Third intifada on the way?
Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Thursday, December 20.
1987 ... 2000 ... 2013?
In March, Barry Rubin asked Will the Palestinians Launch a Third "Intifadah" War on Israel? Professor Rubin surveyed the conditions under which a third intifada might occur.
The fact is that Mahmoud Abbas is in the closing phase of his leadership
and there is no clear successor. Complicating the situation is the
specter of a generational transition. People can put forward in
conversation their preferred person to lead the PA, PLO, and Fatah or
speculate as to who it might be. But the truth is that nobody has the
least idea who will be the new leader or even who are the most likely
In March, Professor Rubin judged that if Fatah joined with Hamas to launch an intifada, that it was unlikely that Mahmoud Abbas would be party to the scheme.
A leader or faction or elements of the “young guard” might well decide
that an intifadah would suit their purposes. It would distance
themselves from the “failed” policies of Abbas and the current
establishment. By focusing on youth, violence, and the security forces,
such a strategy could benefit a takeover bid by “military” officials or
by young anti-establishment forces.
There is a difference between those two sectors. The PA “military” tends
to dislike Hamas but those who came of political age in the “first
intifadah” see things differently. They might view a war as the best way
to fuse Fatah-Hamas cooperation with themselves taking a leading role.
Currently, Khaled Abu Toameh reports on rumors that The Third Intifada Has Begun.:
Both Abbas and Hamas see the two events -- the war in the Gaza Strip
and the UN vote — as "historic achievements" and military and political
victories over Israel.
There may not be a renewed intifada, but conditions favorable to one are stronger now than any time in the past five years.
Emboldened by the "victories," Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal
recently reached a secret agreement on the need to launch a "popular
intifada" against Israel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian
sources in Ramallah revealed.
The two men believe that such an intifada at this stage would further
isolate Israel and earn the Palestinians even more sympathy in the
international arena, the sources said.
What's changed since March? For one thing, as Abu Toameh notes are the
"victories" of Fatah and Hamas, which probably emboldened both.
Also, among other things, Abbas knows how to read polling data. A recent poll finds that 88% of Palestinians favor an armed struggle against Israel. More specifically:
The poll, conducted earlier this month by the Arab World Research and
Development (AWRAD), a Ramallah-based research center, sampled 1,200
Palestinians from both Gaza and the West Bank. It set out to examine
political opinions among Palestinians following Operation Pillar of
Defense in Gaza and Mahmoud Abbas’s successful UN nonmember statehood
Though, as Professor Rubin points out, an intifada that directly
threatens Israel will lead to the destruction of Palestinian
infrastructure when Israel responds, it appears that both Fatah and
Hamas think that the potential political gains internationally and
locally are worth the price.
While both events are overwhelmingly viewed as positive by Palestinians,
adding popularity to both Palestinian factions, 42% of West Bank
respondents said they preferred the approach of Hamas to that of Fatah,
as opposed to only 28% who preferred Fatah’s approach.
Interestingly, more Gazans, 40%, said they preferred Fatah’s approach to
that of Hamas, which rules over them. Thirty-seven percent of Gazans
said Hamas’s approach was better.
Part of the reason for this (misplaced) confidence is the way the
international community treated the Palestinian bid for statehood in the
UN and the results of Pillar of Defense.
For example the New York Times reported Hamas Chief Revives Talk of Reuniting With P.L.O.:
Hamas is flush over what it is billing as a victory for its armed
resistance against Israel, after fighting in Gaza last week ended with a
cease-fire and promises to remove some Israeli restrictions that have
devastated the coastal strip’s economy. Mr. Meshal’s remarks suggested
that he believed Hamas now held more cards to influence the P.L.O., and
the wider Arab world, to take a tougher stance in dealings with Israel.
A day later the paper reported,
U.N. Assembly, in Blow to U.S., Elevates Status of Palestine:
More than 130 countries voted on Thursday to upgrade Palestine to a
nonmember observer state of the United Nations, a triumph for
Palestinian diplomacy and a sharp rebuke to the United States and
Whether a war that eliminated much of Hamas's offensive capabilities or a
vote in an anti-Israel forum ought to be considered a victory is
debatable. But these were perceptions of the Palestinians nurtured by
much of the world.
In the meantime as Fatah reaches out to Hamas it suffers no opprobrium
for rejecting the premise of the peace process. (The New York Times, in
its editorials, advocates cooperation between the two as being necessary
Apparently, too, the recent UN vote has encouraged the Palestinian Authority to stop cooperating with Israel in security matters. (h/t Meryl Yourish)
According to a Palestinian source, the UN’s upgrade of the
Palestinian Authority’s status has prompted the change: “The reality
after November 29 is not the same as before. After (the vote) any
Israeli soldier inside the 1967 lines is a conqueror on occupied land.”
While the Palestinian Authority abrogates material aspects of its agreements with Israel, the world, instead, focuses on E1,
which was always envisioned to remain part of Israel. Is it any wonder
that Fatah and Hamas think they can get away with fomenting another war against Israel?
(h/t to Daled Amos for the idea)
Labels: Middle East Media Sampler, Soccer Dad, Third intifada