Fatah-Hamas: A Modest Proposal for Resetting the Palestinian Statehood Proposition

Election first.

The auguries for the latest Fatah-Hamas unity accord suggest it will probably go the way of the last one.  Fatah and Hamas concluded a previous unity agreement (the “Mecca Agreement”) in February 2007, and by June 2007 Hamas was in a shoot-out with Fatah in the streets of Gaza (see here and here). (H/t: My Right Word)

Still, no one doubts that the 2011 reconciliation is intended to set the stage for the push on a Palestinian statehood resolution in the UN in September.  What is less clear is what to do about it.  And that’s where the modest proposal comes in.

This proposal was made at a panel presentation last week in Los Angeles.  Rick Richman, a fellow blogger who runs Jewish Current Issues and contributes to Commentary’s “contentions” blog, offered the suggestion as a panel member at the Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors-LA event, and authorized me to blog about it afterward.  (Video here.  The whole event is well worth viewing; Rick’s presentation starts around 51:00.)

It’s a simple suggestion, but exactly right:  take Fatah and Hamas at their word that they intend to hold an election in the next year, and make that election the contingency on which any other official action hinges.

This proposal is spot-on for several reasons.  The first is that it fits the national character of both the US and Israel.  It shifts the central question from whether we believe in the intentions or good faith of Hamas and Fatah to whether they will live up to a concrete, measurable obligation that almost everyone on the planet gives lip-service to.

It is out of character for Western governments to suffer policy to be made by default, as a reaction to campaigns of accusation, terrorism, and public tantrums.  Our Western idea is that governments must act positively and concretely, with integrity and accountability.  Neither the US nor Israel should make it policy to be in a symmetrical food fight with Hamas and Fatah, trying to see who can make the most kitchen garbage stick on the other and who can induce the most emotional partisanship.  Other than terrorism, that’s the only method Hamas has; but it should not be our main effort.

Pointing out the truth about Hamas and Fatah has a place, certainly.  Hamas is an unregenerate terrorist organization, and Fatah retains its position as the core of the Palestinian Authority only because it has had the luxury of avoiding tests of power.  The stability enforced by Israel, and the territorial division of Gaza and the West Bank, are what guarantee that.  This is not a union of leaders ready for functioning, well-behaved statehood.

The nature of their signing ceremony in Cairo this week attests to that.  Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal declined to share the podium with Mahmoud Abbas – or, in his version of events, Abbas declined to share it with him.  A decision on where to seat Meshaal caused a delay.  Neither leader actually signed the unity agreement himself, leaving that office to their deputies.  Meanwhile, on the eve of the signing ceremony, Hamas rushed through the execution of an accused collaborator with Israel, in order to avoid Fatah’s procedural requirements for such executions.

Hamas and Fatah mounted their theatrics this week with fingers crossed behind their backs, the very picture of gangland thugs simulating the observances of civilization.  There is utility in pointing this out – but there is none in putting all of Israel’s or America’s effort into a series of rhetorical skirmishes with gang leaders between now and September.  That amounts to accepting the dispute on the terms dictated by Hamas and Fatah.  And on their rhetorical battlefield, the conditions are prejudiced in advance.

Mandating an election, on the other hand, as a passage on the road to statehood, is our terrain.  It is an entirely appropriate thing to ask.  There is no valid way to argue against it:  of course Fatah and Hamas should have to hold a free and fair election before there can be any serious consideration of recognizing Palestinian statehood.  Even if their own history didn’t make the need for one obvious, it’s the right thing to do in principle.  What is at issue here is a peaceful process on which the UN hopes, in advance, to put its stamp of approval under the UN Charter.  There is no other official posture that the UN could take, and retain any moral significance as a world body.

This proposal puts the onus on Fatah and Hamas, which is where it belongs.  It also sets a condition for the European Union to adjust to, forcing Brussels to choose between supporting an election – the obviously correct path by the EU’s own lights – and the irresponsible precedent of conferring peremptory statehood on an unelected “government” that includes an active terrorist organization.  It gives Russia and China something to agree with, moreover, that does not unfairly preclude Palestinian statehood (which both have already recognized in principle), but rather seeks to regularize its attainment.

And it creates an opportunity for Arab-world engagement in a properly ordered event intended to have real consequences.  Ensuring that the election is fair may not be a matter of any outside group being an honest broker, but outside groups with competing interests could serve the purpose well enough.  The old-guard Arab leadership of Saudi Arabia and Jordan would not stand idly by while the Muslim Brotherhood or Iran tried to prejudice the election’s outcome.

In a tactical sense, this proposal would turn the statehood question around, from a mob-frenzy attempt to override the US in September to a process in which the US has announced – taking Fatah and Hamas at their word – that we will enforce a reasonable criterion.  The election requirement puts the US back into the equation, and on unassailable terms.  That in turn gives other governments something solid to coalesce around, a benefit the defunct “peace process” – as a process – no longer offers.

