Lately, there have been many rumors circulating about the intentions of the Palestinians, specifically Abu Mazen, to dismantle the Palestinian Authority and return to the pre-Oslo days, when Israel was responsible for all of the territories of Judea and Samaria, including the Arab cities. About one month ago, in March 2012, a conference including Egyptian and Palestinian notables convened in Cairo, and discussed this as a serious possibility, “because at present there is no political solution on the horizon.” The questions that the conference dealt with were: who has the authority to implement a decision to disband the PA, and whether the advantages of such a move would outweigh the disadvantages. According to the participants, the PA has failed because it has not achieved a full Israeli withdrawal from all of the territories “occupied” in 1967, and has failed to impose the refugees’ “right of return” upon Israel.
Ibrahim Hamami, head of the Center for Palestinian Affairs in London, who participated in the conference, stated: “The Palestinian Authority was established to serve the goals of the occupation by continuing negotiations, while the Palestinian citizen did not benefit from it at all. On the contrary: it was the Palestinians who were forced to withdraw because of the settlement activity and roadblocks. An additional reason to dismantle the PA is the Israeli “fear of deterioration in security that will occur in Israel because of the absence of Palestinian security organizations.” By saying it, Hamami implies that the whole raison d’être of the PA security organizations is to foster Israel’s security, and thus undermines the legitimacy of the existence of the PA. Hamami claims that six years ago, in 2006, Abbas had already hinted at the possibility of dismantling the PA after Israel broke into the Jericho prison and arrested Ahmed Sadat and his associates. Since then, the possibility of dismantling the PA has arisen from time to time, when Abbas has become frustrated with Israel.
As a result, Palestinian spokesmen have it easy: they just have to blame Israel for their failure. It’s convenient and it provides an explanation that the West will buy, because it doesn’t have a deep understanding of the problems of the Middle East in general, and the Israeli-Palestinian issue in particular. The truth of the matter is, there never was a chance for the Palestinian Authority to succeed, because of the innate problems that flow from the nature of the political culture of the Middle East. We will focus on a few of them:
1. The fundamental problem of any modern Arab state is the problem of its legitimacy to exist as a state, principally because the state does not reflect a well-defined ethnic unit, and therefore is not a nation-state in the European sense, e.g. France and Holland. Traditionally, there is no “Syrian people”, “Jordanian people”, “Lebanese people”, or “Sudanese people”. There is an “Arab people”, which is divided into tribes, clans, religious groups, and sects. Arab states such as Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Sudan are creations of colonialism, which was responsible for the arbitrary division of the Arab nation, without regard to demographic facts. The PA suffers from this problem too, because – traditionally – there was never a “Palestinian People”, and there is no trace of such an entity in any book or newspaper that was printed before 1920 – before the area of “Sham” (Greater Syria) was divided into four political units: Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine-Israel.
2. Most of the members of the “Palestinian People”, the virtual collective upon which the idea of a Palestinian state is supposed to be built, are descendants of immigrants that entered the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River during the second half of the 19th century and the twentieth century. The Ottoman Empire, the British Mandate, and the Jewish villages that were established in pre-state Israel were an attractive source of livelihood for the immigrant workers, who came from the surrounding areas. Many Egyptians fled to Israel in the 1860s in order to escape forced labor – digging the Suez Canal. Therefore even today, many “Palestinians” have names such as “Al-Masri” (The Egyptian), “Masarwa” (Egyptians), and “Fayoumi”, names which point to their Egyptian origin. Others are called “Al-Haurani”, because they were brought by the British from the Hauran, in Syria, principally to work in the port of Haifa. The inhabitants of the village of Jisr al-Zarqa are Sudanese, and therefore they did not participate in the 1948 War of Independence and remained in the place where they settled, between Caesaria and Ma’agan Michael. European geographers who visited the Land of Israel in the 19th century, as well as the international investigative committees which operated during the first half of the twentieth century, documented groups of immigrants from Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, North Africa, and the Balkans, who were residing in Israel. Residents of Rehania and Kfar Kama, two Galilee villages, are Cherkessian from the Caucasus. The Booshank clan, which lives in Kfar Manda, came from Bosnia. All of the residents of the Negev, most of the residents of the Gaza Strip, and some from Mount Hebron are Bedouins, who for centuries wandered between the deserts of Sinai, the Negev, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Their Saudi Arabian dialect clearly testifies to their country of origin. Some of the Armenians – who are Christian – fled to Israel from Turkey in the years 1915-1918, because of the genocide the Turks were perpetrating against them. Therefore, “Palestinians” are mostly a mixed people, various groups whose origin is not the Land of Israel.
