The Middle East is at it again. At the top of the list, no one, it seems, is even thinking of stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability -- and by extension at least several other countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt.
First, It is dangerous enough for any openly expansionist regime, theological or not, to have nuclear weapons; Iran has recently shown itself to be nothing if not expansionist. Second, and, if possible, worse, several of the countries around Iran -- who correctly feel in its crosshairs, have already announced that they will be building or buying nuclear weapons as well; and have probably already started. The Islamic State (ISIS) is also rumored to be on the market for a nuclear warhead; you too can apparently buy one for around $400 million. So we shall all have uncontrolled and uncontrollable nuclear proliferation to look forward to.
On top of all that, the Americans and Europeans are rumored to be at it again, pressuring the Palestinian Authority (PA) to renew peace negotiations with Israel. The London-based newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, recently quoted a senior Palestinian who suggested that the PA Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to jump-start the stalled negotiations.
New signs of triggering antagonism between the Palestinians and Israel are also reflected in the Vatican's recognition of the Palestinian Authority as the State of Palestine, despite the vandalizing of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and other acts that led to the mass-exodus of persecuted Christians from the Palestinian territories, and despite the PA having joined with the terrorist group, Hamas, in the so-called Palestinian National Consensus Government ["Unity Government"]. This union enabled Israel to accuse it of responsibility for the war crimes that really only Hamas committed against Israeli civilians during the last war. At the same time, the tottering Palestinian Authority is trying to delegitimize Israel by accusing it of war crimes in the International Criminal Court (ICC). Neither of these attacks bodes well for either Israel or the PA.
The ICC in The Hague also recently announced that it would unilaterally investigate Israel for alleged war crimes committed in the last clash in the Gaza Strip. This project will not end well for the Palestinians, the Israelis or the politicized "Jim Crow" International Criminal Court. Meanwhile, the Unite Nations' verdict of guilty, in its "Schabas Report," issued this week, was written even before the trial began.
The Obama Administration has also increased its pressure on Israel with not-so-subtle threats. Susan Rice and other sources within the US administration openly claimed in early March that, in view of Israel's "refusal" to make peace, and because of its interpretations of statements made by Netanyahu during this Israel's elections this year, Washington would not veto unilateral European proposals to establish a Palestinian state.
President, Barack Obama, on May 22, tried to reassure the Jewish community to the contrary and said that he was "an honorary member of the [Jewish] tribe," but his assurances are suspicious. Obama has earned a reputation for not telling the truth, from blaming the 2012 slaughter of Americans at Benghazi, Libya on a YouTube video (even two weeks after he knew the video was not the reason), to welching on his "red line" commitment when Syria's government used chemical weapons on its own people.
The Israelis regard the American stance as an anti-Israeli vendetta based on Obama's personal dislike of both Israel and Netanyahu. Although Netanyahu has said that now might not be the best time for a Palestinian state, he has, in fact, never changed his fundamental policy: that a Palestinian state could potentially be in Israel's best interests.
What Netanyahu did say, with justification -- as hard as it is to admit he was right -- is that, given the current regional chaos, establishing a Palestinian state at this time would mean establishing a terrorist state in the West Bank. To do so now would simply lead to what is euphemistically called "further regional destabilization" -- namely, war. Recognizing a Palestinian state at this time will also encourage terrorist activities by giving extremist Islamic elements -- presently operating throughout North Africa, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq -- even more territory from which to expand their operations.
This new Islamic extremist land-and-power grab would be similar to that of Hamas after it took over the Gaza Strip, after when Israel unilaterally withdrew in 2005; or the ISIS takeover of Syria and Iraq when the US withdrew or failed to act. Currently, Hamas and ISIS in the Gaza Strip menace the security of both Israel and Egypt.
A new Islamic emirate in the West Bank at this time would also be dangerous for Jordan. Even without an Islamic emirate, Jordan has to cope with waves of refugees, among whom are Islamist terrorist operatives infiltrating the kingdom with the goal of overthrowing the Hashemites and turning Jordan into a territory ruled by ISIS or the Muslim Brotherhood. Given Iran's efforts to exploit the weakness of Sunni Islam in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Bahrain, there seems no need for another extremist Islamic arena in Jordan.
Considerable pressure is also now being directed at the Palestinian Authority to renew negotiations with Israel. Some of the pressure comes from former President Jimmy Carter's possibly well-intentioned but totally counterproductive demand that the Palestinians hold elections.
All public opinion polls in the PA indicate that if elections were held today, Hamas, as in 2006, would win in a landslide.
Unfortunately, many decision-makers in both the United States and Europe view the situation through the lens of Western democracy and practices. The overwhelming Hamas victory in the student council elections at Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah, should have been a wake-up call. Unfortunately, it was ignored.
Hamas supporters march during a student council election rally at Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah, on April 20, 2015. The overwhelming Hamas victory in the student council elections should have been a wake-up call to the U.S. and Europe.
Mahmoud Abbas has a dilemma. If elections are held in the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas-- whose only openly-stated reason for existing is to destroy Israel -- wins, the PA will cease to exist and Israel will be able to avoid the peace process for all time.
If, however, elections are not held, Mahmoud Abbas will continue to rule without international or Palestinian legitimacy. Not only did his four-year term expire six years ago, but at this point, he barely represents the Palestinians in the West Bank.
The almost two million Palestinians on the other side of Israel, in Gaza, are represented almost exclusively by Hamas, with continuing attempted inroads by ISIS. Abbas is thus unable to represent "the Palestinian people" in any serious political process. The proposal for elections is therefore an embarrassment for Abbas, and is generally ignored.
