When Israeli soldiers entered the Palestinian Dheisheh refugee camp within the Bethlehem district, they committed a violation of the Palestinian-Israeli agreements often referred to as the Oslo Accords.
The accords, which were scheduled to expire before the end of the 20th century, are still with us a decade and a half into the 21st. But the Israeli bullets that ripped the body of Jihad Al Jaafari on Tuesday might very well have killed not only the 19-year-old Palestinian but also the Palestinian security coordination with Israel.
The Oslo Accords divided the occupied territories (minus East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed) into three distinct areas. Israel has total security access to and control of Areas B and C. The difference is only that in Area B, Palestinians are allowed administrative control, i.e., to pick up garbage and so on. Area A, which was supposed to gradually grow to cover the entire occupied territories, is under both administrative and security control of the Palestinians. Israel is not allowed to enter Area A and anything or anyone they want from Area A they can only have by coordinating with the Palestinian security forces.The Dheisheh refugee camp is squarely within Area A, under total Palestinian security control.
So when the Dheisheh resident Jaafari was killed there, the Israelis not only violated Palestinian security areas but also put to shame the only remaining mechanism of positive engagement with Palestinians, security coordination. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been under strong pressure to end security coordination.
The issue will no doubt be debated in the upcoming session of the 124-member Palestine Central Council. The PCC is usually called to discuss and ultimately approve strategic decisions involving the future of the Palestinian national struggle.A meeting is scheduled to be held on March 4 and 5 at the Ramallah headquarters of the Palestinian presidency.In discussing security coordination, Palestinians may cut the final strand of the cord that connects them with Israel and its occupation apparatus.
Naturally, such a decision will have huge consequences on the Palestinian daily lives. Israel has already caused serious damage to the Palestinian population by not transferring, for the third month in a row, the tax revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian government by Israel.
The tax agreement is one other element of the Israeli-Palestinian memorandum of understanding.Top Palestinian security official Majed Farraj, who heads the intelligence directorate, who is rumoured to be appointed as vice president, comes from the Dheisheh camp. He will certainly be asked to explain why the security coordination should continue while fellow camp residents are being killed by Israeli soldiers who do not respect this coordination.
Without security coordination and without the tax revenues, plus the risk of losing millions of dollars due to legal compensations decided on it by a U.S. court, the Palestinian government, technically called the Palestinian Authority, will have worked itself out of existence. Israel, as an occupying power, will have to take responsibility for the occupied territories and the population it inherited when its troops ran over the West Bank and Gaza Strip.The Fourth Geneva Convention, which was established followed the prolonged (at the time) German occupation of France, regulates the responsibilities of an occupying power.Israeli courts refuse to accept that Palestinian areas Israeli troops control are occupied territories.
It argues that they are disputed territories and as a result, they refused to dissolve the civil administration created by the Israeli army following the 1967 occupation. The civil administration has continued to work in Area C, mostly in sync with the demand of the settlers and with the aim of stunting any Palestinian development and growth. Area C, which covers nearly 65 percent of the occupied territories, includes all areas outside populated cities, as well as the entire Jordan Valley, with the exception of Jericho. The Israeli soldier who pulled the trigger in Dheisheh Wednesday may have killed a two-decade-old security and political arrangement that has mostly benefited the Israelis and their settlement scheme.
The façade of the peace process and the ugly occupation may soon be exposed. With the exception of the left-wing Meretz Party and the joint Arab list, no Israeli party even had a vision for the future of the occupied territories in its platform. The next Israeli leadership might very well find itself directly responsible for the welfare of 4 million Palestinians living under its occupation.