by Reuven Berko
Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are too busy with their rivalry to truly care about the Palestinian people's welfare • Both are also oblivious to the fact that Middle East geopolitics and global circumstances have marginalized the Palestinian issue.
Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. This saying, it seems, best depicts the Palestinian Authority's relationship with Hamas: The rival Palestinian factions are so busy with their internal conflicts and their shared hatred of Israel that they are oblivious to the fact that the geopolitical circumstances, both in the Middle East and worldwide, have taken a negative turn that has undermined the Palestinian cause, while playing in Israel's favor.
While Hamas and the Palestinian Authority remain at loggerheads over control of the Palestinian people, the disintegration of Syria, Iraq and Libya has created a humanitarian crisis in the Middle East and with it an unprecedented refugee crisis.
The two-pronged threat looming over the Sunni countries in the Middle East -- the rise of radical Sunni Islam on the one hand and the threat of a nuclear Shiite Iran on the other hand -- has dramatically and ominously shifted the pan-Arab balance of power; the pro-Palestinian Arab system, meant to provide economic and military support to the Palestinian's political and armed struggle against Israel, has changed with it.
The changes in the regional priorities and interests of countries such as the U.S. and Russia, and the actions of rogue organizations operating in the Middle East, have placed solid and stable Israel in a strategic position even the Arab countries seek to preserve. Many of the Arab nations, some of which are fighting for their very survival, are eyeing an alliance with Israel, be it overt or covert, and their own strategic considerations far outweigh a Palestinian narrative fabricated for the sole purpose of ramming Israel and diverting the Palestinian people's attention from the wrongs committed by their rulers.
The chaotic reality overrunning the Arab world and the resulting upheaval Europe must deal with have left both indifferent to the anachronistic narratives of the "occupation" and Palestinian refugees. The regional disaster has dwarfed the Palestinian tale into a minor anecdote.
The Palestinian Authority's adamant refusal to accept any of the Israeli proposals to reignite the stalled peace negotiations gives the impression that it is unaware of the fact that the international community has lost interest in the Palestinian issue.
Hamas' armament efforts in clear preparation for the next round of hostilities with Israel suggest its leaders are oblivious to the animosity the residents of the Gaza Strip harbor toward their regime, as well as to the fact that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the other Arab and Islamic nations that have so far lent Hamas their diplomatic, financial and military support, are facing a host of new problems that require their attention, including the threats posed by the Islamic State group and Iran's regional ambitions.
Recently, however, it seems the unrest sweeping the Palestinian street and the dimmed effect Ramallah's manipulation has on key players in the international theater are beginning to take its toll on the Palestinian Authority's leadership. For a long time, the Palestinians were able to deceive many into thinking their issue was at the root of all global unrest, but then came the real Middle East tragedy, and the Palestinians' anti-Israeli myth was debunked.
In the current climate, it is clear that a situation in which Hamas would be able to exploit the Palestinian Authority's weakness to overrun Judea and Samaria is a nightmare scenario for both Jordan and Israel. Affording the Palestinians sovereignty status in the area in any manner that includes control of the border crossings and seaports would allow an influx of Islamic State terrorists and other radical Islamists into Judea and Samaria, and would turn it from the only area in the Middle East that enjoys some peace and quiet into a killing field.
It seems that the current, demilitarized situation, in which the Palestinians rule their own territories -- with a flag, an anthem and a passport to show for it -- is all they could ever hope for. Any change in this status spells a hellish reality for Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians themselves, and it can only undermine any chance of ever striking peace in the Middle East.
Throughout history, the Palestinians have always turned to the Temple Mount in a time of crisis. But not to pray -- to use the holy and highly volatile site as a trigger for violence and bloodshed. It is one of the oldest tricks in their book, meant to cause an overall escalation that would shuffle the deck in their favor regardless of the price it would exact in casualties.
Meanwhile, Jordan, the professed protector of the Al-Aqsa mosque, is caught in the middle. Under the agreement with Israel, Jordan represents Islamic interests on Al-Aqsa, and Amman adamantly fights Palestinian attempts to sideline its influence on the site and to establish a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem as part of a ploy to undermine Israel's sovereignty in the city. The Palestinians are trying to forcibly appropriate the Temple Mount, claiming they represent Christian interests in Jerusalem, and asserting that "Jesus was a Palestinian" and there was never a Jewish temple in Jerusalem.
Jordan understands Israel's measures against the Islamists in Jerusalem, but faced with its own set of Islamist problems at home, and given the millions of refugees on its borders, Amman must release anti-Israel statements.
Nevertheless, the facts on the ground, particularly Israel's building, have long ago ended the discussion on any future division of Jerusalem. Truth be told, the Palestinians have no claim on any part of the city. There was never a state called "Palestine" and it was never occupied, and neither was the capital it never had.
The Palestinian narrative on Jerusalem is dissipating. During 2014's Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem's mosques and churches, but somehow, Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claim that it is Israel that is threatening the Al-Aqsa mosque.
With the Islamic State group and Nusra Front terrorists indiscriminately targeting mosques all over the Middle East, razing them regardless of the harm that comes to their Muslim brethren, it is hard to believe the Palestinians are genuinely concerned about Al-Aqsa. On the contrary, it appears they are more than willing to risk the holy site for their own political gain, making it easier for many to believe Israel, the safest country in the Middle East, can protect the Al-Aqsa mosque better than any of the other unstable Muslim regimes around.
As for the Palestinians, Hamas would rather invest in its weapons caches than in the Palestinian people's welfare, and what little resources it has are diminishing by the day due to the Egyptian crackdown on the smuggling routes from Sinai to Gaza; and the Palestinian Authority is plagued by internal strife and discord over its future political path, and it is too busy thwarting Hamas' putsch attempts to truly care about the plight of the Gazans.
The situation in the Palestinian Authority and for Hamas in Gaza is dire, and global circumstances do not bode well for the Palestinian issue.
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