Knife at a GunfightThe multiplicity of Palestinian governing bodies have been contradicting each other as they flop around incapable of reaching a real peace with either Israel or their own militants. Within two days they have suggested they would abandon the dual state solution:
In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this week, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said if peace talks fail and Mr. Sharon follows through with his "disengagement" plan, the Palestinians would push for a single bi-national state of Arabs and Jews.Then, today,
Such a scenario would spell disaster for Israel's Jewish character, because the Palestinians' higher birthrate would soon put Arabs in the majority.
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Palestinian leaders on Saturday reasserted the right to unilaterally declare an independent state in the absence of a peace deal with Israel, responding to Israel's own threats of one-sided action.What these statements reflect, along with a remarkable incoherence in Palestinian policy making, is the reality that with Iraq gone, the Saudis disinclined to continue funding terror and the militants refusing to even discuss disarming per the roadmap, the Palestinians have been painted into a corner. And it is a shrinking corner as the Israelis, fed up with the ongoing homicide bombings, roll on with their fence. A fence which is strikingly simple in conception and which will quickly reduce the militant to impotence against Israel.
The go-it-alone declarations reflect both sides' frustrations with more than three years of fighting and stalled peace talks.
The executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, one of the Palestinians' key leadership bodies, met late Friday to discuss the ongoing conflict with Israel and reiterated the right to declare a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Arab parts of Jerusalem ? lands that Israel took control of in the 1967 Mideast War.
globe and mail
As I point out below, the Israelis don't have much to worry about when it comes to the idea of a war in the cradle. The internet gives the State of Israel the capacity to offer virtual citizenship to every Jew in the world.
A unilateral declaration of the state of Palestine would be a remarkable and rather interesting event. If that state claimed only to the pre-1967 boundaries it might well be that the Israelis would be inclined to say, "OK, there's your state." But it would not solve the real issue which the Palestinians are unwilling to face: their own death culture and the militants it creates.
To have a real Palestinian state that state would have to be able to ensure security within its borders. But, time and again, the various Palestinian governmental organizations have refused to take action against the Palestinian militants. Were there to be a state of Palestine, those militants would have to be contained. If they were not the Israelis would, rather quickly, declare war and wipe out as much of the terrorist infrastructure as they could reach.
The reason often cited for the Palestinian failure to control its militants is that to do so would be to create a civil war. Which is probably true. When Israel was created the need to eliminate independent armed forces created much the same situation:
The famous incident of the Altalena does appear. The American vessel, purchased by the Etzel and dubbed with Jabotinsky's pen name, set sail from Marseilles loaded with weapons for the newly created State of Israel, in late May, 1948, and reached the Israeli coast during a month-long truce. A dispute over the distribution of the weapons (now illegal, due to the truce) between the Etzel and the new government resulted in Prime Minister David Ben Gurion's order to fire on the ship.At some point some Palestinian is going to have to make the decision Ben-Gurion was faced with. To date not one of the Prime Ministers has shown any inclination to do so. The Troll of RamallahTM is never going to crack down on his own fighters. So the Palestinians are trapped by their own cowardice in an increasingly dire situation.
Nineteen men were killed, the weapons were lost to Israel's war effort, and the rift between Israel's Right and Left widened.
But the incident increased Ben-Gurion's determination to impose unity and discipline on all fighting forces, under one sovereign government. By the second part of Israel's War of Independence the various military forces were fusing, according to one standard, into the Israel Defense Force.
My own sense is that the contradictory positions coming out of Palestine at the moment foreshadow the realization on the Palis part that the game they have played until now has failed. Partially because it was a short sighted, nasty and hopeless game to begin with; but mainly because 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq have changed everything. Up to and including the willingness of the Americans and the Israelis to keep playing such circular and murderous games.
Now the Palestinians are going to have to have what I hope will be a short, sharp civil war which will bring a realist administration into power. The alternative is to be locked down behind the wall and forgotten.