Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sinai and the West Bank

The attack on a bus yesterday that killed another 12 Egyptian soldiers was an example of the lawlessness in the Sinai. The Egyptian army are struggling to control the activities of the extremist elements among the Beduin and Palestinians in Sinai. This has largely developed since the overthrow of Mubarak and the ascension of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt under Pres. Morsi, who were sympathetic to the Sunni Islamists, including those of Hamas, the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood. However, when the Army under Gen al-Sisi took over from Morsi, the Sinai was one of the main places where the Islamists had managed to gain a foothold. Now the Army is trying to mop them up. This includes closing the border to Gaza and closing all the tunnels that allowed men and weapons to flow back from Gaza into Sinai.

Although Sinai is close to Israel and has a long common border, the activities of the Egyptian Army will hopefully save Israel from becoming entangled in the violence and terrorism there. But, just consider what might happen in the West Bank if the Palestinians of the PA achieve a state. I would love for there to be a true peaceful relationshiop between Israel and a Palestinian State, but I suggest that Sinai is a more likely model for a Palestinian State on the West Bank. There will be chaos, lack of government control, militias, and civil war between the nationalists of Fatah/PLO and the Islamists of Hamas and al Qaeda. Is this an acceptable outcome for Israel, especially when the West Bank is right on our doorstep? Mortars and missiles fired into Israel will be far more dangerous than if they are fired from Gaza or Sinai, because most of Israel's population and its nerve center, such as Ben Gurion airport, will be within range of any Islamist who wants to bring Israel to a stand-still. Jersualem would be constantly under attack from the surrounding "Arab" hills. This would be an unacceptable and unlivable situation.

While the Israeli Government is negotiating with Pres. Abbas of the PA, even though the talks are currently stalled because the Palestinian negotiators resigned, does anyone think that Pres. Abbas has control over the PA so that he can deliver. The joke among the Palestinians is that he controls the parking lot of the Mukata, the government compound in Ramallah. Is any deal that Abbas signs worth more than the paper it is written on? But, of course, there is little chance of an agreement, even if the American administration as usual are trying to get their place in history and their Nobel prizes for peace (oops, I forgot Pres. Obama already got his in advance) by trying to enforce one. Abbas is a lame duck president, his term actually ran out in 2009, and he has cancelled elections. He does not want to go down in history as the Palestinian leader who gave up the fight with Israel, nor does he want to be assassinated. So it is likely there will be no agreement, that Abbas will retire, there will be chaos in the PA, Israel will be forced to take over to re-establish control, and we will be back to square one. We must negotiate and act according to the predictions of what is most likely to happen.


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