Radical and Moderate Palestinians
Who Is More Popular?
The Palestinian Authority leadership does not see that the real threat to the two-state solution is Hamas and the unwillingness of many Palestinians to accept Israel's right to exist.
When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas returned from New York to Ramallah and told the Palestinians that he obtained UN recognition of a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines -- namely, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem -- fewer than 5,000 Palestinians, many of them civil servants who receive their salaries from the Palestinian Authority government, turned out to greet him in Ramallah.
When Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal came last week to the Gaza Strip and told Palestinians that armed struggle and jihad were the only way to liberate all Palestine, "from the river to the sea," and that there was no room for the Zionists in Palestine because the country belonged only to Muslim and Arabs, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians showed up to welcome Mashaal and voice support for his plan to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamic state.
Even many Palestinians in the West Bank expressed support for Mashaal, especially when he said that the Palestinians would never "give up one inch of Palestine."
The Palestinian Authority's official TV station in the West Bank broadcast Mashaal's speech live, as well as Hamas celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Islamist movement.
If anything, the widespread support for Hamas's position is a sign of how much the Palestinians have been radicalized over the past few decades.
A Palestinian leader who talks about a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem is less popular than one who talks about "liberating Haifa, Jaffa, Beersheba and Safed."
When Abbas says that a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines would lead to a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, he is ignoring the fact that a large number of Palestinians think otherwise.
The pro-Hamas rallies in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians chanted slogans in favor of liberating Palestine "from the river to the sea" and called for more rocket attacks against Israel reflect the authentic voice of the Palestinian "street."
This is not a voice that supports Hamas so much as one that denies Israel a right to exist. The rallies were not about backing Hamas so much as they were intended to express the true and sincere feelings of many Arabs and Muslims who believe that Israel is an alien body that needs to be uprooted or exterminated.
Were Mashaal given the chance to deliver a speech in the West Bank advocating jihad and armed struggle against Israel he would have attracted tens of thousands of people.
The Palestinian Authority is well aware of the growing anti-Israel sentiments among its constituents; that is why its leaders and spokesmen did not dare utter a word against the Hamas leader when he talked about eliminating Israel.
On the contrary, instead of voicing reservations about Mashaal's messages of hate and violence, Palestinian officials in the West Bank hailed his speech as "positive."
Why did they find the speech positive? Simply because Mashaal talked about the need for unity between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah faction.
How can the Palestinian Authority, which claims it remains committed to the two-state solution, join forces with another group that is openly calling on Muslims and Arabs to wage jihad in order to destroy Israel?
As the case has always been with the Palestinian Authority, it is easier to blame Israel and the US for destroying the two-state solution rather than Hamas and other terror organizations.
This view was expressed this week by Saeb Erekat, the chief PLO negotiator, who once again held Israel and the US solely responsible for the current stalemate in the Middle East peace process.
"As regional and global shifts take place, the window of opportunity is not only closing on the two-state solution, but on the U.S.'s central involvement in the peace process," Erekat wrote. "Punishing the Palestinians or anyone expressing support for the Palestinians, for taking peaceful diplomatic steps, is counterproductive and dangerous. The two-state solution is the best result for all concerned. The current Israeli government does not see that. It is hoped that their long-term ally, the U.S., will."
Erekat and the rest of the Palestinian Authority leadership do not see Hamas's ambition of destroying Israel is an obstacle to peace -- nor do they see that the real threat to the two-state solution is Hamas and the unwillingness of many Palestinians to accept Israel's right to exist.
Abbas, Erekat and other relatively moderate Palestinian leaders represent a dwindling minority of Palestinians that still believes in the two-state solution and peace with Israel. As demonstrated by last week's Hamas celebrations, an increased number of Palestinians have still not come to terms with Israel's right to exist.
Reader comments on this item
|Abbas & Erekat understand [172 words]||Shoshana Bryen||Dec 13, 2012 14:41|
|Abu Toameh Duped by Fatah Double-Speak [364 words]||Phillip Slepian||Dec 13, 2012 13:30|
|These moderates are an illusion to get money, create a facade, but continue their pursuit against Jews [178 words]||NuYorker||Dec 13, 2012 12:02|
|No hope for peace but death [31 words]||Ethan P.||Dec 13, 2012 09:51|
Comment on this item
by Khaled Abu Toameh
The "Arab Spring" did not erupt as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it was the outcome of decades of tyranny and corruption in the Arab world. The Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Yemenis who removed their dictators from power did not do so because of the lack of a "two-state solution." This is the last thing they had in mind.
The thousands of Muslims who are volunteering to join the Islamic State [IS] are not doing so because they are frustrated with the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The only solution the Islamic State believes in is a Sunni Islamic Caliphate where the surviving non-Muslims who are not massacred would be subject to sharia law.
What Kerry perhaps does not know is that the Islamic State is not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all. Unlike Kerry, Sunni scholars fully understand that the Islamic State has more to do with Islam and terrorism than with any other conflict.
by Steven J. Rosen
Palestinian officials have generally been silent about security cooperation with Israel. They are loath to acknowledge how important it is for the survival of the Palestinian Authority [PA], and fear that critics, especially Hamas, will consider it "collaboration with the enemy."
"You smuggle weapons, explosives and cash to the West Bank, not for the fight with Israel, but for a coup against the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli intelligence chief visited me two weeks ago and told me about the [Hamas] group they arrested that was planning for a coup... We have a national unity government and you are thinking about a coup against me." — Mahmoud Abbas, PA President, to Khaled Mashaal, Hamas leader.
According to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, if the IDF leaves the West Bank, Hamas will take over, and other terrorists groups such as the Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State would operate there.
In recent months, Abbas has been making a series of threats against Israel. If Abbas becomes another Arafat, it could be the Israeli side that loses interest in security cooperation.
by Burak Bekdil
It was the Islamists who, since they came to power in the 2000s, have reaped the biggest political gains from the "Palestine-fetish."
But the Turkish rhetoric on "solidarity" with our Palestinian brothers often seems askew to how solidarity should be.
by Raheel Raza
One blogger writes that Malala hates Pakistan's military. I believe it is the other way around.
I would so like to see the day when Malala is welcomed back in Pakistan, with the whole country cheering.
by Francesco Sisci
Democratic evolution in China was being seriously considered. The failures of U.S. support for democracy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Libya gave new food for thought to those opposed to democracy. Lastly, the United States did not strongly oppose the anti-democratic coup d'état that overthrew a democratically elected government in Thailand.
On the other hand, Russia -- dominated by Vladimir Putin, a new autocrat determined to stifle democracy in Russia -- provided a new model.
The whole of Eastern Europe and most of Latin America, formerly in the clutches of dictatorships, are now efficient democracies. This seems to indicate that while democracy cannot be parachuted into a country, there is a broader, longer-term global trend toward democracy and that its growth depends on local conditions.
As economic development needed careful planning, political reforms need even greater planning. The question remains: is China preparing for these political reforms?