Thursday, April 23, 2009

Do the Palestinians Really Want a State?

By Findalis

I am positive that the average Palestinian man or woman would take any decent agreement giving them their own nation and working in peaceful cooperation with their Israeli neighbors, create a Paradise on Earth. Most Palestinians work or have worked in Israel, many would be friendly with Israelis if they could (the extremists in Gaza and the West Bank kill such people, calling them traitors and collaborators.). There is a deep desire for peace among them.

The Palestinian Authority on the other hand may have no desire for a settlement to the stalemate that has boxed both sides into positions they cannot retreat from.

This is the premise that Robert D. Kaplan puts forward in this month's Atlantic Monthly.
The statelessness of Palestinian Arabs has been a principal feature of world politics for more than half a century. It is the signature issue of our time. The inability of Israelis and Palestinians to reach an accord of mutual recognition and land-for-peace has helped infect the globe with violence and radicalism—and has long been a bane of American foreign policy. While the problems of the Middle East cannot be substantially blamed on the injustice done to Palestinians, that injustice has nonetheless played a role in weakening America’s position in the region.

Obviously, part of the problem has been Israeli intransigence. Despite seeming to submit to territorial concessions, one Israeli government after another has quietly continued to bolster illegal settlements in the occupied territories.

With Fatah and Hamas facing off against each other, the Palestinians are simply too divided to plausibly meet Israel across the table. And because the Palestinians are unable to cut a deal, a majority of Israelis, as shown by the recent election results, have apparently given up any hope for peace.

But there is a deeper structural and philosophical reason why the Palestinians remain stateless—a reason more profound than the political narrative would indicate. It is best explained by associate Johns Hopkins professor Jakub Grygiel, in his brilliant essay, “The Power of Statelessness: the Withering Appeal of Governing” (Policy Review April/May 2009). In it, Grygiel does not discuss the Palestinians in particular, but rather the attitude of stateless people in general.

Statehood is no longer a goal, he writes. Many stateless groups “do not aspire to have a state,” for they are more capable of achieving their objectives without one. Instead of actively seeking statehood to address their weakness, as Zionist Jews did in an earlier phase of history, groups like the Palestinians now embrace their statelessness as a source of power.

New communication technologies allow people to achieve virtual unity without a state, even as new military technologies give stateless groups a lethal capacity that in former decades could be attained only by states. Grygiel explains that it is now “highly desirable” not to have a state—for a state is a target that can be destroyed or damaged, and hence pressured politically. It was the very quasi-statehood achieved by Hamas in the Gaza Strip that made it easier for Israel to bomb it. A state entails responsibilities that limit a people’s freedom of action. A group like Hezbollah in Lebanon, the author notes, could probably take over the Lebanese state today, but why would it want to? Why would it want responsibility for providing safety and services to all Lebanese? Why would it want to provide the Israelis with so many tempting targets of reprisal? Statelessness offers a level of “impunity” from retaliation.

But the most tempting aspect of statelessness is that it permits a people to savor the pleasures of religious zeal, extremist ideologies, and moral absolutes, without having to make the kinds of messy, mundane compromises that accompany the work of looking after a geographical space.

The closest that Israelis and Palestinians ever came to peace was at the end of the Clinton Administration in 2000, when then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak of the center-left Labor Party offered a slew of concessions to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat—only to have Arafat reject them. Arafat’s epitaph was that he remained loyal to the cause of his people, that he never compromised, and that he was steadfast to the bitter end. He may have seen that as a more morally and emotionally satisfying conclusion to a life of statelessness than that of making the unenchanting concessions associated with achieving statehood.

Read the full article here.
If this report is right, then President Obama's effort to ram an agreement down the Israelis throats is doomed to failure. For it will always be in the best interest of the Palestinian leaders to reject any offer to them that doesn't include all the land from the river to the sea. In other words, unless they get it all and Israel is eliminated, then they will not take any deal.

It is in the best interest of the Palestinian leadership to remain stateless and cry victim every time Israel tries to stop the terror that the Palestinian leadership uses to achieve their ends.
For once a nation has been formed, attacks such as the rockets falling into Israel from Gaza, suicide bombers, or the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers would and is considered an Act of War under International Law. Without the 'protection' of being stateless, the Palestinians would have to face Israel's wrath without International support.

Another consequence of the creation of a Palestinian state would be the removal of their special refugee status. Although the Saudi Peace Plan insists on a Law of Return, there is no Israeli government (on the left or the right) that will ever agree to such a demand. But for the sake of this article, let us say that the Palestinians do agree to drop this demand (Yassir Arafat refused a Palestinian nation in 2000 by doing this). Finally the Palestinians living in refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank would now be living in cities of their new nation, and the remaining refugees living in camps through out the Arab world could be relocated to the new nation, having gained the status of citizen of Palestine and losing the status of refugee.

For the average Palestinian this would be a boon. But for the leadership, this would be a nightmare. No longer would the world support through massive donations of food and monies the Palestinian people. Any agreement reached by both sides would have to include a date for ending refugee status. And thus funds. Such funds which are often diverted into Swiss bank accounts for the private use of the leadership and not the benefit of the people. This international gravy train would dry up, and the leadership would either have to beg more money from within the Muslim community and the US or EU. Eventually these funds would dry up too.

As things stand now, the PA has no reason to agree to anything except the full release to them of the land that is now Israel. Other than that, there will never be a peaceful solution to this problem. And just like Bill Clinton before him, Barack Obama just might come to realize that the PA and Hamas will never agree to anything that will end their free ride.

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