Who’s Afraid of the Palestinians?

Hussein Agha and Robert Malley (New York Review of Books)

* Palestinians have looked to unilaterally declaring statehood, obtaining UN recognition, dissolving the PA, or walking away from the idea of negotiated partition altogether and calling for a single binational state.

* Of these suggestions, arguably the most promising is to seek international acceptance of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. In the past few months, several countries have recognized such a state and others may follow. The trend is causing Palestinians to rejoice and Israelis to protest, which only makes Palestinians rejoice all the more. What it will not do for now is materially affect the situation on the ground.

* Invoking a one-state solution in which Jews someday no longer will form a majority has its own limitations. Yet Israel possesses a variety of potential responses. Already, by unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon transformed the numbers game, effectively removing 1.5 million Palestinians from the Israeli equation. Israel could unilaterally conduct further territorial withdrawals from the West Bank, allowing, as in the case of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s West Bank government, or compelling, as happened in Gaza, large numbers of Palestinians to rule themselves and mitigating the demographic peril.

* Salam Fayyad wants to demonstrate that Palestinians can put their finances in order and build the foundations of a state alongside which their neighbors could live in security. Yet questions have been raised about what a government that rules by decree, with little democratic legitimacy – parliament has not met in years and elections are long overdue – has done to build democratic institutions. Many grumble that Fayyad has conquered the West through his demeanor rather than substantive deeds.

* Palestinians who seem to have scant confidence in themselves have put their hopes in the U.S. instead – an investment that reflects excessive faith in Washington. There is no precedent for a successful start-to-finish American effort to bring about peace in the Middle East. All such endeavors that came to something initially were rooted in local dynamics that the U.S. could influence but did not produce.

January 20, 2011 | 4 Comments »

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  1. No peace will be lasting until the incitement against Christians and Jews that starts in the education system of the Arab and Palestinian world stops.

  2. Palestinians to declare state on 1967 borders?

    This looks like a bluff. It would free Jewish Israel to end the peace process, nullify previous agreements, cut off electricity, water and gasoline to the palestinians, and treat palestinian terrorist attacks on Jews as acts of war.

    It might make a difference if the west recognizes the palestinian state, and then imposes an embargo on Jewish Israel until it withdraws to 1967 borders, similar to how they treated white apartheid South Africa. But I don’t see this happening.

    The arabs have been described as living in a dream world, in which they are always the victorious muslim warriors defeating all non-muslims. It is this delusion which allows Jewish Israel to slowly establish facts on the ground, leading to an ever larger Jewish Israel, while the arabs dream on.

    Best of all for us Jews, the muslims can never give up on the dream. It is theologically impossible for them to admit that arab muslims were defeated within the arab muslim Middle East by dirty, stinking, cowardly, cursed- by-allah Jews.

    And talking about dream worlds, what is it that Obama, Hillary, the EU and the Quartet think they can actually accomplish?