The requirement for an election could be announced as policy by Israel, but I believe it should be the explicit policy of the US as a Perm-5 member of the Security Council.  To the objection that Fatah and Hamas could well be unable to bring it off – that they are likely to get mired in infighting – the answer would be “Yes.”  They are likely to under any circumstances, but they are responsible for conducting themselves as good-faith aspirants to statehood.  If they can manage that in the next year, then there is something to talk with them about.  If they can’t, then statehood under their aegis cannot be endorsed anyway.  Neither could it be endorsed if Hamas won a joint election.

The US needs to break the momentum of the Islamist factions seeking to converge on Palestinian territory.  Doing so is in the best interests of Palestinian Arab civilians as well as in Israel’s.  The Palestinian Arabs would suffer the most under the extension of Islamist rule (like that imposed by Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon).

It’s in the best interests of the region, and of the US and our other allies, as well.  “Palestinian statehood” will be a destabilizing proposition as long as its definition and meaning are up for grabs by the “strongest tribe.”  The US can put clamps on how much the proposition is up for grabs, by setting limits in principle on possible outcomes.  The reasonable requirement for a Fatah-Hamas election, before statehood can be considered by the UN Security Council, is a limit we should set.

J.E. Dyer blogs at Hot Air’s Green Room and Commentary’s “contentions.”  She writes a weekly column for Patheos.

38 thoughts on “Fatah-Hamas: A Modest Proposal for Resetting the Palestinian Statehood Proposition”

  1. Many good points in the essay and much with which to agree.

    But, being me, have to ask why the emphasis on an election, rather than on an explicit requirement that any party participating or person assuming office. in a Palestinian government act in accordance with recognition of the PA’s agreements with Israel and with Israel’s right to exist, peacefully, alongside of a state of Palestine.

    Elections are nice, but the results of them sometimes are not. The last election offered Palestinians a choice between an incumbent party that was corrupt as all hell on top of being inept or a party of Islamists committed to war with Israel while mouthing concern for the welfare of the folks.
    There wasn’t a good choice to be made.

    Why not recognize that elections among the Palestinians are necessary but not sufficient?

  2. More conditions are fine with me, but one way of approaching it, and a way to address the issue of “one man, one vote, one time” is to insist upon two separate regularly scheduled elections, at least, say 2 years apart. The trick seems to be not having an election, but repeating it in a fair and open manner. Then, of course, if the Palestinians insist upon electing people who reject past and/or future agreements with Israel, they will be choosing not to have a state–at least not one recognized by Israel (and the US in this scneario).

  3. I’m not sure I agree with this, although perhaps I misunderstand something.

    The ‘Palestinians’ already had a fair and open election before, and they elected Hamas. If the EU and US were both determined to go by Quartet principles, that should have been the end of any financial aid or support for the ‘Palestinians’. Instead, the EU continued funding the ‘Palestinian Authority’ and so did the US, albeit in more limited forms.

    The Bush Administration also groomed Abbas and Fatah to perform what actually amounted to a coup of the elected Hamas government at its stronghold in Gaza. Unfortunately, the Fatah mafiosos only fight well against unarmed civilians and Hamas not only utterly defeated them but confiscated millions of dollars gently used US military supplies as well.

    Since then, the West has been propping up the unelected government of Mahmoud Abbas and Selim Fayyad to the tune of millions of dollars with the idea that Fatah somehow constitute the ‘good terrorists’ as opposed to Hamas.

    IMO this is a dangerous fallacy, since the only difference between the two vis a vis Israel is one of tactics and who’s in charge.

    The proposal for elections presupposes that there is a reasonable and peace loving faction among the ‘Palestinians’ that is capable of getting elected. That is likewise a dangerous fallacy.

    It also supposes that the UN and the EU would not fund a Hamas government, something that UNRWA and USAid are actually doing now as I write this, with little or no oversight. I see no reason to believe the EU, the Obama Administration and the UN wouldn’t continue to find a rationale to do so.

    This is simply the final act that shows what an abysmal failure the whole Oslo/ Land for Peace mirage really was.

    IMO a far better proposition is for Israel to simply announce that they will no longer have dealings with a government that contains Hamas,cut all ties with the PA, demarcate the borders unilaterally, annex the land in question and defend it.

    Rob Miller @ Joshuapundit

    1. A) there’s a world of difference between Hamas and Fatah. any attempt at saying they’re the same in fact or intention is based on smoke.

      B) feeding and sheltering and caring for the folks in Gaza, who were being fed and sheltered and cared for long before Hamas took over isn’t really equivalent to supporting Hamas. Hamas lost the support money from the EU when it took power and refused to modify its hostility.

      C) Israel lacks the justification to annex the land and won’t have the ability to defend it if they make the attempt. You don’t achieve peace by committing acts of injustice AND stupidity that make your enemies look better and justified in being your enemies, alienate and embarrass your defenders, and piss off the world.
      Hope you were jus’ fooling, Rob.

  4. Let’s deal with your objections to what I had to say one at a time, Fuster.

    A) Hamas and Fatah are definitely the same in the context I mentioned. What I said exactly was : ” when it come to their the only difference between the two vis a vis Israel is one of tactics and who’s in charge.” The Hamas Charter is genocidal not only towards Israel but Jews world wide in accordance with Qu’rannic values. While the Palestinian Authority recognizes Israel, Fatah’s Charter does not and never has.

