The Palestinians have spent the last twenty years converting a strong Israeli majority in favor of the peace process into one that regards the whole concept as a dangerous fantasy. This belief was reinforced once again on November 29th when the overwhelming majority of members of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution upgrading the status of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) from an “observer entity” to an “observer state” thereby granting it its most significant upgrade in diplomatic status in decades.
It seems that this austere body cannot find the time to deal with Hamas’s threat of genocide against Jews in Israel, North Korea’s testing of a soon-to-be-developed nuclear-tipped ICBM, Saudi Arabia’s subjugation of women, China’s oppression of 1.3 billion citizens or its brutal occupation of Tibet, the slaughter in Syria, the genocide in Sudan or slave-trading in Mauritania, but it has all the time in the world to create a state where none legally exists so long as it furthers the demonization of Israeli democracy, the delegitimization of the Jewish state, and the scapegoating of the Jewish people.
When a “state” isn’t a state
To the UN General Assembly, it would seem that the legal conditions required for statehood by the Montevideo Convention (1933) are irrelevant. According to that Convention, a “state” must have a permanent population, a defined territory, a government, and a capacity to enter into relations with other states. The PA possesses none of these requirements. “Palestine” lacks a “defined territory” (something that has yet to be negotiated with Israel); a government that exercises “control” over that territory (40% of its population is ruled by a terrorist organization, 60% by an unelected administrative entity that has not held an election in seven years, and its control over the populations in Areas A and B on the West Bank as provided for by the Oslo Accords is only partial); it has no “capacity to enter into relations with other states” (Hamas in Gaza is not bound by Abbas’s directives, nor is his authority recognized by it, nor can he bind “Palestine” to anything, nor has he honored his commitments in Phase I of the Roadmap which required him to dismantle Hamas and other terrorist groups), and his “state” lacks a “permanent population” since most Palestinians consider themselves not citizens of a new state but temporary residents (“refugees” according to UNRWA) awaiting their return to “Palestine” (meaning Israel).
As Stephen Rosen wrote recently, this new “state” comprised of Hamas-controlled Gaza and the Fatah-controlled PA areas has “two incompatible presidents, two rival prime ministers, a constitution whose most central provisions are violated by both sides, no functioning legislature, no ability to hold elections, a population mostly not under its control, borders that would annex territory under the control of other powers, and no clear path to resolve any of these conflicts” so other than grabbing his moment in the sun and moving “Palestine’s” UN seat from the Observer section to the “P” section between Pakistan and Panama, Abbas may have opened Pandora’s Box by claiming a pyrrhic victory on “statehood” without fully considering the economic and political consequences of his actions.
Although the UNGA has never had the power or authority to establish genuine legal states other than through non-binding recommendations, even so, by passing such a status-upgrade resolution, both the PA and the UNGA have effectively cancelled any chance that may have existed to establish a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. In doing so, they have also laid the groundwork for nullifying the Oslo Accords that created the PA and the Paris Protocols – the section delineating economic agreements between Israel and the PA.
According to Article XXXI, Sec. 7 of the Oslo II Interim Agreement from 1995: “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of permanent status negotiations.” Separate and apart from the fact that the Accords have been honored by the PA more in their breach than their observance for almost two decades (see below), even the act of unilaterally seeking a change of status from the UN General Assembly from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state” in and of itself has rendered those Accords null and void. Neither recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, nor negotiating Israel’s security needs, nor any desire to end the conflict with Israel appears in the UNGA resolution.
That being the case, the Israelis have several options, the most dramatic of which would involve nullifying the Oslo Accords, dismantling the PA, and annexing Area C (as designated in those Accords) which covers 62% of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) where an estimated 300,000 Jews reside (together with 55,000 Arabs) in 121 recognized Jewish communities under full Israeli security and civil control.
From an economic perspective, the majority of Palestinians understand what’s coming up the pipeline. According to a poll published in Ma’an in early November, while an overwhelming majority (84%) of Palestinians supported the UN bid, that support was tempered with 90% believing Israel would enact policies to punish the Palestinians for the maneuver, and over 50% believing that the bid would have a negative effect on the Palestinians.
