In April, I began writing this article. Within hours of completing the first draft, there were multiple reassurances that the Palestinian Authority was going forward with its plans. I then shelved my article. However, with the article today in the Jerusalem Post, I think that I was probably on the right track. So let me share my thoughts from April 28 now. My article follows.
A few days ago, Yasser Abed Rabbo of the PLO said that if there is a peace process, “real and serious negotiations”, going on before September that the PA will not bring a vote to the UN.
It occurred to me that the PA might actually be looking for a way to get out of its UN declaration plan. Then, yesterday, we find out that Fatah and Hamas have seemingly reconciled. This makes sense.
Here are the alternatives as I see them which could have led to this reconciliation:
- Fatah really does want to reconcile with Hamas, wanting to unify the Palestinian people. In this scenario, Fatah would have to believe that Hamas is no longer a threat to take over the government after an election, else the decision to work with Hamas would be to Fatah’s own detriment, which does not make sense.
- Fatah and Hamas believe that if they are seemingly united, then a UN vote in September has a greater likelihood of succeeding. This doesn’t fly for me because it would appear that a significant majority of nations would have voted for a Palestinian state in the UNGA anyway.
However, these three options all do make sense and any or all of them may be behind the unity agreement.
- Hamas and Fatah believe that uniting behind a threat of violence, especially now supported by Egypt and Turkey potentially, has the greatest likelihood of forcing Israeli concessions. A further thought could be to start an uprising and expect international efforts to hamper Israeli defenses while allowing Arab forces to act against Israel.
- Fatah and Hamas both realized that they are in no position to create a prosperous state and are much better off maintaining the status quo while blaming Israel for their lack of a state. The PA is and will continue to be entirely dependent upon Israel. Going forward, the PA will need water, gas, electricity and medical care. Add to this the fact that Israel is going to be by far the PA’s major trading partner, though Egypt may become a greater partner than Israel for those in Gaza.
- Fatah has come to realize that it not only will not achieve the full 1967 borders including all of pre-1967 “East” Jerusalem through a UNGA vote declaring as much, but the PA would at that point also take a position fundamentally abandoning the goal of achieving total victory in the future and therefore may be trying to back out or even sabotage those efforts.
Whatever the reason, reconciliation with Hamas hampers America’s ability to pressure Israel to make peace and Israel’s ability to engage in negotiations. It may also hamper America’s ability to continue funding the PA.
Cooperation between Egypt and Hamas should also affect US support for Egypt. There is now, as we speak, a greatly increased likelihood of military conflict between Egypt and Israel with Egypt sending military advisors into Gaza to help Hamas.
What is underway right now would appear to be an effort by the Palestinian Authority to halt the creation of a two state solution so as not to abandon the long hoped for single state one. It appears, once again, that the PA may be trying to sabotage efforts to achieve a state alongside Israel, including its own leadership’s attempts, while preserving the status-quo indefinitely.
As long as advocates for peace continually refuse to pressure the Palestinians to make concessions and act as if the maintenance of the status-quo is primarily or even solely Israel’s fault, the Palestinians will continue to act against the promotion of the peace process, the advancement of which they do not see as in their interest. So long as there is no threat that Israel will be allowed to create a permanent solution that is worse for the Palestinians than whatever two solution might be achieved through negotiations, there is no reason for the Palestinians to negotiate. Until this situation changes, no efforts to promote serious negotiations will be successful and peace will remain elusive.
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