by: Maurice Hirsch, Adv.
Wednesday, 22 July 2020 | Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PA [Palestinian Authority] has repeatedly blamed Israel for the spread of the coronavirus, never telling its people that Israel has given hundreds of tons of equipment as well as ongoing medical training to the PA to prevent the spread of the virus, as reported by Palestinian Media Watch.
As the PA is experiencing a second wave of the virus, the PA has initiated a second wave of libels coming from different PA leaders.
One example is the libel of Chairman of the PA-funded Prisoners’ Club Qadura Fares, who accused Israel of deliberately trying to spread the virus within the PA: “[Israel] is striving to spread the coronavirus via the invasion of soldiers who are likely to be sick into Palestinian homes and mixing with the civilians and prisoners,” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 17, 2020].
Another example was delivered by PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, who gave two different explanations for the rise in the number of infected. On one hand, Shtayyeh resorted to the PA’s standard excuse—blame Israel. On the other, he attributed the blame to Palestinian weddings and mourners’ tents.
Israel is to blame, according to Shtayyeh, due to the movement of people and goods from Israel and Jordan across the 1949 armistice lines:
“The [PA] government will send a request to the UNTSO (UN Truce Supervision Organization) UN forces to supervise movement at the crossings located on the…(1949 armistice lines) in order to control the entry and exit to and from the State of Palestine…The main reason for the severe…increase of the coronavirus…is the fact that the [PA] Security Forces are being prevented [by Israel] from fulfilling their role and supervising the movement at these crossings…”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 7, 2020]
These statements are a product of the PA’s desire to promote hatred of Israel and invent an alternative reality in which the 1949 armistice lines are “borders” of the “State of Palestine” that the PA must control.
Firstly, the 1949 armistice line between Israel and Jordan was never a “border,” as the website of the UNTSO [United Nations Truce Supervision Organization] clearly states:
“In November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed a plan for the partition of Palestine, providing for the creation of an Arab State and a Jewish State, with Jerusalem to be placed under international status. The plan was not accepted by the Palestinian Arabs and Arab States. On 14 May 1948…the State of Israel was proclaimed. On the following day, the Palestinian Arabs, assisted by Arab States, opened hostilities against Israel.
On 29 May 1948, the Security Council…called for a cessation of hostilities in Palestine and decided that the truce should be supervised by the UN Mediator… The first group of military observers, which has become known as UNTSO, arrived in the region in June 1948. In 1949, UNTSO military observers remained to supervise the Armistice Agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbours, which were for many years the main basis of an uneasy truce in the area…”
[Website of the UNTSO]
The mandate of the UNTSO, which provides that “UNTSO Military Observers remain in the Middle East to monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating and assist other United Nations peacekeeping operations in the region,” similarly negate Shtayyeh’s statements, since they do not include supervision of “borders.”
Secondly, statistics provided by the Israeli Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) show that in June 2020 alone, there were over one million recorded crossings of Palestinians into Israel (as demarcated by the 1949 Armistice lines). Palestinians are crossing for work and medical treatment. If the PA believed that the spike in the number of Palestinians infected with the coronavirus was the result of Palestinian contact with Israelis, surely the PA would have prohibited Palestinians from crossing the armistice line into Israel, which is something [that] could have [been] done at any time.
Thirdly, as opposed to the impression given by Shtayyeh that the PA Security Forces are being “prevented from fulfilling their role and supervising the movement at these crossings,” the PA has never supervised the 1949 Armistice lines.
When Shtayyeh abandoned his anti-Israel overtures, he explained the real source of the spread of the virus among Palestinians:
“82% of the [Palestinian] coronavirus infections is contact between the civilians—and specifically at weddings and mourners’ tents, and that 18% are laborers.”
Moreover, the PA is itself preventing shipments of foreign aid from reaching the PA but is conveniently blaming Israel for their own actions. According to the PA, 100,000 coronavirus test kits have already arrived in the Israeli Ben Gurion airport, and another 50,000 are in Jordan but cannot reach their destination because the PA cut off its coordination with Israel.
In June, the PA refused another aid shipment sent by the United Arab Emirates, via Israel.
“…The PA announced at the time that it did not know about the plane from the UAE, and it refused to receive the medical equipment and aid…
A source in the PA…emphasized that the PA refuses to serve as a bridge for normalization between Arab sides and Israel on the claim of aid.”
[Sama, independent Palestinian news agency, June 9, 2020]
For the PA, even the international fight against a once-in-a-century pandemic that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people is just a political tool to further its goals of vilifying Israel.
Posted on July 22, 2020
Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Palestinian Media Watch on July 21, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)
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