Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Where the Pressure Lies

January 11, 2013 2:37 am 0 comments

Yasser Arafat. Photo: World Economic Forum.

The United States is about to get new secretaries of state and defense and a new director of Central Intelligence. It is devoutly to be hoped that they will not travel in the well-worn grooves of the Israel-Palestinian “peace process.” The “two-state solution,” beloved of the United States and the Quartet and accepted with qualifications by Israel, is dead. Far from dying over Israeli intransigence and even less the result of houses for Jewish people on the “wrong” side of an imaginary line, it foundered over concessions required of the Palestinians that were simply impossible for them. Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah were asked:

  • To concede sovereignty over their part of the larger Arab/Muslim patrimony to the Jews and — perhaps more important — to agree that Palestinian national aspirations would be forever satisfied with a split rump state squeezed in between a hostile Israel and a hostile Jordan; and
  • To concede that Palestinians who left the areas that became Israel in 1948 (and their descendants) would accept citizenship in the abovementioned rump state instead of having what they believe is their original property restored as promised.

Those were the issues that drove Yasser Arafat away from Camp David II in 2000, according to then-U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross. “For him to end the conflict is to end himself,” said Ross. What Arafat couldn’t, Abbas certainly cannot.

And so, while the U.S.-led Quartet thought it was pressuring Israel to make concessions to Abbas, Abbas rightly understood that the pressure was on him to live up to the Arafat standard. Or not. Abbas’s response — both reasonable and desperate — has been to try to change the subject to settlements, boycotts, U.N. membership or anything else to drive the discussion away from his limitations and back to Israel. The U.S. has been all too happy to take the bait.

Abbas, however, is finding it harder to buy time. He is caught among the competing interests of a resurgent Hamas’s desire to take over Palestinian governance; his own political failures and the need to find a safe place for himself and Fatah leadership if Hamas succeeds; Israel’s need to ensure that Hamas doesn’t succeed; and King Abdullah’s fear of dispossession, a fear Israel shares.

On Friday, thousands of Fatah supporters celebrated the first Hamas-authorized Fatah rally in the Gaza Strip since the bitter 2007 Palestinian civil war that ensconced Hamas as Gaza’s sole power. Noting the Hamas rally in the West Bank in late December, analysts posit a thaw in relations, and indeed, professions of Palestinian “unity” have been ubiquitous. But, oddly, it was called Fatah’s “48th anniversary” celebration. Fatah was, in fact, born in 1959, not 1964. It is the PLO that was created by the Arab League in 1964 over the objection of Fatah, which joined it only in 1967. Yasser Arafat became chairman in 1969.

The date may be a reference to the PLO and its Charter, the defining document of the Palestinian movement and perhaps the basis of future Hamas-Fatah “unity.” The Charter was to have been amended under the terms of Oslo and subsequent accords but, contrary to peace process optimists, it never happened. The PLO Charter remains the blueprint for Palestinian organization. It asserts that “Palestine” exists within the boundaries of the British Mandate of Palestine (Article 2)1. That the establishment of Israel is “entirely illegal” (Article 19). That “armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. Thus it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase” (Article 9)2. “The liberation of Palestine … aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine” (Article 15). There’s more if you need it.

Fatah is broke, corrupt, and despised by West Bank Arabs. In a poll last May, 96% of Palestinian 18- to 30-year-olds said corruption in the PA was either a “very important” or “important” priority, topping personal freedom, unemployment, and education. “Occupation” came in just above “boredom.” The U.N. vote on Palestine’s “non-member state” status may have made things worse by raising expectations that Fatah cannot meet. In what appears to be a bid for support, Fatah wiped out the electricity debts of Palestinian “refugees,” prompting outrage from non-refugee Palestinians who wanted theirs canceled as well. And in a bid for relevance, Abbas announced that henceforth, all documents of the Palestinian Authority will be labeled “State of Palestine.”

How is stationery supposed to compete with Hamas, which is on a roll? It has broken out of isolation, seen the blockade of Gaza eased, and received a nice check from the Emir of Qatar. All of which was made possible, says Hamas, by adherence to the “armed struggle” against Israel and the great “November War” against Israel. While more objective observers may think that last bit is delusional, in a December poll, more than 70% of Palestinians believe that Hamas won, and 74% believe that shooting rockets at Israel helps the Palestinian cause. Repressed on the West Bank since the civil war, Hamas nevertheless slightly outpolls Fatah in popularity.

