Bungling international envoys, stale politicians, and clichéd columnists are revving up a campaign to “re-empower” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and Gaza.
They want Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “pluck peace from the rubble of Gaza,” and throw himself into a conciliatory embrace of Abbas. This means that Israel should embark on withdrawals from the West Bank, not just from Gaza, and once again bet its future on “moderate” Palestinians.
This is dodgy talk. The notion that Abbas and his Palestinian “Authority” can be Israel’s salvation is without evidentiary foundation. Abbas is not “part of the solution,” but a central part of the problem.
Abbas’ regime is extraordinarily feeble — corrupt and unpopular. His security forces are politicized and inert. Hamas and other Islamic jihadists blew him away in Gaza and would do so in the West Bank too, if not for effective IDF control of the territory. Abbas cannot guarantee Israel’s security, neither in the Jordan Valley and the Samarian mountaintops overlooking Ben-Gurion International Airport, nor in Shujaiyya, Beit Hanoun and the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
Moreover, Abbas’ rump regime is no partner for any real peace accord, as the failed Kerry diplomatic process proved for the umpteenth time. Abbas made it clear over the past year that the Palestinian liberation movement will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, or agree to forgo the so-called “right” of refugee return. He views Israel’s maximum contours for a two-state solution as a “sovereign cage”; as nothing more than a “statelet” in which he is not interested.
Sure, Abbas wants his state, but without an end to the conflict. He wants state status in order to continue the conflict; in order to brow-beat Israel into dissolution through demonization and criminalization. That is why Abbas was last seen fleeing the scene of negotiations.
Perhaps some people have failed to understand the meaning of Israel’s just-concluded mini-war against Hamas in Gaza.
This offensive was not about solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or opening a door to newfangled diplomatic arrangements. It was about destroying Hamas’ attack tunnels and rocket armories. It was about crushing an Iranian-backed terrorist army on our southern border. And to the extent that the job wasn’t finished, the IDF will have to go at it again.
In other words, the war was about degrading the enemy’s firepower and deterring it from attacking again for an extended period of time. Israel was “mowing the grass,” which is a way of managing protracted conflict. No more, no less.
Operation Protective Edge was not meant to be segue to swell peace conferences in Camp David or Geneva. It was not meant to give birth to phantasms of Palestinian unity, Palestinian moderation, and Palestinian statehood.
It was not meant to wedge Israel into yet another round of withdrawals.
Israel has suffered enough from escapades of iffy peacemaking. Nine years (exactly) after the disengagement from Gaza and destruction of Gush Katif, Netanyahu can honestly and bluntly say to the world: Not again.
Perhaps those who are now beautifying and remarketing Abbas have failed to notice the major changes that have come about in Israeli strategic thinking. Seismic shifts in Israeli defense concepts have been wrought by the gains made by radical Islamists in Arab civil wars raging across the region, and by the serial failures of peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
In short: Israel intends to build strong defenses on every frontier and to ensure the non-militarization of the West Bank and Gaza over the long term with its own forces. There is no power that can guarantee Israel’s security in these areas other than the IDF.
Israel cannot afford to, and does not intend to, withdraw anywhere, anytime soon.
Faced with multiple threats from implacable, nonstate enemies like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaida, and ISIS; and faced with chronically unreliable Palestinian neighbors, Israel will not quickly relinquish strategic tracts of land. Moreover, it will be lashing out occasionally to quash nearby insurgencies, especially when weapons are actually fired at Israel. Israel is in a long war of attrition.
Thus the Palestinian “independence” that Israel can countenance essentially amounts to a Palestinian province (or provinces) with political and economic autonomy, while Israel remains fully in charge of perimeter and inland security. A full-fledged, unitary Palestinian state, as in the “two-state solution,” has become an anachronism.
Netanyahu must not allow the Left to wring Israeli diplomatic defeat and introduce new security risk out of the hard-fought battles in Gaza. He should not be party to the glamming up of Abbas or any daft plans for Israeli withdrawal.