3. The modern Arab state, since its inception, has failed and continues to fail in its main objective: to settle in the hearts of the citizens and to take the place of their traditional loyalty to the tribe, the ethnic group (e.g.: Kurdish, Turkmen, Arab), the religious community (e.g.: Muslim, Christian, Druze, Alawite) or the sect (e.g.: Sunni, Shi’a). A person will define himself as “Iraqi” or “Syrian” only if he is employed by the government or if he enjoys economic or political benefits from it. No person will volunteer for a state, dedicate his time, his wealth, and certainly not his life for a government, if he doesn’t feel that the governing system represents him. In the Palestinian case, this is evident in the absence of a volunteer army. All of the employees of the PA, especially those who serve in security apparatuses, are salaried, and serve the government only for what their salary is worth, and no more. They usually don’t do it because they see the PA as something that reflects their collective consciousness. Without the flow of funds, the PA would never be able to buy the services of its employees. It would collapse, and this leads to the clear conclusion that it is not considered a state of its citizens but rather an employer of salaried workers.
4. One of the results of the failure of the Palestinian venture is the split between Gaza and Ramallah. From a historical point of view, the bond between these two centers of Arab population is fairly weak, and is not aparticularly stronger than the bond between any other two centers of population in the Middle East. Between 1948 and 1967 the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian occupation, while the Old City of Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria were under Jordanian occupation. These two states reacted with an iron fist to any attempt of the residents of the respective areas to liberate themselves from occupation. The idea of a “Palestinian State” that would unify the Gaza Strip with Judea and Samaria is new, and was born after 1967, spawn of the Israeli left and Arab deceit – which misled some naive Jews to believe that the Arabs would come to terms with a Jewish state within the cease-fire lines that divided the Land of Israel between the states of Israel, Jorda,n and Egypt until 1967, known as the “Green Line”.
5. The Palestinian Authority was originally defined as a political entity, a “state in progress”, for the Arabs who live in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. But this geographical definition is a severe contradiction to the modern Arab narrative which claims that the concept of “Palestinians” includes, in addition to the Arabs of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, all of the Arabs who live inside Israel as citizens of the Jewish state, immigrants and refugees who live in the scores of refugee camps and beyond in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and in many other states. The connection or bond has never been established between the PLO – the organization that established the PA – and the groups defined as “Palestinian” but live outside of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, because the PLO claims (since its inception in 1964) that it is “the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.” What – if so – is the PLO doing for the “Palestinians” in Jordan, where they are a majority? Or in Syria? Or in Lebanon? What would be the meaning of the establishment of an Arab state in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, for the “Palestinians” who live as citizens of other states? How would this state solve the problem of the “Palestinian” diaspora, those who do not belong to local tribes in other Arab countries?
6. Since a real answer was never given to this question, the PLO invented the standard, but impossible answer: “the right of return,” meaning a solution through a third party – Arab “Palestinians” who were born in Arab states and have lived in them for scores of years will move to Israel. This despite the fact that throughout history, there has never been a case where the establishment of a state was conditional on the transfer of millions of people who were born in a second state to a third state. What is implied by the “right of return” is that the PLO and the “state in progress” that it established shirk their responsibility to solve the problem of diaspora “Palestinians”. Thus, every time a potential solution between Israel and the PLO seemed to be on the horizon, Arafat, and later Abu Mazen, made an obligatory visit to the refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria, in order to ease tensions and proclaim to the people there that they have not been forgotten, that their problem has not been neglected by the PLO. But since no one really believes them, organizations that object to the political process between Israel and the PLO have developed in those camps, principally Hamas and the Fronts for Resistance.
