“On the one-year anniversary of the independence of the Palestinian State, the newest member of the United Nations, the tension with its next-door neighbor, the State of Israel, is still there.
Sam Vaknin, an Israeli analyst answers our questions:
- Now, that the 2-states solution has been finally accepted and implemented by both nations, why the renewed tension between them?
- In order to be able to sign the Hebron Framework Agreement in February last year (which transformed the Palestinian Authority into a state recognized by Israel), Prime Minister Netanyahu was forced to make concessions to the more extreme far right. The Constitution was changed to say that the State of Israel is the Jewish home of the Jewish people, excluding 1.5 million Arabs within its pre-1967 borders and fostering the current unrest and “resistance” among them. Additionally, Israel was effectively transformed into a theocracy with enhanced powers granted to the rabbinate and to other Jewish Orthodox structures in various fields of life, including the military, education, and housing construction. This alienated the secular majority of Israelis. Fractured and weakened, Israel is in no position to make further compromises.
Palestine is in no better shape: its economy is still heavily dependent on Israel: VAT returns, food supplies, electricity, water, the Internet, trade in goods and services – everything comes from or through Israel. More than half the Palestinian budget still relies on international and Israeli handouts.
Moreover, the 2 security corridors or cordons that Israel insisted on maintaining cut across Palestinian territory and effectively bisect the new country, rendering it mutilated and dysfunctional. Roads, neighborhoods, villages, and cities are rended in half; police forces cannot engage in hot pursuit of, for instance, Israeli settlers, who are involved in terrorist activities, protesting the Hebron Agreement; goods are stuck in the border crossings and left to rot. This cannot go on for long. The Hebron Agreement foresees the elimination of these 2 arteries in 20 years, but I think it should and will be sooner than that – or Israel will face a fourth Intifada.
- What happened to Hamas?
- Hamas was totally discredited, even in the Arab street, when its close ties to certain intelligence agencies – including and especially the Israeli Mossad and Shin-Bet – were revealed. Still, it maintains its network of charities, schools, hospitals, and kitchens for the indigent throughout the Gaza Strip. Palestine right now has a technical government which is preparing all the necessary legislation, institutions, and Constitution prior to the elections in March next year. Fatah will remain in the lead, but Hamas may surprise with a comeback. The new political movement, al-Nahda, modeled after the successful party in Tunisia, may emerge as the third potent force in the territory.
- Five years ago, Israel was at war with Syria …
- Syria under al-Nusra and the remnants of ISIL was just the front. Israel was actually at war with the backers of the new Islamist regime there: Turkey, Iraq, Iran. But, in hindsight, this war was a “good” thing: it brought all the moderates in the region to their senses and made the Hebron Framework Agreement possible. The region was on the verge of nuclear war. It was a Cuba crisis moment. No one wants to see it happening again.
- Finally, how do Israelis feel about the Palestinian State on their doorstep?
- they are skeptical. Israel and the Palestinians experimented with dozens of solutions over the decades. Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza 2005. It built a wall around the Palestinian territories in the West Bank to isolate itself. It agreed to a Palestinian autonomy and the establishment of a state-like Authority. In 2000, Israel offered to the Palestinians 95% of all their territories and half of Jerusalem. Arafat rejected the offer. An Israeli politician once said: “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”. The Palestinian State may be no exception. It may end up embroiled in war from within (civil war, like in Lebanon 1975-1990) and without, with Israel and Egypt.
Israel, on the other hand, has never learned how to properly administer the territories it occupied. Its administration was illegal, mean-spirited, violent, harsh, and short-sighted. It has been paying the price ever since.
Filed under: World in Conflict and Transition | Tagged: Afghanistan, al-Qaida, Balkans, Europe, European Union, Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, NATO, peace, Syria, terrorism, United States, war |