Everyone understands that the current chaos in Gaza, and the gratuitous terrorist bombardment of Sderot and the Western Negev with Qassam rockets
, which is a byproduct of that chaos, cannot continue much longer. It is not so clear however, how to end it, and what will replace it.
Gazans cannot live in the chaos that is evolving there. People are caught in crossfire and afraid to leave their houses. Nor will a cease fire, if a real one is ever signed, bring much relief. Hamas and other extremist groups are imposing a wave of Islamist intolerance and terror on Gaza institutions and citizens
, attacking Internet cafes, shooting up a UNRWA school because it supposedly was converting children to Christianity, and intimidating Christians and liberals. That may be the future of Gaza.
The Israeli government cannot live long with the terror of rockets in Sderot
, which is quite real for Sderot residents. The decision to "temporarily evacuate"
Sderot is going to set off political alarms. This issue that will certainly topple the Israeli government if it is not handled, but no good solutions are available for handling it. The logic of the political situation, rather than strategic considerations, are pushing Israel to what may be a very irresponsible, yet tragically unavoidable military adventure in Gaza, that may be worse than the one in Lebanon.
Even more ominous for Israel than the rockets, is the potential victory of the Hamas
. Hamas is "ratifying" its democratic victory by killing off the opposition.
In the latest round of fighting, Hamas is steadily gaining ground. In fact, it won every round. Fatah is not losing for lack of arms or men. On paper, Hamas forces total about 5,000, while Fatah and the PNA supposedly have 70,000 men under arms. Fatah are well supplied with weapons by Egypt and the United States, while Hamas have to smuggle in their weapons through tunnels, supposedly. In fact however, Hamas simply hijacks arms shipments intended for Fatah. The hijackings just might be an inside job, since it turns out that the Fatah forces are riddled with Hamas and Islamic Jihad members. The paper Fatah soldiers apparently don't exist in reality. The Hamas threat has finally gotten Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak worried
. Mubarak has suddenly realized that the Hamas are not peace partners for Israel and more important for him, the rising radicalism in Gaza is allied to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and presents a threat to his regime.
Some may imagine that with the Hamas triumphant, Israel can ignore Arab and Palestinian pressure, and get the world to approve one or another unilateral "solution" that allows Israel to set its borders where it likes. After all, no reasonable country would advocate negotiations with a genocidal movement like Hamas, would they? Or would they? Even now, the Norwegians and the Swiss apparently welcome the humanitarian principles of the Hamas, and the Japanese are studying the problem. The Swiss after all, have a proven record in dealing with such regimes, as illustrated by their cordial and cooperative relations with Nazi Germany.
There is no doubt that if the Hamas is the "government" of the Palestinians, and there is no longer any alternative, the UN and EU countries will line up behind that government one by one, just as they have recognized the Chinese government and other governments that are less than appetizing. Those who consider that Israeli existence as a state is secure because of international backing, should consider the relative strengths of the Palestinian entity that was created, in reality, in 1974 and 1975 when the UN recognized the PLO, and was institutionalized on the ground by the Oslo agreements.
Israel is in reality backed by about 7 or 8 million Diaspora Jews, and perhaps 70 million evangelical Christians, and by the wavering and temporary remorse of Europe over the Holocaust. The Palestinian entity is backed by 1.3 billion Muslims, the petroleum of the Gulf States, and the vital interest that all industrial governments have in that wealth. In the recent Mecca agreement, it became clear that the Arab states will back the Hamas government no matter what, and pressure from those governments would in the long run force European recognition of the Hamas. It is hard to imagine that the EU would acquiesce in any unilateral Israeli solution that annexed a millimeter of land in Jerusalem or the West Bank. The recent Jerusalem Day celebrations, boycotted by every government in the world, are a reminder of the real stand of Europe and the United States regarding Israeli claims.
Therefore, If Fatah is displaced by the Hamas, we must assume that the EU. and perhaps the United States, would pressure Israel for concessions, because no matter what Hamas proposed, there would always be some way of viewing the latest "peace" or "Hudna" proposals in a positive light, and casting Israel as an aggressor and an obstacle to peace. That would certainly be true as long as Israel has any troops or settlers outside the 1949 Green Line borders, without a peace solution in place.
Even in the unlikely event that Israel would get the backing of the US and Europe for a unilateral "settlement," that settlement would be a wonderful target for the Hamas, the Syrians and the Iranians and anyone else who wanted to stir up trouble. Bigger and worse rockets, supplied by Iran through Jordan or Syria, would fly over the security fence and smash into Kfar Saba, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Eventually, 175 mm artillery would make the fence totally irrelevant. The fence can defend against terrorist infiltrators, not armies.
Accordingly, a takeover by the Hamas would be disastrous for Israel, for peace and for Palestinian moderates. An analysis
in dovish Ha'aretz newspaper concludes that an Israeli invasion and reoccupation of Gaza is the only way to save the Fatah in Gaza, and that this is what Palestinians inside Gaza are saying. Shimon Peres likewise offered Israeli help.
Thus, there is pressure for an Israeli reoccupation of Gaza from the right, to stop the Qassam rockets, and from the left, to save the Fatah. Those who advocate re-occupation of Gaza however, are overlooking a few points.
An Israeli reoccupation of Gaza cannot save Fatah. If Fatah, with all the aid that it gets, cannot defend its positions, then it is no longer a viable political force and it is not worth saving. It has apparently become a basket case like the Nationalist Chinese army of Chiang Kai Chek, the infamous ARVN - Army of the Republic of Vietnam, and the current Iraqi Army. It may be impossible to explain why and how armies and political movements disintegrate in this way, but the phenomenon is well known and recognizable by now.
