Israel is widely believed to have won the Six Day War, and from a military perspective, that is true beyond the shadow of a doubt. However, the Arabs’ objective in that war was to destroy Israel, and despite Israel’s impressive military prowess, the Arabs are likely to achieve that goal after all.
In an interview with Life Magazine published on October 3, 1969, Golda Meir said, “We have always said that in our war with the Arabs we had a secret weapon — no alternative. The Egyptians could run to Egypt, the Syrians into Syria. The only place we could run was into the sea, and before we did that, we might as well fight.”
Unfortunately for Israel, when Meir said this, Israel had lost that secret weapon two years earlier. By capturing the West Bank and Gaza in the Six Day War of 1967, Israel gave itself choices. It could choose to re-settle land from which Jews were illegally expelled in the War of Independence of 1948, or it could choose to leave that land for the Arabs to build a state when they would finally decide to accept the existence of Israel and the two-state concept that they rejected in 1948.
Israel chose to re-settle the land despite misgivings by many Israelis who saw the looming danger, including Yitzhak Rabin who in a 1976 interview compared the budding West Bank settlement movement to a “cancer” and “one of the most acute dangers in the whole phenomenon of the State of Israel”.
If the Arabs had been directing Israeli politicians like puppets, they could not have devised a more suicidal move for Israel, short of handing over its weapons to the PLO. Arabs of course had no control over Israeli politicians, but they have taken full advantage of Israel’s mistake. Every decision by Palestinian politicians has contributed towards re-enforcing that mistake, and the Arab countries’ refusal to assimilate Palestinian refugees was the final nail in the coffin.
One wonders by what logic Palestinian Mahmood Abbas uses the settlements as a reason to refuse to negotiate peace with Israel. If Abbas was concerned about the settlements, he would want to reach a peace deal as soon as possible so that he could stop expansion of the settlements.
One also wonders by what logic Hamas keeps attacking Israel knowing that such attacks will only result in defeat and destruction. It strangely appears as if Hamas is secretly hoping for Israel to re-occupy Gaza.
The seemingly illogical actions of Fatah and Hamas are not driven by desperation as they would like everyone to believe and as naïve Westerners think. They are driven by the single goal that the Arabs have had since Israel declared its independence in May 1948: the destruction of the Jewish state and its replacement with a single Arab-majority state, from which Jews will be driven out just as they were driven out from all the other Arabs states.
Fatah and Hamas differ in their methods, but their objective is the same: a single country where Arabs can overwhelm Jews in democratic elections so that they can cancel Israel’s Law of Return (which allows any Jew to immigrate to Israel) and instead bring all Palestinian refugees into what could only be called the new state of “Palestine”. Fatah and Hamas know that the more Israel is intricately involved in Gaza and the West Bank, the less likely a two-state solution can emerge.
When Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made the bold move of withdrawing from Gaza in 2005, the Palestinian strategy took a hit. Sharon said at the time, “Now it is the Palestinians’ turn to prove their desire for peace. The end of Israeli control over and responsibility for the Gaza Strip allows the Palestinians, if they so wish, to develop their economy and build a peace-seeking society, which is developed, free, law-abiding, transparent, and which adheres to democratic principles.”
To the Palestinian leaders, it looked like Israel was finally heeding the warning of Rabin and taking steps to protect the option of a two-state solution. It looked like Palestinian leaders would have no choice but to act responsibly and be nation builders rather than terrorists. For them, this was crisis time.
The Palestinian leaders’ panic intensified when Sharon’s successor Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke of unilateral withdrawals from parts of the West Bank, but Hamas, by violently taking over Gaza and attacking Israel, restored the Palestinian strategy. The Hamas attacks caused the Israeli public to consider the Gaza withdrawal a failure, and Olmert dropped his plan.
This is only a theory of course. I have never met Fatah or Hamas leaders, and, truth be told, I have not been invited to their mansions, but this theory matches the facts almost perfectly. One can assume that Palestinian leaders are bumbling fools who have no clue what they are doing, and that it is only by dumb luck that each and every one of their moves contributes to killing the two-state solution. If Israel is making that assumption then it is badly underestimating its enemy, which is an error that even the strongest nations can ill afford.