Analysis from Israel

It’s eminently fitting the woman the Palestinian Authority chose to formally launch its statehood bid is a proud mother of five murderers, of whom one is now dead while the other four are serving life sentences in Israel. After all, a woman who teaches her sons to kill Israelis even at the expense of their own welfare is the perfect emblem of a Palestinian state dedicated to destroying Israel even at the expense of its people’s welfare. And if that accusation seems far-fetched, just consider the shocking interview the PLO’s ambassador to Lebanon, Abdullah Abdullah, gave the Lebanese Daily Star last week:

The ambassador unequivocally says that Palestinian refugees would not become citizens of the sought for U.N.-recognized Palestinian state…

This would not only apply to refugees in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Jordan or the other 132 countries where Abdullah says Palestinians reside. Abdullah said that “even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”

Abdullah said that the new Palestinian state would “absolutely not” be issuing Palestinian passports to refugees…

“When we have a state accepted as a member of the United Nations, this is not the end of the conflict. This is not a solution to the conflict. This is only a new framework that will change the rules of the game.”

The Palestinian Liberation Organization would remain responsible for refugees, and Abdullah says that UNRWA would continue its work as usual.

This is simply unbelievable. For years, the world has backed a Palestinian state on the grounds Palestinians are stateless people who deserve a country of their own. And now, a senior Palestinian official has announced once they have received a state, most Palestinians will still be stateless – even those who actually live in “Palestine.”

Moreover, the new state won’t provide these residents with any services: It expects UNRWA – or, more accurately, the American and European taxpayers who provide the bulk of that organization’s funding – to continue providing their schooling, healthcare, welfare allowances, etc.

According to UNRWA, some 689,000 of the  West Bank’s 2.4 million Palestinians and 1.1 million of Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinians are refugees. Thus, aside from the 2.9 million Diaspora refugees, a whopping 45  percent of the new state’s residents will also remain stateless, deprived of both citizenship and services by the country the world fondly imagines is being created to serve their needs.

But of course, the PA doesn’t want a state to serve its people’s needs; it wants a state to further its goal of destroying Israel. Hence the refugees can’t be given citizenship; that would undermine its demand to resettle them in Israel, thereby destroying the Jewish state demographically.

And if the price is leaving half its people in stateless squalor for the next several decades or centuries, it’s a perfectly acceptable one to pay for the goal of killing the Jewish state. Just like Latifa Abu Hmeid thinks one son dead and four in jail is an acceptable price to pay for the goal of killing Jews.

 

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Why the status quo is the least bad option for Palestinians

Even among people who recognize that Israeli-Palestinian peace is currently impossible, a growing number think that Israel must nevertheless quit the West Bank. Israel has a right to defend itself, their argument goes, but not by controlling another people for decades. Instead, it should withdraw to the “internationally recognized border” and protect itself from there, like other countries do.

Forget for a moment that the “internationally recognized border” is an arrant fiction. Forget as well that Israel remains in the West Bank precisely because defending itself from the 1949 armistice lines (the abovementioned fictional border) hasn’t worked very well in either the West Bank—from which Israel partially withdrew in the 1990s before returning the following decade—or the Gaza Strip.

That still leaves another uncomfortable fact: As long as genuine peace remains impossible, Israeli control of the West Bank, despite the undeniable hardships it causes Palestinians, remains the least bad alternative for the Palestinians themselves. As evidence, just compare the Israeli-controlled West Bank to Gaza, which has been free of both settlers and soldiers since August 2005. By almost any parameter, life in the former is far better.

Take, for instance, casualties. According to B’Tselem’s statistics, Israeli security forces killed 5,706 Palestinians in Gaza from September 2005 through August 2019. That’s almost eight times the 756 killed by Israeli security personnel and settlers combined in the West Bank during this period (no Gazans were killed by settlers since there are no settlers there).

Nor is this surprising. Israel’s control of the West Bank means that suspected terrorists can often be arrested rather than killed, though shootouts (with attendant collateral damage) do occur. But in Gaza, where Israel has no troops, it can’t arrest terrorists. Thus the only way to fight terror is through military action, which naturally produces many more casualties among both combatants and civilians.

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