There may be some lessons in the current brawl for those of us trying to understand the larger story of Israel and Palestine.

 
"Maybe" is appropriate, since there is a lot of static in what we see and hear.
 
The lesson may appear in reports that Mahmoud Abbas is trying to calm things, after he worked hard at incitement. 
 
Perhaps he sees the imperfect status quo as better for himself and his people than trying make it better through violence, or enticing the great powers to enter.
 
He may have learned that he is playing with fire, and risking that cities of the West Bank will acquire piles of rubble in the style of Gaza, with promises of financial and political aid from outsiders, but virtually no delivery of those promises.
 
Should the worse happen, the economic concessions enjoyed by his son, and family members of close supporters won't be worth what they are when the Palestinian economy is functioning. Albeit, it may be limping, but healthy enough for construction of a new town and the opening of shopping malls, crowds at cinemas and coffee houses, and some tourism. 
 
There may be a message in Arab MKs ratcheting down from their blustery rejection of the Prime Minister's order to the police to keep all MKs off the Temple Mount, to an acceptance of restraint for the sake of peace.
 
They, and the so-called President of Palestine, may be recognizing that it is easier to light the fires of hatred and violence than to control those they see as their followers. Leaders without followers are the raw material for cartoons.
 
Arab MKs may have gotten their message from the Mayor of the Arab city of Nazareth. He chewed  them out because the unrest they helped to create had kept Jewish customers from the stores of his city's merchants.

Business is business throughout the Middle East, in Jewish hands or Arab.


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Contrary signs are that the Arabs are struggling to learn, and showing signs of failure.


Despite pressures on Abbas and his colleagues--from Arab and Western governments--to join with Israel in a public call for calm--the Palestinian leadership can't do it. Either the old guys are afraid of losing control, or they really believe they'll win.


What we're seeing instead of calls for calm are charges that Israel is being aggressive, and a day of strikes and demonstrations across the West Bank and in Arab towns and neighborhoods of Israel.


Jews are learning about boycotts. They are recording the addresses of Arab businesses that close, and promising that Jews will remember.Tension within the Arab community are apparent in the partial success of the call for a strike by merchants and workers.


Hamas as well as Fatah are caught in a trap of encouraging their younger followers, yet fearful of losing control and inviting another disaster. Hamas is trying to upstage Fatah in the West Bank, endorsing protests about al Aqsa in Gaza, yet trying--perhaps half heartedly--to keep the crowds away from Gaza's border fence.


There's only so much mileage in the al Aqsa campaign. It's an easy fire to light, but doesn't fit with reality. When worthies like John Kerry tell Abbas to cool it--that Israel is committed to the status quo on the Temple Mount--the Palestinian may see the withering away of the international support that he hoped would give him the Presidency of a Palestinian State, or at least a few more visits in foreign capitals, a slow march down a red carpet, and salutes from soldiers in fancy dress.


It should be obvious that the train to the State of Palestine is on a side track while everyone else is dealing with the Islamic State, and trying to keep Russia and the US from increased tensions. 


This doesn't deter the heads of Muslim countries from issuing their daily dose of lip service in behalf of Palestine, but Palestinians may be seeing it for what it is.


Israel, for its part, is trying to be tough, but not so tough as to inflame things further. It appears that the police and IDF are quicker to open fire at those carrying knives, throwing fire bombs or stones. There has been a marked increase in the police and soldiers stationed at sensitive points. A growing number of stone throwers are in jail, and the government has endorsed a minimum sentence of four years for the crime. We'll see if it moves through the Knesset before this wave of violence subsides. If so, it'll have to carry a hefty addition to the budget of the Prisons Authority.


Security professionals have urged the politicians to avoid closing off the West Bank or tightening the check points on main roads. The point is to let the majority of Palestinians continue their lives, including their entry to Israel for work, medical care, family visits, or prayer at the Temple Mount.


There may be a subtext in Kerry's message that the Palestinians should cool it on the Temple Mount, i.e., that they must be more serious about negotiations if they want progress toward a state. This may mean starting negotiations from where the settlements are, rather than from the outdated lines of 1967, and being more realistic about the refugees from 1948 and their descendants.


Bibi also has his problems. Polls are showing a substantial majority of Israelis unhappy with his management of this crisis, and a number of party colleagues and coalition partners want him to be more aggressive. Some want to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. Some of the same critics, along with others, want the police to go light on extremist Jews who are behaving like Arabs.


A retired head of the Border Police proposed sealing off the West Bank, as well as Arab towns and neighborhoods of Israel, until passions cool. 


Insofar as the coalition depends on the thinnest of majorities (i.e., a one vote margin against the opposition), there might be a government crisis in the making. If it should come to a vote for Likud party leadership, Bibi might find himself a pensioner.


He'll have the help of most Orthodox and even more of the ultra-Orthodox Rabbis against  the rebels who want to pray, or even to walk on the Temple Mount. On other matters, he'll be dipping into his substantial bag of political tricks. We can expect him to be feinting and bobbing as he knows well, and see if he manages the opposition from without and within.


Leaders of the Jewish opposition parties have indicated their support of government measures in a time of crisis.


So far the Prime Minister has received approval of proposals to increase police and military patrols in the cities, establish barriers at the exists of Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem to control who can leave, and increase the punishment of violent individuals and their families.


Two days ago optimists said that the violence was declining. Since then, however, the hourly news is dealing with what has happened since the last broadcast. 


It's not about baseball scores.






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