    B) If you’re seriously telling me that all the ‘aid’ coming to Hamas is being used to’feed and take care of people’ and nothing is being diverted to weaponry, your assessment differs from that of Selim Fayyad, UNRWA (who employ Hamas members and were quite unapologetic about the total lack of oversight) The Obama Administration,which has also admitted that it can’t fully trace all the funds, and Hamas themselves. You also ignore that money is fungible, and that the aid Hamas gets allows them to spend other monies on the War against the Jews. Arafat did much the same thing.

    C) Israel has every justification to annex the land in question. Oslo was, among other things, a real estate deal, and in a real estate deal when one party doesn’t fulfill the contract, the property normally reverts back to the original owner, which was Israel. Oslo comprises the entire ‘Palestinian’ claim to the areas in Judea and Samaria we’re talking about since the area was illegally seized by Jordan in 1948 and then reverted to Israel in 1967 after Jordan attacked it. And the ‘Palestinians’ never even made a pretense of fulfilling their part of the deal.

    You’re also obviously unaware that a great deal of the land in question ( Ariel,Gush Etzion, much of Hebron, East Jerusalem etc.) was legally purchased by Jews prior to 1948 and only became ‘Arab’ when Jews were ethnically cleansed from these areas after 1948 by the Jordanians. That also doesn’t take into consideration the almost 1 million Jews who were driven from their homes in the Arab world who were resettled in Israel as refugees after the’48 war at Israel’s expense after everything they owned was plundered – probably about $15 billion plus in today’s money. What was that about injustice again?

    As for the Israelis defending it, why not? You think the UN is going to go to war with Israel over the ‘Palestinians’? I don’t.

    Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Especially when it comes to actors like Hamas and Fatah.

    Rob Miller

    1. I would add that I am also puzzled by fuster’s assertion that the Israelis couldn’t defend whatever they annex. They held it for decades–what is to stop them from holding it again?

    2. A) The Fatah charter is passe, Rob. The PA has many times explicitly recognized Israel and you’re never gonna be able to say otherwise. They differ in many ways from and Hamas and not merely in tactics. You got a dead parrot here and it ain’t going sing anything.

      B) That Hamas benefits from the aid soes not equate that the aid is FOR Hamas and very seriously, bags of wheat and bundles of blankets, schoolroom and teachers. clean water and used clothing are pretty damned hard to divert and convert into weaponry.
      Humans are ingenious and money not used by Hamas to meet population needs that it might or might not meet if other did not, might free them to acquire weapons. However that ain’t anywhere near to saying that it’s direct support for Hamas.
      As for employing Hamas members, what does that prove? Joining their lousy party is half-way necessary for the folks in Gaza as a prerequisite for getting fed or a getting a patronage job. Joining up isn’t the same as being a militant or being a combatant. It’s just a s#1tty fact of life.

      C) Lousy argument, that “purchased before 48.’ I don’t think that Israel gets to claim ownership of all the land within the borders of Israel that was owned by Arabs before 48 AND gets to claim ownership of all the land that Jews might own outside Israels borders.
      Not real consistent and not really logical or legally sound.
      Jews certainly have claims to pursue against other governments in other Arab League states, but that is not anything that legitimizes Israelis confiscating real estate and chattels owned by others. No robbing Peter because Paul robbed your Uncle allowed.

      As for stealing the occupied territory and defying the world, yeah they can’t defend it because yeah, people will forcibly take it from them if they try.
      And nobody will say that they can’t forcibly take it. And nobody will supply the Israelis with weaponry of aid money or threat of retaliation if they attack Israel.
      It’s just a stupid idea that you’re advocating.
      It does nothing for Israel except get Israelis killed in large number and loses them their protector and arms supplier and only ally.
      And also doesn’t change the fact that the West Bank will still be populated by Arabs who will go from resentfully tolerating Israel ans their pretty lousy settlers to working to make the annexation worse and more bloody than the occupation.

      Stupidity is taking an occupation that’s outlived it’s usefulness and drains your resources and attempting to make it perpetual.

      Think it over a bit, Rob. It’s a desperation move and the situation for Israel is way far from desperate.

      1. All this is very far from saying that Fatah/the PA can and will make and enforce a deal that the Israelis could live with. You seem to acknowledge that they may not. So it’s ridiculous to say that Israel “must” end the “occupation” if there’s no way for them to do it–you’re not obliged to do what you can’t do. And if it’s a lousy alternative but the only one, then you need to make the best of it.

        And that part about being unable to defend is still pretty foggy–who do you expect to send in paratroopers and start bombing Israel if they annex territory in the West Bank?

        1. adam, I have real problems in thinking that a deal is just inches away or that the PA really can promise and deliver on a deal. Iran is still intent on blocking one and Hamas is as much an Iranian creature as it is a Palesinian one.

          But let me be quite clear about why the Israelis can’t try to annex the West Bank.

          All of the world will oppose them, including the US. And the opposition will prevail, in short order.

          The idea is one of those things that sound good until second thought.
          There’s no instant answer to Israel’ s sea of troubles, but screwing further down on a defeated and miserably weak bunch of Palestinians only makes things worse.

