OpinionMiddle East

The impact of the proposed Palestinian state on US interests

Western foreign-policy and national-security establishments would do well to remember that the “best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas addresses a rally in Ramallah commemorating the fifth anniversary of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's death, Nov. 11, 2009. Photo by Issam Rimawi/Flash90.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas addresses a rally in Ramallah commemorating the fifth anniversary of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's death, Nov. 11, 2009. Photo by Issam Rimawi/Flash90.
Yoram Ettinger
Yoram Ettinger
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.

Western foreign-policy and national-security establishments—government, media and academia—have been overwhelmingly preoccupied with assessments of the future actions of the proposed Palestinian state. They have sidestepped the existing Palestinian track record.

Major decisions are based, primarily, on well-documented track records. They are not centered on hypothetical futures. This is certainly the case regarding responsible foreign policy, which attempts to enhance future national security by avoiding past mistakes.

Dr. Albert Ellis, one of the world’s top psychologists, considered the study of the past to be an essential undertaking for an improved future: “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”  This is as applicable to foreign policy and national security policy as it is to psychology.

Western conventional wisdom

Western foreign-policy and national-security establishments tend to assume that the issue of the proposed Palestinian state is mostly relevant to Israel and the Arabs, and marginally relevant to vital U.S. national-security interests. However, the proposed Palestinian state would generate a series of regional ripple effects, impacting the survival of the pro-U.S. Hashemite regime in Jordan, and subsequently the continued existence of all pro-U.S.  regimes in the Arabian Peninsula and throughout the Middle East, as well as the regional stature of Russia, China, Iran’s ayatollahs, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS, all of which would influence U.S. national security interests.

Moreover, Western governments, media and academia tend to rely heavily on Palestinian-related Arab talk, rather than on Arab walk.  Therefore, they misperceive the Palestinian issue as a primary Arab concern, a core cause of regional turbulence and the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Thus, they conclude that a Palestinian state would tone down the intensity of the Arab-Israeli and other regional conflicts in the Middle East, and consequently advance the cause of stability, moderation, peace and possibly democracy. Previously, they defined the 2010-11 eruption of the Arab tsunami as an “Arab Spring,” a “march of democracy” and the “Facebook revolution.”

Supposedly, this is an astute, common-sense and convenient approach to the Palestinian issue, which could resolve rough crises by bypassing the violent, intolerant, unpredictable, frustrating and inconvenient features of the Middle East. But this approach subordinates the well-documented past Palestinian track record to a presumptive future Palestinian track record.

How credible is this approach, which sacrifices inconvenient and frustrating reality on the altar of convenient assumptions and solutions? What would be the nature of the proposed Palestinian state and its impact on the region and on vital U.S. national security interests? Why has Arab policy-making demonstrated a sharp contradiction between a hostile/indifferent walk and an embracing talk on the Palestinian issue? What do Arabs know about the Palestinians’ past and present track record, which the West still does not get?

The Palestinian past/present track record

• The most intense Arab collaborator with Nazi Germany. Mein Kampf is still a best-seller on the Palestinian street.

• Close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood—the largest Islamic terror organization—since its joint collaboration with Nazi Germany and concerted perpetration of subversion and terrorism in Egypt during the 1950s.

• Systematic collaboration with the Soviet Bloc/Russia since the end of WWII. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas was trained by the KGB and his Ph.D. (“The Myth of the Jewish Holocaust”) was from Moscow University.

• Since 1966, the Palestinian leadership has maintained close ties with North Korea. The Palestinian embassy is one of a mere 25 embassies in Pyongyang.

• Systematic alliance with the anti-U.S. Cuba and Venezuela.

• An early supporter of Iran’s Ayatollahs—the arch threat to Saudi Arabia and all pro-U.S. Arab regimes—during their rise to power in 1979.

• During the 1970s and 1980s, Palestinian terror organizations (led by Abbas’s Fatah and PLO) were a global epicenter of anti-U.S. international terrorism, training terrorists from Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

• On March 1, 1973, the PLO-controlled Black September organization murdered the U.S. ambassador and deputy ambassador to Sudan, as well as the Belgian chargé d’affaires to Sudan.

• On April 18 and October 23, 1983, two hundred sixty Americans and 58 Frenchmen were murdered, when the U.S. embassy and Marines barracks in Beirut were car-bombed by Islamic Jihad terrorists, assisted by Palestinian terrorists.

• Palestinian terrorists fought U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

• Palestinian terrorism (1987-1991) and control (since the first Oslo Accord in 1993) of the Christian enclaves in Bethlehem, Beit Jallah, Beit Sahur and Ramallah transformed these majority Christian communities into tiny minorities.

• Palestinian terrorism and hate-education intensified dramatically in response to Israel’s dramatic concessions in 1993 (with the Oslo Accord), in 2000 (with then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s proposal to retreat to the 1949 ceasefire lines) and in 2005 (the disengagement from Gaza).

• Anti-Israel Palestinian terrorism was not triggered by the 1967 Six-Day War. It has been an integral feature of the region since the 1920s. Abbas’s Fatah and PLO organizations were established in 1959 and 1964 with official charters and seals calling for the “liberation” of pre-1967 Israel. The “liberation” of pre-1967 Israel has been the core theme of the Palestinian education curriculum (K-12) and mosque incitement.

• Palestinian leaders have excelled in the usage of the Islamic Taqqiyah (dissimulation), as evidenced by PLO chief Yasser Arafat, who enunciated peaceful statements—which made him a frequent visitor to the White House and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize—while fueling unprecedented terrorism and promoting hate-education.

• Arabs consider Palestinians to be a role model of intra-Arab subversion, terrorism and ingratitude. This is the result of Palestinian terrorism (led by Arafat, Abbas and their colleagues) against Arab host countries, such as Egypt (mid-1950s), Syria (1966), Jordan (1970), Lebanon (1970-1982) and Kuwait (1990), as well as Palestinian collaboration with the Assad and Saddam Hussein regimes in Syria and Iraq and the ayatollahs of Iran.

• Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the other pro-U.S. Arab regimes don’t forget and don’t forgive. They consider the proposed Palestinian state a potential rogue regime, threatening their survival.

• During the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty signing ceremony, Jordanian generals told their Israeli colleagues that a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River would doom the Hashemite regime east of the river.

• Against the aforementioned data, a Palestinian state could expand the Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Turkish and possibly North Korean foothold in the Middle East, including conceivable land, air and sea access/bases.

• The aforementioned data guarantees another anti-U.S. vote at the United Nations.

Bearing in mind that leopards don’t change their spots—only their tactics—the proposed Palestinian state, on the one hand, and American values and national-security interests, on the other, constitutes a classic oxymoron.

Will the U.S. foreign and national-security-policy establishments keep Ellis’s advice in mind and remember that the “best predictor of future behavior is past behavior”?

Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.

This article was first published by the Ettinger Report.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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