‘It’s all empty promises’: Palestinians feel betrayed by US, warn there’s only so much they can bear

Ramallah, West Bank

Despite the rain, Abu Asim is making pot after pot of his specialty Arabic coffee. His corner stand in the heart of Ramallah is always busy, whatever the weather, but his future as a Palestinian is as bright as the sky above.

“I’m 40 years old and I keep seeing the same thing. Many leaderships have come and gone and things are the same,” he says.

Despite US Secretary of State Anthony Blanken’s meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, a few mountainous kilometers away, Asim says he believes the Palestinians are not a priority for Washington.

“His visit is only to Israel,” he says. “It’s just good manners to pass by since he’s in the neighborhood.”

Blankenship’s visit comes in a month that has seen the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces hit an eight-year high. Ten of them were killed in a raid by Israeli forces in Jenin on Thursday. Tensions escalated and the next day a Palestinian man shot and killed seven Israelis outside a synagogue.

The shooting on Friday night took place in the Israeli settlement of New Ya’akov, an area that Israel considers a neighborhood of Jerusalem, but which most of the international community considers illegally occupied land.

Blankenship sought to cool the temperature even before arriving in Israel, while reinforcing America’s ironclad commitment to Israel’s security. He also said that the United States, particularly the Biden administration, is committed to a two-state solution.

Speaking with Abbas in Ramallah, Blanken said “it’s important first to take steps to de-escalate, stop the violence, reduce tensions, and lay the groundwork for more positive steps forward.” Try to make.”

But that, he said, was “not enough” by itself. “It’s also important to continue the effort not only to reduce violence, but to ensure that eventually Israelis and Palestinians enjoy equal rights, equal opportunities. What we’re seeing now from the Palestinians is Hope has a shrinking horizon, not an expanding one, and that, we believe, needs to change.

Despite this, Asim is not trusting America’s top diplomat.

“He may offer us something here and there but all these are empty promises,” he says. “The same promises and the same words of occupation since day one and they are failures and empty promises.”

Down the road, the aroma of roasting cashews and almonds wafts through the cold winter air at Rafat Yusuf’s shop. He is not optimistic either.

“It’s getting worse and worse,” Yusuf, 44, says of U.S. policy toward the Palestinians.

“(Blanken’s) visit is not welcome to us Palestinians,” he added, accusing the foreign secretary of enabling the Israeli occupation and supporting Israel’s violent actions in the occupied West Bank at his behest. “We, as the Palestinian people, are against the visit of anyone who supports Israel in this way.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed this week that Israel would “fortify” settlements in response to shooting attacks in Jerusalem, a position Blanken warned against on Tuesday.

But speaking with Jake Tapper on Tuesday, Netanyahu said people may be “disconnected” from peace talks with the Palestinians, saying he has chosen a different approach.

“When the Arab-Israeli conflict is effectively over, I think we will go back to the Palestinians and have a workable peace with the Palestinians,” he said.

Asked what concessions Israel would make to the Palestinian territories, Netanyahu replied: “Well, I’m certainly open to giving them all the powers they need to govern themselves. But there is no power that can threaten (us) and that means Israel must fulfill its security responsibility.

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The despair, hopelessness and sense of abandonment is hard to swallow for most people in Ramallah, but it is especially hard for Palestinian youth, who see no future for their people or for themselves.

“We are very worried,” says 18-year-old Nahad Omar. “Every day we see someone become a martyr or a prisoner, it’s the same cycle and the number is increasing, not decreasing.”

Analysts on both sides say the Israeli government’s promises to respond to the violence with an “iron fist,” and to the dismay of many in Gaza and the West Bank, have turned the region into a powder keg. is always getting smaller with . Echoing this sentiment, Omar says there is only so much pressure on Palestinians and they are willing to endure.

“The occupation is surrounding us and not letting the Palestinian people breathe,” he says.

Hanan Ashouri, Palestinian rights activist and former member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization; He says the frustration felt with the U.S. and Israel is valid and widespread in Ramallah and the West Bank.

“(Blanken) wants to integrate Israel into the region, which means, you know, sidelining the Palestinians, rewarding Israel and normalizing the occupation,” Ashuri says. “Then they talk about being in favor of a two-state solution, they pat themselves on the back and go home.

“It’s very ironic, because they stood aside and helped Israel destroy the Palestinian state, steal land, kill people, destroy homes, and through terrorism, cars and the army, allowing the Palestinians to end the two-state solution.” .

Ashuri says that the frustration is not only with the United States, but also with the current Palestinian leadership.

“We have a leadership that is not just rhetoric but has been holding positions of power and has failed in many ways to communicate its policies to the people,” she says. “I think it’s time for elections to be held and a new leadership to be elected that the people can enjoy the legitimacy of elections.”

Mourners attend the funeral of Palestinians killed in an Israeli attack in Jenin, occupied West Bank, on January 26, 2023.

Most of those we spoke to in Ramallah agreed.

“The Palestinian leadership tries to appease the Palestinian people and bring good, but they are crippled and unable to deliver,” Omar says.

“The people who are around. [current Palestinian Authority President] “Mahmoud Abbas is unfortunately more cooperative with the Israelis than they are,” says Youssef. “I wish we had the passion that Yasser Arafat had.”

But some people still give some credit to Abbas and his leadership.

“The Palestinian leadership tries to find solutions for the Palestinian people, but they face many challenges,” says Asim, a coffee stand owner.

They argue that the challenges to a more prosperous Palestinian future, including the creation of a Palestinian state, are deliberate obstructions by Israeli politicians. For Assyria, Israeli policies towards the Palestinians, now implemented by the most right-wing government in the country’s history, are slowly but surely destroying the viability of the two-state solution.

“By expanding settlements, stealing more land, Israel is making sure there is no viable independent Palestinian state,” Ashouri says. “This is unacceptable. The more settlements you build, the less land there is for the Palestinians.

Palestinians on the streets of Ramallah are well aware of this fact.

“We hope for a two-state solution but what we see on the horizon and what we see on the ground has nothing to indicate a two-state solution. [is viable]”Palestinians don’t have power or opinion or choice, the two-state solution is just words, we aspire to a two-state solution, but it’s becoming a dream, an unrealistic dream,” Yusuf says.

“There will be no two-state solution,” agrees Omar. “Never with Israeli occupiers”.

As he brews another pot of coffee, a worried Asim realizes the dream of a Palestinian state seems no closer.

“Perhaps the two-state (solution) has become a pipe dream,” he admits, seemingly heartbroken by the admission.

But this sense of defeat is only a momentary pause before a fiery comeback.

“We Palestinians, we are emotional people, we are generous, and when the Jewish people come as guests, we will be generous to them,” he says. “But there will never be peace with the occupier. ”

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