Tuesday, January 24, 2012
As I predicted, the talks about talks in Amman between Israel and the PLO came to nothing, simply because there's nothing to negotiate...the 'Palestinians' are unwilling to do anything unless the Israelis agree to all their demands in advance. While Mahmoud Abbas played good cop and talked about seizing opportunities for peace, Fatah's negotiator Saeb Erekat made it very plain that the Amman talks were a mere formality and not a return to negotiations, saying, "Netanyahu needs to freeze the construction of settlements and accept the '67 outline for a two-state solution before we return to the negotiations table."
So the 'Palestinians' are continuing with their plans to get what they want by other means than negotiations. And they have a full agenda planned this year in their campaign against Israel.
While their efforts to unilaterally abrogate both Oslo and the Roadmap by having the UN declare 'Palestine' a state on the pre '67 lines and bypass any negotiations or concessions to Israel ultimately fell short last year, they plan to continue their efforts in 2012.
As of January 1st of this year, several countries that would have voted against the Palestinians or been swayed by a US threat of a veto rotated off the UN Security Council as their terms expired and were replaced by Guatemala, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Morocco and Togo. At least four of those countries will vote in favor of admitting 'Palestine' as a full member with its borders on the pre '67 lines.
And a US veto against it by the Obama Administration is unlikely if the vote occurs after the November 2012 American presidential elections, regardless of whether President Obama is re-elected or not. Israel, just as a side note, is the only UN member officially prohibited from serving on the UN Security Council as a rotating member.
The 'Palestinians thus hope to have their demands for borders based on the pre '67 lines and half of Jerusalem backed up by a UNSC resolution for the first time.
And that's not all. The 'Palestinians' are planning international efforts to turn Israel into the world's pariah state.
Senior Fatah official Nabil Sha’ath, formerly the left fork of Yasser Arafat's tongue recently said on Palestinian radio that 2012 “will be the start of an unprecedented diplomatic campaign on the part of the Palestinian leadership, and it will be a year of pressure on Israel that will put it under a real international siege. The campaign will be similar to the one waged against apartheid in South Africa.”
The PLO thus plans to hit Israel from two directions. According to my sources, while Abbas and Fatah will concentrate on gathering support at the UN, eliciting international boycotts and orchestrating violent riots and protests in Judea and Samaria. Hamas will take on the task of a new wave of rocket attacks and terrorism directed at Israel's populace, thus giving Fatah plausible deniability. Besides, Abbas and the Fatah Old Guard are already on the way out with the money they stole, and they know full well that Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are almost certainly going to take over all of the 'Palestinian' territories in fairly short order. So does Hamas.
It's a pretty straight forward strategy. If Israel actually were to go back to the pre '67 lines, the country would become indefensible with avowed enemies in control of the high ground in Judea and Samaria as well as an enclave right next door in Jerusalem. If the Israelis refuse to commit national suicide by doing so, they become a pariah nation in defiance of the UN and 'international law'. This is exactly why the two state solution envisioned by Oslo was always a myth..or more exactly, as Arafat's old political commissar in Jerusalem Faisal Husseini famously put it, "a Trojan Horse designed to trick the Jews."
There are definite ways for the Israelis to head this off and frustrate it.
At this point, I doubt that Israel talking about consequences for the PLO for this behavior really means much to Abbas and company. Since for the most part they're on their way out anyway there's no particular reason they should pay anymore than lip service to the well being of their people at this point than they have since the 1970's. And the truth of the matter is, the 'Palestinians' have never really suffered much in the way of real consequences for bad behavior, either from Israel or from their western donors. There isn't any reason for them to fear consequences now.
With that in mind, from a strategic viewpoint the best thing Israel could do would be to publicly offer the 'Palestinians' a final settlement that involves recognition of Israel as a Jewish State, takes the so-called right of return, Jerusalem and Area C, the part of Judea and Samaria under Israeli sovereignty off the table, offers a division on Area B that maintains an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley and cedes Area C, which Fatah already controls, to the 'Palestinians'.
Abbas and the PLO would certainly reject this out of hand. As Abbas has said many times, he's not prepared to make even a single concession on 'Palestinian' demands.
Once the 'Palestinian' refusal is made public, I recommend that Israel do what I've been suggesting for literally years - call the 'Palestinian's' bluff by simply unilaterally imposing their proposition on the ground, annexing the areas in question and declaring all agreements null and void.
