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Analysis: The Palestinian Authority is on the verge of collapsing

Abu Mazen resigned from his position within the PLO and the PA is facing many financial problems. Given this, what are the ramifications of these developments and what should Israel do to proceed from here?
Abu Mazen Photo Credit: Channel 2

It has recently been reported that Abu Mazen resigned from his position within the Palestine Liberation Organization and Palestinian journalist Mudar Zahran believes that this will soon lead to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority leader, even though meanwhile Abu Mazen continues to be the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority. Additionally, aside from this development, the Palestinian Authority faces a series of financial problems in the wake of UNRWA’s financial crisis and Israel’s decision to withhold tax money that is collected on behalf of the PA due to their decision to join the International Criminal Court. Due to these developments, JerusalemOnline conducted interviews with prominent Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar and former Israel Consul General to Chicago Dr. Yitzchak Ben Gad in order to determine the ramifications of these developments and what Israel should do to proceed from here.

Kedar noted that Abu Mazen is not young as he was born on March 26, 1935, thus making him 80 years old: “He is not getting younger. Every day, he is getting older. The day will come when he will be forced to leave office. The sooner he does it when he can still walk, the better. Otherwise, they will take him on a stretcher or in a coffin. For years already, he threatened that he is going to resign. He does it to frighten the Israelis, Americans and Europeans, who see him as the savior of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. They don’t realize now that he is in the eleventh year of his four year term. Nobody thinks that something is fishy here only because people rely upon him personally but he cannot deliver. In a recent poll, only 16% of the Palestinian people supported Abu Mazen, while the other politicians are even less popular. Is that a leader? He is hardly a politician but mainly he is a manipulator. The Europeans, Americans and some Israelis do their best to resuscitate the dead body politics named the PLO, which is old, corrupt and with no agenda.”

Ben Gad agreed with Kedar that Abu Mazen is old and very tired but nevertheless stressed that “he is still President of the Palestinian Authority although there are others that would like to be in power. Abu Mazen can’t do anything to them. He has no power, no charisma, and no ability to do anything. More than that, Abu Mazen has allowed this terrible propaganda against Israel in the schools and on their streets and squares, where terrorists are called martyrs. He cannot do a thing. More than that, the issue is not Abu Mazen today. The Palestinian demands don’t promote peace with Israel. Israel believes that Abu Mazen is not a partner. We cannot have deals with him and reach an agreement with him. He is no angel of peace.”

However, Kedar noted that possible successors to Abu Mazen are no better. While Abu Mazen represents the older generation, there are middle age Palestinian leaders such as Saeb Erakat, Marwan Barghouti, Jibril Rajoub, and Mohammed Dahlan that are competing among themselves and then there is the younger generation of Palestinians who view these leaders as “weak, old and corrupt.” Nevertheless, even when Abu Mazen is replaced, Kedar noted that they cannot make concessions to Israel for “they would be viewed as traitors and Israel will not accept anything less than the recognition of the country as a Jewish state because we want to see an end to the conflict, not a station along the way. The Palestinians have not yet started to talk about Israel as a state with dignity and legitimacy. They talk about Palestine when they speak about Tel Aviv, Acre, and Haifa. If they won’t sign an agreement that ends the struggle, it prevents any agreement with Israel.”

Ben Gad does not know if the people that will succeed Abu Mazen will be better than him or not but he emphasized that “their demands cannot be accepted by any politician from the left or the right. As long as they stick to their rough, difficult and unacceptable demands, there can be no peace. According to Jewish US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, ‘What is a good compromise? The one that satisfies and dissatisfies all equally.’ The PA does not believe in compromises. They still demand like a ritual a right of return, dividing Jerusalem, going back to 1967 lines, and this by no means Israel can accept.”

The question remains, how should Israel respond to this situation where the Palestinian Authority leadership is on the verge of collapsing? Kedar and Ben Gad think differently on this. Kedar believes that the only viable solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the Palestinian Emirate option, which would lead to the establishment of eight autonomous city states with Israel annexing the rural areas of the West Bank: “The presumption is that a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria will eventually and maybe very quickly turn into another Hamastan either by elections or a coup d’etat. We will have to invade again so we won’t have another Gaza that is a strategic threat to Israel. A Palestinian state is a prescription for another bloody war which is why I think the solution is the Palestinian Emirates option.”

