Monday, September 19

The Future for the Palestinians

Since the disengagement from Gaza, the Palestinians have plunged themselves into lawlessness, anarchy and a macabre-style euphoria. It is understandable that there would be a sense of satisfaction on the Palestinian side because of the Israeli pullout from Gaza. What we are witnessing is destruction and looting of immense proportions. Have the Palestinians chosen the path of anarchy?

There are massive rallies headed by Hamas. The Egyptians are supposed to be guarding the Philadelphi strip on the border between them and the Palestinians. This is to prevent weapons and goods smuggling. The Palestinians and Egyptians have done nothing to prevent this and it looks as if Hamas will be adopting Hizbollah-style tactics to ingratiate themselves with the Palestinian people. If anything, the parties involved may invite the European Union to station their forces along the border.

Mahmoud Abbas, as predicted, is paying lip service to controlling the entry points from Egypt. He will not disarm Hamas. He shows great weakness as a leader of his people. He will continue to sit on the fence of terror, allowing Hamas to be in charge in Palestinian street. Maybe, by adopting this attitude of appeasing Hamas, he hopes to seek re-election. He will play a secondary role to Hamas without compromising his legitimacy in the Palestinian electorate. He will maintain his status quo of support in the eyes of the world.

If this anarchy continues it will increase instability and hope for a better future for the Palestinians will soon diminish. The much-needed funds, promised by the world of nations for building the Palestinian economy, will not arrive. It does not take much imagination to realize that the Palestinian leadership is impotent. The atmosphere is not conducive for Israel to give up more territory for the establishment of a viable, stable Palestinian state. The anarchy and lawlessness is not in the Palestinian’s interests. It could be a threat to Israel’s security that will not serve Palestinian aspirations of an independent state.

As far as the Palestinian elections are concerned, the Palestinians claim that Hamas has every right to announce its candidacy in the upcoming elections and that Israel has no right to interfere. This does ring true and there is logic in this. However, Hamas does interfere in Israel’s right to exist because of the terrorist activity that it has carried out against Israel. The attitude of Hamas towards Israel’s existence is uncompromising.

Hamas has made it clear in all her statements that she will never recognize Israel’s right to exist and vowed that the war for Israel’s annihilation will continue. Under these conditions, Israel has every right to try to prevent Hamas from participating in the upcoming elections until she is prepared to lay down her arms. If Hamas does win, she could be a terrorist threat to Israel judging from their rhetoric and their history of terrorism.

Ariel Sharon is correct in insisting that Hamas should not participate in the Palestinian elections on those grounds. If Hamas participates and wins the elections, either one of two things could happen:

1. Hamas gains legitimacy, becoming pragmatic by recognizing Israel de facto despite their statements to the contrary. This would involve starting negotiations with Israel on a peace treaty or hudna for an unlimited period because of American, Egyptian and European pressure.

2. Hamas could become more radical and make impossible demands for territory and resettlement of Palestinian refugees, which Israel would not accept. This would create an excuse for them to continue terrorist activity against Israel, plunging the area into further anarchy, chaos and bloodshed.

There is not much Israel can do to prevent Hamas from participating in the elections. A “wait and see” attitude with a finger on the pulse in Palestinian street is the most that they could achieve at this stage. It would be wise not to interfere in the election process unless Hamas carries out terror attacks against Israel. Israel could use that as a pretext to interfere with the election process.

However, one looks at the situation, it seems very bleak indeed for the Palestinians unless they become organized and the violent anarchy ceases. Their leadership has to restore law and order so that serious negotiations for a viable Palestinian state can begin.

1 comment:

tal said...

In my opinion it is important for Israel not to interfere in the Palestinian elections, even if Hamas would participate. It's important to give the Palestinians a change to manage their own affairs.

If it turns out that they can not manage their own affairs and it will result into chaos, this will obviously postpone a solution of the conflict with Israel.

But, the important thing is that the future is in their own hands, the hands of the Palestinian people and not in Israeli hands. Nobody will be able to point a bad finger to Israel as obstructing the peace process.