Recently, it seemed that the “Arab Spring” might have come to Judea and Samaria, when demonstrations broke out protesting the rise in the prices of gas and food. Palestinian Authority officials blame – could it be otherwise? – Israel for all of its troubles, and can even point to the source of the problem: the Paris Protocol, which binds the economy of the P.A. to the Israeli economy, the Israeli currency, the Israeli tax system and from here also to the prevailing prices in Israel. Their conclusion is that the P.A. must detach itself from the Israeli economy so that it can be independent. This demand was supported by several international bodies, who determined almost unanimously: The occupation is strangling the Palestinian economy.
However, the situation is much more problematic, because the economy is only the symptom of the illness; its result, not the real problem. The actual problem is the failure of the Palestinian project to establish one unique “Palestinian people,” with a shared national identity, on the basis of which civil systems can be established, like an economy and legitimate self-administration. The Oslo Accords brought refugees to the area of Israel known as Judea and Samaria, most of whom are not native to the area (Abu Mazen was born in Safed) and were never accepted by the local Arabs as “one of us”.
Those “architects of Oslo,” chiefly Shimon Peres, imported these foreigners and put them in control of the local population, lacking any legitimacy to rule. Perhaps Yasir Arafat – who was born in Egypt – had the aura of a national symbol, but his successors do not enjoy this aura. He was a leader, and they are politicians. The intention of Oslo, from Israel’s point of view, was – as the late Yitzhak Rabin put it – that Fatah should deal with Hamas “without the constraints of the Supreme Court or human rights organizations,” meaning that Fatah would do the security work for Israel, and it would be its collaborator.
Arafat and his successors never intended to carry out this task, because the Hamas movement is composed of locals, especially in the Gaza Strip, and if the PLO waged a real war against Hamas, it would cause the whole population to rise up against it. So the PLO played the “revolving door” game: they arrested a few activists for the sake of appearances to appease Israel, and freed them after a few days. Therefore the P.A. and its security apparatuses never fought seriously against terror, and for long periods even engaged in terror actively. As a result, the Hamas movement grew and developed so that today it rules in Gaza.
Another basic and negative feature of the Oslo Accords is the fact that these agreements left the settlement of the fundamental problems for the phase of the final status agreements: nothing at all was agreed upon regarding issues such as the borders, the Jewish settlements of Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem, the refugees, water, security arrangements and other issues, and they were left for settlement by negotiations that were supposed to have occurred within five years (“the interim period”).
The architects of Oslo naively thought that within five years the two sides would be able to arrive at a final status agreement. The great failure of the Oslo architects is that they did not determine in the agreements what would happen if the two sides did not arrive at a final status agreement. If the agreements expired would all that was written in them be cancelled? Would each side be free to do whatever it wants? The fact that the agreements do not relate to this is criminal negligence, because the manner of exit from agreements must be written into them: If a person rents out an apartment, and the tenant doesn’t pay the rent, the agreement must stipulate what will happen in this case, and what the exit strategy is. Without a detailed description of an exit process, no agreement is worth more than a garlic peel, and this is the case with the Oslo Accords.
Since in July 1999, the “interim period” of five years had elapsed without achieving a final status agreement, the Oslo Accords are now hanging in the air and are subject to the interpretation of each side: the Palestinians claim that it is their right to declare a state unilaterally, despite Israel’s objection, and Israel disagrees with this interpretation.
The Palestinians rush toward international recognition and Israel gnashes its teeth and does nothing to prevent it. The Palestinian Authority fights Israel in every international organization,and Israel thinks when it is spat upon that rain is falling. The Palestinian Authority continues its wild incitement against Israel and its undermining of the legitimacy of Israel as the state of the Jewish people.
If a Palestinian state is established in Judea and Samaria, it will continue to be hostile to Israel, even if only because Israel will not allow the refugees of from 1948 to return to Jaffa and Netanya. Such a state might become a Hamas state within a short time after its inception by means of elections as occurred in January 2006, or by means of a violent takeover as happened in Gaza in June 2007. Can anyone in the world promise that this scenario will not occur? Can anyone prevent a mutual defense pact with Iran for example?
