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Abbas: Israel's man in Ramallah

Since his bid for statehood ended at the UN last September, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, has become strictly an enforcer of the occupation.

If Mahmoud Abbas had resigned as president of the Palestinian Authority last September, after the U.S. did Israel’s work and blocked the Palestinians’ UN bid for statehood, he would have accomplished something important. He would have inspired the Palestinians (like he did in his UN speech), left them with an example of integrity  and shamed the West for allowing Israel to get away with the abomination it perpetrates in the West Bank and Gaza. If the PA had dissolved itself after the encounter at the UN, Israel would have suddenly had 2.5 million West Bankers on its hands with no Palestinian troops to keep them in line and no Palestinian bureaucracy to keep the economy from imploding. Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have threatened to quit several times, and the threat of dismantling the PA and handing the job back to Israel has been raised continually, but never fulfilled. Now there are new threats, new plans to go back to the UN this September and seek recognition of  Palestine not from the Security Council, where the U.S. can always veto it, but from the General Assembly, where the Palestinians can’t get anything binding but can get a large majority of votes for a symbolic victory. Unfortunately, it’s too late, and my guess is that Abbas, Fayyad and the others know it. When they decided to swallow the U.S./Israeli refusal to recognize the Palestinians’ right to independence, they lost all respect from anybody. They’re no longer advancing the Palestinian cause, they’re advancing the Israeli occupation – that’s their image now not only among Palestinians, but among everyone. A second bid for UN recognition would be a supreme example of history repeating itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

I write this as somebody who, until this year, saw Abbas and Fayyad as the long-awaited answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as the Palestinian leadership Israel always claimed to be dreaming of – one that demonstrably turned away from terror and thereby proved the sincerity of its peaceful intentions. Abbas has done this for eight years. His troops have been working with, or shall we say under, the IDF and Shin Bet, they’ve arrested thousands of Hamasniks (and tortured many of them), they’ve physically prevented mass “people power” demonstrations against the IDF, the wall and the settlements. A prime example of the PA’s diligence came during Operation Cast Lead, when the West Bank was the only place in the world where Muslims weren’t protesting.

For all his strength within Fatah, Abbas owed his rise to power to George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice, who picked him to be the moderate alternative to Arafat while the latter was living out his days in the Muqata. Abbas won the Bush administration’s patronage because he spoke out from the beginning against the extreme violence of the second intifada and Arafat’s orchestration of it. Even Moshe “Bugi” Ya’alon, the right-wing Likudnik who was then IDF chief of staff, credited Abbas as a consistent force for peace. What more could Israel want? As for Fayyad, he, too, was a favorite of the Bush administration, he’d refused to serve in a national unity government with Hamas –  he’s a University of Texas-trained economist who spent his career at the U.S. Federal Reserve, World Bank and International Monetary Fund,  for God’s sake. He’s a Western-oriented Palestinian technocrat. But he, like Abbas, is cynically branded a rejectionist by Israel, and Israel imposes its will on the U.S., which imposes its will on Europe, so in the absence of an Israeli partner for the two-state solution that Abbas and Fayyad seek,  the only job available to them is that of occupation enforcer. And at some point after last September, they decided to accept it.

I don’t know why they don’t quit and close down the store, whether it’s that they gave up on Palestinian independence, or they just got too used to the power and perks, or they’re afraid Palestinian society will suffer too much if the PA isn’t there to provide them jobs and a funnel for foreign aid, or all of the above. But objectively, Abbas, Fayyad and the PA have become Israel’s collaborators in the occupation, and no one by now can fail to see it. Israel has “turned” them. But then Israel has turned America into its collaborator, and Europe into its tacit collaborator, so turning the PA wasn’t such a big chore.

No one should feel sorry for Abbas, Fayyad and their loyalists; there’s too much  abuse of power, brutality, corruption and self-seeking in the PA for them to warrant sympathy. And as Noam Sheizaf wrote, there could be worse to come: If the PA doesn’t finally collapse, it will likely “deteriorate to direct and constant oppression of its own people.” Makes sense; they’ve crossed a line, there’s no way back, so they better keep on going.

This is embarrassing to watch. Not so for Israel’s leaders and their supporters, of course; for them it’s very satisfying. They think they’ve made the enemy’s leaders surrender. But Abbas, Fayyad and the PA are not the Palestinians’ leaders; they never were, except for maybe last September when Abbas gave his UN speech. I don’t know what lesson the Israeli leadership thinks it’s taught the Palestinians by its treatment of their putative president and prime minister, but I think I can guess what lesson the Palestinians are learning: Playing ball with Israel will not get them independence, just humiliation.

Actually, though, the Palestinians have evidently known this for awhile. It’s the rest of the world that’s starting now to understand the game.


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    1. Richard Witty

      Abbas and Fayyad are old, but not in the way.

      The principles of a two-state approach remain relevant, and will continue to until the two societies think of themselves as one society.

      Your and others’ observation/point, that Israel is inching towards a single state, a similar single state to the left one-state proposal (but with a Jewish majority – 40% only, a temporary majority), is profound.

      Abbas’ rejection of militancy is the future, not the past, of either a peaceful single state, or a peaceful two-state.

      Militancy by definition is a bullying, a putting one’s head down and knocking down everything in its path.

      That Abbas and Fayyad have stuck to an aspiration for law, and an aspiration for negotiation, is a strong statement of determination, one that deserves accolades.

      The two-state approach is ill, not dead.

      I won’t bury a living child.

      Reply to Comment
    2. XYZ

      Okay, let’s look at HAMAS in Gaza instead. They aren’t Israeli puppets, they aren’t “enfocers of the occupation”. How are they doing in ruling their people there and liberating the rest? How many rockets on Sederot, Netivot, Ashdod and Ashqelon do you think they need to fire in order to carry out the “Palestinian revolution” successfully, in and ideologically pure way?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Richard Witty

      What was the point of that XYZ?

      One of Larry’s points is that the Israeli “success” at marginalizing the PA, isn’t.

      Reply to Comment
    4. sh

      “Okay, let’s look at HAMAS in Gaza instead. They aren’t Israeli puppets, they aren’t “enfocers of the occupation”.”
      Why? What can we learn from that except that they are in a prison, drip-fed by an Israel that has control over their borders and their waters, because Israel was interested in “negotiating” with Abbas and only Abbas?

      Reply to Comment
    5. XYZ

      Is the goal of the Palestinian leadership ideological purity and the pursuit of revolution that has no chance? Or is it to try to make a better life for their people? In spite of all the complaints we here, there has been a signficant improvement in the standard of living in the West Bank and there is much less anarchy of the type that was in control during Arafat’s reign. Abbas has had some success in this. Is he to be condemned for that, if that is really his goal?

      SH-You conveniently ignore the rocket attacks from Gaza….maybe that has something to do with Israel’s policies there?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Aaron

      “What more could Israel want?”
      Haven’t you been listening?

      Reply to Comment
    7. aristeides

      Israel wants the entire Palestinian population to lie down and die. Failing that, to leave Palestine forever.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Niz

      The crumbling of the pa is coming. In the same way no body expected the Arab revolutions the movement will come suddenly. I trust the people.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Mark Rivers

      Sounds to me like you’d be happy to see the wall completed and the OPT return to anarchy. It doesn’t seem that you have any regard for the Palestinian people. Let’s wait for the dust to settle before we assume that the Arab Spring uprisings have delivered the dreams of Arabs across the Middle East. I wouldn’t argue that the PA is perfect, and corruption free, but during my visit to the West Bank in March I found a general feeling of relief to have some peace and security, even if it be under Israeli imposed hardship. And don’t think Israel has pulled the wool over the eyes of the world. There are many of us campaigning hard, and Israel is going to start feeling it.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Kolumn9

      Alas, your proposed path of dismantling the PA is a sure path to a major disaster for the Arabs. Certainly, it will suck for everybody, but for the Arabs more. The collapse of the PA would turn the West Bank cities to anarchy with the loss of the security forces. Income for 90,000 West Bank Arabs on the PA payroll will be the first to go. The resulting anarchy is likely to be exploited by terrorist groups that will launch attacks against Israel. The Israeli security measures will translate to the loss of jobs for another 80,000 West Bank Arabs who work in Israel and the settlements. Security measures will likely include a resumption of the policy of mass checkpoints which will slow down the rest of the economy and lead to more lost jobs. A likely first casualty is the construction sector with 90,000 West Bank Arabs as employees. That sector is very vulnerable to financial instability and transportation delays, both of which will be in good supply. For context, the total number of employed West Bank Arabs right now is roughly 600,000. So, overall we are talking about a potential direct loss of income for about 45% of the households of the West Bank and the indirect blow to the rest of the service economy. This, in an economy already suffering from 23% unemployment. With the loss of order resulting from the collapse of the PA it is unlikely that the international community will be capable of supplying significant financial assistance to the West Bank given the total absence of transparency and accountability (already problematic areas), not to ignore the absence of the motivation to continue assistance considering the lack of a viable peace process. A 65% unemployment rate and a loss of any semblance of order is how a society collapses with anyone with any opportunity running away.