          The weapons and the money and the perpetuation of the misery in the refugee camps as a motivation and a tool for war are found outside of Palestine and the answer likely is as well.

          However, part of the Israel’s answer is to offer less misery to the miserable Palestinians, not more.

          1. Formally annexing the West Bank would be a big move, and Israel would have to at least think through various scenarios that might follow–I doubt they have a leadership to do it now. If they are to annex all or some of it, it would have to be under crisis conditions, when the world’s attention is directed elsewhere and/or everyone is just sick of the Palestinians already. But there’s no reason not to start speaking about it as one among several possibilities–at least a few people, who are willing to be demonized, should start circulating the idea.

            There is still the question, though, of how to proceed if a genuine peace treaty with the Palestinians isn’t possible in the forseeable future. The assumption that the contours of the deal are already set, and it’s just a question of getting the parties to the table has proven very destructive. It means there is no price to be paid for the most vicious behavior–the Palestinians can blow up another 50 buses, and some American president 10 years from now will presumably come up the the same ’67 borders deal, with some slight modifications, etc. So why not go for the 50 buses, and see if it gets you more, or significantly demoralizes the Israelis? At some point the Israelis have to establish “metrics”: any future deal gets worse and worse the longer the Palestinians take, plus some penalty in land is paid for each terrorist attack. And that would mean gradual annexation, while the alternative is the same sordid game they’ve been playing for the last 20 years.

            1. adam, there’s nothing new in the idea, and ‘demonizing’ ain’t really the point, which is that the idea really sucks on every level.

              originally, the settlements were sort of a penalty for Palestinian intransigence but it hasn’t worked. Beside learning to be really, really good at intransigence, the Palestinians have, by now, no idea about how to make a deal.
              Arafat turned down a fairly decent proposal that he could, by further negotiation, have worked into about as good a deal as was possible, and probably did so because HE couldn’t sign a deal, even a decent one, that would satisfy Palestinian expectations.
              He was quoted as walking around muttering to everybody in earshot that if he signed, he would be martyred by his own.
              A dozen years later, the Palestinians are likely to get roughly the same deal, but still have the same concerns.
              While it’s no longer the Saudis and other Arabs opposing a deal and feeding the fanatics (and the Saudis are, in late years, pretty desperate for a deal), it’s the Iranians working to block it in the same old way.

              And the Israelis have reached the point where they have no counter to intransigence. They’ve thoroughly defeated the Palestinians and these almost nothing let to take from them.
              That’s pretty much the motivation behind Rob Miller’s proposal. … an attempt to find something substantial as a threat.

              I don’t think there’s anything there in that proposal and I don’t think that there’s any other easy answer.

              Lotta people think that the way forward lies in resolving things with Iran, cutting Syria loose from Iranian sway (which would be a body blow to Lebanese Hezbollah)
              and having the Saudis and other wealthy Gulf States work with Israel to provide the Palestinians with a big bunch of cash to insure that a peace/statehood deal includes enough development money to insure that most of it actually gets spent to develop some stuff that will make life a whole lot LESS miserable for the Palestinians.

              Ultimately, of course, some comfort and a reasonable hope that your children may prosper is a real good follow-up to repression and misery.
              After a short period of emotional discharge (which may be hard to accept, but is likely unavoidable) things usually do get better.
              Until they get normal.

              1. So, Palestinians still have the same concerns, i.e., that anyone who signs a deal will be martryed by his own. Sounds like still no deal to me. I don’t think a wad of cash will solve the problem, and I don’t think the Palestinians believe they have lost–especially with a worldful of activists telling them otherwise.

              2. the deal will be elusive as long as powerful outsiders supply the weaponry and resources to the most extreme of the Palestinian groups.

                Cutting the flow from Iran is presently the big deal. Paring away Syria the most efficient way to work that on one end…

                —–I don’t think the Palestinians believe they have lost–especially with a worldful of activists telling them otherwise.—-

                Palestinians may not admit much, adam, but they surely aren’t stupid. They don’t think the game is over, but they know the score as well, or better, than anyone else.

  5. Hamas is about the murder or at the very least the conversion of the Jew, the model is seen in the example of the phrase, they refer, the Khaybar settlement in the valley
    surrounding Medina, why else would it teach children to hate, it’s not about sanitation,
    or proper adminstration of public funds, that makes the difference between a Ben Gurion, and a Haniyeh, And the active element in Fatah, Al Aqsa Martyr’s brigade, concurrs on the point, crying over Bin Laden, like the Rancor’s keeper.

  6. If ceding territory won’t win Israel even temporary peace, and if holding it will provide much needed depth to its borders, why shouldn’t it hold?

    With regard to claims of Jewish refugees against Arab lands, I think that’s a cause Israel should have taken up year ago. I can see why they didn’t, because their emphasis was on bringing immigrants completely into the society rather than even identifying them as a separate caste, but it was a propaganda weapon that wasn’t picked up. At least the insistence should be that as Israel incorporated its refugees, the Arab states–not Israel–have a moral obligation to incorporate theirs.

    To play it the other way would simply mean that Israel pays for its refugees, pays for the Palestinian refugees, and gives up security. This is portrayed as a moral obligation or a practical strategy, but it doesn’t look much like either.

