A Journey Through a West Bank on the Brink


Ben-Gvir and others on the Israeli right have said that they would like settlers to move into Gaza and rebuild it to expand Israel’s borders. That is far-fetched. The formal position of the government is vague, but it has suggested that it does not want to administer the territory beyond controlling it enough to prevent terror attacks. The most plausible candidate for administering a postwar Gaza, then, is the Palestinian Authority, an idea the Biden administration has advanced but Netanyahu has rejected.

Of course, this Gaza scenario would more or less reproduce the dysfunctional arrangement in the West Bank, where Israeli forces do what they want anywhere, even in the 40 percent of the territory that the Palestinian Authority wholly or partly controls.

Sitting in Darna, an upscale restaurant in Ramallah, Anwar Jayosi, 64, gazed at the TV images of Palestinians dying in Gaza. The chief executive of Faten, a nonprofit organization that provides funding to small entrepreneurs, especially women, he has led an unusually successful West Bank life. Still, it feels hollow. “Sometimes you feel your tears are dry,” he said. “No more tears. They evaporated.”

In 1977, Jayosi was jailed for raising the Palestinian flag in school. During the reforming push of Salam Fayyad, the former prime minister who left office in 2013, he was threatened for urging Palestinian laborers to stop working in Israeli settlements. In the 2014 war in Gaza, he said, 35 Faten-funded entrepreneurs were killed. “We tried passive resistance, armed struggle, a peaceful solution, and nobody is listening,” he said.

Persistent humiliation has been a theme of Jayosi’s life — seeing his family’s well bombed when he was five, waiting seven hours to cross the Allenby Bridge into Jordan, listening to Israeli officers telling him “to go home to Ramallah” when he complained about treatment at the crossing into Gaza, now watching the demolition of the Gaza offices of Faten. What was most apparent in all of this, he felt, was Israeli contempt for the subjugated. “Fear makes us brutal to each other,” he said. “We are the victims of the victims who suffered the Holocaust.”

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