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The birth of Palestine: What happens the day after?


The belief that settlements are the main obstacle to ending the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and the related assumption that withdrawal from the disputed territories would bring peace, represents a narrative strongly ingrained in the political imagination of Israel’s critics. Indeed, much like any faith, such assumptions are often impervious to contradictory evidence.  

The Guardian’s coverage of the region is constantly colored by such assumptions.

Among the many problems with the land-for-peace religion is Israel’s history since Oslo.

West Bank

Israel’s military withdrawal from major Palestinian population centers in the West Bank (representing a total of 40% of the territory), per the Oslo Accords, resulted in a dramatic increase in Palestinian terrorism, and served as an incubus for the 2nd Intifada.

Per journalist Martin Krossel:

“In the first 31 months following the signing of first Oslo Accords, Palestinian terrorists murdered 213 Israelis. That was the largest number of fatalities for any time period of the same length in the country’s history to that point. The attacks on Israel only ended after 2002, when Israel reoccupied parts of the territory that it had abandoned in 1993, a move which allowed it pursue individual terrorists and the heads of terrorist network who had found sanctuary within the lands controlled by the PA.”

The 2nd Intifada killed over 1100 Israelis.

South Lebanon

Israel’s withdrawal from their buffer zone in South Lebanon, contrary to the predictions of most analysts, only emboldened the Iranian backed Islamist terror group, Hezbollah, whose political power and military might expanded dramatically as a result.

Today, Israeli intelligence estimates that Hezbollah possesses around 42,000 missiles and rockets, including long-range weapons capable of hitting anywhere in Israel.

A report in UPI stated:

[Hezbollah’s current arsenal represents] more than three times the number of missiles Hezbollah had at the outset of the 34-day war in July-August 2006. Hezbollah fired nearly 4,000 rockets and missiles, or around 200 a day, into Israel’s northern Galilee region during that conflict.  That was the heaviest bombardment Israel’s civilian population endured since the state was founded in 1948.

Hezbollah’s rocket and missile arsenal is larger than that of most national armies.”

Gaza

After Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, driving thousands of settlers from their homes by force, Hamas claimed it was a victory over Israel, and then started firing Kassam rockets (and more sophisticated Grads) from Gaza into southern Israeli cities. Subsequently, Hamas took over the entire Gaza strip from the Palestinian Authority, violently expelling all Fatah opposition, and has been ruling there ever since.

Since 2005, terrorists in Gaza have fired over 8,000 rockets into Israel, killing 45 Israelis and injuring over 1500.

Faith in the efficacy of withdrawal.

While most proponents of Israeli withdrawal claimed that such moves would weaken the more radical Palestinian movements (by taking away their major raison d’être, resisting “the occupation”), the ascendancy of Hezbollah and Hamas since Israel’s disengagement demonstrates the inherent fallacy of this theory.

So, it seems reasonable to ask why we should assume that history wouldn’t indeed repeat itself in the event that Israel withdrawals from the entire West Bank (and possibly “East” Jerusalem), and a new Palestinian state is born.

The impassioned proponents of Israeli withdrawal, and the creation of a Palestinian state, rarely seem to so much as acknowledge the history of such retreats since Oslo, and the dangers inherent in further territorial concessions.

And, they equally rarely spend much time thinking about what kind of Palestinian state will be born.

Will Palestine be democratic and progressive in even the broadest sense of these words?  But, more importantly, will the Palestinians elect leaders who will finally declare an end to their conflict with the Jewish state or, rather, use the mechanisms of their sovereign state to continue a conflict without end?

Palestinian radicalism

The Free Beacon reported on a new poll of Palestinian public opinion, which certainly isn’t promising regarding the future direction of such a state, demonstrating that Palestinians would vote into the presidency Marwan Barghouti, the terrorist currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail.

The Free Beacon reports:

“Asked whom they would support if a presidential election were held today, Marwan Barghouti—a career terrorist and Fatah Party leader jailed since 2002 over his prominent role in directing suicide bombings against Israelis who headed the Tanzim militia and founder of the Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades—garnered the most votes.

Israel’s indictment of Barghouti states that he oversaw 37 terrorist attacks that resulted in the murder of 26 Israelis.

In a three-way race between Barghouti, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, and Mahmoud Abbas (the current president), the vote would be split 37, 33, and 25 respectively. In a direct matchup between Barghouti and Haniya, the former would win overwhelmingly, 60-34.”

Of course, anyone familiar with Palestinian society wouldn’t be surprised by such results, as they seem to accurately reflect a culture, and government, which glorifies terrorism, promotes antisemitism and rejects the very idea of peace and co-existence with the Zionists.