    1. While not conceding their negotiating position in advance of final settlement talks, the Palestinians have tacitly conceded that it is not politically realistic for the Palestinian refugees to have a right of return to their former homes. Nor is it tenable for the Jewish settlers to remain in the West bank – other that in a few suburbs of Jerusalem which the Palestinians have already agreed to concede to Israel in exchange for equal lands on the Israeli side of the pre 1967 border. The Palestinians accept that both the Palestinians and Israelis will need international money to enable the resettlement of the refugees and settlers. The former in Israel proper, and the latter in Palestine proper and elsewhere in the Middle East.
      The real difficult issue is not the refugees but the removal of the Israeli settlers from the West Bank (particularly from the Jordan valley) and the equitable sharing of the water-resources of the area (Presently under Israeli control and allotted by the Israelis 15:1 in favour of the Israelis per head of population)

      So, I’m glad to say that your fears are unfounded. However, as an American, I am more concerned that a settlement of the conflict should see us winding down the 3 billion of US taxpayers money that goes each year to arming the Israelis (which allows the Israelis save their own money to spend on their socialized healthcare)

      1. So, I see you are now leading the Palestinian negotiating team! The peace process will now be back on the fast track for sure.

      2. The only reason that the “plight” of the “Palestinians” is of so much concern internationally is that it is, in reality, of no concern internationally. The US and Canada would be outraged by an international movement to return even a small portion of their lands to the aboriginal natives. No one is seriously considering a Kurdish homeland. The Lapps of northern Scandinavia are second-class citizens in their own land. The Pyrenees Basques have spent centuries under the domination of various groups, including Muslim Arabs, yet are no closer to independence than ever. Only the economically inconsequential Palestinians are the focus of world-wide sympathy because their ascendancy would take a toll on just the perpetually reviled Jews. How can one take the Arab claims seriously without returning Manhattan to the Indians?

  7. The rhetorical question “what to do about it” (stopping or frustrating Palestinian statehood) says a lot about the un-American values of the fringe-right and its extremist allies in Israel.

    As an American I recognize that the Palestinians, no less than ourselves and the Israelis, are entitled to self-determination. The chorus of all the usual Israeli apologists (Dore Gold, Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, etc. etc.) warning the Palestinians (for their own good, of course) not to press for statehood this autumn , makes it clear that they realize that their campaign to forever frustrate Palestinian statehood is running out of road. The Palestinians are no doubt aware of the saying “beware of Greeks bearing gifts”.

    The Israeli excuses for avoiding peace are endless and and ever-changing. Here are a few. The threat of Iraqi WHD had to be eliminated first. Then, there were the non-existing Iranian nukes. Then it was because the Israeli s couldn’t be expected to negotiate with the divided Palestinians. Now it is because the Palestinians are no longer divided. Next, we must have elections as a precondition. No doubt, these elections will have to produce a result the Israelis approve of. Poor hapless Mr. Abbas must be allowing himself a wry smile to himself at all this Israeli concern for his welfare. Of course, all that he ever got for all his concessions to the Israelis, and for being ‘reasonable’, and for policing the West Bank for the Israelis, was to have the land, homes, and water of his people incrementally stolen out from under them. The ‘concerns’ of Mssrs Indyk, Ross and Gold for the welfare of the Palestinians are unlikely to carry much weight in the circumstances. The latter gents have in recent press comment failed to even mention that the land-grab might have anything to do with the Palestinian insurgency. Strange, because everywhere else in the world, from Ireland to East Timor, peoples have reacted in exactly the same as have the Palestinians when their property is being stolen (the Irish, in particular, had a rather summary way with collaborators and occupiers – someone should ask Bill O’Reilly about his “terrorist” ancestors).

    It has long been manifest that the Israelis don’t want peace. They want the land without its non-Jewish population, and peace would mean an end to the Israeli land grab.

    It is absolutely obnoxious to commingle the interests and values of Israel and the US. We in the US (and our Western allies) believe in equal esteem under the law – regardless of race creed or colour. The Israelis don’t. Israel is a foreign ethnocracy where the lives, liberty, and particularly the property, of non-Jews enjoy no equal protection under law. The values we hold as self-evident as Americans are given little respect in Israel or in the territories under its occupation or control to people who are not of its dominant tribe. Israel is nothing like the US.

    Whether the Palestinians hold further elections before they move for statehood this autumn is absolutely a matter for them. You might note that the UN imposed no such precondition on the Israelis. It is rather ironic that the last elections (held under the oversight of international monitors, and deemed scrupulously fair) were opposed vehemently by the Israeli right, and in any case, the Israelis, like some spurned African autocrat, refused to recognise their result. No, I cannot see any precondition to hold elections as having much moral traction with the Europeans or much anyone else.

    The Palestinians have indeed committed themselves to elections when they are prepared and ready after they declare their statehood. They have also agreed to negotiate with Israel on the final borders of their nation, with Fatah taking the lead on behalf of the Palestinian State. Hamas is on record as having agreed to be bound by the final terms. The real problem in realizing any peace is that the violent, fanatical, and illegal Jewish settlers have not.

