Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Left's New Vision

1. The Left's New Vision:
Two states for two peoples:

2. June 20, 2007

Fatah Isn't the Answer
June 20, 2007; Page A17

America and its Middle Eastern allies have every reason to panic. The
green flags of Hamas are furling over Gaza and the al-Fatah forces trained
and financed by the United States have ignominiously fled. Fears are rife
that Iranian-backed and Syrian-hosted terror will next achieve dominance
over the West Bank and proceed to undermine the pro-Western governments of
Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf.

To avert this catastrophe, the U.S. has joined with the Israelis and the
Europeans in resuming the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars in
financial aid to the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of its
Fatah president, Mahmoud Abbas, and accelerating talks for the
establishment of a West Bank Palestinian state. The goal is to provide
Palestinians with an affluent, secular and peaceful alternative to Hamas,
and persuade Gazans to return to the Fatah fold. But the policy ignores
every lesson of the abortive peace process to date as well as Fatah's
monumental corruption, jihadism and militancy. Indeed, any sovereign
edifice built on the rotten foundations of the Palestinian Authority is
doomed to implode, enhancing, rather than diminishing, Hamas's influence.

Gunmen from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Is funding them the path to
Since its creation by the so-called Oslo Accords of 1993, the PA has
garnered more international aid than any entity in modern history -- more,
per capita, than the European states under the Marshall Plan. The lion's
share of this fortune has been siphoned into the private accounts of Fatah
leaders or used to pay off the commanders of some 16 semi-autonomous
militias. The PA also maintains an estimated 60,000 uniformed gunmen on
its payroll, giving the West Bank the world's highest percentage of

The Palestinian people, meanwhile, languish in ever-deepening poverty and
unemployment, while lawlessness plagues Palestinian streets. The unbridled
corruption of the PA and its Fatah headmen served as a principal cause of
Hamas's electoral victory in 2006, as well its takeover of Gaza. Viewers
of Hamas television have recently been treated to tours of the lavish
villas maintained by Fatah officials in the Strip, and video clips showing
PA policemen, more abundantly armed and more numerous than Hamas's troops,
fleeing at the first sign of battle.

Though Fatah originally aspired to replace Israel with a secular,
democratic state in Palestine, the organization refashioned itself in
1990s as an Islamic movement, embracing the lexicon of jihad. Hundreds of
mosques were built with public funds, and imams were hired to spread the
message of martyrdom and the hatred of Christians and Jews. These themes
became the staple of the official PA media, inciting the suicide bombings
that began in 2000 and poisoning an entire generation of Palestinian
youth. Ironically, the Islamization of Fatah legitimized Hamas and
contributed to the cadres of religious extremists who are now defying its

In addition to its fiscal malfeasance and Islamic radicalism, Fatah has
never fulfilled its pledges to crack down on terror. Though Mahmoud Abbas
routinely criticizes Palestinian terrorist attacks as "contrary to the
Palestinian national interest" -- not an affront to morality and
international law -- he has never disavowed the al-Aqsa Brigades, a Fatah
affiliate responsible for some of the bloodiest attacks against Israeli

In the past, such assaults have served as a means of maintaining Fatah's
legitimacy as a resistance movement and countering charges that the
organization sold out to America and Israel. In fact, a distinct
correlation exists between the amount of support that Fatah receives from
the West and its need to prove its "Palestinianess" through terror.

In view of its performance over the past 14 years, the Palestinian
Authority under Fatah can be counted on to squander most or all of the
vast sums now being given to it by the U.S. and the international
community. More gunmen will be hired and better weapons procured, but in
the absence of a unified command and a leadership worth fighting for, PA
soldiers will perform no more credibly than they did in Gaza. Mr. Abbas
will continue to denounce terror while ignoring the terrorist units within
his own organization, while PA imams will persist in preaching their
jihadist sermons.

In response, Israel will be precluded from lifting the checkpoints that
not only block suicide bombers but hinder communication between
Palestinian cities. Impeded by Palestinian attacks and Israeli
countermeasures, the peace talks will inexorably grind to a halt. In the
end, the Palestinian people will remain impoverished, divided and
stateless, and more than ever amenable to the purist polity of Hamas.

If funding and empowering Fatah is not a viable option for the U.S., what
other courses might the administration take? Clearly no progress toward
Palestinian statehood can be made before Fatah has reformed itself
financially, ideologically and structurally. Even under the most
propitious circumstances this process is certain to take many years --
longer if economic aid and political support are provided to the PA
unconditionally. Similarly, proposals for containing Hamas's influence by
stationing an international force along the Gaza border are unlikely to
succeed if for no other reason than Hamas's avowed determination to resist
such a deployment. Yet the need to combat Hamas and provide Palestinians
with an attractive diplomatic horizon remains acute. There is,
fortunately, an interim answer.

The U.S., together with its Quartet partners, can work to establish areas
of extensive Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank. Within these
districts, local Palestinian leaders will be fully empowered to manage all
aspects of daily life including health, education and resource management.
A national assembly, comprised of representatives from each district, will
meet regularly to deliberate issues of West Bank-wide concern. Security,
however, will be jointly administered by Israel and Jordan. The Jordanian
involvement is crucial to convincing Palestinians that the status quo of
occupation has ended and they may in the future assume full responsibility
for their internal defense. Such an arrangement will benefit Jordan as
well, by facilitating its efforts to fight radicalism and stem the flight
of Palestinians over its borders.

Visiting Washington this week, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
described the Hamas conquest of Gaza as an opportunity for the
Palestinians. This indeed may be the case, but not by resurrecting
long-failed policies and imposing a state structure on a corrupt and
incompetent Fatah. Doing so is tantamount to investing in the Titanic.
Significant opportunities do, however, exist for policy makers --
American, Israeli, and Palestinian -- who are willing to consider new
paradigms and incremental steps toward the realization of a durable peace.

Mr. Oren is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center and the author of "Power,
Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present"
(Norton, 2007).

URL for this article:

3. Fighting the Jihadniks in Court:

4. Afterword on Finkelstein affair:

5. UC Intifada:

6. The world of the make pretend (Oslo):

7. Very good blog page on the nefarious Eyal Sivan (we have commented on
him earlier)

Earlier material:

8. Boycotting universities
Slamming Israel, giving Palestinians a free pass

9. Cartoon-Gate:,7340,L-3414643,00.html

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