OpinionMiddle East

What would a Palestinian state look like the day after independence?

It would facilitate Iran’s access and involvement in the region exponentially.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, on Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, on Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
Dr. Eric R. Mandel
Dr. Eric R. Mandel is the director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political Information Network, senior security editor of The Jerusalem Report and a contributor to The Hill and The Jerusalem Post. He regularly briefs member of Congress and their foreign policy advisers about the Middle East.

The Biden administration, as well as almost every nation in the world, is pressuring Israel to create an immediate pathway for a Palestinian state. In theory, separating from the Palestinian Arab population—if it could be done with all security safeguards in place—accepting Israel as a Jewish state and signing an end-of-conflict agreement would be a reasonable alternative to the present situation, if it were possible.

But does anyone look at what a Palestinian state would be and how faithful its leadership would be to any signed agreements the day after the ink dries?

Let’s start with an independent Palestinian state’s diplomatic position. Palestinians’ closest allies are Iran, Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba, South Africa and almost all of the world’s non-democratic countries, all adversaries to America and Israel.

Let’s begin with Iran. There is little doubt that unless there is a change in the Iranian regime, its defining mission to spread the Islamic revolution will remain its top priority. That is also the mandate of its armed wing, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), true believers in radical Islamism, anti-Semitism, unfettered power and subjugating all foes.

An independent Palestinian state would facilitate Iran’s access and involvement in the region exponentially, as it is almost impossible to imagine the Palestinians under Hamas or Fatah distancing themselves from Iran, no matter what is written. With a base in their capital in eastern Jerusalem, Iran would begin to destabilize the Palestinian state, creating a scenario where it turns the Palestinian Authority into a satrapy, as it did in Syria and Lebanon. It would actively recruit and manipulate a compliant P.A. to be dominated by Islamists, linked, if not in name, to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas terror groups. There is no reason to believe that the corrupt Fatah Party would not follow Iran to help it begin the next phase of destabilizing the Jewish state by lawfare and terror.

Next, from its allied Palestinian state, Iran would target the American ally Jordan by destabilizing the economically troubled country, plagued with a growing Islamist population as well as millions of refugees from the Syrian and Iraqi wars. This is all part of Iran’s strategy to expand its “ring of fire” to team up with its proxy network extending from Lebanon to Syria to Iraq and Yemen.

The international community and the American administration, which advocate prematurely for a Palestinian state, remain trapped in a utopian view that today’s Palestinians would end their hatred toward Jews and their goal to eradicate the Jewish state. They never look at the “day after” independence. Perhaps they don’t care as long as it undermines the Jewish state and doesn’t threaten them, but Islamists have their eyes on the West, too.

The case against a Palestinian state in this generation does mean that you are for annexing the West Bank. It means you are a realist and in favor of the survival of the independent democratic Jewish State of Israel. For the foreseeable future, a leadership that is corrupt and supports terror, which includes Fatah, the PLO and Hamas, makes the premature push for a Palestinian state more of a plan for the destruction of the State of Israel than it is for lasting Palestinian self-determination as a peaceful nation.

If only the Palestinian people had not gone through generations of brainwashing against Israel’s right to exist in any territorial dimension, and the Palestinian leadership was not compromised by volumes of blood-thirsty statements and actions over decades. Then, the idealistic desire for a Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in Gaza and in the West Bank would be a reasonable goal.

So, do Arab states really want a Palestinian state?

Based on the statements from Arab capitals, you would think for sure they would. But when the Palestinians asked the Arab League and Organization of Muslim States in November to cut off relations and trade with Israel, the answer was no. It should be remembered that the states that made peace with Israel through the 2020 Abraham Accords voiced demands for a Palestinian state but, after parroting the required rhetoric, moved on to prioritize their interests, which included relations with Israel.

In the Middle East, words are ephemeral; actions matter.

For Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, the Muslim Brotherhood—of which Hamas is a charter member—is a threat whose goal is the overthrow of their governments and installation of an Islamist regime. Why would the United States, other than for utopian ideals and placating anti-Zionists, want to undermine its national security by advocating for a Palestinian state before its time, as it will most likely become a new base for enemies like China, Russia and Iran?

Nadav Shragai in Israel Hayom wrote, “The U.S. is failing in its attempt to transform the Palestinian Authority and establish what American envoys call a ‘renewed Palestinian Authority,’ as a prelude to what will eventually become a Palestinian state … there is no truly “renewed” Palestinian Authority. This is evident from the high number of incidents in which Palestinian Authority officers and security personnel are involved in terrorist activities or firing on Israel Defense Forces. … In counterterrorism and arrest operations, not only Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives are being neutralized or arrested, but also hundreds of Fatah members.”

The only reason the West Bank does not look like Jabalia or Rafah in Gaza is that Israeli security has a free hand in Judea and Samaria. Paradoxically, it does get occasional help from the schizophrenic P.A., which one day works with Hamas in Gaza, and the next day works with the IDF against Hamas and PIJ.

Bassam Tawil in Gatestone reminded his readers that Abbas’s Fatah faction participated in the Oct. 7 slaughter and terrorist attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians. Abu Mohammed, the official spokesman for Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (Fatah) said, “On Oct. 7, our heroes in the brave unit participated in the invasion of the colonies surrounding Gaza, and together with our brothers in the Palestinian struggle organizations (Hamas and PIJ), captured many Zionists; some of them were transferred to us, and some are still in our hands. … A Fatah terrorist said, “We broke into Nahal Oz … we took as plunder what we took, and we killed soldiers and stepped on their heads.”

The P.A. president is the head of Fatah.

If the “day after” a Palestinian state is one where Iran’s ring of fire extends to the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan, then for not only Israeli national security interests but for American ones, Israel should say thank you, but not now. With a future administration that is more tethered to the reality of the Middle East, Israel and the United States should create a pathway towards greater independence with non-negotiable benchmarks or legal fictions. Unfortunately, it will likely take generations to accomplish, as it will require the Palestinians to change their narrative from one of victimhood and the destruction of Israel to one that prioritizes the Palestinian people’s legitimate quest for a better life.

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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