Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Critical Test for Palestine

Details remain unclear surrounding the shooting of 25 year-old Ben-Yosef Livnat as he and a caravan of five cars carrying between 15 and 30 settlers were leaving the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus. The group was there without prior coordination with either the IDF or the Palestinian Security Forces. As the group attempted to leave, Palestinian Security Force officers opened fire, killing Livnat and wounding three others. While Prime Minister Netanyahu has referred to those who fired the shots as "terrorists," the IDF calls it "an unjustified attack against civilians."

Such incidents can quickly exacerbate tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, including cases in which the IDF opens fire on Palestinians who run Israeli checkpoints. While in this case the settlers ran past a Palestinian patrol, the reason for the ultimate decision by the Palestinian security officers to switch from firing in the air to firing at the vehicles remains unclear.

The incident is largely a test of Palestinian Security Force legitimacy. MK Danny Danon (Likud) has already called for the US to reconsider funding the Palestinian Security Forces, a request he has passed on to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairperson of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

To maintain what legitimacy it has, the Palestinian Security Forces will need to not only continue its ongoing inquiry, but follow through. The IDF has an interest in preserving both security cooperation and stability in the West Bank, and will likely play a constructive role in this regard. The Israeli public will want to see arrests, not only inquiries. Given the Palestinian bid for statehood, the Palestinian Security Force's ability to conduct inquiries into its own operations will be a key metric by which the international community may judge its ability to preserve the security of a future Palestine.

1 comment:

  1. strange! yet insightfull.. thanks
    - Zamre Ab. Wahab