West Bank Blues

The future is all that has already happened. So too are the peace talks with the Israel’s preferred Palestinian partners led by Abu Mazan. All involved in the peace talks, or lack thereof, are regurgitating the same issues, offering the same solutions and not reaching an agreement. In the face of new extremist forces it would be in the interest of the Abu Mazan Palestinian faction to take what Israel is offering in the form of a two state solution. History, even in Gaza, has shown that dithering may result in lost authority and definitely lost opportunities for Abu Mazan.

Abu Mazan and associates have shown interest in returning to the negotiating table. Israel is also interested in returning to the negotiating table. However, Israel’s preliminary condition is that the Palestinian side does not set any preliminary conditions. Once the pre-negotiating negotiations have been completed both sides need to share the vision that it is not just the creation of two states but two nation states. That is to say that Abu Mazan must accept that Israel is the nation state for and of the Jewish nation. Until now Abu Mazan and associates have refused this.

On the other side of the negotiating table, a similar recognition would grant the disparate Palestinians the recognition of being a nation rather that a collection of tribes and refugees thrown together by colonial powers and world wars. This reality is all too apparent when Abu Mazan is challenged as being the legitimate authority to lead Palestine, inter alia by Hamas who controls Gaza with more autonomy and popular support than Abu Mazan does of a few cities in Judea and Samaria.

Abu Mazan and Hamas have experience from their limited governance to know that independence of a nation state is no easy task. The daily functioning of a state, its bureaucracy, is a far cry from traversing the world and demanding international recognition while also engaged in subversive activities. However the left wing peace movement in Israel and those threatening sanctions and embargoes in the European Union appear not to take this to heart or mind. Unless a viable state can be founded it will become a failed state and fall into the hands of extremist forces.

Should a failed state result in Palestine and should this become a haven for extremist forces then the result will be an inter-state war between Israel and Palestine. Such a war would be between two sovereign states that could not be condemned by the international community including the United Nations as Israeli aggression. Precedents exist of military action against other failed states harbouring extremists by others including the United States and Russia.

So the ball is in the court of Abu Mazan. The future is all that has already happened. Abu Mazan should take a nation state into independence (Palestine) and recognise another nation state (Israel). While he dithers, the population of Judea and Samara is facing the West Bank Blues; immortalised in the words of Ehud Banai in his Canaanite Blues song: This is the time of madness, of endless turmoil, calamity is upon us …

About the Author
Dr Glen Segell is Fellow at the Ezri Center for Iran & Persian Gulf Studies, University of Haifa.
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