France, with the support of
the United States, is leading a new attempt at peace between Israel and the
Palestinians, with the implied goal that an independent Palestinian state would
be created -- but what should we expect from such a state?
Although past behavior is not a perfect predictor of future
behavior, it is a strong indicator of it, especially if no corrective action has
When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbasdeclared,
"The dawn of freedom rises with the evacuation of the last Israeli soldier
and settler." Yet, instead of using that freedom to build a successful
economy, Palestinians destroyed
the greenhouses that the settlers had left, and terrorists
launched rocket attacks against Israel. These attacks forced Israel to institute
a naval blockade of Gaza, to limit the supply of weapons to terrorists.
The Oslo Accords signed by Israel and the Palestinians in the 1990s
provided a transition period meant to lead to Palestinian statehood. However,
instead of peaceful coexistence with Israel, the Palestinian leadership launched
an assault that became known as the Second Intifada.
During the recent stabbing attacks by Palestinian terrorists, Abbas declared,
"Each drop of blood that was spilled in Jerusalem is pure blood as long as
it's for the sake of Allah. Everyshahid (martyr) will be in heaven
and every wounded person will be rewarded, by Allah's will."
These violent actions and the incitement are not exceptions. They
are part of a pattern of Arab
denial of the Jews' right to exist, which started well before Israel
declared its independence, and that caused several wars and innumerable
terrorist attacks against Israel.
Lack of democracy
Palestinian democracy has so far been a failure. Yasser Arafat was
elected in July 1994 as president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) for a
four-year term, but he stayed in power, without further elections, for more than
10 years until his death in November 2004. Mahmoud Abbas was elected President
in May 2005, and is still in office, without further elections, eleven years
Hamas, which won the PA legislative elections of 2006, was never
invited to take the PA reins of power, but it took control of the Gaza Strip
through a violent overthrow of Fatah, and still controls Gaza -- also without
further elections -- ten years later.
Fatah and Hamas have used elections to create a semblance of
democracy, and both have abused their authority to go far beyond their
legitimate mandates. Both routinely use control
of the media, control of the education
system, and violence to
maintain their power, as documented extensively by Israeli-Arab journalist Khaled
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (left) and Fatah
leader Mahmoud Abbas (also president of the Palestinian Authority) are
pictured voting in the last election for the Palestinian Legislative
Council, which took place in 2006.
Corruption in the PA and Hamas is widely recognized, by
commentators who range from extreme anti-Israel,
to somewhat moderate pro-Palestinian,
As reported by CBS
News in 2003, "Yasser Arafat diverted nearly $1 billion in
public funds to insure his political survival, but a lot more is unaccounted
Abbas has continued the tradition. Haaretz reported that
the Panama Papers "show that Tareq Abbas, the son of Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas, held shares worth nearly $1 million in a company
associated with the PA".
Khaled Abu Toameh has
written that, "$4.5 billion the Americans invested in
promoting Palestinian democracy went down the drain or ended up in secret Swiss
Hamas, which was elected partly in opposition to Fatah corruption,
is just as corrupt. Moshe Elad wrote in
Tablet Magazine that the Hamas government, "is centralized and corrupt, it
lacks effectiveness, bribery plays a very important role in society, and
nepotism is prevalent, with just few families or relatives benefiting from state
monopolies on basic services and commodities".
Associated Press reported that
95.5% of Palestinians in the West Bank believe that the PA is corrupt while 82%
of Palestinians in Gaza believe that Hamas is corrupt.
Promotion of hatred
previously, promotion of hatred by Palestinian leaders is widespread,
and it is the main obstacle to peaceful co-existence with Israel. An example of
Palestinian hate propaganda is a made-for-children
movie where, as reported by London's Daily
"The little girl, dressed in a hijab, is seen pretending to
stab two boys dressed as Israeli soldiers, who respond by 'shooting' her. Then,
amid cheers from the baying crowd, a boy dressed as a masked terrorist massacres
the soldiers with a replica semi-automatic weapon."
The newspaper added that the video was filmed at a "festival
of hate," which was partly funded by a UK charity supported by British
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and some other Labor MPs.
Oppression of the
Both Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza run their governments
as dictatorships, where freedom of speech is denied and where dissent is
punished by jail, beatings, torture, or death. This retribution is widely
recognized, even by organizations that are often considered biased against
Israel, such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI).
In 2011, in a 35-page report, HRW
documented "cases in which security forces tortured, beat,
and arbitrarily detained journalists, confiscated their equipment, and barred
them from leaving the West Bank and Gaza."
In their 2015/16 report, Amnesty
"The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Hamas de
facto administration in the Gaza Strip both restricted freedom of expression,
including by arresting and detaining critics and political opponents. They also
restricted the right to peaceful assembly and used excessive force to disperse
some protests. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common in
both Gaza and the West Bank."
Lack of economic drive
Palestinian leaders have concentrated all their efforts on waging
war against Israel and increasing their own personal wealth. The best economic
opportunities presented to average West Bank Palestinians are in working on
settlement construction or commuting daily to jobs in Israel.
The lack of Palestinian economic development in the West Bank is
often blamed on Israel, yet when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip,
Palestinian leaders did not seize that opportunity to build the economy of Gaza.
They chose instead to spend their resources on rockets, terror tunnels, and
enriching the leaders of Hamas.
Bad behavior is rewarded
Those who provide funding to the Palestinians are aware of this
behavior, yet they have not used their influence to curb it. In fact, they
The Palestinian leadership in Gaza is rewarded for every war it
initiates with Israel in two ways. During the war, it is rewarded by the
international media, which provides wide coverage of Palestinian casualties
while ignoring the terrorist actions that led to those casualties (thus playing
into Hamas's "dead
baby strategy"). After the war, Gaza's leadership is rewarded
when more funding is provided for reconstruction, despite the knowledge that a
large portion of it is used to rebuild
the terrorist arsenal.
The Fatah/Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank is
rewarded by international donors who provide ongoing funding to President
Mahmoud Abbas while knowing the extent of the corruption of
his regime and its lack
Palestinian leaders have repeatedly shown that their priority is
not peace, or a two-state solution, or a Palestinian state, but repression.
If a Palestinian state is created without correcting these destructive
practices, it is highly likely that the new Palestinian regime will follow the
same pattern already established, and be a hatemongering, corrupt, undemocratic,
oppressive, belligerent, and ineffective regime. This would not only be a
security threat for Israel, it would mean more of the same for the Palestinians.
Current talk by Western leaders of peace, a two-state solution, and
a Palestinian state makes no mention of these dangers. If those leaders wish to
achieve a lasting peace that is beneficial to Israel and the Palestinians,
rather than to create an unstable situation that could cause irreparable damage
to both sides, peace discussions must account for the Palestinian reality.