Friday, September 02, 2011

The Palestinian Fall

Pres. Abbas in response to PM Netanyahu's request for a continuation of negotiations: "But its a long, long time from May to December, and the days grow short when you reach September, and the Autumn weather turns the leaves to flame, and I haven't got time for the waiting game...."

As we get closer to the September opening of the UN, we come closer to the day when things will change dramatically in the Middle East. We have had the "Arab spring" which has resulted in the overthrow of three Arab dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and Syria's dictator Bashar Assad is nearing the end-game. Now we have the "Palestinian Fall," in both senses of the word. At this time the Palestinians have decided to take their chances and opt for asking the UN General Assembly to grant them unilateral Statehood. Abba Eban memorably said that "the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity," and this is one the greatest mistakes of their convoluted history.

Until now the Israel-Arab conflict has been bound up in UN resolutions that have required bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to come to a peaceful conclusion on the basis of a "two-state solution." By taking this unilateral step, the Palestinians are negating previous bilateral agreements. The agreements that Israel negotiated with the Palestine Authority will become null and void if that Authority no longer exists. The Oslo Accords that established the PA will themselves no longer be valid. All agreements that the US made with the PA will become obsolete. How that will change the actual picture is not entirely clear. But, it will free Israel to also take unilateral action, to declare that the agreements with the PA no longer limit its actions and to redraw the map of Israel in the Middle East. How this will intersect with the fundamental changes that are going on in the Arab world simultaneoulsy remains to be seen. Certainly none of the Arab countries neighboring Israel are in a state to take any action in support of the Palestinians.

The Israeli Government is currently undecided what to do in response to the Palestinian initiative. Netanyahu is waiting to see what the actual wording of the UN resolution is, how the Palestinians themselves respond and whether or not there will be a further violent uprising, the so-called "third intifada" that is being threatened. Pres. Abbas insists that he is against the use of terrorism, but so did Arafat. If there are mass waves of civilians against Israeli checkpoints then the IDF will have to be able to deal with that. But, just as in the past, violent attacks failed and terrorism failed, so the Palestinian tactics will again fail against a well-prepared, highly motivated and organized State such as Israel. We have seen worse and we have surmounted all previous difficulties.

Currently different Ministers of the Government are expressing different opinions. But, the actual Government response will be decided once the dust settles. This explains why Israel has been holding back in dealing with the rockets from Gaza, they don't want to give the Palestinians any excuses to take to the UN. But, after they make their move we will make ours, and the Middle East will never be the same again.Reply


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