The George W. Bush years are now behind us. But Barack Obama, while still waging an American war on terror, will almost certainly remain committed to a so-called “Two-State Solution” in the Middle East. Here, he should be reminded that any state of Palestine would quickly become a primary launching point for mega-terrorism against the United States as well as Israel. Moreover, the entire Arab/Islamic world sees only a one-state solution. For Israel, of course, this would mean a patently “Final Solution.”
What is now going on in the so-called “Palestinian Territories”? Gaza is already the site of close and growing tactical and strategic cooperation between Hamas and al-Qaeda. Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and Lebanon are also witnessing a determined al-Qaeda push to establish more core terror bases.
For some time, al-Qaeda has been asserting its unswerving commitment to wage jihad against Israel (the individual Jew writ large), and against Jews in general. Only recently, however, has this genocidal commitment begun to elicit Western attention. In a relatively recent Jihadi website posting, bin Laden had clearly warned: “We will not recognize a state for the Jews, not even one inch of the land of Palestine.”
The destruction of Israel has always been Hamas’ top objective, but al-Qaeda, which has proven adept at inserting itself into local conflicts around the world, and then incorporating them into the broader Wahhabi-Salafi war against the West, has now also fixed its sights on “Palestine.” This sinister focus should not be lost on the new administration in Washington. It should not be lost in all the “feel good” rhetoric and posturing of newly installed American leaders who believe naively in the equally good intentions of all parties.
A “Two-State Solution”? The Palestinian Territories are not about to metamorphose into a decent and democratic national society. After all, they have already become the newest front in a well-organized international jihad movement. With Gaza now an active forward base for global terrorism, Shi’a Iran, long a close partner of Hamas as well as an al-Qaeda ally has been intensifying the existential threat to Israel.
Now, finally, and upon careful examination of political reality rather than just theoretical ideology, it is fully understood within principal intelligence circles that operational collaboration between various Shia and Sunni groups will not be prevented, only because of profound religious differences.
Even recently, while Israel was reluctantly but unavoidably engaged in Operation Cast Lead, Palestinian civil warfare revealed expanding concentric circles of jihadi alignment. In a February 2008 interview with the al-Hayat Arab language newspaper, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had repeated claims that al-Qaeda’s growing presence in both Gaza and the West Bank could destabilize the entire region. Abbas, who recently became an object of ridicule and vilification in Gaza, had earlier warned that Hamas was enhancing al-Qaeda’s power.
The January 2008 breach in the Gaza border with Egypt along the Philadelphi Corridor represented a pivotal development. This well-coordinated attack had permitted not only large quantities of Iranian-made weapons to enter Gaza (we can see the dreadful consequences of this allowance today), but it had also admitted scores of al-Qaeda operatives.
Israel’s Military Intelligence Chief, Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, told a February 2008 meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the Knesset that this breach had “enabled Hamas to bring back those who had left for training in Syria and Iran, including snipers, explosives experts, rocket experts and engineers.”
Ely Karmon, at The Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel, raised an alarm about al-Qaeda members linked to the Sharm El Sheikh attacks of July 2005. These terrorists subsequently moved to the West Bank and Gaza from bases in the Sinai. Backed by Iran, al-Qaeda is steadily moving in on Israel from the north, first by establishing its secure presence in Lebanon. Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Lebanese Shia terror group Hizbullah, has tacitly acknowledged al-Qaeda’s growing involvement in Lebanon, but disingenuously termed it a “dangerous and unacceptable” situation.
Despite their religious differences, Sunni al-Qaeda and Shia Hizbullah now form a true partnership, led by Iran, whose common goal is the destruction of Israel, the toppling of less radical Arab-Muslim regimes (such as that of the Palestinian Authority’s Abu Mazen), and the establishment of a core territory around which a new Islamist Caliphate might be formed.
Let Barack Obama take note. Radical Islamist behavior is now de rigeur in Gaza. Several al-Qaeda-linked groups have emerged openly, such as the Army of Islam and the Swords of Islamic Righteousness. Several are clan-based, and affiliated with Fatah and/or Hamas. They are also reliably reported to be operational offshoots of al-Qaeda.
All things considered, our new president should understand that a Palestinian state would be altogether contrary to the security interests of the United States. Sobering here would be the inevitable competition for control of such a fragile and anarchic state by the various Sunni Arab regimes, now being armed by Washington, and by Shiite Iran; now being armed by Russia. Naturally, a Palestinian state would most clearly endanger Israel, creating irresistible new opportunities for both conventional and unconventional acts of aggression.
New wars could be launched by enemy states directly, or by their proxies from Gaza. The attackers might assume the posture of suicide bombers, thus immobilizing the normal security bases of rationality and deterrence. Under even the most optimistic assumptions, a Palestinian state – any Palestinian state – could spawn a grievously unstable balance of power in the region.
President Barack Obama should already recognize that any Islamist Palestinian state would be contrary to our national security interests. Such a state would embolden and strengthen al-Qaeda and other terrorist enemies of the United States. What had once been a basically secular nationalist territorial dispute between Israel and its Arab neighbors has now become a primary battlefront in a no-holds-barred international jihad.
Supported by Iran and by that country’s terrorist proxies, Hamas and Hizbullah, al-Qaeda threatens Israel on several fronts. But the group’s growing presence in the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon represents a danger not only to Israel, but also to the United States. With all this in mind, President Barack Obama should therefore resist the clichéd political “wisdom” of past American administrations, and strenuously oppose any creation of a Palestinian state. This will be difficult, to be sure, but the dreadful alternative would soon render moot all current counter-terrorist operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Copyright © The Jewish Press, February 13, 2009. All rights reserved.
LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is a long-time expert on international relations and international law. He is the author of many major books and articles in the field, and is known professionally to certain Israeli military, academic and intelligence communities. Dr. Beres is the Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.