Indeed, another poll in 2010, by Stanley Greenberg, found that almost two-thirds of Palestinians (59 percent in the West Bank and 63 percent in Gaza‏) support the two-state solution ‏(Israel and Palestine‏) but eventually hope that one state − Palestine − will prevail. Only 23 percent said they believed in Israel’s right to exist as the national homeland of the Jews.

“Palestine”, beyond the abstraction

So, while most Israelis support, in principle, a two-state solution, many also fear that such an outcome would be dangerous given the current PA leadership, and broader Palestinian political culture.

To much of the Western Left, which unconditionally supports the immediate fulfillment of Palestinian national aspirations, the question of what kind of state will be created (if it is pondered at all) does not seem to weigh heavily.  A Palestinian state, much like Palestinians themselves, remains, for many, merely a political abstraction.    

Israelis, who will have to deal with the reality of this new polity, however, don’t have the luxury of entertaining fanciful notions of the imminent arrival of a newly progressive, suddenly peaceful Palestinian neighbor.  

If those of us who are citizens of the Jewish state, and therefore necessarily wed to its destiny, are to take our critics seriously, we must be convinced that they have soberly and honestly wrestled with the real world consequences of Palestinian independence – what happens when Palestine is born.

And, what will happen the day after?

31 replies »

    • You can not have peace as long as you occupy another people’s territory. This is something Great Britain learnt the hard way in India, or France in Algeria. It will be the same for Israel : there can not be peace as long as Tsahal occupies the neighbouring Palestinian territory.

      • Tell that to GB (which is still occupying 1/2 of the world), France (which won’t even allow regional autonomy and the right to speak their own language to its people), Russia (which just re-occupied a portion of Georgia and won’t let go of the Caucasus and Tchechenia), the US (which have a finger in every pie)…and Jordan, in which a foreign king (Saudi Arab) refuses citizenship right to 75% of its population and maintain in exile over 3 millions of its rightful inhabitants. Yep, I’m speaking of the Palestinian Arabs, whose land of Transjordan Palestine was confiscated by the Hashemite minute Saudi tribe -with the complicity of GB- at the same time as it was recognized by the UN, in 1946 under the name of Hashemite (at the demand of GB) Kingdom of Transjordan PALESTINE: two full year before the Jewish National Home became the State of Israel and was also recognized by the UN.
        The only time the Judea-Samaria was an occupied territory was from 1949 to 1967, under Jordanian occupation. The Jews never stopped living there, not even during the Roman Empire (they were only forbidden to enter the Area Capitolina: a portion of Jerusalem)

      • Benyamin, my concern is that Israel cannot have peace, period. The situations you mention are not analogous.

      • You are missing the point, probably deliberately. Israel cannot have peace because her Arab neighbours want all her land.

    • The Palestinians have been living in Palestine for centuries. Just like Americans have been living in America for centuries.

      • Want a competition? What are mere centuries to the 3500 years the Jews have been there?

      • I don’t think you want to try to connect the Palestinians to the American experience. How most of us got this land is a bit of a sordid story. Just saying.

        That said, the Jews have also been living in the region for centuries, both in what is now Israel and what may become Palestine. That’s why this is a regional land conflict, not a cosmic war of colonialist against colonized.

      • Five nations simultaneously attack the new, legally established, country, intending to destroy it. Why do you ask?

      • The correct wording should be “what happened …”.
        You should go to school and learn grammar, time and causality, not posting while being fed by mom.

  1. Why are these arabs referred to as Palestinians? They just happen to be living in an area called Palestine. They are in historical terms the invaders. Every time I see and hear the term Palestinian all I can visualise is Leila Khaled and her band of muslim murderers. They have no legitimacy whatsoever.

    • The four million people living in Palestine are Palestinians, juste like the people living in Great Britain are Britons.

      Have you skipped classes in highschool?

      • You obviously didn’t have critical thinking classes in your high school. Were you to consult the archives of the League of Nations resolutions (which the UN engaged itself to implement when it was constituted in 1945), that you would change your tune about what YOU learnt in high school about “Palestine”. In first place, you’d learn the “Palestinian” was a derogatory term employed by Turks and Arabs to design Middle Eastern Jews.

      • “juste like the people living in Great Britain are Britons.”
        Benyamin when you write a line such as the above can you kindly put up a warning in advance, as I’ve just fallen off my chair laughing at it.

        You are either completely ignorant of the demographic composition of Great Britain or you have a natural talent for writing comedy.

        So tell me when you write your posts is it out of ignorance that you get things so woefully wrong, or are you demonstrating your talent for comedic writing?

  2. Most Israelis who believe in a so-called two state solution are idiots! After all that they have seen in the last decade – reality fails to make an impression on such people. An Arab state west of the Jordan River will be run by Hamas. I have heard no one refute this simple fact of life. There is no guarantee such a state will be run by the kind of people Israeli Jews and Western leftists prefer. Its better not to tempt fate.

