MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
The PLO and PNA are coming apart at the seams. Almost daily internecine fighting in Gaza and the West Bank continue to spread disorder in the areas controlled by the Palestinian authority. Daily Star protests in its editorial that Fatah and Hamas have no right to endanger their people's struggle, but that is mostly what they have been doing for the past several years. Christian Berger asks Do we actually need the Palestinian Authority? He says it would be a shame to lose the achievements of the Palestinian Authority. Maybe there are achievements, and maybe not, but sometimes it is time to move on, and nothing is lost by changing a framework that outgrew its usefulness.
The Haganah and the Zionist Executive served the Jewish people well before the formation of the State of Israel. When the state of Israel was formed, these organizations and many others were disbanded and formed into national organizations.
Palestinian society is at a critical juncture. Yasser Arafat "made" the PLO, but Arafat is gone. Time started to run out on the PLO as soon as he died. Attempts to reintegrate and reform the PLO with participation of the Hamas cannot succeed, unless the PLO, like the Hamas, becomes an obstacle to constructive progress and Palestinian national responsibility, by assuming the positions of the Hamas. Ray Hanania rightly notes that the Prisoner's document is a horribly written document. He thinks it is because Palestinians can't communicate. But the alternative document that he offers would not be acceptable to the Hamas, or to other extremist factions. The Prisoners' document had to be an impossible-looking bit of writing. It was an attempt to bring together movements and ideologies that don't work together, some of whom have goals that can't be announced in decent company, so it looks like what it is: an animal with the head of a secular giraffe that wants a two state solution, the body of a Sunni Islamist lizard that wants an Islamic republic, the legs of a Shi'a Islamist crocodile and the tale of a Marxist PFLP. Such a document must say nothing to satisfy everyone, and so the Palestinian national goals it states become a hash of slogans. Palestinians can communicate, but when the different groups say what they really want, they make each other and the rest of the world very unhappy. Small wonder that the document has since been repudiated by all the groups except the Fatah.
The referendum on the Prisoners' document, if it will be held, will reduce itself to a popularity struggle between Fatah PLO and all other factions. If the Prisoners' document is not approved, it might mean the end of the PLO and perhaps of the Fatah. If the Prisoners' document is approved, then what? Mahmoud Abbas will be empowered to negotiate with Israel, but only the basis of terms that take into consideration Palestinian demands, because that is how the Prisoners' document is written.
The Prisoners' document does not explicitly grant recognition to Israel. The document does not call for an end to resistance or a peace settlement. The document calls for return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. Any concession to Israel at all will be attacked by the opposition as beyond the scope of the Prisoners' document and a betrayal of the Palestinian people. And what, really can Abbas offer Israel in return for land? He cannot offer peace for land. It is not in the Prisoners' document, and the Hamas will not approve it, and in any case, he could not deliver it. Given the current state of the Palestinian National Authority, he could only offer chaos for land.
Palestinians cannot make any progress in the framework of the old political parties or on the basis of the old slogans and ideologies. The existing political parties are in actuality a collection of armed groups whose power grows out of the barrels of their guns, and who will not give up that power to a central authority. They cannot be the basis for a state. They can coexist as long as they are careful to aim the guns at Israel. Once circumstances remove the "Zionist enemy" they turn the guns on each other. The ideologies are almost all maximalist and promise destruction of Israel and an end to Zionism - if not immediately, then some time in the future. After the destruction of Israel everything will be perfect, because Zionism and Israel are the root of all Palestinian problems according to the received version. Therefore it is not necessary to propose any social programs or to provide any analytical thinking that is not related to destroying Israel. This cannot be the basis for peace negotiations or for construction of a state.
Suppose that somehow tomorrow the Quartet or the UN were to propose to the Palestinians a solution that includes everything in their Prisoners' document, on only one condition, not dependent on Israel. The condition is that all the factions must give up their arms and pledge allegiance to a central government. Could the Palestinians meet this condition? We know the answer, because the Gaza strip has provided us with a working model of what a Palestinian state would look like: armed gangs shooting at each other and lobbing rockets into Israel in the name of senseless random violence.
