Palestinian Authority leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad said a while ago that they intend to declare Palestine’s independence at the end of 2011. In the past, such statements would anger the Americans, who would rush to reprimand the PA, noting that a Palestinian state will only be established following negotiations with Israel. Yet this time around, even if we heard a response from the White House or the State Department, it was rather meek.
Moreover, Israel always made sure to declare that in such case “we will unilaterally annex the West Bank.” It’s hard to believe that such Israeli response will be received sympathetically in Washington at this time.
The US Administration views the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel a huge achievement, and to that end, the Obama-Clinton team has decided to go for broke. This coordinated American-Palestinian position exerts immense pressure on Israel.
Obama likes the Palestinians. In the wake of Abbas’ public quarrels with heads of the rejectionist front at the Arab League summit, Assad and Gaddafi, his stock rose even higher. The US has turned into the West Bank’s darling, with Palestinian residents taking pleasure in feeling that “America is with us.” The imperialist enemy whose flag was being burned there even before the Israeli flag has turned into a contemporary magic world.
The Palestinians are coordinating with the Americans the building of infrastructure across the West Bank as preparation for economic independence and detachment from Israel’s hold, which over the years made the Palestinian economy an underdeveloped captive. About 750 projects, some of them strategic, are currently being constructed across the Palestinian Authority. The US Administration, via General Dayton who coordinates and monitors the building of Palestinian forces at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to US taxpayers, is preparing the law enforcement system of the state in progress.
Abbas and Fayyad are focusing their efforts on another channel – the local government. As we know, the stinging defeat to Hamas in the 2006 national elections was preceded by a municipal elections defeat. Now, the Abbas-Fayyad duo intend to retake most local authorities in the West Bank, premise local government on Fatah members belonging to the civil-liberal camp, and deliver a grave blow to Hamas in the West Bank.
Will they succeed? It would be an absolute surprise if following the great and open US support, the quiet Israeli security support, and the mass arrests of Hamas activists, the duo will be unable to defeat the Palestinian fundamentalists in the West Bank.
Counting on our mistakesThe realization of the three abovementioned targets is important to the Americans more than the renewal of talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Obama’s is accurately reading the map: Why should he succeed where his predecessors, Bush, Clinton, Reagan and Carter failed?
Clinton characterized the possibility of securing an Israeli-Palestinian agreement as pulling out a tooth without anesthesia. Bush Sr. gave up after realizing this conflict cannot be resolved. Bush Jr. simply decided to support and boost Israel, as he did not see a deal on the horizon. Yet Obama holds different views – he backs the Palestinians and will do everything in order to grant them independence. The seeds of this promise were sown in the speech he delivered to the Arab world in Cairo, and they’re expected to sprout in a joint photo-op at the end of the year in Abu-Dis.
Now is the time for Israel to curb this snowball. Every diplomatic effort on our part and every additional expression of mistrust towards us serve to add a brick to the wall of Palestinian independence. They’re counting on our mistakes. Now is the time to take decisions and prepare for what’s to come.
We have three possible moves available to us:
- Annex the West Bank unilaterally and prepare for a serious confrontation both in the West Bank and on the political front.
- Unilaterally disengage from all our obligations towards the Palestinian Authority, such as: Putting an end to the employment of Palestinians in Israel, no longer transferring their goods via our ports, banning Palestinian VIPs from traveling through Israel, and exerting economic pressing on West Bank cities, which may create significant pressure from the US and Europe.
- Silently accept the declaration of independence, but refrain from recognizing the new state, until bilateral agreements are signed. The Palestinian authority or state will not be able to survive overtime without full cooperation from Israel, and within a short period of time it will be declared a failed state.
We can assume that envoys from across the world are planning to enter the new buildings in Abu-Dis and Ramallah. In the past, they promised to serve as a human shield against Israeli offensives. Yet will there even be a need for it? Are we preparing for it? What will Israel’s position be in respect to the long list of guests invited to the ceremony that will seek to land in Ben-Gurion Airport? What will be the work and movement procedures, and the overall attitude to senior diplomatic representatives in the Palestinian Authority?
By the way, I will not be surprised if the many invitees including Israel’s prime minister and president. Are they preparing for it?
Colonel (res.) Moshe Elad is a researcher at the Shmuel Neeman Institute at the Technion. He also serves as a National Security Studies lecturer at the Western Galilee Academic College