      Certainly dealing with a failed neighbor would be a challenge for Israel in the long-term, but unlike you and Beilin I don’t see how this is going to lead to a better situation for the Palestinians or a vastly different reality for Israel. The ‘two state solution’ is written in cement [ well, mostly in fences ] and international law. None of this will change it. In the meantime this gamble is guaranteed to devastate the lives of the Arabs in the West Bank. This is the honorable path for a leader?

      Reply to Comment
    11. Richard Witty

      With all of the stresses happening in the middle east currently, I think Palestine will stay deeply on Israel’s very very back burner.

      Which admittedly is very bad news for Palestinians, as Israeli opportunists will then have open territory to apply their one-way heart valve incremental expansion/expulsion.

      Today though, Syria is close to all out civil war. Iran and/or Hezbollah seems to have reinitiated terror on Israeli and Jewish civilians as its means of accountability and deterrence. Egypt has elected the Muslim Brotherhood as leadership of the legislature and for prime minister, and is possibly heading into a direct confrontation with the military.

      In Palestine, Hamas is grossly delaying unification with the PA, and the militants among the civil society movements now pose utter disunity of position among the Palestinian community.

      Real stuff. The relationship with the US is also very likely to become stronger in the face of this chaos, much moreso than the US holding Israel accountable.

      There is a downside to declaring the PA irrelevant. And that is that that declaration, especially in the language that you used (even if also used on the street), disempowers Abbas and successors that would apply the same effort to build Palestinian institutions while attempting to dispel the cynical argument of Palestinians as angry only, and not also responsible and creative.

      Reply to Comment
    12. K9, above, sounds right. To hope the PA falls is to hope for real distress among Bankers, and the re-emergence of active terror cells; a shrinking PA will be unable to police as effectively (which is not a endorcement of torture on my part), and economic distress will create more potential fellow travelers to those who want to lash out at Israel (providing intelligence of a kind, fuel, food, places to spend nights, third party contacts, and likely many other things I can not think of). Ideologies of violent resistence will ascend in some quarters (and only some is necessary for actualization).
      Larry sounds right too. Bibi’s decision to unfreeze settlement construction, reaffirmed since in specific support of settlers ordered to vacate by the High Court, makes the PA an occupation surrogate. I think Abbas and Fayyad do not stay to enrich themselves (I suspect they could flee and be well enough off) but becuase they do not want to see the Bank descend into relative chaos. They are forced to be bantu officials as the best of bad options for those they would govern.
      But PA funding has become precarious, as Noam noted in his piece. The IMF does not trust the Bank’s fundamentals; Saudi Arabia and who knows else fail to meet their promised contributions; and I suspect Israel isn’t always forthcoming either. The social economy of the Bank was altered for many supported by PA projects; these likely often withdrew from weakly paying off “community” relationships. But if the PA shrinks, some of these will be back on the streets, so to say, without the old support network, such as it was, to help them as before. Salaries retard informal relationships as paycheck and loans come to dominate people’s social calculus; we in the West well know that friends suffering bad economic times for too long somehow cease to be friends–we do not want to know what happens to them. Social insurance mechanisms based on people, not direct money, are lost. When things shrink, more people fall; anger rises, ripe for militant violent types.
      Absent a two state solution, Israel should in my view increase funding to the PA, essentially recognizing it as a worthwhile bantu security and stability organiztion. Protest of all kinds would be discouraged as evidence of security failure, causing Israel, which does employ a threat policy tool box, to warn of lesser funding or actually freeze such as a reality check. Over time, the PA will then be seen as a colonial proxy, and I then fear violence in the Bank itself, as many will simply not benefit from the bantu largesse.
      Those predicting a single State with apartheid are warning us of real violence down the road. The Abbas years have created a lull, a false tranquility, especially in the eyes of Israelis. When this reptures they will want to punish. All futures vaguely seen seem dim.
      All of this makes the Wall protests even more important, as a new, nonviolent form of social action. If the PA shrinks, the question will not be how to next protest against Israel, but how to direct protest into a useful social economy, if that can be done, within the Bank itself. I say “if that can be done” because I will never know how it can be done; only those living such can see a way, if at all. And, as far as I know, the only independent actors presently active are the Wall protests. That and that to regain wells. What else is out there, publically?

      Reply to Comment
    13. Joel

      Abbas knowingly plays the role of the ‘good cop’, and the militants, including Hamas, play the ‘bad cop’.

      Their aims are the same though, divide and conquer.

      Reply to Comment
    14. XYZ

      I pointed the following before, but it bears repeating:
      The Jews in the country set up the infrastructure of a state before indpendence, while living and operating under British occupation. The Jews had no control over security, with the partial exception of the Haganah, which was illegal, the Jews had no control over the borders or immigration, and the Jews had no control over land. Yet, as I said, they succeeded in setting up the infrastructure of a state. It is not enough to tell some group of people “okay, now you are independent”. Without such a state infrastructure, there will be nothing but anarchy. The British offered to set up an Arab Agency, which would have been the autonomous government of the Arab community, just as the supported the Jewish Agency which performed the same functions for the Jews. These Agencies had the power of taxation. The Arabs turned it down flat. They didn’t want to pay taxes to any Arab authority, nor did they want to obey its decisions, particularly if it was controlled by rival clans. They are paying for this stupidity to this day, over 90 years later.

      Same in South Africa. In the 1970’s it was decided by the blacks to push “revolution now”, particularly to the youth , who stopped learning in school. The consequence is that the income gap between whites and blacks has narrowed very little since black majority rule came in 1994. There is a whole “lost generation” of people who have no education and no skills to get ahead and massive unemployment among blacks. The Palestinians should take note on how to build a state and how not to.
      Those Israelis who want to see chaos and revolution among the Palestinians have a perverse view of things and don’t really care about the welfare of the Palestinians.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Shlomo Krol

      I don’t think that it’s fair for Israelis to attack Mahmoud Abbas for cooperating with Israel, specially when we know very well what the absence of cooperation means for both Israelis and Palestinians and specially when there are many forces in the Palestinian society (in fact, nearly all others save for Abbas and the PA) which refuse to cooperate with Israel.

      Abbas has a vision and this vision is not incessant war, but the independent Palestinian state. And he moves toward this goal even when the Israeli society is in deep stagnation, when there is a paralysis of political will on the part of the Israeli majority (which wants Palestinian state) and when there’s a deep distrust between the Palestinian leaders and the nationalist Israeli government. The time is on Abbas’ side, not on the side of the Israeli rightists and not on the side of Palestinian rejectionists.

      If the PA declared about its dismantling, it would spell the end for any hope in this region, for both Israelis and Palestinians, it would lead to bloody war.

      I think, we Israelis would do better if we criticized our own government and tried to wake up the public, which is dormant and apathetic. If the people of Israel understood, that the best for Israel is the Palestinian state and the worst is the status quo (which is unsustainable), than the new leadership would emerge, the one which would make progress with Abbas, which would make peace agreement and put the end to the occupation and apartheid.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Richard Witty

      I liked XYZ’s post above.

      Reply to Comment
    17. If I wished anarchy on the Palestinians or terror on Israelis, I wouldn’t have supported Abbas/Fayyad as wholeheartedly as I did from the time they took over. But it’s finished – they’re not pushing the occupation back, they’re moving it forward – and from my pt of view, that’s bad for Israelis and Palestinians both. The criticisms made here are based on the idea that the two-state solution is either “written in cement,” or can be achieved by changing Israeli public opinion, or by spot protests against the wall or reclaiming wells – and all this is divorced from reality. We’re getting run over, the occupation is moving forward with a 1,000 more force than whatever’s pushing it back, and the PA is only pushing it forward now. To call for nothing but the same sort of anti-occupation activity that hasn’t made a dent so far, or to comfort yourself with the idea that things will change on their own is, objectively, to support the status quo. I don’t. And I still support the two-state solution, but what we’ve got now, and what we’ll have forever unless things change radically, is the one-state, semi-apartheid solution.

      Reply to Comment
    18. XYZ

      Larry Derfner-
      I believe that Sari Nusseibeh is saying something along the lines of what I outlined above. Once the Palestinians get going on a true, functioning state infrastructure which is not dependent on handouts from the US and EU, and they show that they want a normal life which includes PEACE WITH ISRAEL, either de facto or de jure, than Israelis can relax and let things evolve naturally. This will lead them to self rule . Please note that my views are similar to Rav Froman’s which says Jews can and will continue to live in the West Bank regardless of whatever political arrangements may be arrived at. But as long as people like HAMAS call the tune, they are only going to go backwards.

      Reply to Comment
    19. amit

      Larry’s criticism against Abbas really shows chutzpa has no limits.

      ” If the PA had dissolved itself after the encounter at the UN, Israel would have suddenly had 2.5 million West Bankers on its hands with no Palestinian troops to keep them in line and no Palestinian bureaucracy to keep the economy from imploding”
      did you imagine that this is precisely what Abbas wants to prevent because, hmm, he actually CARES about Palestinians and doesn’t just use them as his political tools in his fight against Israel (in contrast to larry here)? The food on the table of tens if not hundreds of thousands of palestinians children in the west bank and gaza is dependent on the PA. And while you are more than willing to make Abbas drop the ball (palestinian lives), hoping that Israel will jump to catch it, Abbas is not. israel doesn’t have any reason to jump and catch it, and the idea that suddenly the world will turn against israel is baseless. nothing will make israel jump to catch that ball. Abbas knows it, and heck, even if he thought otherwise he wouldn’t risk so many Palestinian lives and all of the palestinian gains of the last 20 years to the trash this way. Larry crew is about escalating the conflict hoping to achieve the “ultimate” palestinian “justice”. Abbas is looking to end it.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Larry Snider

      I had the privilege of meeting Salamm Fayyad and spending a couple hours with him in his office in Ramallah when I coordinated an interfaith delegation from Philadelphia. I do not believe that he or for that matter Mahmoud Abbas have surrendered their belief in the non-violent realization of two states and peace with Israel. It is a tough time and neither of the three sides has played their hand very well if any were actually interested in moving functionally toward a formal peace agreement. It will take the coordinated efforts of the Palestinians, Israelis, US and many newly elevated players from the international community, (elevated by the US itself), to generate the dynamism to overcome enough of the anger, fear, hatred, extremism and history that have repeatedly prevented and continue to prevent the achievement of Middle East Peace.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Kolumn9

      Larry Derfner, Areas A and B of the West Bank will not be ruled by Israel even with the most right-wing coalition imaginable under prime minister Naftali Bennett or Avigdor Lieberman. Gaza isn’t going to be patrolled by Israeli police even if Baruch Marzel becomes minister of defense. Who is going to rule those areas and their ultimate extent is the subject of debate, but that it isn’t going to be Israel is set in concrete. What you are mourning is the two state solution as perceived by the Palestinians whereby they would get all of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the RoR. That approach is most certainly dead and buried. That also was never, and I repeat, never, the policy of the Israeli government so there really is nothing to mourn.

      Peace is still possible, but it will be a peace based on the vision of Yitzhak Rabin, not Yasser Arafat. Under such a peace the Palestinians will rule themselves and create the prosperity that their inherent abilities allow but it will not happen in a way that will undermine Israeli security.

      Given your suggestions in the article above, yes you do wish anarchy on the Palestinians and terror on the Israelis as these are the natural consequences of what you are proposing. Also, all of XYZ’s posts above are excellent, though it is entirely obvious that the Palestinians have no patience to invest in building a state of their own because they have been sold expectations that a state and Israel are going to be delivered by ‘the world’ on a silver platter. Some of the PA’s funding problems are the result of Fayyad’s inability to push through tax increases to support the budget because the Palestinians rejected the idea that they should pay for the construction of their own state.

      Reply to Comment
    22. “Given your suggestions in the article above, yes you do wish anarchy on the Palestinians and terror on the Israelis as these are the natural consequences of what you are proposing.”

      K9, it’s not that I wish anarchy on the Palestinians and terror on the Israelis, it’s that I see the status quo of mliitary dictatorship as untenable and immoral and something that’s going to explode and keep exploding until it ends. Based on the policy you advocate – the status quo – you like the dictatorship and look forward to the explosions and hope it never ends.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Kolumn9

      Larry, the policy I clearly advocate above is a peace where the Palestinians get their own state but that will not undermine Israeli security. The next best thing is the status quo. Under what sense of morality is your advocated scenario of anarchy and terrorism better than the status quo?

      Reply to Comment
    24. Kolumn9

      Larry, also, your claim is questionable. The position that the status quo will explode and keep exploding until it ends presumes a series of events that I have a hard time imagining. Would you be willing to elaborate on how the explosions will get the situation closer to a resolution and what you think that resolution will be?

