Making Sense of the Juxtaposition of the Jerusalem Embassy Opening with the Gaza Riots

Today, while America opened its embassy in Jerusalem, the riots on the Israel-Gaza border, which have been going on for weeks, continued and escalated. Ira Stoll corrects those who have misread the former event as the cause of the latter, and draws some more significant conclusions:

Arab or Islamist violence has been remarkably consistent for nearly a century. Nearly 70 Jews were killed in the 1929 Hebron riots. Palestinian terrorists killed eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Another 25 Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorists in the Ma’alot massacre in 1974. The 1990s and 2000s saw a series of Palestinian suicide attacks on Israeli passenger buses, at the Dolphinarium disco, at the Sbarro restaurant.

These attacks happen when Washington sides with Israel, as it has during the Trump administration, and when it tries to pressure Israel or mediate more even-handedly, as it did in other administrations. The attacks target America, as they did on September 11, 2001, and they target European capitals with foreign policies that are more tilted toward the Arabs. More than 190 were killed in the Madrid train bombings of 2004, more than 50 in the 2005 London transit bombings, hundreds more in the attacks in Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016. America’s embassy in Iran was seized in 1979 and Pan Am Flight 103 was downed in 1988. . . .

The Gaza violence is sad. Press coverage of it often notes that no Israelis have been killed in the clashes, as if it would somehow be better if the deaths were more evenly distributed. Yet if the choice is between deaths of Palestinian rioters in Gaza or civilians in New York, London, Madrid, Brussels, Paris, Jerusalem, or Tel Aviv, electorates and foreign-policy hands alike aren’t going to spend a lot of time agonizing. [And the] Gaza riots . . . make it clear that the primary Palestinian complaint isn’t about Israeli settlers or occupation—Israel withdrew its settlers from Gaza in 2005—but about Israel’s existence.

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza withdrawal, Israel & Zionism, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood