- (july 2007)
A two-province solution for Palestine.
When George W Bush belatedly outlined a two-state solution for Palestine,
he simply repeated like a parrot what his predecessor Bill Clinton had been
saying for a decade. It was not original or creative, and it came too late.
Alas, it turns out that it was not valid anymore either.
The Palestinians are split between Hamas and Fatah, two parties that have two
wildly different agendas. Hamas is a populist movement that does not recognize
Israel and wants to create an Islamic state.
Fatah has become an elitist movement that recognizes Israel and wants to
create a modern state.
There can be little compromise between the two.
Suddenly the problem is no longer the security of Israel (the two sides are
two busy bickering and shooting at each other to focus on attacking their
old enemy) but the security of the Palestinian people under their own
Palestinian rulers. Since chaos in the Palestinian territories has a way
to spill over into neighboring countries (Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon), this
is an issue that extends beyond the borders of Palestine.
After 40 years of wars, it may be time that the Palestinians and the rest of
the world admit that we focused on the wrong problem. The real problem is
that the Palestinians are not the right people to run their own land.
Whether it's their fault or the fault of all the empires that ruled that
region without giving them any power (Arabs, Ottomans, British, Israelis),
it is a fact that the only Palestinians who live in freedom and dignity are the
ones who live in Israel, Britain and the USA. The Palestinians who live in
Jordan have at least dignity and jobs, if not freedom.
The Palestinians who have been left behind are the ones who tried to establish
their own state, and have been rewarded by history with leaders who were either
corrupt, incompetent or tyrannical, or all of them.
There is no question that the Palestinians would be better off if they were
ruled by Israel. The problem is that Israel does not want them, because they
would upset the demographic balance of Israel.
The second best choice for the Palestinians is to split and be ruled by the
two next best neighbors: Egypt and Jordan. Jordan used to rule the West Bank
until it lost the 1967 war against Israel. The Palestinians admire the king
of Jordan (who consistently ranks first in every opinion poll about regional
leaders) and they all have family in Jordan. Why not resuscitate the old
federation between Jordan and the West Bank?
Egypt ruled the Gaza strip since it invaded it in 1948 until it lost the
war against Israel in 1967. It was not a happy time for the people of Gaza,
that were treated like animals by Egypt (they were given no political rights).
However, today's Egypt relies heavily on USA aid and part of that aid could
be earmarked for the reconstruction of Gaza.
The two-state solution envisioned a united, democratic, mature, rich Israeli
state next to a divided, undemocratic, immature, poor Palestinian state.
In retrospect it may not have been the smartest idea in history.
A two-province solution that hands over (at least temporary) the West Bank
to Jordan and the Gaza strip to Egypt may not solve all problems but is at
Last but not least, it may help figure out a final solution for the status
of Jerusalem. The Arabs (not only the Palestinians) still claim Jerusalem.
There is no question that half of it is indeed Arab (like it or not, the
Arabs did win the war 1400 years ago, just like the Ottomans won the war
against the Byrantines and today nobody questions that Istanbul should be
Turkish as opposed to Greek). The sensible solution is to split Jerusalem
between Israel and an Arab entity. The problem is that Israel has no intention
of handing over half of Jerusalem to the Palestinians. But Israel might be
a lot more willing to hand it over to friendly and stable Jordan.
In other words, why can't we just undo the 1967 war, now that, 40 years later,
three of the countries that launched that awful attack (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon)
have stopped planning the destruction of Israel?
TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
Back to the world news | Top of this page
- (june 2007)
Hamas and democracy vs Fatah and the West.
When in november 2004 Mahmoud Abbas, a critic of the Palestinian intifada that had caused the death of thousands of Palestinians (not to mention Israeli citizens), replaced Yassir Arafat as the legitimate leader of Palestine, the West
looked at it as a positive sign (and many in the USA saw it as a positive
side-effect of the invasion of Iraq). The USA hailed the event as a step
towards democracy in the Arab world.
When in january 2006 Hamas, a party that is officially considered a terrorist
organization by the USA and by the European Union, won the first multi-party
elections in Palestine and its leader Ismail Haniya was appointed the new
prime minister of the territories, the disappointment was colossal.
Nobody said it loud, but even among the other Arab regimes the reaction was:
"Give the Palestinians freedom and this is what they do with it: they reward
the terrorists and punish the moderates".
And this came just four months after Israel had unilaterally pulled out of
the Gaza strip: so much for Palestinian gratitude.
Not quite though. Although disguised under a different form, this was still
the West's arrogant attitude towards the "colonies". Arafat had ruled over
a corrupt and despotic regime. After his death, the Palestinians were not
willing to accept any more abuses from their politicians. Given a chance,
they voted for the opposition, that happened to be Hamas. For the Israelis
and for the rest of the world, Hamas is mainly a trainer and provider of
suicide bombers, but to the Palestinians it is mainly an organization that
takes care of schools, hospitals and mosques. Hamas won the elections
because it deserved to, or, better, because Abbas' party, Fatah, did not
deserve to. After all, what had Israel, the USA or the European Union done
for the Palestinians? Why should a Palestinian vote the way these powers desire,
when these powers are willing to do precious little for the Palestinians?
The West's reaction to the electoral loss of their favorite party (corrupt
Fatah) was to boycott the newly formed government, led by Hamas' leader Ismail
Haniya. The West demanded that Hamas recognized Israel and stopped the attacks
against Israel. Again, this had nothing to do with the elections. The
Palestinians did not vote for Hamas because they wanted more or fewer attacks
against Israel, but because they wanted an end to the corruption.
Therefore the leaders of Hamas had little interest in listening to the West's
requests, the same level of attention that, say, George W Bush has for
the West's request that the USA bands the death penalty (wildly unpopular in
the rest of the democratic world).
Abbas took advantage of the West's reaction (and the more muted but no less
influential reaction by the rich Arab countries) and basically refused to
give Hamas the power that the election's winner should have. Hamas was never
able to rule. The will of the Palestinian people was clearly violated.
Eventually, this led to a civil war within the Palestinian territories.
One wonders what would happen in any Western country if the party that wins
the election is kept form power by the party that lost the elections:
wouldn't civil war ensue too? Eventually, Hamas gained full control of the
Gaza strip, while Fatah retains control of the West Bank.
Now the new strategy of the West is to prop up Abbas' regime in the West Bank
in order to show the Palestinians that Hamas' conquest of the Gaza strip
is a catastrophe. What they are proving in the short term is only that
the West is not interested in knowing who won the elections.
A few Palestinians are indeed afraid of Hamas' radical Islamic ideology, but
the majority is more afraid of how the West is turning Fatah into one of its
proxies in the Middle East. By continuously opposing the will of the people,
the West keeps the focus of the debate on the West's double standard instead
of shifting it to the merits of Hamas.
When the Hamas militias took over the offices of Fatah in Gaza, they
also took over the jails where hundreds of them had been imprisoned and
tortured in the past, without a single complaint by the USA.
Now that Hamas activists threaten to kill women who don't wear a scarf the
USA is complaining loudly about human rights abuses. But the average Palestinian
does not quite see the difference: what is worse, torture or the Islamic code
of dress? Most of us would rather wear a scarf than be tortured.
The USA is forgetting the lesson that it should have learned in Iran. The
Iranian revolution was a revolution against a tyrant. Very few Iranian
revolurionaries wanted to create an Islamic Republic. The Islamic Republic
was a consequence of the USA's opposition to the revolution, because Islam
turned out to be the only ideology that could unify the country against the USA.
Had the USA immediately accepted a secular democratic regime in Iran, that
regime would have been in a position to gain legitimacy from its people without
breaking all ties with the USA.
Something similar is happening in Palestine: the USA's oppositions to the
results of fair elections has legitimized Hamas's violent seizure of power.
In fact, the disease might spread to the West Bank that is still controlled
by Fatah. You don't become popular with the people by opposing the will of
In 2006 Israel de facto lost the war against Hezbollah, and Lebanon has been
on the verge of falling to the Iranian-back parties ever since.
Hamas (another Iranian-supported entity, although not as much as Hezbollah)
has slowly conquered the Gaza strip, first by forcing Israel to withdraw and
then by expelling Fatah.
It is hard to believe that any historical, cultural, political or economic
link explains the success of Iranian allies in that region. It is much more
likely that Iran has learned from its own revolution as much as the USA did not
learn. For example, that they can just let the USA involuntarily create the
popular unity that they need to install two more Islamic states.
TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
Back to the world news | Top of this page
- Articles on Israel before 2007