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Barack Obama (Photo: Reuters)
Barack Obama. Needs to reassess his view of the Mideast
Barack Obama (Photo: Reuters)
Ben-Dror Yemini
We don't need another failure
Op-ed: Given upheaval in Arab world, Obama needs to ask himself why he thinks a Palestinian state is viable right now; meanwhile, Israel's right needs to understand that its actions are leading to a bi-national state.

Two days after the Israeli elections, Islamic State carried out suicide attacks at two mosques in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, murdering around 150 individuals. The day before, an Islamic State offshoot perpetrated a terror attack in Tunisia that killed 23 people, mostly tourists.

 

 

During the same two-day period, seven people were murdered in an attack in Kathua, India, and 70 bodies were discovered in Damasak, Nigeria. Who heard? During the course of February, 1,977 people were murdered by Jihadists around the globe – all in acts of terror only. And as I write these words, reports are coming in about massacres being carried out by Iraqi-Iranian forces in the city of Tikrit, Iraq.

 

This time, Shia Muslims are massacring Sunni Muslims, after Sunnis, led by Islamic State, massacred Shias in June 2014. The commander of the attacking forces is General Qassem Soleimani, a mega-terrorist and commander of the al-Quds brigade of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Soleimani oversees Hezbollah and Hamas, as part of the project to destroy Israel.

 

Sectional violence in Yemen. None of the bloody conflicts have anything to do with Israel (Photo: Reuters)
Sectional violence in Yemen. None of the bloody conflicts have anything to do with Israel (Photo: Reuters)

 

And there's more. Throughout the Muslim world, more and more countries have ceased to be countries. Syria fell apart a long time ago. Libya is already fragmented, with part of the country under the control of an Islamic front, and the city of Derna in the hands of Islamic State. Parts of Nigeria have been abandoned to Boko Haram, another Jihad offshoot.

 

The situation in Afghanistan and certain Pakistani provinces is similar. Somalia went to pieces years ago. In recent weeks, Yemen, too, has joined the list. Jihadists are in control of parts of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Lebanon, too, don't forget, suffers from outbreaks of violence. And besides, it is controlled by Hezbollah. In fact, four countries and/or parts of countries are already under Iranian patronage – Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. And the quiet in Jordan, too, is only virtual. Real elections would see the Muslim Brotherhood rise to power.

 

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The Muslim world is undergoing a massive upheaval. Arab identity is disappearing. National identity is falling apart. The identity on the rise is Islamic, tribal and sectarian. Death and destruction have reached monumental proportions.

 

Muslims are murdering hundreds of thousands of Muslims. None of the bloody conflicts – between Shias and Sunnis, and between Sunnis and Sunnis – have anything to do with Israel or the Palestinians. Most of those perpetrating the killings don't even know where Israel is on the map.

 

The Palestinians are deep in the picture. According to a study carried out by a research institute in Qatar, they lead the way in terms of support for Islamic State and the implementation of Sharia law. And just like everywhere else where radical Islam rears its head, Hamas, too, is sowing death and destruction.

 

The most peaceful place in the Middle East is the Israeli-controlled West Bank. Over the past six years, 122 Palestinians have been killed there. So when Obama talks about the chaos in the Middle East because of Israel, he appears to be living in a world of his own. Because of Israel? How does Obama come up with such an assessment of the situation?

 

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Okay, let's get serious now. With this backdrop in mind, is the establishment of a Palestinian state really viable?

 

According to Hamas' official television station, "Christians, Communists and Jews must be eliminated down to the very last man." Hamas has the support of 61 percent of the Palestinians. Even if we assume that support for Hamas will fall, Hamas will take a violent stand against its opponents. Some of the Hamas leaders are talking about "the conquest of Rome and Andalusia."

 

Is Obama listening? Does Obama know that Hamas won the last election? Is it hard for Obama to understand that a Palestinian state would mean, in all likelihood, another Jihad state and more bloodshed? What gives him the illusion that a Palestinian state will become a model of stability? Where is there stability under one of the Jihad movements?

