What’s the real story against declaring our sovereignty in Judea and Samaria?
There is a debate in Israel that rises and falls like the ocean tides. This debate concerns whether or not Israel should be declaring our sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, more specifically over Area C and the Jordan Valley. We can surely count on the debate cycles ebbing and flowing for the foreseeable future. But it is more like a roller coaster: sometimes we seem close to a government decision to just go ahead and do it, most recently deliriously close, and then the bottom falls out and we are back on “safe ground” with our attention turned elsewhere until the next time anticipation rises.
And we have Israeli mainstream media to “credit” for this roller-coaster nature of coverage of the issue.
We have just come out of a debate cycle. It was accompanied by the usual threats from Abu Mazen and Co of the Palestinian Authority (PA). They say they will not countenance unilateral extension of our sovereignty over our own land, lands that have been occupied over the centuries, most recently by Jordan, a country that was invented by Britain in 1946.
So the PA leadership threatens to stop security cooperation, something that would surely jeopardize their ability to keep their own heads on their shoulders. But they do like to make empty threats that for some reason galvanize the rest of the world — whether at the horrific image of prophesied unrest in Judea and Samaria or at Jewish chutzpah is not absolutely clear. And this galvanizes our own leftwing opposition faction as well.
And mainstream Israeli media pushes these galvanized European threat of sanctions and American Democrats’ warnings as something we need to heed.
But Palestinian former-terrorist-turned-anti-violence-social-activist Mohammad Massad claims that there never really was the kind of security cooperation that has any meaning to the residents of the PA. Jerusalem resident Waheed Tahan suggests that this may not be much more than the IDF helping the PA regime to oppress their own people.
Yet the Israeli mainstream media seems to promote the PA threats as something we should heed.
We also have our own citizens who want to pull back the reins on the horses pulling the sovereignty-wagon toward its goal. MKs such as Ayman Odeh threaten us with an intifada on behalf of his friends and colleagues in the PA. His tone is not that of a concerned citizen worried about protecting the interests of his nation; no, his tone is a threatening one.
In a petition to Gantz and Ashkenazi, 220 former IDF officers almost beg them not to agree to go ahead with unilateral application of Israeli law over our own lands in Judea & Samaria and the Jordan Valley. But here, unlike all the other cries for us not to proceed, theirs is a cry out of concern for Israel. They claim that declaring our sovereignty, even if it only includes areas with Jewish communities, would lead to the collapse of the PA and then Israel would need to administer to the needs of the entire Arab population currently under the auspices of the PA. And that, they say, would be expensive and ultimately overwhelmingly challenging to the health of the Jewish state.
And the Israeli mainstream media seem to promote this view as the only one that intelligent Israelis should heed.
But why should we trust the Israeli media? How much air time or online space did they give to Mohammad Massad when he petitioned the Supreme Court? He implored the court to find a way to prevent employee benefits of PA residents working in Israel from going into the PA leadership coffers and instead be accessible to the workers who earned them. This should have been a big story because it is unique in seeing a Palestinian ask the Israeli court to intervene to combat PA corruption in a feasible and doable manner.
How much air time or online space did they give to the uprisings of the people against the PA leadership before and over the Eid el-Fitr weekend? Kan Public TV did have a piece showing how Palestinian Arabs were beginning to see Israel in a more positive light when Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon distributed food in contrast to the PA that starved them, according to Daoud Siam. And that is certainly newsworthy and provides some context for the demonstrations that followed.
But the Israeli mainstream media largely promote Abbas’ familiar talking points, blaming the recent protests on reduced security cooperation with Israel rather than what it was: disgust of the people against their own corrupt leaders. Why do our journalists neglect to go there?
Why do Israeli mainstream media outlets apparently favour PA propaganda over in-depth investigative reporting that may illuminate living conditions and attitudes of those under PA oppression? Would their findings support mine: that a large segment the PA population wishes Israel would take over entirely? Sara Zoabi told me 40% of the population feel that way. Others have told me it is a much larger proportion than that. If true, unilaterally declaring our sovereignty over our own land may be more welcomed by Palestinian Arabs than our media is telling us. And the other doomsday predictions may not be relevant to reality either.
If the Israeli mainstream media prefer to promote the propaganda rather than the complexities of the PA environment on the ground, why should we pay any attention their warnings not to extend our sovereignty over our own land?
And, in fact, why are we even still debating sovereignty yes versus sovereignty no?
After all, the majority of the electorate voted in a government that favours declaring our sovereignty in Judea and Samaria; therefore, the media should have moved on by now. Not willing to accept the voice of the Israeli people is keeping us all stuck in our own minds.
Journalists should now be exploring and debating the various approaches to planning for extending Israeli law to the settlement blocs and Jordan Valley in order to ensure the best possible outcome for Jews and Arabs and other minorities alike. The fact that they are not, that they are still reporting on the threats against us ad nauseum is another topic worthy of journalistic investigation.