The fear is justified. The PA operates like a corrupt fiefdom and is the largest recipient of foreign aid per capita in modern times. A recent World Bank report stated that its financial instability would not allow it to function as an independent country. Were it not for the financial resuscitation it receives from the U.S., the European Union and Israel, it would have imploded years ago. Economically, it already carries a $520M deficit, cannot pay its suppliers, and banks to which it owes more than $1.3 billion have refused to work with it or provide it with more loans according to the Associated Press. Much of its foreign aid covers the salaries to thousands of its civil servants and its 25,000 member U.S.-trained security and intelligence force – not to mention “salaries” paid to convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons and the families of Palestinian “martyrs” who were responsible for the deaths of thousands of Israelis. In addition, more than 40,000 Palestinians have received permits to work in Israel while another 15,000 work in Jewish communities on the West Bank despite an official PA ban.
If it so wishes, Israel can also terminate many of the services it provides to the PA including water, sewage, electricity, fuel, postal services, communications, port facilities, tax collection, cease providing employment for the thousands of Palestinians who work in Israel, and restrict VIP travel passes for PA leaders through Israeli check-points and into Israel itself.
It has already delayed the transfer of $115 million in tax revenues it has collected on behalf of the PA and applied it against the massive electricity debt owed by the PA to the Israel Electric Corporation and other bodies. Gaza derives at least 40% of its power from Israel’s electrical power grid and the PA-controlled areas of the West Bank derive 100% of their electricity from Israel.
In addition, Netanyahu has authorized the construction of 3,000 new apartments to be built in Jerusalem and the West Bank including expedited planning for the area known as E1 (which is in Area C) linking Jerusalem and its suburb of Maaleh Adumim with its 40,000 residents. Despite blanket world condemnation of Israel for having made this decision, it should be noted that the E1 area is virtually uninhabited rocky terrain and covers a mere 4.6 square miles. As Clifford May points out in National Review, by comparison, Denver International Airport covers 53 square miles.
International Criminal Court implications
Diplomatically, the PA may now be in a position to use its new UN upgraded “state” status to bring legal challenges before the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague against Israeli leaders for their alleged policies and practices in Gaza and the West Bank, although its legal capacity to do so is by no means certain.
On the one hand, the ICC is an independent organization not a UN body and is not obliged to follow the recommendations of the UNGA. In fact, the ICC has made every attempt in the past to avoid being politicized and compromised, so it is doubtful that the PA would have the necessary “state” status to bring such an action. In his speech to the General Assembly, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor said that the new status would not enable the PA to join international treaties, organizations or conferences as a state and does “not confer statehood on the Palestinian Authority, which clearly fails to meet the criteria for statehood” (as noted above). The 1998 Statute of the ICC enables only internationally recognized states that are party to the Statute to refer complaints to the court.
Similarly, Ambassador Alan Baker writing for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) concluded: “……Palestinians failed in 2011 to prove statehood when they attempted to obtain membership in the UN in light of the clear lack of national unity and capability of governance and inability to fulfill international obligations of a state, so now in 2012 it would be highly unlikely, even after an upgrade-resolution, that they will be able to prove to the ICC that they are a genuine legal state entitled to initiate complaints against Israeli officials and officers.”
Moreover, the ICC generally does not get involved in countries that investigate themselves through formal, credible judicial reviews as does Israel.
If however, the PA does succeed in having the ICC accept jurisdiction, it could turn out to be a double-edged sword. Israel would argue that “Palestine” (which nominally includes Gaza) has committed war crimes against it by preaching genocide against Jews and the Jewish state, sending suicide bombers into Israel from both the West Bank and Gaza, using human shields to avoid Israeli retaliatory strikes, and firing missiles into Israeli population centers from Gaza, and that if “Palestine” is a state controlled by the PA, then its leaders are responsible for these war crimes.
