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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Two reichlets for the 'Palestinian people'?

In 2007 and 2008 I did three posts that considered the possibility that instead of there being a 'Palestinian' reichlet and the State of Israel, the powers that be would try to force two 'Palestinian' reichlets on us - Fatah in Judea and Samaria and Hamas in Gaza.

Essentially, the argument went, there is no chance of reconciling Fatah and Hamas, and therefore each of them should be left to control their own territory - Fatah in Judea and Samaria, and Hamas in Gaza. The argument got tabled in the numerous efforts to reconcile Hamas and Fatah, and was forgotten as Israel tried to stop Hamas from shooting off rockets into its southern flank.

Now, with Gaza relatively quiet, the idea of dealing with Fatah and Hamas as separate entities has arisen again. And it almost makes sense, but for the fact that we have nothing to gain by it. Here's the argument:
[O]ne wonders what motivates Fateh to agree to talk unity while at the same time demanding final status talks. Why does Egypt, which is presumably dedicated to successful Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, continue all these years and months to shepherd endlessly abortive Palestinian unity talks? Why are appeals made to Syria to pressure Hamas to modify its unity demands when the only way to seriously influence Syrian positions is through a Syrian-Israeli peace process, about which the moderate Arab states are not enthusiastic? Why did the Obama administration seemingly wake up only last month to the detrimental effects of a unity agreement for the peace process and petition Cairo to desist?

I can conceive of two possible answers. One is that it's all a sham and everyone is just going through the motions in the name of political correctness, with Cairo finding in abortive unity talks a convenient and harmless way to keep tabs on Hamas and leverage its failing regional leadership aspirations. The other is that the alternative to Palestinian unity--Palestinian disunity, i.e., the ongoing Gaza/West Bank, Hamas/Fateh geopolitical split--is simply so awful to imagine that unity efforts will continue no matter what the cost.

Under present circumstances, a successful Palestinian-Israeli peace process means an agreement with the West Bank alone, even though both Israel and the PLO would declare their intention that it eventually apply to the Gaza Strip as well. Eventually--because there currently is no prospect that Gaza will be pried loose of the Hamas grip. But an agreement with the West Bank alone is better--for Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab states and the world--than none.

And yet, argue the unity-at-all-costs advocates, a state in the West Bank alone won't be "viable". As if the Palestinian West Bankers with their superb human resources and dedicated diaspora can't create a state at least as viable as any other non-oil state in the Arab world. As if the addition of the overpopulated and impoverished Gaza Strip makes a state more viable. As if the emergence of a state in the West Bank won't provide the greatest incentive possible for Hamas to moderate its ideology and join.

Rather, the real dilemma embodied in any effort to confront the possibility of a successful peace process without Gaza is the question, what to do with Gaza on its own. Certainly neither Egypt nor Israel, Gaza's two neighbors, wishes to confront that question. Moderate Palestinians obviously shy away from contemplating the consequences of moving forward on the West Bank without Gaza: this would shatter their narrative of a two-state solution based on a Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.
Why can't we just let the 'Palestinians' have a 'state' in Judea and Samaria and forget about Gaza - for now or permanently? It has some appealing advantages. For example, it removes the elephant of the contiguous 'Palestinian state' (which means no contiguous Jewish state) from the room. If there's no Gaza, no passage to Gaza across Israel is needed and both states are now contiguous.

If one believes that Judea and Samaria's Arabs are 'moderate,' then giving them their own entity away from Gaza means that the 'extremists' are no longer part of the 'Palestinian state.'

And the people of Judea and Samaria are wealthier, are more successful economically, have more of a work ethic and are much more likely to make a state viable.

So why not take Alpher's advice? Here are some reasons why.

The first and foremost reason not to take Alpher's advice is that the 'Palestinians' don't want a state - they want to destroy the Jewish state. So taking Alpher's advice doesn't solve anything. Even if we reached an agreement with the Jordanian 'Palestinians' of Judea and Samaria, we would still have the Egyptian 'Palestinians' clamoring to destroy us.

Second, the Jordanian 'Palestinians' (and yes, that's part of the problem - they are not one 'people') would still seek to destroy us even if they had a state. Even if you assumed that all of Judea and Samaria is Fatah (Alpher's underlying assumption) while all of Gaza is Hamas, Fatah and Hamas both want to destroy us - the difference is in their methodology. And all of Judea and Samaria is not Fatah - there is plenty of Hamas there as well.

Third, Fatah cannot control Judea and Samaria. They don't control Gaza at all. And they are too weak to control Judea and Samaria even if they wanted to, which they don't. They live for the chaos.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Dealing with Judea and Samaria as one entity and Gaza as a second entity isn't going to change anything for Israel's benefit. It's only going to weaken us. Dangerously.


At 1:07 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Yossi Alpher's idea is going to go nowhere. The idea the Palestinians want a state - let alone two - has been disproven by history. They have no interest in creating their own state much less than in making peace with Israel. In the post-Goldstone Era the chances of Israel making any further territorial withdrawals are none. A Palestinian state is simply not going to happen in oir lifetime.


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