Tragically, to shore up its status locally, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has taken a series of hasty, contradictory and dangerous steps. Since the PA's chance at controlling the Gaza Strip has disappeared forever, the PA, to ensure its own continued survival, coordinates security with Israel to prevent further Hamas subversion in the West Bank.
In the meantime, senior figures in the PLO and the PA compete with Hamas in issuing strident, extremist messages to the Palestinian populace, which is consequently being radicalized -- to the point now of supporting Hamas and ISIS.
Mahmoud Abbas and his high-ranking associates, nevertheless, continue to hold formal ceremonies to honor terrorists killed during attacks on Israeli targets. Abbas also continues to commemorate "shaheeds" [those who die in the cause of Islam, often called "martyrs"] who killed dozens of Israeli civilians in suicide bombing attacks. Abbas erects monuments, names town squares after them, and holds sports and chess tournaments in their honor.
On this year's Nakba Day -- "the day of catastrophe," which commemorated the 67th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel -- during the May 15 ceremonies, Mahmoud Abbas promised the Palestinian masses that the occupied territories and the Palestinian diaspora would soon be restored to the independent state of Palestine. He also swore that the "resistance" -- that is, armed violence and terrorism against Israel -- would continue until the goal was achieved: destroying the State of Israel and establishing the Palestinian state on its ruins.
These intentions are not a secret to Israelis. They therefore do not trust his sincerity when he claims he wants "peace." Only the wide-eyed West still does not believe that Mahmoud Abbas is telling the truth when he assures the Palestinians of his intent to destroy Israel.
The deliberate tension crafted by the Palestinian Authority has, as its only objective, bloodshed -- both Palestinian and Israeli. This tactic can usually be seen when the level of violence falls below what the PA finds acceptable. It then trots out the old saw, first coined by the anti-Israeli Islamist sheikh Ra'ed Salah (whose right to free speech is protected by Israeli law), "Al-Aqsa mosque is in danger!"
At the beginning of May 2015, Sheikh Yusuf al-Dayis, the PA Minister of Religious Endowments [Waqf], made headlines in the Palestinian daily, Al-Quds, with the incendiary statement that the fate of the entire Muslim nation hung on the 35 acres of the Temple Mount. He even provided a list of what he claimed were Israeli "attacks" on Al-Aqsa mosque. Sadly for him, visitors to the Temple Mount can see every day the exorbitant security measures taken by the Israelis to protect the site. In point of fact, the record shows that every time the Palestinians want to provoke another pointless round of violence and slaughter, they say, "Al-Aqsa mosque is in danger!" It invariably causes hundreds of casualties on both sides and achieves absolutely nothing.
The last time a mosque actually was damaged was recently, in the Gaza Strip, when Hamas's security forces removed the holy books, then used three bulldozers to raze a Salafist mosque. Hamas claimed it was in retaliation for an alleged Salafist attack on Hamas "jihad fighters" south of Khan Yunis. Sources in Gaza confirmed that seven Salafist-jihadi operatives were arrested in the mosque, and that Hamas had recently arrested 30 Salafist-jihadi Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis members. Having started terrorism in the Gaza Strip, Hamas is now reaping the result: terrorism there is "going viral."
All evidence reveals that to establish a Palestinian state now would quickly turn it into an Islamist terrorist entity. Each time governments encourage Islamist movements, or ignore them in the hope that they will attack someone else, these movements have boomeranged into their own backyards and then moved on to their neighbors'. This will be the fate of Syria's Bashar Assad, who let Hamas and other terrorist groups set up shop in Damascus. Former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat let Hamas into the neighborhood, and the Palestinian people are now being repaid by Hamas. Arafat wrongly assumed that letting Hamas in the door would serve him by forcing Israel to make concessions. Mahmoud Abbas thought that forming a Unity Government with Hamas would give the PA a unified front with which to harvest more money and diplomatic concessions from Europe. But last August, Abbas was informed of a Hamas murder plot against him. "We have a national unity government and you are thinking about a coup against me," he said to Hamas's leader, Khaled Mashaal.
The Islamist terrorist enclaves are wholly the fruit of the Muslim Brotherhood doctrine freely being spread around the Middle East and the democratic West. The so-far isolated incidents of bloodshed in Europe, Africa and the United States are just at the beginning stages of a long, bloody campaign to engulf the world.
Gaza has already been lost to Hamas and perhaps soon to ISIS. Libya and Lebanon may follow next. If the West pressures Palestinians and Israel to create a Palestinian state now, the West Bank and Jordan will be sure to follow. Enabling an expansionist Iran to have a nuclear threshold capability will also throw the region into war.
We, the Palestinians who live in the Palestinian Authority and within Israel, have not stopped dreaming of a Palestinian state, but we also witness the chaos around us and are relieved that so far the catastrophe has not harmed us or our families.
Some Palestinian politicians have turned to more extreme rhetoric to find favor with Israeli Arabs, but despite the tendency in Palestinian society towards extremism and terrorism, what is certain is that even if the establishment of the Palestinian state is postponed, most Palestinians hope the West will not make the mistake of permitting Iran to go nuclear. A nuclear Iran will create a nightmare that will make the Nakba look like a coming attraction.
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.
 For recent examples, see: "Fatah glorifies arch-terrorist who planned killings of 125," May 14, 2015; "PA honors 3 terrorists who lynched two Israeli reservists," May 11, 2015; "PA sports presents terrorist murderers as role models," May 4, 2015.