That is a case more easily proven than is any case against Israel for having committed war crimes and/or crimes against humanity against Palestinians in its settlement policies or in its response to missile fire and terrorist attacks emanating from the West Bank and Gaza. Even Human Rights Watch, known for its anti-Israel stance, recently accused Palestinian “armed groups” in Gaza of violating the laws of war during the November 2012 fighting by firing about 1,500 missiles at populated areas in Israel, making clear that harming civilians was their aim, and repeatedly firing missiles from densely populated Palestinian areas, placing Palestinian civilians at risk from Israeli counter-fire.
Abrogating the Oslo Accords
Despite their threats, the Palestinians do not need to annul the Accords because they never intended to honor them in the first place. Abetted by many Western governments, PA leadership has abrogated every agreement it has ever made with Israel. In fact, ten days after the Accords were signed on the White House lawn under the auspices of then-President Clinton, the terrorist attacks began and never stopped.
In return for Israel’s signing onto the Accords, the PLO (currently led by Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah) was upgraded from a terrorist organization to an internationally-recognized legitimate political organization and the Palestinian Authority (of which Fatah is the ruling party) was granted significant control over its domestic (as opposed to foreign) affairs, military training and assistance including stewardship by three American generals, a PLO office in Washington, billions of dollars in foreign assistance and ultimately, the dismantling 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza. Israel was rewarded with Palestinian suicide bombers, a Second Intifada, missile attacks on her civilian population, and the deaths of over 1,600 Israeli men, women and children since it’s signing.
Palestinian political culture is incapable of accepting peace with Israel, and pretending that such a choice is available is more posturing than policy. Rather than discussing the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, PA leaders continue to celebrate the deaths of their “martyrs” by naming tournaments and streets after them. Their educational system teaches that the Balfour Declaration was supported by the Europeans who saw it as a way to rid their countries of Jews. It teaches that Jews are infidels and the descendants of pigs and monkeys whose murder will lead them to Paradise. Their “summer camps” show photos of children dressed in fake suicide belts, carrying AK-47s, and calling for the destruction of Israel. The PA’s official logo carries a map showing the entire State of Israel as Arab “Palestine.” Hatred and calls for the annihilation of Jews and the destruction of their homeland emanate from their religious and media sectors, and at the Islamic University in Gaza, PhD theses are written on topics such as “The role of the Muslim mother in preparing her sons to be martyrs of the resistance.”
The true enemy of the Palestinians is this unrelenting hatred of Israel that they and others nurture and encourage. It supersedes all else…..which is why, since its inception, the PA has rejected Israeli offers for a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem both in the 2000 Camp David summit and in the ensuing offer conveyed by President Clinton at the end of that year. As noted recently in Israel Matzav: “The ‘Palestinians’ are not preparing for a state because they have no desire to run schools, collect garbage, and provide water and electricity to their ‘people’. The only reason – the ONLY reason – they demand a ‘Palestinian’ state is that they want to replace the State of Israel. That’s the real goal and it’s the only goal that matters to them.” Despite PA statements to the gullible Western media (in English), it continues to demand (in the Arab media) not a state beside Israel, but a state in place of it…….the “final solution” if you will. As Fatah leader Abbas Zaki told al Jazeera TV (in Arabic of course) on September 23rd, 2011 – “We want to wipe out Israel, but this cannot be accomplished in one go and it’s not (acceptable) policy to say it to the world.”
Nor has the PLO changed its 1968 Charter as was promised in Oslo. The word “democracy” doesn’t even appear in it. The relevant provisions of that Charter provide:
Article 7: [Individual] must be prepared for the armed struggle and ready to sacrifice his wealth and his life in order to win back his homeland and bring about its liberation.
Article 9: Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it. They also assert their right to normal life in Palestine and to exercise their right to self-determination and sovereignty over it.
Article 10: Commando action constitutes the nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war.
Article 19: The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time, because they were contrary to the will of the Palestinian people and to their natural right in their homeland, and inconsistent with the principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, particularly the right to self-determination.
Article 20: The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.
