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It lost Palestine

Under the vibrant and prosperous surface of Ramallah, reality smells. It consists of distress, frustration and poverty.


Suddenly you see something black between the bushes: a rifle run. You see what this is all about. You sit in a car, stranded in traffic, but the smoke to your right does not originate from the sudden fire on the ground – it is tear gas. Inside the fog there are 13-olds, thin and fast, with stone slings in their hands and kefijer around their heads. It's not traffic you hear, it's hard clashes. But you are the only one who comes along. In the other cars, they sit with headphones on, without moving their eyes from the mobile. "Move!" The taxi driver shouts – not to a soldier, but to a child. The Palestinians pout impatiently. They will pass, it's late.
On the latest map of Ramallah, the Wall is listed as a point of interest. "Sad, but fascinating," the caption says. Such is Ramallah. The first picture I took here when I first came in 2007 was of a dusty child drinking rainwater from a tank. The same idea has now become a pool at Hotel Mövenpick, which costs 200 dollars a night. Ramallah, the temporary Palestinian capital, is full of cafes and restaurants, full of shops, candles, flowers and cobblestones, and Justin Bieber's music is in full swing until the sun rises.

Build the state. Under Salam Fayyad – who was named prime minister amid the devastation of the second intifada in 2007 – it was decided that it made no sense to continue negotiations or wait for the occupation to end. In the meantime, it was decided that the only real choice was to start building the independent state – literally one brick at a time – and then gain recognition from the UN. Since then it has also been very easy to get a loan here. Everyone has bought houses, cars, washing machines, people have opened shops. In Ramallah, the occupation is no longer felt. From here to Jerusalem it is twelve kilometers, and the journey there still takes two to three hours – depending on the mood of the soldiers who are on shifts, and provided you have Israel's authorization, of course. In the middle of Ramallah and Jerusalem there is still the checkpoint Qalandya. The wall is still there. But now the Israelis are wearing luminous vests as if they were working on highway maintenance – one of them is picking up a coin from the ground for an elderly lady who has dropped it out of her purse. Route 18 is no longer an old, rattled van, but an express bus with air conditioning, and it is no longer taken from a dilapidated pocket by a punchy road, but from a station with platforms and lanes and wireless internet. On the sign it says: Bus stop Qalandya. That's it in Ramallah. Normally.

RamallahContradictions. But going into any store, any supermarket is everything Made in Israel. There is nothing Palestinian here, not so much as an egg. If you walk around Al-Masoyoun, the elegant district with banks, stone and glass offices, 15-storey houses, doormen in uniform – then suddenly you hit a wall. Behind the wall is the refugee camp Al-Amari, where 10 people live without water or electricity, a tab of Africa. Worn houses in damp alleys, barefoot and unflattering children without teeth, goats roaming in the garbage rotting in the sun. If I stop to write two words, my hand is covered with flies. There are often deaths here, victims of Israeli bullets. Almost daily there are raids against undefined "terrorists". But the stores no longer close to mourn when a new martyr leaves the world. The pictures of the martyrs have also been replaced by advertisements with blonde children and American cereals. That's how Palestine is today: contradictory and complicated. And lost.

The weapons here may be brand new like the drones in the sky, but the strategy is old and always the same: split and rule.

In reality, the occupation has not changed at all. It has not slowed down. Rather, on the contrary: If power, as Hannah Arendt said, is the opposite of violence, Israeli dominance here is stronger than ever – for it no longer needs weapons. It is internalized. In Qalandya, there are often hand mixes, but not to tear down grids or railings, it is rather to maintain order in the queue.

