To Defend Terrorism, Palestinian Factions Set Aside Their Differences

The Gaza Strip’s economic woes stem, in large part, from the ongoing feud between Hamas and the Fatah faction, which controls the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank. Despite numerous attempts at reconciliation, Hamas refuses to pay its bills to the PA and the PA refuses to provide the Strip with fuel and the like. Yet a proposed UN resolution, advanced by the U.S., condemning Hamas’s use of civilians as human shields, has prompted the PA to rush to its rival’s defense. Yoni Ben Menachem explains:

Fatah . . . is concerned that a precedent will be created if the UN General Assembly condemns the terrorist acts against Israel that Fatah refers to as “legitimate resistance” to the occupation. Fatah, [like Hamas], defines itself as “a national liberation movement,” and it claims “resistance to the occupation” is a legitimate activity in accordance with international law. It is playing a double game here. While the PLO renounced violence in the Oslo Accords, Fatah, the PLO’s dominant faction, has never abandoned the principle of “armed struggle” against Israel. . . .

A senior Fatah official stated that the unity displayed by Fatah and Hamas on this issue reflects the fact that Fatah reserves for itself the option of returning in the future to the “armed struggle” against Israel if there is no significant breakthrough in the deadlocked diplomatic process, and it will ally itself to Hamas through “resistance” (meaning terror).

For this reason, the same official stated that “Fatah is defending Hamas in the same way that it will defend any other Palestinian faction that follows the principle of ‘resistance.’ In the end, [their] objective is the same—to liberate Palestine and to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. The dispute is only over the method.”

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Fatah, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority, United Nations

The Military Perils of Ceding Israeli Control of the West Bank

April 24 2019

In the years since the second intifada ended, no small number of retired high-ranking IDF officers and intelligence officials have argued that complete separation from the Palestinians is a strategic necessity for Israel. Gershon Hacohen, analyzing the geography, the changes in warfare—and Middle Eastern warfare in particular—since the 1990s, and recent history, argues that they are wrong:

The withdrawal of IDF forces from the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestinian state in these territories will constitute an existential threat to Israel. The absence of an Israeli military presence in the West Bank, especially along the Jordan River, will enable the creation of a terrorist entity, à la the Gaza Strip, a stone’s throw from the Israeli hinterland. This withdrawal will box Israel into indefensible borders, especially in light of the major changes in the nature of war in recent decades that have made the astounding achievements of 1967 impossible to replicate, not to mention the stark international response [that would follow Israel’s] takeover of a sovereign state.

The deployment of international forces in the West Bank will not, [contrary to what some have argued], ensure the demilitarization of the prospective Palestinian state, let alone prevent the entry of Arab forces into its territory (with or without its consent) and/or its transformation into a springboard for terrorist attacks against Israel. . . .

Israel [now] maintains control of some 60 percent of the West Bank’s territory, . . . which is mostly empty of Palestinian population but includes all of the West Bank’s Jewish communities and IDF bases, as well as main highways, vital topographic areas, and open spaces descending eastward to the Jordan Valley. The retention of this territory constitutes the absolute minimum required for the preservation of defensible borders and meets two conditions necessary for Israel’s security: the Jordan Valley buffer zone, without which it will be impossible to prevent the rapid arming of Palestinian terrorist groups throughout the West Bank; and control of intersecting transportation arteries, which, together with control of strategic topographical sites, enables rapid deployment of IDF forces deep inside Palestinian areas.

It is the surrender of such conditions in Gaza that has transformed the Strip into an ineradicable terrorist entity. Uprooting the West Bank’s Jewish communities will also make it difficult for the IDF to operate in the depth of the Palestinian state, especially if it is forced to fight simultaneously on a number of fronts, [since] simultaneous fighting in Gaza, which will be an integral part of the future Palestinian state, is a foregone conclusion.

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More about: Israeli grand strategy, Israeli Security, Palestinian statehood, West Bank