Abbas has tried to align Fatah with some of Hamas’s popularity. It has been curtailing security cooperation with the IDF and created barriers to IDF operations in the West Bank. There are those who believe that a third “intifada” has already begun; there were 111 terror attacks in the West Bank in December, including Molotov cocktails, shootings, and stabbings. If “unity” comes, it will likely be more under Hamas’s rules than those of Fatah.

However, amid the amity, Hamas did sentence a Fatah “military commander” to fifteen years in prison for terrorism on Wednesday. Fatah denounced the sentence, saying it came from an “illegitimate court.” So Fatah appears to be hedging its bets.

In recent weeks, there have been discussions between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and King Abdullah II of Jordan, and between Abbas and King Abdullah. Both appear to involve the idea of a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation of some sort at some time. Abbas insists that any such move could follow only full Palestinian independence on Palestinian terms — i.e., the “right of return,” Jerusalem, etc. On the other hand, at least one report on the Netanyahu-Abdullah meeting suggests that Israel sees early confederation as a way to sidestep the problem of demanding that “Palestine” formally recognize Israel; Jordan already does.

The fact that the conversation(s) are (or appear to be) taking place suggests that the relevant parties are — not for the first time — well ahead of the U.S. in understanding that the ground is shifting. The new constellation in Washington will have to decide fairly quickly what allies to support and how best to do it before the administration finds itself bereft of both allies and options.

This article by Shoshana Bryen was originally published by American Thinker.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Some punk rockers integrate their Jewish identity into their music through food, the author of a new book on the topic told The Algemeiner on Wednesday. Michael Croland, author of Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk, described the way different musicians express this connection. “One band is known for throwing gefilte fish in the mosh pit, and people at its concert slide around on it while dancing,” he recounted. “Another used to drink Manischewitz [sweet kosher] wine out of a shofar [the ram […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    The manager of Scotland’s Celtic soccer club lauded Israel, after his team won a match against the Jewish state’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night. Brendan Rodgers said at a post-match press conference: On behalf of the players, the people of Celtic and Scotland, Israel’s been fantastic for us. We came out here on Sunday, [and from] the hotel, the staff, we’ve been very, very warmly received. The atmosphere at the game was amazing and, obviously, one team has to lose, but you have a wonderful team here, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    For the second time, Israel will host the Jaffa Jazz Festival, according to Broadwayworld.com. The festival will unite 43 Israeli musicians and eight international artists for a three-day event. The program will include a special performance by an ensemble of top jazz students studying at Belgium’s Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, the Belgrade Music Academy in Serbia, Israel’s Rimon School of Music and the jazz program of the Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv. There will also be a jazz show for children led by Israeli saxophonist […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    JNS.org – As a young boy growing up in Ashdod, Israel, Alon Day got his first go-kart at age 9. By 15, he was racing them. Less than a decade later, Day has become the first Israeli professional race car driver on the NASCAR circuit. He made history by competing in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 13. “Driving a race car is not like any other sport,” Day told JNS.org. “You are actually almost flying […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    The writer of a popular children’s television series will premiere an off-Broadway solo show called “Not That Jewish,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Written and performed by Monica Piper — the Emmy Award-winning showrunner of Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats” — the show is described as “the autobiographical telling of a Jew…’ish’ girl’s life.” “Not That Jewish” explores Piper’s Bronx upbringing in a show-business family, her comedy-club debut and her “almost” night with former Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. “Audiences can expect to leave laughed-out, a little teary-eyed and […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scotland’s Celtic soccer club will fly to Israel with the same private jet Madonna used while on tour, The Scotsman reported on Monday. According to the report, the team is heading for the Jewish state to compete against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night, and will be transported in the customized, luxurious Boeing 757-200 that the pop icon used in New Zealand for her six-month Rebel Heart tour, which wrapped up in March. The plane is on loan from Greece-based GainJet Aviation and can accommodate 62 passengers. The […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Jewish actor Jonah Hill revealed on Wednesday morning that he had officiated the wedding of good friend and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. The “War Dogs” actor, 32, was a guest on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show when the conversation turned to Levine’s July 2014 wedding to Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo. Hill said that after he was asked to officiate the nuptials, he started getting worried about the type of speech he was going to deliver. “I’m writing all these things, and then I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Music Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish indie singer Ezra Furman released a song on Wednesday that he said was dedicated to his grandfather, who escaped Nazi persecution. Furman told the website Consequence of Sound that the new track, called “The Refugee,” is his “first song entirely concerned with my Jewish background and present, a song dedicated to my grandfather who fled the Nazis, as well as to all of the refugees desperate for a home today.” He added, “May all the wanderers find the homes they seek, and […]

    Read more →