Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi’s Op-Ed in The New York Times is, unfortunately, not as attractive as it might at first appear.
While Dr. Barghouthi is full of criticism for Israeli behaviour on the West Bank and elsewhere, there is not a word of recognition of Arab intransigence over the past seventy years, including the perfidious Intifada against Israel’s civilian population at the very height of negotiations between the parties.
However, let’s put history aside and look at Dr. Barghouthi’s goals. He calls for an Israeli return to the 1949 armistice lines and a Palestinian state on the West Bank that is Judenrein. There are few Israelis who would agree to a withdrawal from the Old City, including the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter, and probably even fewer who would be prepared to contemplate a Palestinian state occupying territories overlooking the densely populated coastal plain and Ben Gurion international airport.
Even more seriously, who would accept a Palestinian state on the West Bank without an Israeli presence along the Jordan River? Such an arrangement would be a recipe for disaster. Such a fledgling state would be flooded overnight with armaments and extremist forces from Iran, Al Qaeda, the Hizbollah and other groups in much the same way as has happened in Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and parts of the Sinai Peninsula.
Needless to say, Dr. Barghouthi makes no reference whatsoever in his Op-Ed to the chasm that exists within the Palestinian camp between the Palestinian Authority and the Iranian-backed Hamas, who are committed to Israel’s destruction. He conveniently only refers to removing Israelis from the West Bank without acknowledging the fact that, were elections to take place there tomorrow, there is every possibility that the Hamas would immediately assume power. It is not by chance that Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly postponed holding elections that should have taken place there three years ago.
Of course, everyone in his/her right mind is looking for a happy ending. Most Israelis would be prepared to pay a high price for that. However, it isn’t going to happen without a Palestinian recognition, acceptance and accommodation of Israel’s legitimate security concerns. Without that, in terms of accomplishing its goals, it really makes no difference whether Palestinian resistance is violent or non-violent. And that is something that Dr. Barghouthi and his sympathizers need to understand.