Saturday, May 25th | 18 Iyyar 5784

July 23, 2020 3:44 am

What to Expect From ‘Palestine’

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avatar by Mitchell Bard


Israeli forces and medics gather at the scene of a Palestinian terrorist attack near Maale Adumim in the West Bank, April 22, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.

The love affair that so many politicians, peace processors, and pundits have with the creation of a Palestinian state never ceases to astonish. Advocates constantly justify support with solemn intonations about human rights, and yet they show no interest in how Palestinians are treated by Palestinians, independent of the “occupation.” It is folly to expect anything will improve in “Palestine,” which is more likely to follow the model of neighboring authoritarian regimes than Israeli democracy; nevertheless, two-staters envision a Shangri-La that must be created at all costs.

For a preview of life in Palestine, let’s look at what the State Department Human Rights report says about the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Start with the Palestinian idea of democracy. There have been no national elections in the West Bank and Gaza  since 2006. President Mahmoud Abbas has remained in office despite the expiration of his four-year term in 2009, and has refused to hold an election, knowing he would lose (by some polls, more than 60% of Palestinians want him to resign). The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) has not functioned since 2007, and the PA Constitutional Court dissolved it in 2018. Gaza is controlled by Hamas, following a coup in 2007.

Here are some of the other low-lights from the report, with respect to the actions of PA authorities:

  • Unlawful or arbitrary killings, torture, and arbitrary detention.
  • Holding political prisoners and detainees, including as reprisal for participation in foreign investment conferences.
  • Significant problems with the independence of the judiciary.
  • Arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy.
  • Restrictions on free expression, the press, and the Internet, including violence, threats of violence, unjustified arrests and prosecutions against journalists, censorship, and site blocking.
  • Substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, including harassment of non-governmental organizations.
  • Restrictions on political participation.
  • Acts of corruption, violence, and threats of violence motivated by antisemitism.
  • Violence and threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons.
  • Forced child labor and child abuse.
  • There are no laws against sexual harassment; and honor killings, though unlawful, continue.
  • There is no law against human trafficking.

Sound good so far? Here’s what the report says about the situation in Gaza under Hamas:

  • Unlawful or arbitrary killings, systematic torture, and arbitrary detention.
  • Political prisoners.
  • Arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy.
  • Restrictions on free expression, the press, and the Internet, including violence, threats of violence, unjustified arrests and prosecutions against journalists, censorship, site blocking, and the existence of criminal libel laws.
  • Substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.
  • Restrictions on political participation.
  • Violence and threats of violence motivated by antisemitism.
  • Unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers.
  • Violence and threats of violence targeting LGBTI persons.
  • The criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults.
  • Forced or compulsory child labor.

Given these abuses, is it any surprise that Israeli Arabs living in the triangle in northern Israel object to proposals to incorporate their towns into Palestine? Does anyone believe the Rashida Tlaibs of the world will rush to become citizens of the state they are pining for?

In the meantime, where is the outrage at such widespread, chronic, and heinous abuses of Palestinians’ human and civil rights?

Just think about all the various advocacy groups representing the very constituencies that are being persecuted and denied their rights. Various lawyers’ organizations do not care about the lack of independence of the PA judiciary. Children’s rights groups say nothing about Hamas’ unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers and forced child labor. Various “Queers for Palestine groups” ignore the persecution of gays in the PA, preferring to scream “pinkwashing” to mischaracterize Israel’s tolerant policy toward the LBGTQ community. Free press advocates are silent as journalists are arrested, tortured, and prevented from criticizing the leadership.

Since the UN Human Rights Council, along with other advocates of the two-state “solution,” say nothing about the current abuses, no one should expect them to care when they continue in Palestine. Instead of suddenly being scrutinized, Palestine will be treated with the same kid gloves as other serial human rights abusers such as Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and China. Moreover, with Palestine as an equal member of the United Nations, Palestinians can lead efforts to condemn Israel while working with their allies to continue to prevent being held accountable for terrorism and other abuses.

Notice that I did not mention the incessant terror attacks against Israelis, which could continue after Palestinians obtain a state. Again, putting Israeli concerns aside, how many Palestinians, especially women, want to live under an oppressive Iranian-style regime?

Part of the utopian fantasy of creating a Palestinian state is the notion that it would be a solution to the conflict. Setting aside the historical fact that before Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza, there was no peace, we know the Palestinians will not be satisfied with the state envisioned in past peace plans, since they have repeatedly rejected them. They demand a state based on the 1949 armistice lines with Jerusalem as their capital, anything less will be justification for prolonging the conflict. And, we also know, they see this as only a starting point for the “liberation” all of Palestine. Hence, instead of peace, the debate will shift to expanding the size of the state and removing any security-related restrictions while abuses by Palestinian leaders will continue to be ignored.

Mitchell Bard is a foreign policy analyst and authority on US-Israel relations.

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