“It is the only solution on the ground,” Kedar noted. “If the PLO gets dismantled, it will be only positive for it will lead to the Palestinian Emirates solution for the people in Hebron have nothing to do with Nablus and they hate the Gazans. To claim there is a Palestinian nation is like to claim there is an Iraqi, Sudanese, Libyan, Yemenite, Lebanese, and Syrian nation. All of these are conglomerates of tribes, ethnic and sectarian groups, which never became consolidated as a nation. These are entities created by the West in order to find some tyrant to rule the country so that the West can loot minerals and oil from the ground. This is why the Arab Spring erupted for these states were viewed as illegitimate by most of the citizens and the governments were illegitimate for they only represented one group. The Palestinian case is no different from the other experiments which were made on the peoples of the Middle East.” He believes that creating autonomous city-states based on tribal affiliation like what exists in the Gulf States is the only solution that will create stability while any other option will lead to further instability, misery and bloodshed.

However, Ben Gad supports Netanyahu’s vision for a Palestinian state living peacefully beside the State of Israel but within borders that don’t threaten Israel’s security. He believes that any Palestinian leader including Abu Mazen would agree to this provided Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates force them to do so: “When you have all these countries sit with Israel, finalize a compromise, where they get that and not this, when they dictate to the Palestinians the potential solution, then Abu Mazen or a future leader will be willing to sign it. When they tell the Palestinians to sign it, they will. As long as the Arab states are not involved, there won’t be peace. In September 1995, Yasser Arafat was with Yitzhak Rabin, Bill Clinton, and Hosni Mubarak in the White House. They had to sign the Oslo II agreement. Arafat did not want to sign. Everyone was there. Mubarak looked at Arafat and said, ‘Look at me, sign it, you dog.” Arafat signed in the end.”

“It showed that in the end, Egypt decided,” Ben Gad noted. “Abu Mazen is not even one quarter of Arafat. He would sign. The Arab countries have another enemy. They don’t need this problem with Israel. Iran is the issue. The Shiite enemy that wants to control the world is the issue. We have a shared interest. The solution is a Palestinian state beside Israel that lives in peace and harmony together with us but not according to the demands of the Palestinians that won’t be accepted by Israel. They must find a compromise that we can live with and they can live with and the refugees can stay where they are. They can be settled in Lebanon, Jordan, etc. Sinai is three times the size of Israel. Why not let half of Gaza get out of there and build cities in the Sinai with jobs, infrastructure and institutions and give them hope? All you need is the will to do it. Abu Mazen is not a leader that makes decisions. He is a figure head and that’s all. When they have something to lose, they will not volunteer to commit suicide and blow themselves up. This can be done.”

In conclusion, Ben Gad emphasized that the EU is mistaken for singling out Israel for the lack of a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: “We know what is happening with these refugees coming to Europe and they don’t know how to handle it. There is a conflict among EU members over how to handle it and all of a sudden, EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini comes out singling out products from Judea and Samaria. Is this relevant? They are talking about something like they fell from the moon. I will say more than that. We know that Israel is a stable island in a jungle. And to push Israel to make concessions that would endanger her own security or to push Israel to establish a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, the minute that happens, Hamas would control Judea and Samaria like what happened in Gaza. ISIS would be there. ISIS will endanger Israel’s very existence. ISIS and Hamas in Judea and Samaria will cause a terrible war in our area that will endanger Jordan.”

“If they don’t want chaos in the Middle East, they should stop pressuring Israel,” he stressed. “Everything is collapsing and falling apart. Look what is happening in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Libya and Iraq. It’s such a chaos and they talk about the products from Judea and Samaria. Is this the issue now? There is an expression in Arabic that a man was to be hung from the neck and then someone offered him halva (sweet Middle Eastern dessert). Is now the time for halva? All I am saying is that if they exert pressure upon Israel, the only stable and democratic country in the Middle East, that will endanger the security of Israel, will endanger the Palestinian Authority, Hamas will be in the West Bank and Gaza, ISIS will be there and then there will be real chaos. If Israel falls, Jordan will fall. All of the millions of people in Judea and Samaria, Israel, and in Jordan will flow to Europe. It won’t just be Syrians. The EU should be careful not to pressure Israel.”

 



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