      Reply to Comment
    25. Sorry, K9, but I don’t advocate anarchy and terror – actually, on both moral and practical grounds, I advocate Palestinian people power – mass demonstrations to the wall, settlements, IDF positions. I’ve been advocating that since the Arab Spring started. Problem is that the PA, on Israel’s orders, doesn’t allow it. As for your policy, presumably a non-militarized state that doesn’t control its own borders or airspace or coast – that’s not a state at all, it’s nothing any nation would accept, the Palestinians will never accept it, and you know this, so what you honestly support is the status quo – dictatorship, explosions, etc.

      Reply to Comment
    26. K9, I didn’t say the explosions necessarily end – they may go on indefinitely, or they may end with Israel not being able to go on like it has, and at that point either it would be able to save itself or it wouldn’t.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Richard Witty

      The most compelling civil disobedience that the Palestinian community has conducted is the institution-building and economy building effort that Abbas and Fayyad undertook.

      It undermines all of the arguments that Palestinians aren’t capable of forming and managing an actual sovereign state.

      Mass demonstrations, even if based on real complaints, are not yet a viable alternative.

      If they stick to that path, change will occur. If they abandon it, then the reasoning that Palestinians are children requiring parental oversight will remain.

      They should continue to create the conditions by which change is possible.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Kolumn9

      Larry, You presume my position and then make claims about what the Palestinians will or will not accept. This is a cute trick. Somebody making the same kind of prediction 35 years ago would have made a very different but equally vehement declaration of what the Palestinians would or would not accept. They were wrong then and frankly your confidence in your current prediction is likely to be proven equally outdated. The main reason for this is that unlike the Palestinians, the Israelis are capable of achieving their desired goals of a Jewish state with strategically secure borders with or without Palestinian acquiescence. The reverse argument doesn’t apply, so the Palestinians really have no choice but to compromise on their lofty objectives that you deem irreducible or alternatively find themselves in an even worse situation with no viable remedy. Whether this happens now, in 10, or 20 years makes no fundamental difference.

      Yes, I advocate a non-militarized Palestinian state with limited control over its airspace. This is the only responsible Israeli policy that offers the Palestinians something of their own they can build on. There is absolutely nothing in a non-militarized state that contradicts the definition of a sovereign state, so the argument to the contrary is just factually wrong. Nor is there anything in such a proposed state that would prevent the Palestinians from building an independent and successful country. If however, the Palestinians continue to insist on a state that has the capacity of becoming a military threat to Israel and continue to insist on a state which undermines Israeli security then they are likely to wind up with even less.

      You can state that somewhere else you advocate an option not taken, but were one to read this article it would be trivial to conclude that you are currently advocating the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority. The natural consequences of that, as I have already pointed out, are anarchy and terrorism. So, the question of the morality of what you advocate isn’t a question of your inoperative preferred strategy, but the moral justification of advocating a policy that will lead to anarchy and terrorism as you do in this article and in your replies to me.

      Reply to Comment
    29. K9, 1) when you say that a state that’s forbidden to field an army and control its airspace is still a sovereign state, you might as well say water is dry – there’s no point in my trying to argue that it’s wet. 2) you’re saying that because of Israel’s relative strength, the Palestinians have no choice but to accept what Israel’s offering them, which makes you confident they will. Again, if this makes you comfortable, if this makes it easier for you to support ongoing military dictatorship and the bloody clashes it causes and will continue to cause, fine. 3) I supported the PA, Abbas and Fayyad going ahead with their work, for the sake of both sides, until it became clear this year that it was not leading to Palestinian independence, but only deeper occupation – and the reason for this is that unlike Olmert, Netanyahu is not interested in negotiating toward a Palestinian state. Netanyahu has stopped the peace process. If he were to revive it – by agreeing to negotiate like Olmert and Barak did, which was effectively on the basis of the 67 borders, and also to freeze settlement, which should have been a condition all along, then I would go back to supporting the PA. If Abbas gave that ultimatum to Netanyahu, I would urge him to accept Abbas’ conditions and thereby maintain the peace in the West Bank while resuming the work of ending the dictatorship and setting the Palestinians free. If Netanyahu refused, then the Palestinians would have the basic human right of refusing to cooperate in their own permanent subjugation, and anything that happened as a result of the PA’s dissolution would be the blame of Israel’s leadership and all those who supported their decision. The immorality would not be in supporting the dissolution of the PA, but in supporting Israel’s insistence on maintaining the dictatorship. It’s one thing to support Palestinian cooperation when Israel is seeking to end its mastery over them, it’s another to support it when Israel acts only to make the mastery permanent.

      Reply to Comment
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