Making occupation clean and friendly

Being here in Israel and Palestine, something I hear time and time again is the desperate need for life to be “normal”. Both sides want it, but only one is living under occupation.

Due to Israeli human rights groups, the US and even Israeli pragmatism, the West Bank occupation is getting nicer by the day. The AP reports:

Middle-class matrons shop for imported furniture in a marble-and-glass emporium. A new movie house is screening “Transformers.” Teens bop to a Danish hip-hop band performing on their high school basketball court.

Life in the West Bank — in sharp contrast to beaten down, Hamas-ruled Gaza — has taken on a semblance of normalcy.

Exhausted after more than two decades of on-and-off conflict withIsrael and deeply skeptical about prospects of statehood, Palestinians here are increasingly trying to carve out their own little niches of happiness.

“We need to enjoy our life despite all the difficulties,” said housewife Nadia Aweida, in her 50s, after taking in a dance show in the town ofRamallah.

It would seem that the West Bank, under U.S.-backed President Mahmoud Abbas, has finally made first steps toward the stability the international community has tried to foster with massive foreign aid and training for Abbas’ security forces.

But the hopeful signs come with many qualifiers.

While Israel has removed several West Bank checkpoints, other obstacles still limit Palestinian mobility to half the territory. The West Bank economy is no longer in free fall, but its growth is “insignificant” and cannot make up for the continued steep decline in Gaza, according to the World Bank. Whatever prosperity there is depends mainly on foreign aid.

If this is the future, it’s an abomination.