Old strategy. The international attention is understandably directed at Gaza – against the blood, the ruins, the dead, the despair. Gaza has been under siege for eight years now, there is not even water anymore, only salt water from the sea. But Israel's most important weapons are in fact much more advanced than the large stockpile of weapons that are ready to attack children – indeed, after all, 43,5 percent of Gaza's population is under the age of 14. Israel's most important weapons are not planes and tanks. Israeli weapons are laws and procedures.
"There are fewer checkpoints now, and control is minimal," explains Shir Ever. He is an economist and began studying the West Bank when he became aware of the strange price level: over 30 percent higher than in Israel, although per capita income is 20 times higher in Israel than in Palestine. The price level is a result of transport costs and bureaucratic fees – detours to drive around the settlements, foods that go out of date pending herb authorizations, simply the effect of invisible obstacles. "Their real goal is unpredictability," says Ever. "Not to prohibit freedom of movement, but make it unpredictable, make it something you can't plan. That way everything seems normal, ”he says. "But then you can suddenly be stopped, maybe arrested, at any time. With any pretext. This makes the Palestinians isolate themselves inside the city. It is not only Gaza that is separated from the West Bank – Ramallah is separated from Nablus, Hebron and Jenin. From Jerusalem. You never know if you're going to reach or not, or when, and in the end, you don't move anymore, you stay home. " Inside his own little world. The weapons here may be brand new like the drones in the sky, but the strategy is old and always the same: Split and Ruler.

The double occupation. And all this, Shir Ever emphasizes, is the consummation of the peace process, not defeat. That is the execution of the Oslo Agreement. To gradually achieve Palestinian self-government, Oslo shared
the agreement in 1993 the West Bank into zones A, B and C, which in turn was further fragmented by over 120 islands with settlements unrelated to each other.
Only zone A is under the control of the Palestinian Authority. It makes up 18 percent of the West Bank.
Zone C accounts for 61 percent and is under Israeli control. This is where the real struggle takes place, in the rural areas – areas where the occupation has not changed. "Israel is targeting the West Bank, not Gaza," says Mustafa Barghouti, one of the most well-known Palestinian negotiators. "Not at all in Gaza, in fact – rather it is that if they get rid of Gaza, they also get rid of 1,8 million Arabs. And then they can annex the West Bank, or rather the West Bank cities, where they can maintain a Jewish majority. Then they can keep Ramallah and Nablus the same way they do with Haifa today. In a short period of time, we Palestinians will be settlers in a Western West Bank, ”he says.
But it's been years since Mustafa Barghouti has negotiated with the Israelis. negotiations
things have stopped and the only thing going forward is the settlements. Since the Oslo agreement and until today, the settlement has changed and covers 40 percent of the West Bank. Barghouti's main
The gift is to mediate between Fatah and Hamas. The goal of Hamas is to force Israel to agree to an agreement, and they do not do so by building a state and approaching the UN. They definitely do not do so by contacting the International Criminal Court, where they probably just end up being prosecuted for war crimes. No, Hamas is trying to achieve its goal by spreading fear. Shoot rockets, capture soldiers, attack settlers. For the young Palestinians, however, little has changed, and they refer to today's situation as "the double occupation".

Renn Loop. The only real moment of national unity took place in 2011, when the young Palestinians were inspired by the rebels in Tunisia and Egypt, and were defeated by Hamas in Gaza and by Fatah in Ramallah. 25-year-old Linah al-Saafin joined the uprising. "One-third of the budget goes to the police," she says. "This is more about indulgence than it is a peace process, and the indulgence is building up the Palestinian Authority. This' authority 'has no authority – but authoritarian, it is,' she says. Like so many young people, al-Saafin has left Ramallah and now lives in London. In Ramallah, she has no future.
Nidal Abu Maria (26) graduated from the university with top marks, is an educated economist and speaks fluent English. He manages as far as economically by working as a tourist guide in the occupied areas. This is the case for many of the best graduates – some organize round trips to checkpoints, others showcase houses in ruins. "It's hard," says Nidal Abu Maria. “I know it's necessary, I know it's important to show the aliens the reality. We need solidarity, and we need international pressure on Israel. But it's difficult, because it's pretty humiliating, "he says. Walking through the airplane
tning camp as if it were a zoo. "The wealth you see here is an illusion – an illusion and a trap," continues Mary. "The Palestinian economy depends on the Israeli. Israel controls the border, infrastructure and crucial resources such as water – and they direct our economy toward sectors that fill theirs. They
maintains our economy, but under strict constraints. You can work as a waiter in Ramallah, but not as a biotechnologist. It's like being kept in a leash. Prosperity, but not too much. "
Enough wealth to be infected by the consumer culture. But to buy an iphone you have to accept a loan that will take 30 years to repay. "It's really a gutter loop more than it's a tape," Mary continues. "In order to even have the chance to get through the endless range of permits one needs only to plant a tree in the garden, one must refrain from political activism. The same is true if you are to get a permit to work in public administration or in Israel, the only two positions one can hope for here. ” In other words, you can choose: either criticize Fatah and Hamas, or pay the installments on the loan.