Would the Fateh Al-Aqsa Brigades, or the Popular Resistance committees or the Hamas or the Islamic Jihad disarm? Of course not. Would the PNA disarm them? Who would disarm who? Would Hamas disarm the Fatah run security groups or the other way 'round?
It is time for the Palestinian polity to assume adulthood. Mahmoud Abbas evidently understands the problem, but as long as he operates in the current framework, any move to real unity, like the Prisoners' document, is going to be interpreted as a bid for partisan gain.
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Replies: 13 comments
The Palestinian body politick will remain infantilised as long as circumstances allow it to remain so. They are much like teenagers neither children nor adults, neither occupied nor autonomous. They remain in this state as long as they can avoid responsibility for the actions that arise from their limited authority.
Posted by Rod Davies @ 06/15/2006 09:38 PM CST
"Ultimately one of several things will happen: 1. The civil population drift away in search of a better life elsewhere. 2. The factions collapse as the resources of the civilian population are consumed and the militants opperation scannot be sustained. 3: the civil population rise up and drive the factions out, and then form their own civilian administration.
These options seem to be two optimistic. All of them are unlikely. The Palestinians are capable of maintaing a mixure of anarchy and terrorism for years without either the organizations collapsing or the people rising against them or the people simply walking away. The people who will walk away wil be the ones most necessary to fix the situation while the remaining will continue addong fuel to the fire.
Posted by Micha @ 06/16/2006 06:27 AM CST
If Israel denies Palestinians access to Israel, its labour markets, import / export infrastructure and the opportunity to traverse Israel Gaza - West Bank, then the maintenance of the anarchy becomes much more difficult. I think that support for the Palestinians would also diminish amongst neighbouring states as criminal activity incraeses to generate funds for the Palestinians.
The only question being, has Israel got the nerve to adopt the "3 No's" in relation to Palestine?
Posted by Rod Davies @ 06/16/2006 02:19 PM CST
I think both Davies and Issarof are way too pessimistic. Both of you 100% calmness, 100% security, and 100% peace. The reality is far different. While the prisoner's document does not recognize Israel it is a smart move to break the "No partner for peace" that Israel continues to use to avoid giving land and turn the Palestinians to fins.
Does the Palestinians need to better govern themselves? Most certainly but a government of 12 or so years is not usually going to 100% stable. The U.S. held a civil war roughly 50 or 60 years after creation which cost 600,000 soldiers lives. Governments take time but frankly some don't want just to give them time.
When the Northern Irish made a peace deal a bombing in Omo happen afterwards but rather crying foul the Protestants and Catholics continued to move forward. The Israelis and Palestinians would instead sit and whine. Moving peace forward might create optimism but both sides don't seem to care. If Abbas however can find a way to the negotiating table then optimism may occur.
Both sides don't want to trust the other even if the rational for their distrust makes no sense. For the Israelis the Palestinians will make peace and destroy the state of Israel. Israel is the strongest power in the Middle East and as Walt and Mersheimer pointed out Israel much stronger than its surrounding neighbors.If Israel's strength is not enough to deter their destruction then the Palestinian lack of desire to destroy the state of Israel will be enough. Polls have shown support of a two state solution as being high and that support will most likely stay high.
On the Palestinian side the Israelis are untrustworthy. The Palestinians believe Israel will make peace to satisfy the international community and then seek to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians. This theory has no support the Palestinians and Arabs-Israelis make up 50% of the whole region. Israel cannot possibly ethnically cleanse all the Arabs. Normal Israelis don't want to and not the even the U.S. can possibly support an ethnic cleansing.
Both sides need to look to what their people rather than totaly ignoring them. Both sides have shown they can democratic elections but unfortunately ignore their people for the most part after they are elected.
Posted by Butros Dahu @ 06/17/2006 07:26 PM CST
The analogy is not relevant. (a) We are talking about a different time period. (2)The relevant question is what the effect of the Palestinian conduct on the ability to make peace and on the security of its neighbors. The Palestinians created a system of competing gangs with their own policy of organized violence, which affects both Israel's security and the abiility of the government to function. The most basic aspect of government is the control of the means of violence. If the Palestinians cannot do that to a reasonable degree than their ability to sign deals is compromised. (3) This is true of the US in the 18th and 19th century as well. There would be no Us if they could not form a functioning government (in the standards of the time). After its foundation it did deal and crush internal challanges to its monopoly of power. (4) The civil war is hardly relevant since it was not the result of a longtime ability of the federal government to excersize its autority, but actually a rather quick response to a challenge by the southern states. History would have been different had Lincoln negotiated a Hudna with the Southern States.
Again irrelevant. This attack was done by a sombody which was recognized by both sides as a small fringe group without major support. Although some Israelis were wililng to view the Hamas in the same way during the Oslo years, today it is certainly not the truth. All the factions in the occupied territrories have recognized political status and are tolerated, supported or even are part of the Palestinian government. It should also be added that a great cause of contention in Northen Ireland was the disarmament of the organizations. In the occupied territories it is not even an option.
The distrust of both sides makes perfect sense. The Israelis continued building settlementts during the Oslo negotiations; the Palestinians continues building, arming, inciting, and using terrorist organizations (as well as becoming a haven of crime and corruption).
Obviously Israel's strength is insufficient to stop Palestinian suicide bombers and kassam missiles on its towns. And ultimately that is the correct measure of its strength.
Like I said, Israel has good reason to distrust Israel. Unfortunatly they prefer completley fictitious reasons. I guess the term 'ethnic leansing' is to good not to use even if it does not apply to the acrual conflict.
The Israeli people have elected a government that supports a unilateral withdrawl policy, not peace. The Palestinians voted for a government that opposed peace with Israel. The people of spoken. The support for peace in the polls, means that hey want peace. Their votes mean that they are unwililng to act to acheive it, and/or don't believe it can be acheived.
Posted by Micha @ 06/19/2006 03:21 AM CST
Posted by Rod Davies @ 06/19/2006 12:05 PM CST
You have both set out the pitfalls of any policy very well. Unfortunately, Israel cannot stay where it is. The occupation is a dead end. Unilateralism is opposed by Arab states in fact because they are scared of a Palestinian state. I don't blame them. Israeli standing and image are deteriorating. If Israel doesn't do something to disociate itself from the territories, it will cease to be a Jewish state eventually, one way or another - support for "right of return" as well as one state solutions is increasing.
The world will not become bored with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because the Palestinians and Islamist extremists will make sure to keep it interesting. Every bomb that goes off in Europe or the US will be blamed on "the occupation."
Unfortunately, Israeli government is not willing or able politically to make the kind of offer that USA and EU at least might accept as fair - eg the Geneva Accord or something similar. Olmert's plan, one suspects, would actually give Palestinians much less than 90% of the West Bank, because Israel would retain control of the Jordan Valley. No Palestinian leader can accept that, and it would not put an end to terrorism. Terror in any case would not end without an agreed solution to the refugee problem.
Posted by Moderator @ 06/20/2006 01:03 AM CST
If the Palestinians cannot stop terrorism and end the anarchy until negotiations end in full withdrawl, and if an Israeli government is not going to be able to negotiate so long as terrorism continues, than it is a double deadlock unless somebody changes the situation.
As it is the alternatives seem to be either the abu-Mazan approach, starting negotiating and hoping for the best, or, the Olmert approach, partial withdrawl and hoping for the best. Which is the better option?
