Analysis from Israel

Palestinian society has produced no shortage of people willing to die for the cause of destroying Israel. So it’s encouraging to discover that not all Palestinians relish the role of cannon fodder. A day after as many as 23 were killed in Sunday’s attempt to storm Israel’s border (if you believe Syrian government figures), thousands of angry mourners turned on their own leaders in Syria’s Yarmouk refugee camp.

The mourners reportedly attacked the headquarters of the Palestinian terrorist group PFLP-GC, accusing its leaders of endangering their lives by sending them into the line of fire. When Hamas leader Khaled Meshal came to offer condolences, they reportedly assailed him too. The result was predictable: PFLP-GC security guards opened fire on their own people, killing 14 and wounding 43.

Yet shouldn’t Yarmouk residents have known that storming Israel’s border would be dangerous? Syria’s state-controlled media may be mum on the Assad government’s violence against its own people, but they avidly covered the death of four Palestinian-Syrians in the last such attempt, just three weeks ago. The obvious conclusion is that either the terrorists controlling Yarmouk maintain an even tighter information clampdown than Assad’s government, or they gave residents little choice about getting on those buses to the border. Either way, the PFLP-GC clearly rules Yarmouk with an iron first and has no qualms about sacrificing ordinary Palestinians’ lives to delegitimize Israel.

In this, unfortunately, the PFLP-GC isn’t unusual. Palestinians have always been ill-served by their leadership–and that includes the West’s current darlings, Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad. Granted, their government has significantly improved the West Bank economy and law enforcement. But it has yet to resettle a single Palestinian refugee, though almost 700,000 inhabit squalid West Bank refugee camps. Nor has it attempted to get putative allies like Jordan, Syria and Lebanon to ease the often appalling conditions of Palestinian refugees there. And its recent reconciliation agreement with Hamas included no provision for resettling the 500,000 living in Hamas-run Gaza’s refugee camps. The Abbas-Fayyad government would rather condemn the refugees to ongoing misery than give up the fantasy of someday destroying the Jewish state by resettling all 4.8 million of them in Israel

For the same reason, they are now relentlessly pursuing unilateral statehood rather than accepting Israel’s repeated offers of statehood by agreement. A recent poll found that 70 percent of Palestinians expect a new intifada to erupt if negotiations reach an impasse, which they inevitably will as long as Abbas refuses even to meet with Israeli leaders while pursuing a unilateral strategy that won’t actually remove a single Israeli from the West Bank. Hundreds of Palestinians died in the first intifada and thousands in the second; a third would likely prove equally deadly. But such numbers evidently do not trouble Abbas and Fayyad as long as unilateral statehood effectively serves their campaign to delegitimize Israel.

The real question is when a critical mass of Palestinians will finally tire of serving as cannon fodder in the quest for Israel’s destruction. For only once this happens will peace become possible.

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Israel’s unity government may prove a constitutional time bomb

That Israel will soon have a government is good news; almost any government would be better than the political dysfunction that has produced three elections in the past year. But aside from its existence, there’s little to like about this “unity” government.

The biggest problem isn’t that many important issues will perforce go unaddressed, though that’s inevitable given the compromises required when neither bloc can govern on its own. Nor is it the risk that the government will be dysfunctional even on “consensual” issues like rescuing the economy from the coronavirus crisis, though this risk is real, since both sides’ leaders will have veto power over every government decision.

Rather, it’s the cavalier way that Israel’s Basic Laws are being amended to serve the particular needs of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his new partner, Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz.

Though Israel’s Supreme Court wrongly claims the Basic Laws are a constitution, they were never intended as such by the parliaments that passed them. Indeed, some were approved by a mere quarter of the Knesset or less.

But they were intended as the building blocks of a future constitution should Israel ever adopt one. That’s why this handful of laws, alone of all the laws on Israel’s books, are deemed “Basic Laws,” and why each addresses a fundamental constitutional issue (the executive branch, the legislature, the judiciary, human rights, Israel’s Jewish character, etc.).

In other words, though they aren’t a constitution, they do serve as the foundation of Israel’s system of government. And tinkering with the architecture of any democratic system of government can have unintended consequences, as Israel has discovered before to its detriment.

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