Israel’s unrequited goodwill
How come all of the “goodwill gestures” always come from only one side and are never, ever reciprocated?
Israel, in a “goodwill gesture” to the Palestinian Authority, gave Ramallah over the last few days a NIS 180 million advance on tax money it transfers on a monthly basis, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The money was transferred before Ramadan, which began Friday, to help the PA – currently in the midst of a severe financial crisis – pay the monthly salaries of public sector employees.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz made the decision, one of a number of gestures made since the beginning of the year in an attempt to improve relations with the PA and encourage its President Mahmoud Abbas to renew some kind of dialogue with Israel.
Senior government officials said that the decision to transfer the funds – an advance on money that is to be transferred in the coming months – was made before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit last week, and was not the result of a US request.
In addition, the government’s economic cabinet recently decided to increase by approximately 5,000 the number of Palestinian construction workers allowed to work in the country.
Towards the Month of Ramadan, Israel has approved through COGAT a list of gestures and facilitations for the Palestinians, in order to facilitate, to a certain extent, the adequate and regular routine over the course of the Month of Ramadan, characterized by family visits, arrival at mosques and places of worship and collective and mass crowding until the small hours of the night for prayer and social gathering.
The IDF has approved, through the Central Command and the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, the removal of several internal crossings and barriers, including: The southern entrance barrier to the city of Jericho and two additional barriers in Northern Samaria. The barrier is located at the southern entrance to Ramallah and shall be open 24 hours a day and enable a more convenient access to the city.
Also the VIP population and the senior businessmen (BMC) in the Palestinian Authority will enjoy this month from significant facilitations, including travels abroad through the Ben Gurion Airport, with a special permit.
The month of Ramadan is observed, beyond the daily fasting, also with mass prayers at mosques and at the temple mount in Jerusalem. Israel has approved, within the framework of holiday gestures, the exit of men and women over the age of 40 (married with children) to prayers in Jerusalem, without needing a special permit. For women and men between the ages of 35-40, a dedicated permit shall be issued for them for prayers at the Temple Mount. Likewise, permits were granted to 5,000 prayers per day to go during week days to prayers at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and permits were given for family visits in Israel during the holidays and for a time period of a month.
Israeli authorities would deploy additional personel at the Allenby bridge to facilitate Palestinians traveling for the holiday, while a medical team would be on hand due to the high temperatures.
According to the statement, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot, met with representatives of the Palestinian Authority and updated them on the plans for Ramadan.
“IDF soldiers have been given orders to show special consideration toward the Palestinian residents of the Judea and Samaria region and, wherever possible, to refrain from eating, drinking and smoking in public, more so at the various crossings so as to demonstrate a high level of respect and understanding.”
Now, go and try to find a single good word from any Arab, anywhere, about Israel’s bending over backwards to accommodate residents of the territories during Ramadan. Keep in mind that under existing agreements, none of these is obligatory on Israel, and some of them costs the Israeli government some serious money.
After all, goodwill gestures should engender good will, right?
So where is it?