7. The PLO has never clearly and decisively defined its relationship to the state of Israel as a state of the Jewish people. Despite the fact that the Oslo Accords were signed, and despite the fact that according to them, “Palestinian” media were established, these media channels have not ceased to speak of the Galilee, Haifa, Acre, Yaffo, and Be’er Sheva – all inside Israel – as part of “Palestine”. And even now, the logo of the PLO includes the map of Palestine in its entirety. There has always been a double message – we speak with Israel, but it doesn’t exist because it is actually Palestine. This is how the “Palestinian” educational system operates – Israel does not appear in books as a legitimate state. It is the same in the public arena – all of the drawings and illustrations of “Palestine” are from the Mediterranean sea to the Jordan River, without any mention of Israel. This situation has created a cognitive dissonance among many Arabs as well as on the Israeli side: how can the “Palestinians” speak of their state in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, but at the same time, represent “Palestine” as the whole area between the Mediterranean sea and Jordan river, including Israel in it?
8. The Palestinian National Covenant states in section 1 that “Palestine is the homeland of the Palestinian people; it is an inseparable part of the greater Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people is part of the Arab nation.” This wording became the official version of the Palestinian narrative, which expresses the political aspirations of the “Palestinians”. Section 2 of the covenant states that “Palestine, as its borders were defined during the period of the British Mandate, is one indivisible territorial unit.” This statement negates the existence of the state of Israel (and perhaps also the Kingdom of Jordan). This section has never been changed. Following the signing of the Oslo Accords Israel was told in a vague letter that the sections that contradict the peace accords are no longer operative, but the covenant itself was never reworded. It is this discrepancy that gives rise to the Israeli perception that the Palestinians speak about the establishment of a state in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, but their true intention is that by the end of the process, the Palestinian Covenant will be realized exactly as written.
9. Arafat, followed by the various heads of the PLO, made a huge strategic mistake when they issued the ultimatum that Jerusalem must be the capital of the Palestinian state. This distressed many Jews who, despite their desire to reach peace with the Arabs, are not willing to give up Zion, the cherished treasure of the Jewish people, toward which it has prayed for the 1900 years of exile. The demand to have Jerusalem is relatively new because the Palestinian covenant – whether in the 1964 version or the 1968 version – does not mention Jerusalem at all. It is interesting that the Hamas covenant, which was written in 1988 also does not speak of Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. Moreover, there is no historical basis for the Palestinian claim to Jerusalem, because this city was never the capital of an Islamic state or province. The capital of “Jund Filistin” (the District of Palestine) after the Islamic conquest in the year 637 CE was the city of Ramle, 30 kilometers to the west from Jerusalem. And just for the sake of comparison, Jerusalem is mentioned hundreds of times in the Hebrew Bible, and not even once in the Qur’an. The Jewish people and the children of Israel also appear in the Qur’an hundreds of times, but the Palestinian people – like Jerusalem – not even once. The baseless Muslim-Palestinian demand for Jerusalem has caused many millions of Christians to grant Israel its unstinting support.
10. The world paid little attention to the Palestinian terror that raged in Israel after the outbreak of the second Intifada, from late September 2000 until September 11, 2001. With the attacks that occurred on that day in New York and Washington, the world began to understand better the terror with which Israel was confronted, because until then, there was no tangible reference point with which to help them understand Israel’s predicament. Only after September 11 was the decision taken in the West to declare Hamas and Al-Qaeda terror organizations and to boycott any bank or organization that transfers money to it. The Palestinians, chiefly Arafat, did not understand that continuing the terror after September 11 worked against them and made it easier for Israel to define them as terrorists, which has darkened their image in the world until today, at least regarding Hamas.
