Gaza Illustrates Palestinian Statehood. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, June 24, 2013.
of State John Kerry is about to head to the Middle East again to restart the
peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. His goal remains a deal to
create an independent Palestinian state and thereby end the conflict for all
time. But as much as Israelis crave peace, along with the rest of the world
they are getting another good look today at what happens in an independent
Palestinian state and the result is far from pretty. That’s the only rational
way to process what happened earlier today as the Islamic Jihad group fired
half a dozen rockets at southern Israel from Gaza. Israel responded with air
strikes on the terrorists and the upshot was that for the first time in six
months the fragile cease-fire between the Hamas rulers of the strip and Israel
seemed in danger. But as the Times of Israel pointed out, the rockets were not
so much aimed at Israelis (though if some Jews had been killed that would have
been considered a welcome bonus by the shooters) as they were at Hamas.
sounds confusing, but it actually makes perfect sense. Hamas and Islamic Jihad
share a commitment to violence against Israel and imposing Islamist law on
Palestinians. But the two have different patrons. Islamic Jihad is now backed
by Iran, which used to supply Hamas with weapons, while Hamas now is tight with
Turkey, which is opposing the Iranians in Syria. But with Hamas worried about
starting another round of fighting with Israel just at the time when it wants
to keep pressure up on its real rival—Fatah and the Palestinian Authority in
the West Bank—support for Islamic Jihad is apparently starting to grow. That
has led to a crackdown of sorts by Hamas on Islamic Jihad. Hence, the rockets
fly as the Palestinians maneuver against each other by shooting at Jews.
the fight between two factions of extremist terrorists may not seem
particularly relevant to Americans, Washington should be paying close attention
to this battle since it is a preview of what may happen in the even more
strategic West Bank in the unlikely event that Kerry gets his way and Israel is
forced to abandon not just settlements but the military presence that keeps a
lid on terrorism. With all the talk about the need to create a Palestinian
state for the sake of justice or even to assure that Israel remains a Jewish
state, Gaza provides a daily clinic on the consequences of more Israeli
it is for some people to remember, when Israel withdrew every last soldier or
settler from Gaza in 2005, it was not assumed that the strip would become a
terrorist base. Rather, there was hope that it would provide a chance for the
Palestinians to show that they truly could govern themselves. But from the
first day after the withdrawal—when mobs burned abandoned synagogues and tore
down the greenhouses that had been purchased from their owners to give to the
Palestinians to use—what has happened in Gaza is a walking, talking
illustration of what the world could expect if the independent Palestinian
state that we are endlessly told is the only solution to the conflict ever
actually comes to pass.
course, as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, Gaza is for all intents and purposes
already an independent Palestinian state in all but name. Though some claim
that the fact that it doesn’t have complete control over its borders means it
is still “occupied,” that is nonsense. It is true that both Israel and Egypt
have sought to isolate the Hamas regime, but the Islamist group exercises
effective sovereignty over the area. Moreover, if that is the measure of
independence, do advocates of complete Palestinian independence over the West
Bank expect Israel to accept a militarized West Bank or one that is free to
allow the entry of foreign weapon supplies or even armed forces? If so, then
the danger that such a state would pose to Israel is even greater than some
point here is not so much to dismiss all the arguments that have been assembled
on behalf of the creation of a Palestinian state by both Americans and Israelis
out of hand. Most Israelis would like to be separated from the Palestinians of
the West Bank. Indeed, after the terrorism of the second intifada, most want
nothing to do with them and reject the idea that there can be any ultimate
solution to the conflict that does not involve two states that would allow the
two peoples to exercise their right of self-determination alongside each other.
So long as violent groups dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state
dominate the political culture of the Palestinians, the prospect of the West
Bank becoming another Gaza makes the high-flown rhetoric about the two-state
solution look naive at best.
main obstacle to peace remains the inability of Fatah to do what Hamas and
Islamic Jihad will not consider: recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no
matter where its borders are drawn and to renounce the so-called right of
return that would swamp Israel with the descendants of the 1948 Arab refugees.
If they were ever able to do that and to convincingly promise that this ended
the conflict rather than just pausing it, they’d find Israel ready to deal.
After all, Israel has already offered the Palestinians a state three times only
to find each one rejected. But so long as Palestinian independence is
synonymous with terror groups and their infighting, Kerry will find few serious
observers heeding his calls. Anyone who wants to know why Israelis are
skeptical about a Palestinian state in the West Bank need only look at Gaza.