Facing massive unrest linked to the torture death of a Palestinian detainee, Israel has responded by issuing a public demand for the Palestinian Authority to do whatever is necessary to stop all protests against Israel in the West Bank, implying that the resumption of tax transfers was conditional on ending the dissent.
Though the exact terms of the message were not made public, officials said it was “an unequivocal demand to calm the territory” and included the pledge to resume the transfer $100 million in seized tax money along with it.
Israeli Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad suggested that the protests were a “tactical move by the Palestinians” to draw attention ahead of President Obama’s planned visit, which is expected to not touch on the occupation.
Yet the protests are being driven by very specific events which Israel has direct control over. First the decision to recapture an already released detainee and then to keep him in prison for an additional month even though he’s in failing health from a hunger strike, and then the Saturday incident in which a detainee was tortured to death to get a confession to throwing stones.
Between this and the Likud MPs pushing through a resolution that will make any peace treaty virtually impossible to ratify, it seems Israel couldn’t be fueling more protests in the West Bank if they tried. Meanwhile, the “demand” for the PA to stop those protests, at a time when it is already struggling through massive strikes because they haven’t been able to pay employees over the tax seizures, seems to only underscore how little the Fatah-run PA can accomplish under occupation, just ahead of an election that could see Hamas swept into power.