If the Palestinians, the UN and the Europeans do not feel bound to honor the Accords, then the sole remaining question is under what circumstances will Israel formally abrogate them and return to the status quo ante. The answer will come soon enough. In the wake of Israel’s 8-day counter-terrorism operation in Hamas-controlled Gaza, Hamas’s stature was elevated in Palestinian eyes. In fact, if presidential elections were held today, the Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, would defeat Abbas, and Abbas knows it.
Recognizing this growing strength and believing he can capitalize on it, Abbas has reopened Hamas’s dawah (Islamic proselytizing) institutions as a reconciliation gesture, suspended the arrests of Hamas’s West Bank operatives, and is rapidly curtailing the PA’s security cooperation with the IDF – the only real barrier to a complete Hamas take-over of the West Bank. Hamas continues to operate there under the cover of hundreds of Islamic charities and organizations and has a strong presence in most of the Palestinian universities and colleges on the West Bank, where its supporters operate under different labels such as the Islamic Bloc and Islamic Union.
Abbas has also allowed Hamas, for the first time since its 2007 civil war in Gaza, to stage a festival in Nablus to mark the terrorist organization’s 25th anniversary. He has broadcast live over official PA networks on the West Bank the incendiary speech of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Gaza calling for the destruction of Israel (while saying nothing), and in Hebron, thousands of Hamas, PLO, Islamic Jihad and PFLP supporters rallied in support of a Third Intifada, kidnapping IDF soldiers, and calling for the establishment of a single Arab state encompassing all of Israel.
Paralleling these developments, a just released poll by Arab World Research and Development (a Ramallah-based research center) shows that, for the first time since 2006, 88% of Palestinians favor Hamas’s strategy of “armed struggle” over Fatah’s (Abbas’s) political approach. If these statistics are correct, for Palestinians, war and terrorism are preferable to peace negotiations in which case there are dark times ahead.
Should Hamas (and its Iranian benefactor) seize control of the PA on the West Bank and Gaza and begin re-arming with missiles, the consequences are predictable. Not only is Hamas recognized as a terrorist group, but Israel will never permit the establishment of a genocidal Islamic regime entrenched a mere eight miles from its major population and industrial centers. Given the existential nature of this threat, the solution will no longer be the extension of Israeli sovereignty over the cities and towns of Area C, but a massive invasion of the West Bank and Gaza resulting in the overthrow of the Hamas-led government, and the return of these areas to pre-Oslo Israeli military control.
Israel will have no alternative but to use overwhelming force to achieve a clear-cut, unmistakable and decisive victory over Hamas much as the Allies achieved over Germany and Japan ending World War II. Diplomacy, impressive intelligence gathering, pinpoint aerial bombings and the awesome destructive power that resulted in ceasefire agreements and temporary respites from missile attacks in the past will no longer be acceptable. Hamas and other Islamist leaders on the West Bank and in Gaza will either be captured or killed and their defeat will be unambiguous. As Dr. Qanta Ahmed wrote in the Times of Israel: “(Hamas’s) militant ideology must be suffocated out of existence or else the detente (with Israel) is little more than an illusion.”
Anything short of this would leave them entrenched in power with enhanced international strength and stature (as is the case with Hamas in the aftermath of Operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense), allow them to declare their “divine victory” over Israel (as Hezbollah did in the aftermath of the Second Lebanon War), and would guarantee future Israeli wars once these Islamists have re-grouped and re-armed.
Only when Hamas, Islamic Jihad and their jihadist soul mates have been absolutely and unconditionally defeated can a new, moderate Palestinian leadership emerge, become part of the civilized, enlightened and cultural world, and head a future Palestinian state that would recognize Israel’s right to exist and initiate a genuine and sustainable peace with it. Short of this, the notion that Israelis can make peace with people committed to killing them is a delusion. Can peace ever be achieved with a society that celebrates its murderers as well as the mass homocide of innocent people? Not until the demonic pathology of these morally bankrupt Islamic Nazis has been defeated, and Palestinian society has been denazified.