The people who control the Palestinian Authority are not authentic leaders and therefore it is quite possible that a local movement such as Hamas might conquer it and overthrow it shortly after it becomes independent. The question that stands before Israel and the world is: should we be a party to a such a development? Can Israel function as a state when the kassams, the grads and the katyushas of Hamas are falling on Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Petach Tikva, Ra’anana, Kfar Saba, Netanya, Hadera, Afula and Haifa, not to mention Ben Gurion Airport, as they have been falling for years on Sderot, Ashkelon and the area surrounding Gaza? And if we take defensive action against the missiles, will there not be another Goldstone waiting around the corner?
Clearly, the P.A. exists only due to these three things: the IDF, which protects the P.A. and subdues its opposition, the handouts that the world transfers to the P.A., which serve as the blood in its veins, and the economic treaty with Israel. Without these three components the P.A. would collapse within one day like a balloon that encounters a pin. The Arab public identifies with the P.A. only as long as it proves to be economically useful, and will get rid of it as soon as it ceases to be an employment agency, the largest provider of employment.
The Real Solution
The Arab public in Judea and Samaria remains basically faithful to the tribe, not to national Arab ethnicity or the Palestinian narrative. In this it is no different from the other Arab countries surrounding Israel, the “Lands of the Mashreq (Orient)”: Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Every time the Palestinian police try to get involved with family disputes they are thrown out because they are “not one of us.” The large clans have much more meaningful control of the cities than the security organizations of the P.A., so it’s important to base any future arrangement on them. Contrary to the corrupt politicians of the P.A., clan leaders are legitimate, accepted and welcome leaders, and therefore they will succeed precisely where the P.A. fails: To gain legitimacy and recognition in the hearts of the public and to be accepted by it as natural leaders.
For this reason Israel must encourage the local authentic leaders of the cities to establish political frameworks, or emirates, defined according to the known sociological divisions: The Jabbari, Qasmi, Natasha, abu Snein and Tamimi families in Hebron, who have known for hundreds of years how to function with one another and are accepted as legitimate local leaders of the Jabbari clan. In Nablus, the al-Masri family can stand at the head of a local coalition with the Tuqan and Shakah families, and thus with all the other Arab cities of Judea and Samaria: Jericho, Ramallah, Tul Karem, Qalqiliyya and Jenin. Israel must forever keep control of the rural area between the cities in order to ensure that the mountains will not become Hamas Mountains with missile launching stations dug into the rock, as they are in South Lebanon.
The fact that the Palestinian emirates in the cities will be based on local sociology and local leadership, not the illegitimate rule that Israel imported, will afford to these emirates social stability, and therefore also political and economic stability. These emirates will live in peace with one another because they will be separate; each one will deal with its own issues and leave the others alone. This model is the only model that can exist in the Middle East. The troubles in the other countries of the region stem mainly from the fact that groups that are different from one another and hostile to each other have been forced to live together. Also the fact that the regimes of the Middle East are mostly dictatorships stems from the fact that most of the population sees its ruler as illegitimate.
The time has come when Israel should dismantle the artificial and illegitimate framework called the “Palestinian Authority” and on its ruins establish eight emirates, one in Gaza, which has been alive and kicking for five years already, and seven more in the seven cities in Judea and Samaria. Israel should annex the rural area and offer citizenship to the villagers. From the demographic point of view this solution does not present a problem, and from the security point of view this is a necessary condition for Israel to be able to exist in the very dynamic and unstable Middle East, where treaties are disregarded, Jordan may break up to form a Palestinian state and a Bedouin state, Egypt is becoming increasingly Islamized, Syria is disintegrating and becoming a terror state and Lebanon may fall totally under the control of Hizb’Allah. A return to the ’49 armistice lines, which would mean abandoning the Jordan Valley and retreating from the mountain ridge, would be suicidal for Israel.
It is to be hoped that our leaders will see the long-term Israeli interest and prefer it to the artificial, surface calm that Israel buys by “contracting” the P.A. at the cost of hundreds of millions of shekels and dollars. International recognition of a Palestinian state may perpetuate the Oslo disaster, and it will be very difficult to cope with such a state after it is declared and recognized. It is still not too late to prevent the establishment of a second Hamas state, this time in Judea and Samaria and every day that passes without Israel dismantling the P.A. brings Israel closer to a most difficult situation, a real existential threat, which is that a Hamas state may sprout up in Judea and Samaria.
May we all have a good year and be inscribed in the Book of Life.
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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