Sunday, September 19, 2021

Thinking Out of the Box - Middle East Peace

Mahmoud Abbas The real obstacle to peace?  (Wiki)
There is little doubt about the problems facing Israel with respect to Palestinians on the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). It is not rocket science. Palestinians are currently the pawns of their leadership – the PA (Palestinian Authority). Many of them live in less that ideal conditions – to say the least. The world blames the ‘occupation’ for this. Claiming that if there were a 2 state solution – all this would be settled. Palestinians would be able to rise above their current circumstances.

I am not, however, convinced of that. The PA has received billions of dollars in US aid over the years. Much of which was used to pay families of terrorists (called martyrs by their leaders) who died trying to ‘liberate’ their people from the Zionist occupiers. 

That fact is lost on the world. They parrot PA leaders who blame only Israel. Saying that the PA is being denied their state for no good reason. I literally do not understand how the world  buys this argument if they know that terrorist families are being paid with funds from the US aid. Other than the occasional vague reference to Israel’s need for security there is no mention of how much support the PA has for their ‘martyrs’. 

The PA doesn’t just tolerate terrorist attacks  – they reward it! The world just seems to ignore that - insisting that a 2 state solution will solve all problems. That terrorists have the very real goal of terminating Israel’s very existence and will not end with 2 states. I believe that those attacks will increase with the advent of 2 states. Even though the PA claims that they will live in peace with Israel if given an independent state -  that they pay families of their ‘martyrs’ gives lie to that claim. 

Is all that US aid given to terrorists families? No. Much of it is pocketed by the corrupt PA leadership. Little of it trickling down to the Palestinian in the street.

Does the PA view of Israel match that of the typical Palestinian?   

I suspect the answer to that is complicated. On the one hand when a people is indoctrinated from their youth to see ‘the Jews’ as evil, it’s hard to imagine they could have any other view. So they blame Israel for their plight. That is reinforced by the financial hardships they face daily living under Israeli occupation.  The indignities they suffer because of Israel’s security needs should not be minimized. but neither should the reasons for that be underplayed.  Israel's security needs are real. What choice do they have?! Nonetheless, Palestinians blame only their Israeli occupiers for their indignities.

What about a one state solution where the West Bank becomes part of Israel and it’s residents become full-fledged Israeli citizens?  

The problem with that is their population continues to increase, it will soon enough outnumber Israeli Jews. Which means that Palestinians could then vote Israel out of existence. What they cannot achieve with bullets they will achieve with ballots. 

Neither solution is viable.  And yet there must be something can move the needle! This is where the money comes in. Not that it is a slam dunk. But it hasn’t been tried yet and it might be worth considering. 

If Israel could somehow improve the material welfare of West Bank Palestinians, the indoctrinated hatred might be stilled if not eliminated. This might not stop terrorism. But if we could raise the standard of living to parallel that of Israelis they might just like it enough to leave things as they are. Especially knowing that the PA leadership has thus far failed them.   

They may still hate us. But they are not going to bite the hand that feeds them their newfound prosperity. How Israel might do that is a good question. But surely doing tangible things like upgrading their infrastructure to be comparable to Israel proper would be a good start. As I understood it, the Trump peace plan was actually willing to pour tons of money into the Palestinian economy as an incentive to make peace with Israel. 

The result would be short of an actual state. It might be in the form of a loose affiliation with Israel that would give them complete autonomy, full civil rights, and prosperity - without becoming actually becoming Israeli citizens. In other words it would be just short of a state. 

Of course that would not satisfy Palestinian aspirations of having their own independent country.  But it would improve their lives to the point of not acting on those aspirations. My guess is that deep down the typical Palestinian cares more about feeding their families and prospering than they do about having their own state. 

The only ones that care more about having their own state are their corrupt leadership. Whose material welfare has already been taken care of. They will never accepts anything less than their own state. On the other hand Palestinians know that the hand that was supposed to feed has failed. While the hand that feeds them now succeeds. They might just reject those leaders and embrace their new status quo instead. 

It may be farfetched. I know there are a lot of skeptics.  Especially to anything that has Trump’s name on it. But if the US can circumvent the PA leadership, get Israel deeply invested in doing whatever they can along these lines, and directly help the Palestinian  people, that would in my view  have a major impact. 

It should be noted that some Arab nations have suggested that it should be given serious consideration. That is unprecedented!

Will it work? Who knows? I tend to be a skeptic by nature. But still – it has never been tried.  One things is certain. The conventional wisdom about what should be done has produced zero results.  There is no reason to believe anything will change if we continue along those lines.

After decades of no movement where a lot of blood has been spilled in both communities - it is certainly worth a try. The Biden administration should consider it. You never know...