 

Will Qassem Soleimani sit by quietly and allow peace to flourish? And what kind of agreement could be achieved anyway? Is there a Palestinian leader – even just one - who is willing to accept the peace proposals submitted by Obama, J Street or Meretz? After all, over the past decade or two, the Palestinians have rejected every offer of a two-state solution. So what agreement is Obama talking about?

 

American policy in the Middle East, in recent years, has been characterized by a succession of failures. At the same time the US administration is intensifying its dispute with Israel, it is strengthening its cooperation with the Iranian regime.

 

There has to be a reassessment both in Washington and in Jerusalem (Photo: Motti Milrod / GPO) (Photo: Motti Milrod)
There has to be a reassessment both in Washington and in Jerusalem (Photo: Motti Milrod / GPO)

 

This is the same Iran that is backing the Houthis, who are tearing Yemen apart and overthrowing the pro-American regime there. And as I continue to write, things are heating up even more, with Saudi air strikes being carried out against Iranian-backed elements. American pressure on Israel, after all, is a boost for Palestinian rejectionism. It won't promote peace. It will encourage radicalization among the Palestinians. The same things that are happening in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Somalia and Nigeria could take place in the West Bank too.

 

What is needed, therefore, is a reevaluation. We don't need another failure. And this reassessment must take place both in Washington and in Jerusalem. A sober look at the situation will lead to the obvious conclusion – that under the current geopolitical circumstances, talk of a Palestinian state, which is likely to turn into a Hamas state, is delusional and evidence of a detachment from reality. The moral arguments against Israel's control of the West Bank are excellent.

 

A peace settlement is a necessity. The Palestinians need to be given a political horizon and hope – by means of an agreement that will be implemented gradually and cautiously, in keeping with changing circumstances. But for now, a Palestinian state is a recipe for endless bloodshed.

 

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Does this mean that the Israeli right is right? Far from so. The right is leading Israel into a reality of one large state. Rather than a Jewish state, Israel would become a bi-national one. Mixing populations that demand an expression of national independence – with each population group having a different ethos, a different language, a different religion, a different culture – is a recipe for bloodshed.

 

This is what is happening in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. This is exactly what is happening now in eastern Ukraine. This is what happened in the 1990s in Yugoslavia. A brotherhood of nations was a nice idea in theory. But Yugoslavia split up, after years of bloodshed, into seven entities. It doesn't work and it didn't work in the heart of Europe.

 

Why does the right want to force this mixture onto Israel?

 

In the last decade, Israel has mainly been dominated by unity governments. There was building in Judea and Samaria, but it was restrained. It was mainly in the settlement blocs. Shaul Arieli, an expert on the settlements, claims there is no truth to the claim, which is also made on the left, that there is no chance for separation. A rightist-Haredi government may change course, and the settlement expansion could move out into the blocs. This will not be the end of a Palestinian state; it will be the end of the Jewish state. This is not an "end" that will happen overnight. After all, this is a process that has been going on for decades. Nevertheless, it is still not too late. But it could become too late.

 

We need a new direction. This is no longer a struggle for a Palestinian state, but rather a fight for the third option, which includes a partial response to the Palestinian aspirations: Unilateral separation while maintaining security interests, reducing friction, limiting construction to the settlements blocs only, keeping the Jordan Valley, while taking all measures necessary to prevent the spread of jihad. There is no time for despair.

 

The struggle now is not over the establishment of a Hamas state, but a Muslim - and global - struggle against the cancer of jihad, Sunni and Shiite, that grows within it. Right now, it is the primary concern of the Muslim world, the victims of jihad, and of the free world, which is also affected by it. It is not easy and it's not simple.

 

What is clear is that the American policy in recent years, despite its best intentions, has achieved the opposite of the desired outcome. So really, the time has come to reassess. But someone in the White House is confused. Israel is not the enemy. The enemy is jihad.

 

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