The Real Tension in Palestinian Politics Is between Those Who Stayed and Those Who Followed Arafat Abroad

Americans today are voting to choose their next president, something Palestinians have not done since 2005. But political rivalries remain, and not only that between the Fatah faction of the PLO, which rules in the West Bank, and Hamas, which rules in Gaza. More important, argues Pinḥas Inbari, is the conflict between leaders who have remained rooted in their communities, and the PLO leaders who followed Yasir Arafat into exile to Jordan, then Lebanon, and finally Tunis—where the terrorist group was based from 1983 until the Oslo Accords allowed for Arafat’s return a decade later. Recently, this conflict has been expressed in fighting between Fatah forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and those loyal to his rival Mohammad Dahlan:

The tensions came to an explosive head because of the peace agreements between Israel and the Gulf States and reports that Dahlan is affiliated with the Emirates. In eastern Jerusalem, Dahlan supporters were expelled from the ranks of the “official” Fatah, but they are organizing separately. While Ramallah mobilizes violent elements from the underworld, Dahlan’s people are organizing around former [representatives] of the “inside” Palestinian leadership against the “outside” Fatah leaders from Tunis who arrived after the Oslo Accords.

It is a mistake to view the competition for the Palestinians’ leadership as just a battle of personalities. The example of eastern Jerusalem illustrates that the real struggle is between the local Palestinians and the “outside” Tunis leadership imposed on them during the Oslo Accords.

The issue of the struggle versus Dahlan also emerged as a significant topic in the recent fake reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas in Turkey. Fatah asked Hamas to cooperate against Dahlan, and Hamas refused. There are many reasons for Hamas’s refusal, but one of the critical reasons is that Hamas also feels itself “inside” and not “outside.”

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, PLO

Why the White House’s Plan to Prevent an Israel-Hizballah War Won’t Work

On Monday, Hizballah downed an Israeli drone, leading the IDF to retaliate with airstrikes that killed one of the terrorist group’s commanders in southern Lebanon, and two more of its members in the northeast. The latter strike marks an escalation by the IDF, which normally confines its activities to the southern part of the country. Hizballah responded by firing two barrages of rockets into northern Israel on Tuesday, while Hamas operatives in Lebanon fired another barrage yesterday.

According to the Iran-backed militia, 219 of its fighters have been killed since October; six Israeli civilians and ten soldiers have lost their lives in the north. The Biden administration has meanwhile been involved in ongoing negotiations to prevent these skirmishes from turning into an all-out war. The administration’s plan, however, requires carrots for Hizballah in exchange for unenforceable guarantees, as Richard Goldberg explains:

Israel and Hizballah last went to war in 2006. That summer, Hizballah crossed the border, killed three Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others. Israel responded with furious airstrikes, a naval blockade, and eventually a ground operation that met stiff resistance and mixed results. A UN-endorsed ceasefire went into effect after 34 days of war, accompanied by a Security Council Resolution that ordered the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in disarming Hizballah in southern Lebanon—from the Israeli border up to the Litani River, some 30 kilometers away.

Despite billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer support over the last seventeen years, the LAF made no requests to UNIFIL, which then never disarmed Hizballah. Instead, Iran accelerated delivering weapons to the terrorist group—building up its forces to a threat level that dwarfs the one Israel faced in 2006. The politics of Lebanon shifted over time as well, with Hizballah taking effective control of the Lebanese government and exerting its influence (and sometimes even control) over the LAF and its U.S.-funded systems.

Now the U.S. is offering Lebanon an economic bailout in exchange for a promise to keep Hizballah forces from coming within a mere ten kilometers of the border, essentially abrogating the Security Council resolution. Goldberg continues:

Who would be responsible for keeping the peace? The LAF and UNIFIL—the same pair that has spent seventeen years helping Hizballah become the threat it is today. That would guarantee that Hizballah’s commitments will never be verified or enforced.

It’s a win-win for [Hizballah’s chief Hassan] Nasrallah. Many of his fighters live and keep their missiles hidden within ten kilometers of Israel’s border. They will blend into the civilian population without any mechanism to force their departure. And even if the U.S. or France could verify a movement of weapons to the north, Nasrallah’s arsenal is more than capable of terrorizing Israeli cities from ten kilometers away. Meanwhile, a bailout of Lebanon will increase Hizballah’s popularity—demonstrating its tactics against Israel work.

Read more at The Dispatch

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden