Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dissolve the PA?

The President of the Palestine Authority Mahmud Abbas has been quoted as threatening that since the peace negotiations with Israel have reached a stalemate he is going to dissolve the PA.  At present this is only a rumor, not confirmed by PA sources, although some are taking this seriously.  It could represent a degree of frustration on the part of the PA President, who is already 8 years beyond his legal limit in office, but he surely did not really expect Israel to accept his uncompromising preconditions to continue the talks. 
To dissolve the PA would in effect be playing into the hands of Israel, since it would prove that Abbas is no partner for peace and that there is in fact no partner for peace on the other side.  To support this contention the PA today restarted unity talks with Hamas in Gaza, led by Hamas Head Mousa Abu Marzook, and Gaza Head Mohammed Haniyeh.  To celebrate this renewal Hamas released 10 Fatah prisoners it has been holding in its gaols.  In effect the PA has two paths to choose between, to continue to make peace with Israel or to return to the path of extremism and violence with Hamas.  It looks as if they are saying since Israel didn't give us what we demanded, we are going to take the second path.
The US State Dept. spokesman Jen Psaki was quite clear that the US would take a very dim view of this move to shut down the PA, since they have spent (wasted) millions (billions) of dollars trying to get the Palestinians to develop a proto-state, with the normal organization and functions of a state, namely police, water, sewage, mail, transparency, etc.  However, so far very little of this has worked and the EU too has poured billions of euros into this deep pit.  One would think the US and EU would by now know that this is such a waste of their tax-payers money.  In effect, if the PA is dissolved, this would negate the Oslo Accords on which its existence is based, and would return the situation between Israel and the Palestinians back to square one.  Israel would be almost required to step in and take over the functions of the PA, namely looking after the welfare of the 2.2 million Palestinians, as well as making sure that Hamas and other extremists did not fill the vacuum and take over themselves.  It would lead to great uncertainly and probably violence.  A case of one step forward two steps back. 
Some in Israel would celebrate the demise of the PA.  Naftali Bennett, Head of the Bayit Yehudi party, has already said "good riddance."  He forsees Israel retaking complete control of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and then giving the Palestinian Arabs a choice, either stay and accept Israeli sovereignty, or go to another Arab country, why not Syria, or Jordan.  What would happen cannot be predicted, but it is clear that if the PA collapses, then the possibility of a Palestinian State and the much-touted two-state solution fades into insignificance. 
But, the latest news is that there has been an agreement between the PLO/Fatah and Hamas to form a Unity Government of technocrats in 5 weeks time and then to have national elections in 6 months including the WB and Gaza.  If this reconciliation actually happens it will be a miracle, but PM Netanyahu has signalled his displeasure at this outcome by cancelling the scheduled meeting betwen Israel and the PA.  There cannot be any reconciliation between Israel and an organization that includes an Islamist group dedicated to its destruction.  It seems Abbas has chosen.


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