At the same time, the Israelis should announce an end to any contact with the 'Palestinians' based on prior agreements. No more free electricity and water, no more tax rebates, no more security cooperation, no more trade concessions, nothing. Any new agreements in these areas would need to be negotiated from scratch.
The Israelis would simply be formalizing something that's evident to any objective observer. The 'peace process' is over, if indeed it ever really existed.
The Israelis would need to accompany these declarations with certain concrete actions to underline their seriousness about this.
They would need to be prepared to repatriate any Israeli citizens now living in 'Palestine' back to Israeli territory, while at the same time repatriating all non-Israeli citizens of 'Palestinian' origin to the new, second Arab 'Palestinian' state.
Second, Israel also would need to publicly inform the 'Palestinians' and the world that any protests or violence directed at these areas or sovereign Israeli territory would be considered an act of war by a hostile entity and dealt with accordingly.
And third, the Israelis would need to arm the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria appropriately and fortify any Jewish communities that need it to resist attacks and hold out until the IDF gets there.
There would undoubtedly be consequences for Israel from these actions, but the upside overwhelms them.
For the first couple of weeks, the usual suspects would go absolutely insane. Elements of the media that are consistently anti-Israel like NPR, Newsweek, the New York Times and the Guardian would run the sort of stories and commentary you would expect, but the news cycle moves on, and honestly, their coverage of the Middle East conflict has not been objective for years anyway.
The UN General Assembly might pass a motion or three condemning Israel - again, nothing new. It's highly doubtful the Security Council would and even if they did it would be unlikely to have much practical effect.
Elements of the EU would undoubtedly condemn the Israeli actions, but again with limited effect. Aside from the fact that the continued existence of the EU itself is in doubt, the EU countries have a healthy appetite for Israeli agricultural and high tech products, and a trade boycott gets even less likely when you consider that the Europeans are unlikely to alienate an up and coming major source of gas and oil capable of providing an alternative to dealing with the Russians. Again, the likely impact is a certain amount of rhetoric for awhile, followed by business as usual.
The same would likely be true of Australia, Canada, and the United States, even with a hostile Obama Administration in office.
Israel's relationships in the Middle East might likely undergo one major change, the severing of diplomatic relations with Egypt and Jordan. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists whom now control Egypt are already talking openly about abrogating the treaty with the hated Jews anyway, the Israeli embassy in Cairo was recently sacked by a mob while Egyptian police looked on and even during the Mubarak regime outright anti-semitism was openly promulgated by the government controlled media as a tool of policy. There isn't much of a relationship to lose there.
The same is true of Jordan, a country where almost 80% of the population identifies themselves as 'Palestinians'. There is little if any trade, tourism or cultural exchanges with Israel and as the Muslim Brotherhood gets stronger there's a real likelihood of Jordan cancelling its treaties with Israel no matter what Israel does.
Neither country can afford the financial or social costs of a war with Israel, something that's also true of all of Israel's traditional Arab antagonists. And they're especially unlikely to go to war for 'Palestine'. Hamas and Hezbollah will remain hostile to Israel no matter what Israel does or doesn't do, but both have sufficient reasons for avoiding overt war Hamas because of it's relationship with the new Muslim Brotherhood ruled Egypt and Hezbollah because they have no desire to experience the kind of political fallout they got from their host country after the 2006 war...especially with Syria otherwise occupied.
The major upside for Israel, of course, is that while unilaterally staking out its borders and declaring an end to the Oslo Era won't put an end to the effort to delegitimize and destroy the country, it will put it on life support. Without the possibility that the Jews could be tricked into further strategic concessions existing, there's about as much energy expended in trying to get Jerusalem away from Israel as there is in trying to get Texas away from America. And it will decrease even more with time.
Oddly enough, there's also the possibility of an upside for the 'Palestinians' , believe it or not. After the initial shock and anger, they're going to be faced with two choices. Since the old dream of replacing Israel and driving the Jews into the Sea would no longer be a possibility, they can choose to either succumb to a preoccupation with revanchist dreams or they can look at the reality of having a country of their own to build and a destiny of their own to carve out. The first is far more likely, but only the second would lead to any kind of real future for themselves and their children, and there's just the chance they might finally realize it.