[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com]
Lightning paced thriller writer
of International Intrigue
National Bestselling Author

Palestinian Madness
by Allan Topol, [IMAGE]2007


Photo Courtesy: Julie Zitin
[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com] A number of years ago, Israeli foreign minister, Abba Eban, said, "the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." Those words never rang truer than in the last several years. It is absurd to blame the Bush administration or the Israelis for the current Palestinian misery. The Palestinians have no one to blame but themselves.

For starters, in the final days of the Clinton administration, the President brought Israeli Prime Minister Barak and Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat to Camp David in order to bludgeon these two enemies into reaching a peace agreement which Clinton could gloat about as one of the most significant achievements of his presidency. Both Barak and Arafat were accompanied by large delegations and the President had all of his key Middle East advisers at Camp David For several days, the President leaned hard on both Barak and Arafat. At the end, Clinton persuaded the Israelis to accept a compromise which gave the Palestinians everything they could reasonably have wanted including an independent state, a share of Jerusalem and even the return of some refugees who fled in 1948. It was a remarkable concession by Barak, and no doubt the Israeli Prime Minister would have had trouble selling that agreement to his parliament and people. However, he never had to worry about that. In a stunning and shortsighted development, Arafat turned the deal down and launched the Intifada.

Fast forward several years to the Bush administration. Arafat is dead. Abbas is the Palestinian President and Ariel Sharon is the Israeli Prime Minster. Sharon authorized a unilateral Israeli pullout from Gaza, turning the territory over to the Palestinians, providing them with an opportunity for model self rule on their way to statehood. Sharon promised and his successor, Olmert, reinforced that promise, that if all went well in Gaza, the Israelis would pull out of the West Bank and the Palestinians would have their statehood.

Rather than embrace a government which would serve the interest of the Palestinian people, instead they launched in Gaza a civil war, a fratricide, in which Fatah and Hamas squared off against each other and Hamas prevailed. In response, Abbas has declared the end of the Hamas elected government and established his own government on the West Bank. At this point, the Palestinians with the guns from Fatah are controlling the West Bank, and the masked men of Hamas with their own guns are controlling Gaza.

Some see this as a welcome development. Abbas is much more moderate than Hamas, they say, and Abbas offers an opportunity for negotiations and agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. This is absurd. Abbas has not done anything to justify this optimism. If he seems more moderate, it is because of his ineptitude and inability to effectively control his forces. Therein lies the defect in this analysis. The gunmen on the West Bank will not take orders from Abbas. Even those supposedly allied with Fatah. Moreover, Hamas is not likely to be content with control over Gaza. They will initiate the same coup on the West Bank that they did in Gaza. Their appeal to the Palestinians on the West Bank will find the same receptive ears that it found in Gaza. It is only a matter of time until fighting breaks out between Hamas and Fatah supporters on the West Bank. What will restrain a full scale civil war of the type which occurred in Gaza is the presence of Israeli troops throughout the West Bank.

Moreover, among the Palestinians living in the West Bank, there will not be a willingness to write off their brethren in Gaza. The Palestinians in these two noncontiguous areas are too interconnected. They cannot be separated regardless of how attractive that may seem to some American leaders. Moreover, neither the world community nor Israel can afford to stand by while the Hamas controlled powder keg in Gaza becomes armed with increasingly deadly weapons smuggled in from Egypt.

It is tempting to believe that the leaders of Hamas, now that they control Gaza, will turn more moderate and recognize Israel in order to improve the situation of their people. There is nothing in the past conduct of these terrorists to justify that optimistic assessment. Reality will not be accepted by Hamas any more than it was accepted by Arafat at Camp David.

The oil rich Persian Gulf Arab states, and particularly Saudi Arabia, could intervene with Hamas and try to persuade them, with financial incentives to adopt a realistic approach. All that would be required is an announcement by the Hamas leaders that they recognize Israel, accept the Oslo framework and are prepared to negotiate and to live side by side in peace with their neighbor. Whether the Saudis would succeed or not is questionable. With their financial resources, they might have a chance. However, I fear that they will not make the effort. Right now there is no light at the end of this tunnel.