  3. Very thought-provoking, Adam. You know as well as I that Israel’s neighbours are hardly forward looking except in the inculcation of Jew-hatred into their children.

    The rose-coloured clouds and tweety birds picture of the Guardian’s “Palestine” are so much rubbish as was the notion that there would be an Arab spring in Egypt for the mindless fools who then ushered in the Muslim Brotherhood. The main difficulty with this sort of blind faith is that, like the Arabs who say it and then believe that it is true just because they have said it, the Guardian and others seem not to realise that it is a figment of their collective imagination, or that it takes hard work to realise.

    Are they so stupid that they can no longer admit, much less accept that the Palestinian behaviour which supports its hate-filled rhetoric, whether from the West Bank or from Gaza, will be the ultimate sticking point in any negotiations?

    Would any other nation be expected to negotiate with people who openly declare that their aim is to obliterate their partner? Of course not! Then why expect Israel to do so? Where is the lasting and honest show of good faith by peaceable behaviour from the PA and Hamas to make negotiations at all feasible or possible? Why aren’t world governments leaning on the Palestinians to bring that about?

    What should the Palestinian apparent delight in brainwashing that hatred into its children tell the politicians who are determined to excuse that and every depravity ensuing from the PA and Hamas? Does any of this indicate that they are at all trustworthy? Theirs is not simply empty rhetoric and all of us know that far too often it is supported by murderous behaviour. Doesn’t this say that the PA or Hamas are more driven to destroy their neighbour than they are interested in the mechanics of state building?

    The Palestinian attitude is born not of oppression but of lack of education in critical thinking among other things, so that they can be lied to by their leaders with impunity provided the lies are spoken with enough authority or ranted loudly and repeated often enough.

    The Palestinian leadership, Hamas and the PA, betray their people at every turn. Yet rather than working on those leaders to force them to do what is just for their people, the UK and other governments collude with their madness.

    The Palestinians will never get their state while this state of affairs obtains and I am glad of it.

  4. Great article, but do people really expect the Guardian to talk about the Palestinians genocidal media against Israeli civilians as Palmediawatch has brilliantly showed.

  5. What boils me is that non Muslims who support this kind of people who hate anyone who is not Muslim including Christians, Buddhist, atheists and so on, they aim is to Islamisese the world at any cost and it has been from the beginning of existence of this invented cult, where they mullahs in prayers halls, mosques constantly ignite they hate against us, what will it takes for this kind of supporters? only when somebody clause to them will die of the hands of this haters than maybe they will wake up.

    • You cannot expect Western people, no matter their religion, to support the military occupation of a people by another people, nor the building of illegal settlements by Israel on land confiscated from its Palestnian neighbour in the West Bank.

  6. Thats ridiculous, ofcourse you can expect westerners to support that. Westerners did just that all over the world for the last 500 years, and still do!

    • But “Westerners” tend to allow themselves things what they never would allow to Jews, like having a national home, national liberation etc.

    • Exactly, Dan: Westerners used to occupy other people’s land before. Not anymore. The sad thing is that there are some people in Israel who do not seem to realize that occupying your neighbour’s land is no longer acceptable.

      We no longer live in the Medieval age.

      • It seems that Benyamin has never heard of Gibraltar or the Falkland Islands (to name just two off the top of my head).

        • Transylvania, Felvidek, Szigetkoz, Diego Garcia, Tibet the Kuril Islands, etc. don’t exist in benyamin’s geography…

      • What land do you consider Israel’s, and what belongs to the ‘neighbors’? Let’s start there. Why is the West Bank ‘Palestine’ and not ‘Jordan’? What do you actually consider to be a fair and equitable settlement of this situation?

        I ask, because honestly, with all your platitudes and stupid analogies to Great Britain, it is hard for me to tell what on earth you imagine a good outcome being.

  7. To answer Adam’s question, what happens the day after?
    It will be an even bigger nightmare than it is currently, if that is possible, for those living next to it and for those living within it.

    From the report “Persecuted and Forgotten?: A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith.” 2011 Edition,
    “Christians also face difficulties in areas under the Palestinian National
    Authority, both in the West Bank but more especially in the Gaza Strip.
    Since Hamas took over Gaza in June 2007, Christians have come under
    pressure from Islamists to conform to Muslim practices. For example
    women have been forced to cover their heads in public and police have
    begun stopping Christians from selling alcohol. As Islamisation has
    increased, men have been banned from appearing bare-chested on Gaza’s
    beaches. Clothes shops have been told to remove mannequins displaying
    lingerie. Some Muslims regard Christians as a symbol of the West, and
    as such responsible for their problems. Christian homes, shops and
    churches have been attacked almost on a daily basis. In a massively
    overpopulated region of 1.5 million people – of whom half are children –
    there are no more than 5,000 Christians.”

    For those who wish to read the report for themselves it is available in pdf format at the website of the Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.