The planning-construction process of the Har Homa settlement north of the West bank city of Bethlehem, took place over an extended period following the signing of the Oslo accords between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization {PLO}.

As Palestinians were protesting against the expropriation of their land, the then Mayor of Jerusalem Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Ulmert said ‘we should not reward Palestinians for violence, and should proceed with construction’

As Palestinians laid their objections at the negotiations’ table, and there were no protests, no burning of tires and no stone throwing, Ulmert addressed Israeli left saying ‘there are no protests, Palestinians are not worried and you shouldn’t be. We should go ahead with the construction’

In the period between signing the Oslo accords [1993] and the Camp David talks [2000] and under Labor Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Israel doubled the number of  West bank settlers and tripled the area on which settlements expands. This period came at the end of the first Palestinian Intifada where Palestinians halted resistance and fully reverted to diplomacy.

Digging a tunnel under Haram Al-Sharif, which Palestinians believe is threatening the structure of the Holy Shrine, also took place during active diplomacy times. It marked the first disruption of diplomacy as a fierce fighting erupted for the first time between Israeli troops and PA security.

In the period between the failure of Camp David talks and the start of the Taba ones, Barak decided to allow opposition leader then Prime minister Ariel Sharon a ‘provocative’ visit to the Haram Al-Sharif, triggering a four years of a sever crisis [Al-Aqsa Intifada]

One could note a pattern where Israel plays with Palestinian fears, testing their level of tolerance and expanding the frontiers of its control and grab over resources and alleged national, religious and Historical rights. Israel becomes more offensive in calm periods than in crisis times.  

Following the emergence of a new Palestinian leadership, and the revival of hopes for ending the crisis and moving back to the diplomatic track, the pattern is back, some times played by the government, in other times by opponents.

No matter how much focus is shifted towards security, violence and terror, the dispute and hence the offence targets land, water, and Jerusalem.

Far-right wing claims concerning Jerusalem and its Holy Shrines and Israeli alleged territorial and water rights in the West bank, represents the consensus among the ruling center to right circles in Israel.

No matter how far Israel went in the cosmetic modifications of the various routes of the separation wall, it still considerable penetrates inside the west bank territories, especially in areas where Israel, supported by American assurances, considers as consolidated de facto gains.

Playing on Palestinian legitimate fears is a dangerous game. Out of a long experience with how diplomacy works and fails, Palestinians has no confidence in the glimpses of the current diplomatic moves. Their hearts are hoping for an end to occupation and to the unlivable crisis, but their eyes are focused at Jerusalem and its Holy Shrines, and at the land that is slipping from under their feet.

Even as the government of Israel has decided not to allow Reviva group entry to the Holy compound, Palestinians are not assured. They are almost sure that the next attempt will take place under the protection of Israeli police. They feel they need to keep standing on their toes ready to protect their Holy Shrines.

Need to keep in mind that the only declared reason for not allowing the thousands of extreme Jews to enter the compound is ‘security’

 

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