Eye on the Middle East May/Jun 2005
The Palestinian leadership has proven its ability to keep the situation under control. It has also proven its ability to coordinate the activities of all Palestinian organizations, including those who hold tough positions toward the Israelis.
The author of those words is Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, who declared his country’s commitment to consider the possibility of selling Russian military equipment to the Palestinian Authority.
What was not in the equation was that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has done little to prevent the militant factions under his authority from planning or carrying out attacks on innocent Israelis. This unfortunate reality came to light February 25 when a suicide bomber slipped into Tel Aviv and detonated an explosive device that killed five people and injured nearly 100 a few days after Russian President Vladimir Putin offered aid to the new Palestinian regime.
The deadly incident brings to the surface once again a consideration few have mentioned since the euphoria of the road-map-to-peace era began a few years ago. Those who argued against the viability of a totally autonomous, sovereign Palestinian state and predicted its danger to Israel spoke with foresight we can ill afford to ignore.
If such a state, now all but assured, comes into existence based on Palestinian promises and the West’s eagerness to make it work and then get out, we may have a prescription for tragedy.
The hard fact is that despite all assurances, there is a strong possibility, even probability, that a Palestinian state will be hostile to its Israeli neighbor.
Why do we say this? For starters, consider the circumstances under which Abu Mazen’s government now functions. Terrorist organizations that existed and operated under Yasser Arafat have not been dismantled, disarmed, or dissuaded from their determination to fight to destroy Israel, should everything not fall their way through negotiations.
Writing off such incidents as the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv and the rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip as mutant, temporary manifestations can be a devastating mistake. And doing so verifies the gut feelings of many radical Palestinians that whatever promise of hudna (cease-fire) they make is only temporary. In their minds, the issue has not been settled. And whatever concessions the Israelis, starved for peace, are willing to offer, it will never be enough. There is not enough land that Israel can give away in any land-for-peace scheme that will both allow the Jewish nation to survive and the Islamists and Palestinians to declare victory.
Take a long look at Iraq, Syria, Iran, and remnants of Saddam Hussein’s decimated Iraqi regime carry on the fight against freedom and democracy for the battered Iraqi people. Unfortunately, many people have dignified these bands of murderers and thugs by calling them insurgents. They are not insurgents; they are terrorists.
By the same token, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hezbollah, and al-Aqsa martyrs Brigade and their bedfellows are not freedom fighters in quest of a noble cause. They are cold-blooded, ruthless killers of innocent men, women, and children.
The problem with these elements is that they will not disappear when the issues are settled in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Israel. An insatiable passion to destroy or drive out the “infidel” consumes them. And they will surely continue their crusade to destabilize democracies and find rogue states from which to operate.
For this reason, a sovereign Palestinian state cannot, under any circumstances, be allowed to fall prey to these forces of evil. Russia offering military materiel to the Palestinian Authority may seem of little consequence today. But it should be a wake up call for us all.