February 13, 2009
Why Gaza is implodingBy Moshe Dann
It may be convenient to blame Gaza's disintegration on Israel, but the world, and especially the Arab world knows better.
The march toward chaos began with the Oslo Agreements which turned the PLO terrorist organization into the Palestinian Authority; it continued through terrorist attacks, the IDF retreat in 2000 from South Lebanon -- under fire -- abandoning a pro-Israel ally there (which emboldened Hezb'allah) and the renewed terrorist war that followed; and it was confirmed by Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip (allowing Hamas to take over) and Northern Shomron, denouncing itself as an "occupier," and recently Israel's failure to defeat Hezb'allah decisively in the Second Lebanese War, and Hamas in Gaza.
Gaza is the reality that few are willing to face: the death-throes of the "two-state solution." The more emphasis that is placed on this supposed solution and the more negotiations based on it proceed, the more violence will occur.
The reason is simple: No Arab/Muslim leader wants it. Some may pretend to accept it as an interim process that will lead to Israel's demise, but that goal is never forgotten.
What is happening in Gaza is the direct result of American/European foreign policy devoid of reality, and Israeli desperation for friends, even at the risk of its survival. Led by corrupt and incompetent politicians, efforts to expose Egypt's role in weapons smuggling were thwarted. The implosion of Gaza was inevitable (and will continue) for the following reasons.
(1) Hamas needs to show that it is at least equal to Fatah. Isolated by Israel, the PA and most other Muslim countries (except for Syria and Iran), Hamas wants in without paying any dues via political compromise. Hamas' main struggle, therefore, isn't with Israel, but with Fatah and its rivals in the Arab world. Hamas must create crises in order to show that it's not only a player, but the player.
(2) Israel and "The Quartet" (US, EU, Russia, UN) created an impossible situation: they can't include Hamas without undermining Fatah (the nominal head of the PA); they can't exclude Hamas without scrapping the two-state model.
(3) When half the population of Gaza broke through the Egyptian barriers a year ago they created a new reality: enough people at a weak point can overwhelm any border force. The Gazan hordes also showed that Egyptian hostility trumps humanitarian concerns. Except for allowing smuggling, there is no official relationship; Egypt will not take responsibility for Palestinians.
The break-out also showed how vulnerable and unviable any political Palestinian entity is, even within the Arab world.
(4) Missile attacks on Israeli civilians create havoc, but when Israel responds, Hezbollah, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists can count on sympathy as victims of Israeli "aggression" and 'disproportionate' actions.
The context of Hamas' missile and terrorist attacks is of course, negotiations over the so-called Arab Initiative:
Attacking Israel is meant to send a message: accept this proposal or face conflict.
(6) There is growing awareness among Arab leaders that the principle at the heart of the negotiations -- the two-state-solution -- is unrealistic and unattainable. The reason is that the Palestinians are incapable of self-government. Lacking this possibility, therefore, Hamas can assert its leadership in military confrontation, which translates into political hegemony.
(7) Ironically, the two-state-solution leads to war, since there is no likelihood that a viable Palestinian state can be formed as long as the internal power struggle continues. And that struggle, for religious, political and territorial reasons, draws in every Arab/Muslim country, plus Iran.
(8) Blaming Israel as the "occupying power" for the conflict, therefore, masks the growing radicalization within Arab countries. Hamas is a symptom of a much more volatile and dangerous potential within every Arab and most Muslim countries. Hamas, for example, is used by the Jihadist Muslim Brotherhood, Iran and Al Qaida as a proxy.
(9) The notion that 'the Palestinians/Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity' (to achieve peace) is a fallacy; that choice is deliberate and intentional. Hamas and Fatah, as most if not all Muslim/Arab countries, do not want a "peace process" -- the "two-state solution" -- that allows Israel to exist. Failure to understand that is not only foolish, but lethal.
Moshe Dann is a former assistant professor of history. Je, is a writer and journalist living in Israel.