Three delegations of British MPs were in Israel/Palestine in February and none of them can have failed to detect the sense of utter hopelessness and despair among young Palestinians.
It’s now nearly two years since the Kerry talks collapsed in April 2014 and the resulting political vacuum has led to frustration, to anger and to individual acts of violence – which are still continuing.
It is nearly a year since the election in March 2015 which Netanyahu won after saying that there would never be a Palestinian state while he was PM and making a racially provocative statement about Arabs “voting in droves”.
The first statement came in an election-eve interview when he said: “I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory gives territory away to radical Islamist attacks against Israel.”
The interviewer then asked him if that meant a Palestinian state would not be established if he was prime minister and Netanyahu replied: “Indeed.”
The second came on election day itself when Netanyahu recorded a 30-second clip for YouTube in which he said the government was “in danger” because “Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them in buses.”
These two statements have profoundly affected the mood of Palestinians, especially the young generation who now mock the advice of the older generation to avoid violence and trust the international community.
“What did the Oslo accord achieve? What did 20 years of peace talks achieve?” they ask.
The older generation have no answer. There is no hope, no prospect. The Israelis have always rejected a one-state solution – at least with equal rights – and the two-state solution is now being buried by Caterpillar bulldozers laying the concrete foundations of yet more illegal settlements.
Conservative and Labour Friends of Israel MPs have tried to blame the upsurge in violence on ‘incitement’ and ‘radicalisation’ by the Palestinian Authority.
In fact the upsurge started on October 1 immediately after the burning to death of three members of the Duwabshe family by illegal settlers in the village of Duma.
It has been sustained by the Israeli army’s excessive force in dealing with demonstrations and suspected terrorist attacks. According to the UN 14,925 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces last year – about 150 for every Israeli injured by a Palestinian.
Very few of the injured were involved in any kind of attacks. As the father of one teenage victim told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “The true source of incitement is the behaviour of the Israeli soldier and whoever gives him his orders.”
Even the chief of staff of the Israeli army, Lt Gen Gady Eisenkot, admitted last week that over-reaction by Israeli soldiers was a problem. Referring to a recent case he told a group of soldier that it was unthinkable that “you need to empty a magazine of bullets into a girl wielding a pair of scissors”.
The notion that the very mild-mannered, violence-hating president of the Palestine Authority Mahmoud Abbas has been goading Palestinian teenagers to acts of violence has caused nothing but mirth in the occupied territories. The 81-year-old Abbas is the most uninciting politician in Palestine.
The Middle East minister Tobias Ellwood pointed out to Labour Friends of Israel’s Louise Hanson that some of the acts of violence are not incited but are caused by the “frustration of some individuals who have lost faith in their own leadership. The fact that youngsters can get out a knnfe and go off and kill an Israeli, knowing the consequences, reflects the dire situation we face”.
The Minister has told Louise Hanson MP that “we are concerned by the use of force by Israeli security personnel in response to protests and security incidents. We regularly raise with Israel concerns over the use of force, including lethal force”.