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Negotiating On Quick Sand

by Teapot Harding (Principles: Shrinking Government) - 1 year ago

A Two State solution in the Middle East is currently impossible for one simple reason: there is no legitimate stable Palestinian government with whom Israel can negotiate.

The Seventh Party Congress of the Palestinian Fatah party, held late last year, was a resounding success for the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. The 82 year old leader vigorously delivered a 3 hour speech that made one important point: Abbas is not planning to retire any time soon. His position was further bolstered by the election of a Central Committee stacked with Abbas loyalists.

This gives the surface appearance that the Palestinian leadership is stable. The reality is the opposite. Abbas, himself is not a legitimate ruler as the 4 year term to which he was elected, expired 8 years ago. The reason why there has not been another election is that Abbas is afraid that he will not win. Palestinians, as a whole, are divided between Fatah and Hamas as to which group should lead.  Thus, neither Fatah in the West Bank, nor Hamas, which rules Gaza, is willing to risk losing power by giving the Palestinian people a voice. 

Worse yet, for Abbas and Fatah, is that the Seventh Party Congress itself was deemed by many Palestinians to be illegitimate. To ensure the result he wanted, Abbas excluded hundreds of eligible members who were loyal to other potential leaders. Abbas has also not yet designated a  successor and even if he did, that designation would not be legal and, in any event, would not be determinative as a succession war is almost certain to occur when Abbas leaves.

It is with this organization that the world insists Israel must negotiate a PERMANENT peace agreement. Permanent? How can you possibly have a permanent agreement negotiated with an illegitimate octogenarian leader, with neither a successor nor a peaceful mechanism in place to choose one? Let’s add that this octogenarian is bitterly opposed not only within his party but by Hamas which currently rules Gaza where over one-third of the Palestinian population lives.

The answer, of course, is that you can’t negotiate a PERMANENT agreement with the Palestinians until such time as they have a stable government which represents all Palestinians.  Otherwise, we will simply see a repeat of what happened in Sinai, Lebanon and Gaza when Israel withdrew from those places. Large portions of the Sinai are now controlled by the terrorist group ISIS, southern Lebanon is controlled by the terrorist group Hezbollah, and Gaza is controlled by the terrorist group Hamas. Give the current Palestininan "government" a country of their own, and how long will it be before that government is taken over by terrorists as well?

President Trump, to his credit, initially recognized the futility of committing American prestige to negotiating a two-state solution. His statement that he would be “OK” with whatever agreement the two sides could reach was perceived as a declaration that the U.S. had other priorities. Unfortunately, though, Abbas put on his statesman pose during his visit to the White House and Trump caught the Two State Solution Fever, declaring that achieving peace in the Middle East peace was maybe “not so hard.”

Fortunately, the cure was administered during Trump’s visit to Israel in the form of a video showing how Abbas and the Palestinian leadership continue to incite and reward terrorist attacks against Israel. Trump took it personally and scolded Abbas for lying about the Palestinian commitment toward peace with Israel.

It was a good moment for Trump but sadly, he is still missing the point. Even if Mahmoud Abbas truly wants peace with Israel, he has neither the authority to make a deal, nor the power to make it binding upon his successor. How could Israel, a country with a legitimately elected government and strong institutions in place to ensure a peaceful transition, hand over land and security arrangements to an entity that has neither.

If anyone believes that a deal negotiated with Abbas would be worth the paper it’s printed on, please feel free to comment. 

Comments and Responses (1)

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By  Jayef Kennedy - 1 year ago
You have created a catch-22 which has the effect of permanently legitimizing Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. Israeli oppression of the Palestinians makes it impossible for the Palestinians to create a stable government. The guarantees that Israel seeks will be provided through the other Gulf states, like Saudi Arabia and the United States, EU, UN and Russia. The only thing preventing a two-state solution is the Israeli dream of some day annexing all of the West Bank.
Discussion Leader's Response : This comment is relevant to the discussion. (Commenter's rating is increased.)
Discussion Leader's Explanation : Thank you for responding to my question. Outside parties, including the U.N. also guaranteed that southern Lebanon would not be taken over by the terrorist organization, Hezbollah. Those promises were worthless. The U.N. and the world has watched helplessly as Syria descended into a hellish civil war. The world has been impotent to stabilize countries like Yemen, Libya and Somali.Once an agreement is signed, the world will move on and leave Israel to deal with the consequences. What you are suggesting is like telling two people who hate each other to get married under the assumption that once they get married things will get better. NO - things will get worse. If the Palestinians want their own state, they need to do the hard work now so that they have institutions in place to govern that country. Then, and only then, can Israel even consider entering into final status negotiations.