    I should not close without mention of some of the myths and nonsense being bandied around about the law, and the land, and the attempts to de-legitimize the Palestinians and their entitlement to their state, their private and public property, their homes, and water-resources. All of these are being incerementally stolen by the Israelis. This process preceded Oslo. It preceded the Intifada. It continues to this day regardless of the entreaties of the US and our Western allies.

    1. International law forbids the settlement of occupied land by occupiers. This applies to whether it is forceably seized or purported to be purchased. Much has been made about the undoubted fact that a small portion of the land has not been violently seized, but has been ‘bought’. International law makes no distinction on these grounds because there is no equality of contract between the occupier and the occupied.

    2. The division of the Palestinian Mandate resulted in the division of the land between the Jordan and the sea between two new states – Israel, and Jordan. The area we now call the West Bank (and East Jerusalem) became part of the soverign territory of Jordan. Not an acre of it was ever part of Israel – before, or after, the 1948 war. During the 1967 war Israel occupied that part of Jordan comprising the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Under international law, Israel was a mere occupier (which it remains). The territory remained part of Jordan. Jordan subsequently vested these lands in trust to their indiginous Palestinian population. This vesting is legal, has numerous international precedents, and its legality is recognized by the international community – including by our country. It was Jordan’s land to gift.

    3. There is no such thing as “the right of conquest”. The ‘great generation’ went to war and gave their lives to put an end to that notion.

    4. The insulting term “disputed land” is apparantly a euphemism for what Americans call stealing when it comes to their own property. The process whereby the violent and fanatical Israeli settlers lie in watch until the Palestinian menfolk go out to work before rushing into the Palestinian home en-mass, throwing the Palestinian women and children out onto the street, and then barracading themselves into the seized property isn’t “disputing”. This is stealing. It is the modus operandi used by the settlers in infiltrating Palestinian parts of Jerusalem. Elsewhere, the modus operandi is the bulldozer or driving them out cutting off the water-supply to non-Jewish houses and throwing stones at their children on their way to school. We in America believe in the sacredness of private property. The Israelis only where it is the property of the dominant tribe.

    I would presume that the UN will recognize Palestinian membership of the UN in the autumn by the overwhelming vote of the same international community that brought the State of Israel into the comity of nations. Whether the US vetos the recognition by the UN of the new state will be an irrelevancy (other than to further damage our interests and values in favour of a foreign ethnocracy that flouts the very values we are currently trying to foster and encourage elsewhere in the Middle East)

  8. I just hope that Israel unilaterally determines its own borders, recognizes any terrorist attacks originating in the new State of Palestine as an act of war, and responds accordingly.

  9. “the deal will be elusive as long as powerful outsiders supply the weaponry and resources to the most extreme of the Palestinian groups.

    Cutting the flow from Iran is presently the big deal. Paring away Syria the most efficient way to work that on one end…

    —–I don’t think the Palestinians believe they have lost–especially with a worldful of activists telling them otherwise.—-

    Palestinians may not admit much, adam, but they surely aren’t stupid. They don’t think the game is over, but they know the score as well, or better, than anyone else.”

    Well, here we get into stuff you believe and hope for, and I don’t. At any rate, Israel should certainly wait until the region settles a bit before making any irreversible decisions. For all they know, the Palestinians will become completely accommodating just when a new Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt decides they want to pick up where Nasser left off.

    1. adam, don’t bet on a Muslim Brotherhood govt in Egypt. even if the MB wanted it, it wouldn’t happen.
      Bad for business. That’s not my beliefs, it’s the assessment of Meir Dagan.

      —-” In Eygpt, there was no revolution, but regime change, according to Dagan, and he is convinced that there is no chance that the Muslim Brotherhood will gain power because of fears that their taking power will damage the Egyptian economy, particularly income from tourism and U.S. aid. “—


      1. I’m not betting on anything–it is Israel that is being asked to bet. It doesn’t have to be the MB–it’s easy to imagine a new Egyptian government deciding it is going to abrogate the peace treaty with Israel, start supporting Hamas, treating Israeli actions against Hamas as attacks on Egypt, etc. The guarantors of the peace treaty you would like to see would be Saudi Arabia and Jordan–who knows who will be ruling those countries in 5-10 years? I remember Netanyahu’s position back when he was Israeli Ambassador to the US–Israel can’t make peace with dictators both because they are inherently untrustworthy and because they represent no one but themselves so no agreement with them can be expected to survive their own rule. I think it is a wise policy, however long it takes to become practicable in the ME.

        1. That no treaties with dictatorial regimes is somewhat true.
          But you’re mentioning it at the same time you’re (not unreasonably) worried about how Mubarak was a valuable asset for Israel.
          I doubt too many Israelis would say that they not way better off for having signed a deal with Sadat 40 odd years ago.
          It survived Sadat rather well and it’s likely to hold up a bit longer.