11. Since January 2006, the split between the PLO and Hamas has not simply been a division between two parties who sit together in the same elected body. Rather, the split has a deeply cultural characteristic, because Hamas represents a religious Islamic concept, which sees the division of the Islamic nation into states as a colonialist, un-Islamic division that was intended to splinter Islamic caliphate. The PLO is trying to build a modern, artificial narrative of a Palestinian people, similar to the modern narrative of the Syrian, Iraqi, or Jordanian peoples. Hamas, a religious movement from the Muslim Brotherhood school of thought, sees the narrative of the nationalist paradigms as something that is alien to Islam, and this is the basis for the split between the two movements. In June 2012, Hamas will mark five years since the establishment of the Islamic state in the Gaza Strip, while in Judea and Samaria, the PLO has failed to establish a governing body that has any chance of surviving without the backing of the state of Israel. Anyone who is involved with what is happening in Judea and Samaria, Arabs as well as Jews, knows that Hamas will take control of Judea and Samaria – and sooner rather than later – if Israel and the IDF leaves that area.
12. During the year 2011, since the “Arab Spring” began, the Arab world has neglected the Palestinian problem, because the events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria have overwhelmed the newspapers, the radio stations, the TV channels, and computer screens. The Arab World has turned its back on the Palestinians and their problems, and has removed them from the public agenda. This is the real reason that the Palestinians turned to the UN last September for recognition as a state. Later, the continual development of events in Egypt and Syria that dominate the Arab media pushed the PLO again to search for their friends in the corridors of the international arena, in places where there isn’t even the slightest understanding of the culture of the Middle East and the problems that it causes to modern illegitimate entities that are known as Arab states. There exists in the world, and even in Israel here and there, the hope that if only the Palestinians will get their state, they will accept Israel as a legitimate state with the right to exist in peace and security. Hamas will sit together with the PLO around the campfire and will sing the Palestinian anthem harmoniously, and the sons of Hebron will take wives from the daughters of Nablus. No one is willing to address the question: What will the world do when the Palestinian state, with territorial contiguity in Judea and Samaria, turns into a Hamas state? It’s interesting that those Israeli bleeding hearts, who naively hope for peace despite the ignoring the past, seem to have had enough, and also avoid answering this question.
There is a conclusion to be drawn from all of the above. The Palestinian national project was supposed to create a Palestinian people on which to base the establishment of a Palestinian state. This has resulted in total failure. Only a small intellectual minority, who is liberated form the tribal mindset, truly espouses it. Therefore, Israel and the world must search for a different solution, like the ‘eight-state solution,’ which is based on the establishment of eight Arab city-states: one in Gaza which already exists, and has been alive and kicking for almost five years, and another seven in each of the Arab cities in Judea and Samaria: Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Jericho, and the Arab section of Hebron. Israel must remain forever in the rural expanses in order to assure that the hills of Judea and Samaria will not turn into the hills of Hamas. And just as the Arab residents of Jerusalem have the option to have Israeli citizenship – and according to many public opinion polls, prefer to live under Israeli control than under any alternative Arab control – Israel should offer Israeli citizenship to the Arab residents of the villages of Judea and Samaria as well.
The world must wake up and recognize the reality, read the “Al-Fatiha” – the first chapter of the Qur’an, which is similar to the Jewish “Kaddish” and the Christian “Requiem” – over the Palestinian Authority, and send its corrupt officials, who were brought from Tunisia by Rabin (may he rest in peace) and Peres (he should live and be well), on a return flight. These two Israeli leaders were deceived by fellow Nobel prize laureate, great murderer and compulsive liar, Yaser Arafat. They thought he would take care of Hamas, without having to involve the Israeli Supreme Court or human rights groups, but what actually transpired is that Hamas is taking care of the PLO (and Gaza, since June 2007) and taking care of the Israelis too, in Sderot, Ashkelon, and the area surrounding Gaza, without involving the Supreme Court or human rights groups, but with an assist from Goldstone and the perennial bias of the UN and its illustrious cast.
The dismantling of the Palestinian Authority into eight Arab city-states, based on the local and different tribes who live in these cities, is a necessary condition for peace, for Israel and its Arab neighbors to thrive, and therefore Israel and the world must accept Abu Mazen’s threat to quit with a blessing.
About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.
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