation process, Palestinian officials announced the annulment of the Hebron Protocol – which stipulates the redeployment of IDF forces in the West Bank city of Hebron – but nothing has really changed.
Israel is counting on the tens of thousands of West Bank Palestinians, who will soon return to work in Israel and the settlements, to uphold the peace, as the coronavirus crisis has put over one hundred Palestinian families under the poverty line.
Out of 142,000 businesses, which are the beating heart of the West Bank economy, 100,000 have closed their gates.
Some 450,000 Palestinians have been affected by the coronavirus crisis and internal polls show the 80% of residents in the Palestinian Authority have partially or completely lost their source of income.
According to these polls, the main thing that troubles Palestinian society in the West Bank today is the economic situation.
If Israel takes care of work and cash flows, life will return to normal and then Israel would be able to through with annexation peacefully.
There’s a good chance this economic peace would work again, but annexation might just as well have a negative effect on Israel’s strategic position.
Netanyahu has already committed to a unilateral move, a notion which Gantz may not share, but if the price proves to be heavy, both leaders will share responsibility for it. Either way, Gantz will be the one to pay until the last penny.