If Fatah cannot save itself, Israel certainly cannot save it. Fatah "saved" by Israel would probably become a discredited movement, viewed as traitors by Palestinians. It could not make peace with Israel and could not keep order without Israeli occupation troops. An alternative outcome was illustrated in 1970, when Israel gave a haven to PLO terrorists escaping from Jordan. They went to Lebanon and formed the infamous Black September movement. That is the logic of "resistance" movements. Israel should not have illusions that it can help Fatah. The fact that Shimon Peres
supports this idea is hardly a recommendation.
The disintegration of Fatah-PLO is not unexpected. Many have pointed out that the Fatah and the PLO were creations of Yasser Arafat. They depended on his personality and dynamism to unite the Palestinian people. They are survivals of an earlier period of Arab nationalism and Soviet-sponsored national liberation movements. Originally created by Egypt, PLO was coopted by Arafat and his circle to become an FLN-style "liberation front." The Algerian FLN succeeded in overthrowing the French, but now it too is threatened by Islamist unrest. The Fatah and PLO are being vanquished before they ever achieved independence. Fatah and PLO are no longer politically viable.
However, constant internecine battles, such as those raging now in Gaza with no real logic, do not happen for no reason. It is reasonable to suppose that some one is "helping" the PLO and Fatah to disintegrate. Palestinians cannot be interested in tearing each other apart. The situation is reminiscent of the civil war in Lebanon and the Iraq nightmare. In each case violence begins without apparent reason or coordination, but in each case there is a guiding hand or hands that encourage the violence for their own reasons. It is probably the same guiding hand. Gaza is a perfect locale for anyone who wants to make trouble for Israel, Egypt and United States policy in the Middle East. Israeli soldiers in Gaza would be exactly where Syria and Iran want them: sitting duck targets. Shooting at Israeli soldiers in Gaza could be justified as "resistance" against the occupation, so Israeli options for retaliation would be extremely limited. Back to the past.
The Palestinian Authority and the Oslo process were based on the PLO, Fatah and Arafat, and born in the optimism of the early post-Soviet period, when anything seemed possible. Arafat is dead, and the PLO and Fatah are dying. It is totally vain to talk of any real peace process or negotiations at this point, because the "Palestinian peace partner" has no government and no leadership capable of keeping order and making agreements. In the unity agreement, Hamas empowered Mahmoud Abbas to negotiate and get concessions from Israel, but will sabotage any agreement that is not to its liking. Abbas would be powerless to stop them. Abbas in effect, agreed to be a shill for the Hamas.
We must hope that in the fullness of time, Islamism will go the way of pan-Arab nationalism, and a way will be found to cope with Syrian and Iranian influence. Meanwhile, to save Gaza and Palestinian society, someone will have to act against the forces that are tearing it apart, but no likely savior is in sight. Ami Isseroff
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Replies: 1 Comment
Isseroff closes with this expression of hope:
We must hope that in the fullness of time, Islamism will go the way of pan-Arab nationalism, and a way will be found to cope with Syrian and Iranian influence. Meanwhile, to save Gaza and Palestinian society, someone will have to act against the forces that are tearing it apart, but no likely savior is in sight.
Hope that Radical Islam will disappear, is not the stuff Israel or for that matter America can rely on to survive.
The way to cope with the Iranian-Syrian influence as it were would be a devastating strike against both nations and send them to back to the dark ages. Hezbollah which depends on that evil axis for its existence would find that without life sustaining support, it will bleed out, dry up and blow away.
As for there being no saviour on the horizon to save the Gazan Palestinians, why would anyone shed a tear as they destroy themselves.
If Hamas wins out as Isseroff predicts, no amount of recognition of Hamas by the EU or by other nations will yield any option to Israel but to kill Hamas and the Palestinians society behind Hamas or be killed.
As I noted before, word continues to leak out that as Gaza becomes more radicalized, Mubarek has been fearing blowback and devastating blowback at that, should the Palestinian radicals ally with the Muslim Brotherhood and seek to achieve a coup díetat. In such case, Mubarek would be gone and a a radical Islamic government would be installed.
Likewise, Jordan too has a radical element within their society. What happened when Israel pulled out of Gaza and Gaza became an armed radical Islamic camp that could blowback at Egypt, did not go unnoticed by King Abdullah. King Abdullah is getting anxious that the same blowback could happen to his nation and his monarchy if Israel leaves the West Bank and Jordan, like Egypt will have an Islamic radical society on their borders.
If these Egyptian and Jordanian fears could be played up and amplified, both nations might come to realize that having a strong stable and peaceful neighbor in Israel would be far more preferable then to having an unstable Islamic radical neighbor that threatens the stability of their nations and not just Israel.
With such a change in thinking on the part of Jordan and Egypt, that change might just be catchy within the region which would pave the way for a new peace paradigm.
That new paradigm would see Israel annexing the West Bank and possibly Gaza without objection by Jordan and Egypt and the dream of an independent Palestinian state, made impossible of fulfillment by the Palestinians themselves and their Arab brethren who manipulated them, would disappear.
The Palestinian Arabs would be induced by wads of cash in their pockets to emigrate from the area and be absorbed into neighboring and other nations who would have them and would revert to becoming just the Arabs that they are.
There would be plenty of money from the billions in welfare payments the West has been making each year to induce these Palestinians to leave to start a better life elsewhere with more than enough money to get a big head start.
Money talks and that probably would be just the right language to use to get through to to each and every Palestinian.
Bill Narvey, Friday, May 18th
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