Posted by Micha @ 06/21/2006 01:58 AM CST
Posted by Rod Davies @ 06/21/2006 10:30 AM CST
Rod, The problem is that any unilateral withdrawl terms contemplated by the current Israeli government leave in Israel's hands enough occupation to keep the Palestinians in a state of conflict with us. The Israel government is not considering the kind or terms you propose, and since the Palestinians are unable to stop fighting and too stupid to make the most of this limited offer. further unilateral withdrawl means continued war, with little chance that the Palestinians will stop or that the Israelis will consider to offer more.
The situation needs to be altered.
Posted by Micha @ 06/21/2006 04:13 PM CST
You oversimplify the entire conflict to give it an Israeli bias:
1.The analogy is not relevant. (a) We are talking about a different time period. (2)The relevant question is what the effect of the Palestinian conduct on the ability to make peace and on the security of its neighbors. The Palestinians created a system of competing gangs with their own policy of organized violence, which affects both Israel's security and the abiility of the government to function. The most basic aspect of government is the control of the means of violence. If the Palestinians cannot do that to a reasonable degree than their ability to sign deals is compromised. (3) This is true of the US in the 18th and 19th century as well. There would be no Us if they could not form a functioning government (in the standards of the time). After its foundation it did deal and crush internal challanges to its monopoly of power. (4) The civil war is hardly relevant since it was not the result of a longtime ability of the federal government to excersize its autority, but actually a rather quick response to a challenge by the southern states. History would have been different had Lincoln negotiated a Hudna with the Southern States.
How is it not relevant? The U.S. in its first years had a huge debt and fights between neighboring states. They fought over slavery, expansion, taxes, and so on. The U.S. certainly was not stable just like the Palestinians.
2. Again irrelevant. This attack was done by a sombody which was recognized by both sides as a small fringe group without major support. Although some Israelis were wililng to view the Hamas in the same way during the Oslo years, today it is certainly not the truth. All the factions in the occupied territrories have recognized political status and are tolerated, supported or even are part of the Palestinian government. It should also be added that a great cause of contention in Northen Ireland was the disarmament of the organizations. In the occupied territories it is not even an option.
The attack could have decimated the Northern Ireland eace proccess but it didn't because were willing to push forward neither the Palestinians or Israelis are willing to do that. The IRA is also tolarated by the Catholics so yes there is similarity between the conflicts.
3.This is the Abbas approach: things wil get better with regard to the violence and anarchy, maybe, only after negotiations. I addressed that issue in the responses to the next subject, and I would like to understand if Ami is rejecting it completely. I'm not sure. But, at least have the honesty to understand that what is asked of Israel is to negotiate with Abbas while terrorism conyinues, anarchy and corruption continue, hatemongering continues, the government is controled by Hamas, and Abbas is unable to commit to anythingbeforehand, and then hope for the best. It may be the right option for Israel. It may be the only way to get out of the deadlock. But it is not simple. Two Israeli peace negotiating were crushed for negotiating while terrorism continued.
This is a mere excuse. People can move forward because without progress the public doesn't see hope. This argument is used as a means to delay the proccess or never allow it to happen. Israel occupies the land and yet do not set the rule of law the Israelis have no desire to end the anarchy so not negotiating a peace deal while continuing to occupy make no sense. If the Israelis had done nothing to end the anarchy then they shouldn't continue to occupy.
4.The distrust of both sides makes perfect sense. The Israelis continued building settlementts during the Oslo negotiations; the Palestinians continues building, arming, inciting, and using terrorist organizations (as well as becoming a haven of crime and corruption).
That argument isn't very relevent. Peace agreements can solve issues and help set the rules. Sitting down and pointing figers does not.
5.Obviously Israel's strength is insufficient to stop Palestinian suicide bombers and kassam missiles on its towns. And ultimately that is the correct measure of its strength.
