Thursday, January 4, 2018

The end of an era - Reuven Berko

by Reuven Berko

The Palestinians in Gaza are sick of Hamas, and in Judea and Samaria, they are tired of the Palestinian Authority's rampant corruption.

In the late 1990s, author and political commentator Fouad Ajami published his book "The Dream Palace of the Arabs: A Generation's Odyssey," in which he laid out the failures in the worldviews of Arab leaders and their self-criticism as the reason for their lack of achievement.

Two decades later, as 2017 was drawing to a close, the Palestinians' dream palace sustained three serious blows in quick succession. First, U.S. President Donald Trump declared that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This was followed by the Likud Central Committee's decision to annex the settlements and the Jordan Valley. Finally, the Knesset passed a law that removes the teeth from any future peace deal involving Jerusalem (by requiring a special majority of 80 MKs to vote in favor of handing any part of the city over to any foreign government).

If the Palestinians were to look at them in a sober light, they would see that the U.N. resolutions that followed Trump's announcement were meaningless. In light of the continuing historic drama that began with the landmark Balfour Declaration, the U.N. resolutions condemning Trump's announcement carried no operative significance and merely served as a faint echo of the detached institution's fading anti-Israelism.

The latest provocations from Hamas are not a lust for battle, but an expression of how desperate and lost – operatively, politically, and ideologically – the organization is. This beaten and battered group made an immense investment in missiles and attack tunnels, at a heavy cost to its people. These have become a pointless burden. Hamas is currently in a political situation in which the world is sick of Islamism, and the entities that aid and abet it (Qatar, Iran, and Turkey) are bogged down in their own domestic troubles.

The Palestinian Authority is at the end of an era. PA President Mahmoud Abbas is trying fruitlessly to use a diplomatic atmosphere that is hostile to Israel to wring concessions out of it, while simultaneously avoiding direct negotiations with Israel or recognizing it as a Jewish state. The PA is wasting time trying to paint Israel as an apartheid state through a South Africa-style boycott movement, while continuing to coordinate on security because it is afraid of Hamas.

The Israeli convoy is moving on while the PA is gritting its teeth over absurd demands (Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital and a "right of return" for Palestinian refugees), not realizing the effect the processes at work in the world are having on their delusional dreams. Indeed, Islamist terrorism, the Iranian threat, the breakdown of many countries in the region, the masses of Muslim refugees into sinking Europe, the persecution of Christians in the Middle East – these are the factors that have sidelined the Palestinian problem, which was never the cause of the regional unrest.

As these developments take place, Abbas is claiming that the U.S. is sponsoring an Israeli strategy to eradicate the Palestinians and their irrefutable right to kill off the peace process. A range of voices in Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Hamas – responded to Trump's declaration and Israel's decision about Jerusalem and the settlements with the language of a declaration of war that demands that they revoke any recognition of Israel and the peace process and resume resistance (the armed struggle).

Most of the Palestinians in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip are waking up. The sparsely attended "days of rage" Hamas and the PA initiated over the issue of Jerusalem signal a disappointing finale because the city used to be an issue that would light up both the Palestinians and Arab nations.

The Gazans are sick of Hamas, and in Judea and Samaria they are tired of the corruption in the PA, and once again an interim government devoted to economic issues that would have Israel's blessing is being discussed. Some reject the militant candidates for Abbas' position (Majid Faraj and Mohammed Dahlan) as representatives of the same old organizational approach and would prefer Salam Fayyad, who has already proven his ability to make the vision of a flourishing Palestinian society a reality. That might work well for us.

Reuven Berko


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