de-palestinize the palestinians

  1. 5,748 Posts.
    Aug. 24, 2003
    De-Palestinize the Palestinians by Efraim Inbar

    Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, had the temerity to announce before his trip to Washington that the PA in flagrant violation of his own commitment to the US has no intention of dismantling the terrorist infrastructure.

    Nabil Shaath, the PA foreign minister, has announced that the PA intends to demand the right of the Palestinian refugees to settle in Israel's "Palestinian cities." Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a senior adviser to Yasser Arafat, said Israel's planned pullout from four additional Palestinian cities in the West Bank was insufficient.

    The Palestinians will continue to: desist from preventing terrorist activities against Israel, cling to maximalist unrealistic demands, and be dissatisfied with Israeli concessions up to the dismantlement of the Zionist entity.
    Israel lives in a bad neighborhood and our worst neighbors are the Palestinians. They are young, fanatic and poor a highly combustible mix. Moreover, they hate the Jews, who are portrayed as the main source of their misery.

    It is extremely unlikely that the Palestinians would be able to extricate themselves, even with generous outside support, from their tragic predicament. So far they have missed every opportunity to build an enlightened state, succeeding only in establishing a lawless, ineffective, authoritarian and corrupt political entity united by a narrative that generates continuous hostility to the Jews.
    Unfortunately, the Palestinians usually shy away from any introspection, tending to blame outsiders, particularly Israelis, for all their misfortunes. This handicaps the slim potential for reform. Abu Mazen's half-hearted attempts to reform the PA have truly failed.
    The efforts to establish a Palestinian state that will behave at least like Egypt or Jordan are doomed to failure. It is questionable whether a Palestinian state is what Arafat and his colleagues are really after.

    At this historic junction, Palestinian society, under the spell of the Palestinian nationalist ethos, is simply unable to bring itself to a historic compromise with the Zionist movement and end the conflict. Palestinian rejectionism won the day whenever a concrete partition was on the agenda the 2000 Camp David proposals being the most recent example.
    The tragedy is that with the progression of history, Israel has less territory to offer the Palestinians, only increasing their bitterness and despair. The hope that history can be rolled back is an illusion.

    THEREFORE, the road map will probably end, like the Oslo process, with a large outburst of Palestinian violence an expression of profound widespread dissatisfaction. There is good reason to believe that a part of the Israeli government, led by Ariel Sharon, understands the dynamics of the situation. Nevertheless, Sharon decided to go along with the road map and ignore the basic Palestinian violations of the agreement.
    He probably wants to allow the Palestinians to become the clear culprits in Washington's eyes for the process to break down. Moreover, he prefers to reduce the amount of political ammunition his leftist opposition in Israel can use against him by continuing to pay lip service to the attempts for coexistence.

    In any case, most Israelis prefer to disengage from the Palestinian cities unless security imperatives indicate the need for the IDF presence there.
    Social cohesion in the protracted struggle against the Palestinians has always been an important goal for Sharon. Yet, the Palestinians will not change their mode of behavior and Israel will continue to be subject to waves of violence.

    The nagging question is what Israel should do in the long run about these neighbors.
    First, it must call a spade a spade. Peacespeak has an addictive influence, blurring the judgment of good people. The world must learn that the Palestinians cannot bring themselves to utter the simple sentence: "The Jews returned to their homeland." Israelis, in particular, need strategic clairvoyance because they bear the brunt of the struggle.

    Getting rid of the Palestinians is not a real option, despite the fact that the literature on ethnic conflict indicates that the separation of ethnic populations is conducive to stability (the rationale of partition).

    Israelis are afraid of the demographic expansion of the Palestinians. Yet the historical record suggests that continued conflict was the main factor for limiting the Palestinian territorial presence in the Land of Israel and for Palestinian emigration.

    Probably the only long-term way to stabilize the situation is to de-Palestinize the Palestinians. This young national movement is a failing one, opening the possibility for the manipulation of this ethnic identity by threatened Arab neighbors. Despite their misgivings, the Egyptians might come to the conclusion that their return to rule Gaza would be a lesser evil than the emergence of a Hamas-led entity there.

    Similarly, the Jordanians may decide that the revisionist Palestinian identity being nourished in the West Bank is too dangerous to their state to be left unattended. Such a strategy would require an Israeli decision to present the Palestinian national movement as it is: a calamity for the Arabs in Palestine and for their neighbors as well.

    The author is professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University and director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies.

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