Since the Oslo agreement and until today, the settlement has doubled, covering 40 percent of the West Bank.

It is no coincidence that the only desolate area in Ramallah is where the Legislative Council Assembly belongs. The assembly has not been assembled since 2007. Mahmoud Abbas rules virtually alone from his presidential palace, and he governs through decrees. His term expired in 2010.

Standstill. Jamal Jouma is 53 years old and was one of the most central players in the resistance movement who literally rose from the ashes after the Second Intifada with over 5000 dead. Pales-
thinkers who had been thoroughly bored by both Fatah and Hamas organized themselves into a network of people committees. Since then, every Friday they have flooded the West Bank with demonstrations against the Wall. The demonstrations are peaceful. "For a while it worked to some extent," Jouma says. "But after all, we haven't
reached far more than tearing down a small piece of the Wall, and moving another section of it 100 feet further afield. The wall still stands, with a route twice as long as the border with Israel. 85 percent of it is in the West Bank, not to separate Israelis from Palestinians, but to separate Palestinians from Palestinians, ”he says.
And anyway, the demonstrations this Friday – in Bi'lin and Ni'lin, places that have become widely known – are more like a performance one has seen before, where everyone plays their old role and the outcome is known, Jouma believes. At 12 o'clock in the day, 20-30 youths march against the Wall as they are captured by the Nikon cameras of a number of foreign activists. After ten minutes comes the first tear gas. The youths and activists retreat five meters. Ten minutes break, and then they walk two meters forward again. More tear gas, and the protesters retreated five meters back. Another break. After half an hour, the Israelis get bored and switch to rubber bullets or real bullets, and the crowd quickly dissolves.
"But in reality we are not surrendering. It does not lack interest, ”says Jouma. "The problem is that everything here is in complete lack of leadership. And it's understandable that when you have no strategy, no one is willing to risk the little they have and get killed to no avail. ”
Because it has nothing to say that Palestine does not even produce a single egg. That all you see is consumption, dollars from European donors and from golf shakers, and that there is no real growth and development. It has nothing to say that there is zero wealth and lots of debt. It's like the second intifada – when Yassir Arafat was under siege and the streets were full of tanks in
the place for new cars – was yesterday.
The poverty level here was 75 per cent. In Gaza, it was 80 percent. More or less the same is recorded today in East Jerusalem: 78 percent.
In the cities one has actually talked about a new intifada for months. And for months, there have been cases where a Palestinian suddenly stabs an Israeli on the street, or dives down pedestrians with a car, or with a bulldozer. Or open fire with gun. But these are just lonely wolves. They are young men in their twenties with no political project, no well-functioning society, no form of coordination. Just endless frustration.
In East Jerusalem there are now 200 settlers, while the Palestinians number 000. In the West Bank, one, two, four deaths are registered per week. Far too little – compared to Syria, Iraq and Yemen – to reach the big headlines in the international media.
And yet: Meanwhile, the summer in Ramallah is festive as usual. Music and barbecues on the rooftops. The only thing mobilized here is the advertising posters. Between the ads for sports cars and Nivea, a suffering child emerges. "Give a dollar to Gaza."

Borri is a war reporter and regular writer in Ny Tid.

Francesca Borri
Francesca Borri
Borri is a war correspondent and writes regularly for Ny Tid.

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