Life after the PA

It’s been suggested that the worst thing for Israel would be a complete collapse of the Palestinian Authority (PA), leaving Israel responsible for millions of Palestinians in the territories and with no one to talk to:

For the spiraling anarchy inside Gaza is not something Israel can watch from outside. A collapse of the PA as a government, something that the events of the last few days have shown is a real possibility, would have far-reaching strategic ramifications for Israel and could fundamentally change the two-state concept that has underpinned Israeli policy since 1993 and the Oslo Accords…

In a paper Reut published last November, [Gidi] Grinstein wrote that the aim of this strategy “is to establish one Palestinian/Arab/Islamic state in place of Israel through actions that will bring about Israel’s internal collapse as a state.”

According to this strategy, “the occupation accelerates Israel’s implosion and therefore should be sustained. Either way, the Hamas government in and of itself serves the ‘Strategy of Implosion’ because it creates a political deadlock, deepens the Palestinian crisis of representation, and erodes the PA’s capacity to govern.”

Grinstein, who was an adviser to Ehud Barak when Barak served as prime minister, said that the collapse of the PA – a situation of “non-governance there” – was bad for Israel. “We will have no one to talk to, and too many people to shoot at,” he said.

This analysis depends, of course, on the assumption that while there is a functional PA, there is someone to talk to whose ultimate goal is a peaceful two-state settlement.

That is by no means certain. The late, lamented Fatah organization was a creature of Israel’s greatest enemy since Amalek, Yasser Arafat. While differing from Hamas in strategy — prepared to use diplomacy as well as force — Fatah, in the opinion of many and in the words of its charter, sought the same goal: the replacement of the Jewish state with one ruled by Arabs.

If this is correct, then the destruction of Fatah is not particularly good or bad for Israel. If the “peace process” is to turn out, at the end of the day, to have been a mirage with peace always shimmering in the desert beyond reach, better to know that now.

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