by Dr. Mordechai Kedar
There are times when a state, especially a world power, realizes that it has been played for a fool over a long period of time and, infuriated, acts like anyone who is sick and tired of blackmail and chicanery. That is exactly what has been happening lately to the relationship between the US government and the PLO, the organization in charge of the Palestinian Authority.
It seems that the proverbial penny has dropped in Washington and the US government has begun behaving rationally with regard to the delusionary Palestinian State.
President Trump, who thinks like a businessman, keeps on asking himself: Is there anything to be gained from continuing the present situation? Or is maintaining it causing more damage? The answer to his question is what gave rise to his recent decisions. In other words, if something is worthwhile, he is willing to fund and back it, but if nothing is going to come of it, the thing to do is abandon it as soon as possible and stop throwing good money after bad.
That is how Trump views a good many international issues: The nuclear agreement with Iran, signed during his predecessor’s term, the understandings with North Korea which previous governments kept up for the benefit of a string of dictators who ran that strange country, the trade agreements with China and North American states and others. He feels totally free to “recalculate,” to paraphrase Waze, on a cost-benefit basis. This is his businessman’s contribution to American foreign policy – and that is exactly what happened with regard to the Palestinian Arab issue.
When it came to Jerusalem, Trump realized that more than twenty years have gone by since Congress passed a law mandating the US embassy move to Jerusalem, and although every president elected since then – Clinton, Bush and Obama – postponed the move again and again, there has been no progress on Jerusalem . In fact, Jerusalem has become the insurmountable bone of contention blocking any agreement between Israel and the PA.
He also realized that the Palestinian demand to make Jerusalem the capital of its proposed state does not make sense historically, because there has never been a king, Caliph, Sultan or Emir, Arab or Muslim, who made Jerusalem his capital. In contrast, there are Jewish, Greek and Roman sources documenting Jerusalem's being the capital city of the Jewish people. Trump came to the conclusion that putting off the embassy move serves no purpose, and moved the embassy to Jerusalem without exacting (at least so far) any price from Israel.
Trump then realized that the money the US has invested in the refugees since the late 1940s is being used to perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem. Every other country with a refugee problem in the 1940s, after WWII, solved it by means of returning to former homes, settling in their new location or immigrating to another. The only refugees still extant from that period are the Arab ones from Israel's 1948 War of Independence, and they are also the only ones who passed on their refugee status to three generations of offspring with no end in sight. No one understands why the American taxpayer should continue funding a problem that will never be solved especially as this funding is what allows it to continue on forever. Trump said to himself: Let's stop funding the refugees and they will realize that each one of them is responsible for solving his own problems, and putting an end to the issue. The Arab states that invaded Israel one day after it declared its independence are those who brought about the 1948 war and the resulting refugee problem, so why should the US pay for an Arab problem caused by the Arab nations?
It is quite possible that Trump received reports describing what UNRWA does with the money it gets – for example, payng the salaries of workers in Gaza who give part of their wages to Hamas, meaning that American taxpayers are funding a body their government designated as a terror organization
This means that instead of investing the American money in development and improving the lives of Gazans, it is being invested in digging tunnels and producing rockets meant to attack Israel, a US ally. Can there be anything more absurd? Previous US governments allowed this absurdity to continue and purposely ignored the information they received about what was being done with American taxpayers' money.
In case no one remembers, Hamas is a terror organization which ran in the January 2006 elections for the Palestinian legislative council, garnering the majority of its seats. There have been no elections since that date, so that Hamas still has the - democratic! – right to pass laws in the Palestinian Authority, despite being defined as a terror organization. Is there any reason for the US to fund an authority whose laws are passed by terrorists? And why does Europe continue to do so?
When discussing Palestinian elections, it is useful to remember an important sentence penned by Shimon Peres in his book "A New Middle East" (1996), p. 154: "The only way open to the Palestinian organizations if they want to overcome Hamas is through elections. An armed, extremist minority must be met by the authority of an elected majority." Peres, who held key offices in the State of Israel – Foreign Minister, Minister of Defense, Prime Minister and President – did not even consider the possibility that Hamas would use the elections to take over the Palestinian Authority of which he was a major founder and for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize. If someone so blind to reality and to what the future might hold served in such important positions in the State of Israel, what does that say about Israeli wisdom?
In addition, Trump is not happy with the transfer of US funds to cover Palestinian Authority activities because of the rampant corruption in its every governmental department and because Mahmoud Abbas' two sons, Yasser and Tarek, have become "partners" in every PA business deal. Funding the PA security operations is even worse – they do the minimum demanded by Israel, leaving the IDF to deal with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the other terrorists. If the IDF is the real PA defense force, why should America fund security operations that do not provide security?
Interestingly, Trump also stopped supporting so-called Palestinian "Peace organizations" which run activities for Palestinian Arab and Israeli youth meant to create an "atmosphere of peace" between the two sides. It seems that Trump understood that these organizations are an entire industry whose raison d'etre is to provide jobs and collect donations from well-meaning Europeans and Americans who have little understanding of the situation.
These donors are willing to hand over millions of euros and dollars to create something that is impossible to create as long as the official Palestinian Authority media spews incitement, delegitimization and dehumanization of Israel in particular and all Jews in general.
Do you get it? The PA creates an atmosphere of hate so that Palestinian organizations can hold meetings to create an atmosphere of peace – with US and European money, of course. About a year ago, a reliable and well known source told me that there are hundreds of these Palestinian "peace" groups as anyone who wants an easy income establishes an organization, prints promotional material using texts taken off the internet and approaches the Europeans and Americans for monetary aid. If a woman runs the organization, her chances are even better, and what is strangest of all, it seems that American Jewish organizations are the first to give money to these income-generating organizations.
Trump also stopped funding hospitals serving the Arab population in Eastern Jerusalem. He may have felt that if Jerusalem is a united city and Israel's capital, the responsibility for running these hospitals is Israel's. Perhaps Trump is telling the Israelis: You wanted a united Jerusalem? Well, you've got it now, so pay for the hospitals which are now under your jurisdiction." This is a healthy and proper, purely business attitude based on the concept of responsibility: whoever is responsible has to foot the bills.
In essence, with the moves he has taken against the PLO and PA, Trump is intimating that he has done his part, and now wants to know what Israel is going to do to put the PLO and PA where they deserve to be. Is Israel going to continue giving artificial respiration to these dead bodies? Is Israel going to continue keeping the hallucinatory agreements with terrorists signed by people like Peres and Beilin? Or is it going to join Trump and begin thinking rationally?
The Palestinian issue has direct bearing on the Iranian problem, because Trump is surely asking himself: If Israel, justifiably, is constantly warning about the danger facing it from Iran, how does it allow a terrorist organization to control the mountains overlooking Israel from Dimona and Beer Sheva in the south all the way up the coastal plain to Afula and Beit Shean in the north? Every schoolchild knows that the Palestinian Arabs will launch rockets against Israeli communities as soon as they are able to. Isn't there a contradiction between Israel's vehemence against Iran and its attitude towards the Palestinians? And if Israel creates dangerous situations for itself, why should America act against Iran and the agreements signed with that country?
It seems that the proverbial penny has dropped in Washington and the US government has begun behaving rationally with regard to the delusionary Palestinian State, putting it out to dry economically and ending decades of keeping it alive by artificial means. The Palestinian State can now find its rightful place in the history books as another march of folly.
The only problem is that all this is reversible and a different US government can easily turn back the clock and begin pressuring Israel to leave Judea and Samaria in favor of a judenrein Palestinian Arab state. Israel, therefore, must take advantage of the Trump era by creating a new reality, one that is almost impossible to change or dismiss: Israel must cancel the Oslo Agreements and all the others that followed those Accords, knock down the Palestinian house of cards, send the criminals it brought from Tunisia back to where they came from, starting with Mahmoud Abbas and his sons – and create independent emirates in every Arab city in Judea and Samaria run by local clans and their natural, local leaders.
Israel must remain in the village areas forever and offer Israeli citizenship to those living in those areas who make up about 10% of the Arabs in Judea and Samaria.
This is the only solution based on local sociological reality. Only this solution can bring stability, growth and peace to the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria, security to Israel. This is the solution to which Trump's steps can lead.
Tranlated from Hebrew by Rochel Sylvetsky
Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. Thoroughly familiar with Arab media in real time, he is frequently interviewed on the various news programs in Israel.
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