Your implying the Arabs aren't sincere but you provide no proof to this veiw. You also forgot the rest of my quote:
Poles have been done and have shown this. Having followers in the territories and having the majority of the people supporters following you are two different things. The majority of Palestinians don't want to destroy Israel and polls have shown this. What the Iranian president says doesn't dictate what the Palestinians desire. For the most part that problem is seperate from the Palestinian one with the exception of Islamic Jihad.
Posted by Butros Dahu @ 06/22/2006 01:22 AM CST
"You oversimplify the entire conflict to give it an Israeli bias"
Maybe I have abias, but I expect so do you. However I do not oversimplify, but the opposite. I try to describe the actual complicated situation with all the fear and distrust on both sides. I'm focusing more on the Israeli because in this context it seems more necessary to explain the concerns of Israelis than Palestinians. I believe that Israelis should overcome these issues, but I don't believe thy should be ignored or treated like excuses. For peace to be reached it is necessary to address the fears, concerns and motivations of both sides.
"How is it not relevant? The U.S. in its first years had a huge debt and fights between neighboring states. They fought over slavery, expansion, taxes, and so on. The U.S. certainly was not stable just like the Palestinians."
The example of the American civil war shows the opposite of what you are trying to proove. It is an example of the government asserting its authority at all costs against states that wanted to have their own policy on slavery. The minute the guns of the south were turned against the federal army, the war started. In the occupied territories there are many armies with their own policies. Lincoln said: a house divide against itself cannot stand. However there are other examples in US history that might be more useful for your point. In anty case, the issue is whether the Palestinian can sign an agreement and stand by it and whether the anarchy is a threat to Israel.
"IRA is also tolarated by the Catholics so yes there is similarity between the conflicts."
"This is a mere excuse. People can move forward because without progress the public doesn't see hope. This argument is used as a means to delay the proccess or never allow it to happen."
"Israel occupies the land and yet do not set the rule of law the Israelis have no desire to end the anarchy so not negotiating a peace deal while continuing to occupy make no sense. If the Israelis had done nothing to end the anarchy then they shouldn't continue to occupy."
"Peace agreements can solve issues and help set the rules.
"Sitting down and pointing figers does not."
"Your implying the Arabs aren't sincere but you provide no proof to this veiw. You also forgot the rest of my quote:
Polls are nice. But who control what he Palestinians do are not the polls but the Hamas, Jihad and Fatah. Two of these groups want to destroy Israel, while the third is also attacking it. Furthermore there is the issue of the right of return. Demanding it without compromise means an end to Israel. But the Palestinians are unable to speak of any compromise until peace is reached on all other issues, if at all. This means that as of yet the Palestinians have not removed the elimination of Israel off the table. Israeli concern is understandable. If the Palestinians really don't want to destroy Israel they should show it in action not only in polls. Israelis have showed by their actions that they support withdrawl, even in not full withdrawl unfortunatly. The only Palestinian actions as of yet wrre the electionof Hamas, shooting kassams into Israel from Gaza, fighting among themselves, and anti-Israeli propaganda. This is why it is hard to get Israelis to consider peace.
I want to convince Israelis to support peace, but the reality I would be working in was not northern Ireland or 19th century America, it is here and now, whith all the problems involved.
Posted by Micha @ 06/24/2006 01:57 AM CST
This week's haaretz had several pieces about coordinated withdrawl as part of the Road Map. It might be a good things, if the Hamas government is included in the equation.
This can enable Israel to only partially withdraw on favorable terms without dealing now with its unwilingness to fully withdraw. The Hamas can get recognition and some quiet to govern for the price of a temporary ceasefire. And Abbas can avoid he threat of Israel trying to make the temporary permanent with international guarentees that full negotiations will follow, and will get the benefits of withdrawl. At worst it will not be worst than any of the other ideas, and terrorism will continue. At worse it will delay war for a few years. What is required from Israel is to recognize and negotiate a ceasefire with the Hamas, and also to prepare for ways to deal with terrorism after withdrawl.
Posted by Micha @ 06/24/2006 02:12 AM CST
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