  10. I saw Mubarek as treacherous, keeping in place a peace treaty he couldn’t do anything about anyway, being unable to wage war effectively against Israel, while laying the groundwork for even more extreme forms of hatred towards Israel and Jews. That’s the problem–to excuse himself for not taking up the mantle of war against Israel he had to give free play to the most virulent forms of anti-semitism. Egyptians NEVER go to Israel, even though they would be welcomed with open arms–why is that? Now, the Egyptians’ hatred for Mubarek can easily grow into even more intense hostility towards Israel. Returning the Sinai to Egypt may turn out to have been a big mistake–that’s some valuable territory. Once these fetishes are in place–protect Mubarek, keep the peace process going–they block thinking, because any new idea undermines the fetish. That’s all over, in my view–all these stabilizing forms going back to the Cold War are deteriorating and no one is going to put them back together. Everyone is going to be seeking out new frames of reference. But it’s late and I’m starting to wax prophetic.

  11. I haven’t said anything much because, well, I am one of those “rabid right wing pro-Israel” types…

    I figure history is the judge and jury on this one. There are no such things as Palestinians since Palestine was just a Westphalian construction (lines on a map drawn by Europeans while dicing up and allocating chunks of empires after a war). Palestine was designed by the Brits for the Brits, after WWI. In fact it was teaming with Jews and there was an ever increasing number of them moving in, founding kibbutzes, opening businesses buying land. Sabrahs began to take hold of the region sparsely populated region as early as the pre-war 1900.

    The people known as Palestinians are largely a mixture of southern Lebanese, and mostly Jordanians from another Westphalian pencil lining effort called Trans-Jordan. The nasty problem of the tribal and familial infighting between the Arabs around the Jordan River, and more Eastern families was pretty much ignored by the French and British when cutting up the Ottoman Empire.

    So Palestinian (as a group, nation) claim to Israel is no more valid than the Jews claim to it, in the Westphalian sense.

    As to claims and counter claims… well, a huge chunk of the current Sephardic Jewish Israeli population is actually Iraqi, Iranian, and Egyptian… many of them were forcefully ejected from their homes and businesses by the various Islamic biased governments in those nations.

    So frankly the whole concept of who has a “right” to this or a “right” to that can only be settled in the truest fashion of sovereign assertion; war.

    Whether that war is a long one, drawn out over time and generations, or it finally erupts into a real room clearing knock down drag out is being played out as we speak. It is my sometimes not humble enough opinion that the entire “peace process” is responsible for this entire mess.

    The factions cannot be bribed, bought off, dickered with, threatened, or otherwise forced into any realistic agreement. The old French model of obsequious favor granting and back stabbing sneaky deals isn’t going to fly in this case.

    What to do? Well I think that we need to do what any real friend and ally does when the good guy (Israel) is faced with the Bad guy… (Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah, Iran, Syria…etc.) Back your friend while he does what he has to do to survive. You back your friend with whatever your friend requests, and you never stab him in the back by making him do something that will destroy him.

    “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.
    A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
    A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build.
    A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
    A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
    A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
    A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
    A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

    The time for peace is not with us. We have been visited by our enemies, as have our friends. Those who mean us harm, are yeowlling like jackals at the edges of the flock.

    There is no peaceful solution in the Middle East. The sooner we understand the better. As was warned in the Bible… there is a special place in eternal separation from the Almighty for those who turn their backs on the children of Israel.



    1. There was no such thing as the state of Israel until it was ratified by UN vote. Palestine was a Roman province inhabited by Jews and other races.

      I belong to a religion the believes that Jesus Christ gave his life for all humanity without distinction. Black and White. Jew and Gentile, and that his message was a message of love thy God and thy love neighbour, and that there are under this new testament no ‘chosen people’ exempted from the injunctions set down in the Commandments.

      I see you have resorted to (selectively) quoting scripture. Now, TMF, is the God you believe in the one that ‘tells’ Islamic fundamentalists to kill Israelis, the God that ‘tells’ the Jewish fundamentalists to steal the homes and land of the Palestinians, or the God that says that you shalt not steal and thou shalt not kill?

      1. This is the last time that I will respond to you directly. This is not my blog, and I do not wish to insult my host, who is an old and dear pen pal.

        Your “Christianity” well that’s between you and God. Jesus wasn’t the mushy squishy lovey dovey socialist that you and yours paint. He came to save, and came to winnow the grain from the chaff.. It is up to God and God alone as to what is wheat and what is waste.

        The land was given to Israel by God; period. They have been cast out of it by man several times. And yet they have returned to it. Funny how Israel still exists and none of the nations who cast them out of their land and abused them remain in any semblance of power.

        I do not quote scripture selectively. The 3rd chapter of Ecclesiastes is ancient wisdom. It applies to all humans regardless. Perhaps if you read the entire book, and understood the contexts you would see that as he says in the first chapter, There is nothing new under the Sun.

        The Jews are God’s first chosen. They remain God’s chosen their covenant is intact. That Christians are graced to enter into that Covenant by adoption is a blessing beyond any descriptor, but the Jews and Israel (Jacob) are inseparable from God, and inseparable from the land that God granted to them.

        1. The commandment is Thou Shalt not do Murder. God seems to have absolutely no problem with justifiable homicide.

        2. Your statement is foolish and false. The people who murder in the name of God are murdering in their own name for their own sakes, and God will deal with them as He will.

