Luciano Mondino

The Palestinian succession war
Palestinian Rioters. Wikipedia Commons.

An irrational activism that is fodder for modern antisemitism that takes full refuge in the Arab-Palestinian cause.

Little, if any, is being said about the storm brewing within the Arab world and Israel. The succession war, which may accelerate during the month of Ramadan, raises alarms about the impact it will also have on Arab civilians under the power of the Palestinian leadership.

Many more Palestinian Arabs are tired of the perpetual war forced on them by the leaders of the armed factions who, while sending their children to die in an attack on Israeli civilians or security forces, live a comfortable life in Qatar.

Since the signing of the Oslo Process (including the territorial division of September 1995) neither the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria nor Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad have collaborated in quelling the violent germ that has been trumpeted for decades. Far from extinguishing it, many strive to sustain a strongly anti-Semitic rhetoric and advocate the disappearance of the state of Israel, thus attacking a UN member state that is an example of democratic, pluralistic and diverse coexistence in a region that does not usually foster these values.

While it is a mistake for the West to pretend that the Palestinians have a nation state conceived under Westphalian terms, it is the lack of a political system that guarantees a pluralistic election and a leadership far removed from the kleptocracy that today abounds in the Palestinians that perpetuates, to a large extent, a long-standing and distressing war.

Within the Palestinian political leadership there is an exclusionary plurality of worldviews and their relationship with Israel: there are leaders who have remained in the 1948 war of extermination, others who continue to live in the 1968 Khartoum Declaration, others who have been interested in the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, and others who do not even think, but cling to an irrational activism that is fodder for modern anti-Semitism that takes full refuge in the Arab-Palestinian cause.

To speak of Palestinian leadership is not to speak of a unified entity, but of a permanent clash of factions that hour after hour dispute their political and territorial belonging: Judea and Samaria, in the territories also known as the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority is composed of leaders who seek collaboration with Israel in security matters, mainly in Area B, to prevent the growth of Hamas or Palestinian Jihad, which are links to Iran.

Inside Jenin, a territory that is not occupied but under Palestinian command, various insurgent battalions and brigades have been formed that are already beyond the control of the Palestinian Authority itself and which in recent months have been carrying out attacks against Israeli civilians or security forces.

There is also Nablus where the Lion’s Den, a squadron composed of young Palestinians dissatisfied with the Palestinian Authority and dangerously seduced by Hamas, is beginning to establish a base.

Israel in Judea and Samaria is doing what the Palestinians pledged to do in the Oslo Accords: provide security.

At the helm of the Palestinian Authority for many years has been Mahmoud Abbas, the long-serving 87-year-old leader who has been in power for almost two decades and who continues to block any call for elections in Judea and Samaria to avoid a repeat of what happened in the Gaza Strip in 2007 when, after a legislative election victory, Hamas expelled and executed Palestinian Authority and Fatah officials.

Abbas, paradoxically, is what is plugging a Hamas expansion into densely populated territories where the PA is already unable, unwilling or unable to control. Terrorism has become a siren song for the frustration, need and dehumanisation of minors.

Like any feature of a kleptocracy, within the Palestinian Authority there has been no intention to ensure an orderly transition or an alternative project that would steer Palestinians away from the radical visions that seek to lead them: Hamas, though a Sunni faction, is strongly linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. As if this were not enough, there is also the possibility that the Gaza faction is consolidating (after a series of trips to Beirut) a joint operation with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon that has a greater damage capability. The explosive planted by a would-be Lebanese terrorist in Meggido earlier this month raised the possibility of infiltration from the cedar country or a so-called lone wolf in the service of Arouri, the Hamas proxy in PA-controlled territories.

The month of Ramadan, a month that begins quietly until the convergence with Pesach brings out the weapons that armed groups collect in Al Aqsa and use to attack Jews, is often the setting for disrupting relations with Israel.

Rockets from the Gaza Strip, terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria and possible interference from Hezbollah missiles presage difficult weeks in which Israel must not be dragged into an incendiary dispute between Arab factions.

About the Author
Master's Degree in International Politics from the Complutense University of Madrid. Interested in transnational terrorism, organized crime, radicalism and the fight against anti-Semitism.
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