Ilan Manor

Living under Palestinian sovereignty

Last week it was reported that some Israeli settlers may find themselves living under Palestinian sovereignty the day after a peace accord is signed. Upon hearing this report, Economy Minister Nafatli Bennett hit the roof explaining that such an idea would never work. “Why?” he asked and replied, “Because they (the Palestinians) would kill them (the settlers)”. Even now no one is sure whether this idea was genuine or just another spin courtesy of Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Yet Bennett’s reply caused me to hit the roof. Why? Because it was racist, because it was intolerant, because it was just as bad as uttering a false generalization about Jews, a generalization that would have caused Bennett to run from studio to studio screaming about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

If the minister doesn’t believe the Palestinians are truly willing to coexist besides Israel that’s fine. If he doesn’t see the Palestinians as partners in peace that’s also fine. But if he sees them as nothing more than a bunch of murders than Bennett is just another racist.

In his comments, Bennett illustrated his vision of Jewish life under Palestinian sovereignty. In this post I have illustrated mine. And just as his was pessimistic, mine is optimistic.

And just as he believes in his illustration, I stand behind mine.

January 2nd, 2016

I still wake up every morning at 6:30 even though I no longer listen to morning talk shows on Israeli radio. Nowadays I listen to radio Ramallah. The news headlines are always the same as are the topics discussed. But after living for thirty two years in constant alarm and waiting for bad news, there is something to be said for monotony.

The news reports begin with an update on President Abbas’ health as he is now barely even conscious. He stayed in power longer than Bibi and outlived Sharon and Peres only to be taken ill by pneumonia. I never thought I’d be sad to see the old geezer go. I also never thought he would visit our settlement, which he did the same day the last Israeli troops pulled out. We watched with tears as those troops left, and looked with horror as Palestinian policemen took their place. Abbas explained that they were here for our protection, at least until tensions eased between us and the Palestinian villages around. I told him that during the War of the Roses, princes were often taken to the tower for “their protection” only to disappear the following day.

He smiled and said nothing.

Then he told us about the coexistence groups that were going to meet all over Palestine. Groups of settlers and Palestinians were expected to sit in rooms and “share” their memories and traumas from past years. Instead of opium for the masses, he offered Freud for the masses. Abbas personally invited us to attend such a group explaining that he would also come to the first session. I said no thank you but went anyway, if only to make sure our story was heard. The groups don’t meet anymore. There are also no more Palestinian policemen patrolling our homes. It’s not that I have forgiven my neighbors and it’s not that I seek their forgiveness. Life just went on I suppose, and with it came routine.

After the Abbas update, there are usually reports about new foreign investments. Before being hospitalized, Abbas signed an agreement with Israel limiting the number of refugees allowed to return to Palestine in exchange for a five billion dollar loan for infrastructure and housing construction. This was in addition to a ten billion dollar loan from the United States. Yet it isn’t these loans that have changed all of our lives in Palestine, it’s the admittance into the E.U. and with it massive foreign investments. Thanks to these investments we were able to double the capacity of our factory and export our merchandise to all EU and Arab League member states, tax free.

They say that twenty thousand Israelis are waiting for Palestinian visas so they can relocate and work here. The longer they wait, the more they will pay for their new homes. Since the peace accord, real estate prices have soared. A two bedroom apartment in Esh Kodesh used to be worth twenty thousand shekels. Now it’s up to a million.

In two years we’ve all gone from fiddling on the roof to putting on the Ritz.

After the business review, comes a long series of headlines dealing with Israel. The new Tel Aviv light train will be delayed by another two years due to faulty construction. The Tel Aviv Jerusalem highway will not be completed on time which is no surprise seeing as how the Minister of Infrastructure is on trial for taking bribes from ill-equipped companies who haven’t even gotten half the work done. The port of Ashdod is closed due to a massive strike costing Israel two hundred million Shekels a day. Bibi is running for President, again, but there is some concern he might not get elected since he charged Israel a million dollars for a two day trip to the US after he resigned the Premiership.

And if all this weren’t enough, the Israeli electric company can’t keep up with the demand and there are power shortages all over the country. Its 39 degrees in Tel Aviv and people can’t open their air conditioners.

My god, I sometime think to myself, those poor Israelis.

About the Author
Dr. Ilan Manor (PhD Oxford University) is a diplomacy scholar at Tel Aviv University. Manor's recent book, The Digitalization of Diplomacy, explores how digital technologies have reshaped diplomatic practices. Manor has contributed to several publications including The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz and the Jewish Daily Forward. According to his Twitter bio, Manor is the inventor of the ashtray. He blogs at
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