        Finally, you live in your own hate. From your writings and comments your Antisemitism is plain. You are under the false impression that feeding Israel to the monster will keep the monster from feeding on you. The radical brand of Islam espoused by those who are at war with will not be salved by such a vile act. It will only be emboldened. If you haven’t noticed the Dar Al Salaam murders ALL non-believers.

        If the nightmare and evil of the Shoah do not awaken you to the truth, well nothing will.

        -The Mighty Fahvaag

        1. As any suicide bomber or land robber will tell you – you can’t argue with God.
          After all, they get their orders directly from God.

          So I won’t bother.

    2. —-Back your friend while he does what he has to do to survive—-

      we did and we have. Israel has survived and it has prospered.

      As a friend, you do not back somebody when it does things that are not for the sake of survival but are harmful and detrimental.

      The Palestinians are defeated, the Arabs are ready to support peace with Israel, and Hamas is weak and getting weaker.

      The factions that are, as you say, impossible to deal with or satisfy, are hardly more than gangs and are a nuisance, not an obstacle. They’re not a reason to cry for forever war and rabid right-wingers in support of Israel are every bit as valuable to Israel, or anyone else, as rabid right-wing Islamists demanding its destruction.

      1. Let them have a couple of elections and renounce explicitly and unequivocally the right of return; let them allow freedom and, for example, TV shows that endorse frienship and equality with Jews rather than hatred; let’s see those arguing Israel’s case be made as safe within Palestinian society as those arguing the Palestinian case are within Israel–and then all will be able to see that it is safe to negotiate, and things will go very well, and better for the Palestinians than they ever expected. Until then, if Israelis were asking my advice, I would say to hold tight. Let life go on see where the next generation is.

        1. that renounce the right of return thingee needs work. no reason to renounce the right. it IS a right (not quite the way that the Pals interpret it though) and should be considered as part of a deal.

          but as you’re advising that there be no deal, why the heck to you think that conditions of conduct apply?
          instead of lovely TV shows, no peace means time for better rockets in Gaza.
          Occupation isn’t a sitcom.

          1. I suppose you’re right–my conditions of conduct really are arguments in favor of no deal. Ir would be interesting to see someone explain how a meaningful deal is possible absent such conditions, but I’m not holding my breath.

            And, the right of return is so important because it includes a ready made basis for abrogating or adding demands to any deal at any time. It can be a “right,” but a Palestinian government that claims to be the representative of the people of the West Bank (and not the Palestinian people as a whole, as defined through all the UN resolutions, etc.) should have no problem saying that the right is none of our business (while setting whatever immigration policy to their country that they like).

            1. Than you for being (belatedly) honest and admitting that all the caveats are only pretexts for frustrating any deal.

              Unfortunately, a deal that will lance this running sore is very much in the interests of the United States. The interests of the US are the only interests I am personally interested in.

              Sovereign states set their own immigration policies.Israel does it on the basis of religion. The US and Western countries do it according to their economic interests, and not on the basis of race, creed, or colour. The Palestinians will do it too according to whatever criteria they decide when they have their own state and control over their destiny and borders.

              1. The US has an immigration policy?

                The interesting thing is, the conditions I am proposing (I obviously have no power to set conditions, frustrate deals, etc.) would all be very good for the Palestinians as well. So it’s also interesting that they and their supporters reject them so fiercely.

                With a little imagination, the US can find all kinds of ways of advancing its interests in the ME without an Israeli-Palestinian deal. Who knows, with the obsession with the deal fetish out of the way, all kinds of new possibilities might open up.

  12. I’m not particularly fond of either of them.

    I recognize that Israel has a special place in the hearts of many and I would not deny them that feeling, or stand in their way if they saw fit to put their lives in its service. For me though, the US has done anything but turn its back on Israel. It kind of sticks in my craw that they rather repeatedly have spied on us, that may be naive but I would be lying if I denied the unsettling nature of it. I also get a rather persistent feeling that they don’t care what happens to us or our country so long as we keep providing the spears. They are not obligated to of course but nor are we obligated to open endedly accept such a bond. I think if I give some guy down on his luck a few hundred dollars Ive helped him and not turned my back on him. If he starts going through my mailbox, or trying to find out from my wife or kids what the checking account balance is, its time for him to be on his way.

    As for the Palestinians, they seem to be rather comfortable with the notion that they are the most put upon group in world history. Their “friends” in the Islamic world seem to take delight in watching the Pals get all riled up and then intoxicated by a mixture of race hate and Koran verses, march off to throw rocks and get shot up. Yet the obvious way in which they are used up by huckster clerics and professional bomb throwers seems lost on them. I think they may be stupid. Moreover, their general hatred for the west and blaming of the US for everything that befalls them is rather impertinent for a country that has no oil.

    Needless to say I am pessimistic. Whether they get a state with all the flags, document kit, decoder rings and patches or not. Whether they have no elections or yearly elections for a decade. They are going about it all wrong. They are trying to create a state from ideology rather than trying to create an ideology from a nascent nation. They should concentrate on having palestinian food, a palestinian mode of dress, palestinian music, a palestinian take on spiritual matters and a palestinian pace of life.

    I could be wrong of course.

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