The Palestinians’ 21st-Century Strategy Has Failed Them

With a Democratic administration about to be sworn in in Washington, the Palestinian Authority’s leaders are hoping to get more sympathy from the White House than they did over the past four years. Undoubtedly, they will. But, writes Eran Lerman, they shouldn’t assume that they can easily return to their policy of trying to boycott, isolate, and anathematize Israel until it is forced to give in to their demands. Lerman argues that this approach died in November along with its chief architect, the veteran Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat—due to much larger geopolitical forces:

The “grand strategy” [Erekat] masterminded . . . called for the abandonment of negotiations with Israel, thus avoiding the need for compromise and for mutual recognition between the two national movements. Instead, it envisioned an imposed solution by the international community leading to a return to the 1967 lines, the partition of Jerusalem, and some redress on the so-called “right of return.”

In the spring of 2014, in line with Erekat’s strategy, the PA took the decision to join several international agencies, most significantly, the Rome Statutes and the International Criminal Court (ICC). This, too, was part and parcel of the grand strategy based on isolating Israel in the international arena and placing its leadership in the dock.

The basic idea was not new, and in some respects goes back to the 1950s and 1960s. The deliberate terrorist campaign in the autumn of 2000, often referred to as the “second intifada” was to a large extent knowingly designed to bring about . . . international intervention; meaning “protection” that would replace IDF forces in the territories. Moreover, the UN Conference on Racism in Durban (2001), and particularly the NGO forum associated with it, laid out the foundations of a strategy of boycott and isolation.

But Israel’s improving relations with Asia and Africa, let alone the more recent breakthroughs in the Middle East, show the inefficacy of attempts to isolate it. “Moreover,” writes Lerman:

the utter ruin of countries such as Syria and Libya point to the deeper problems besetting the Arab world, which go well beyond the Palestinian question. This also has underlined the legitimacy of Israel’s security concerns. Thus, the grand effort by Palestinians to mark Israel out as an international pariah, and to impose economic boycotts and diplomatic isolation on Israel, has come to naught. This was true already in 2017, well before the full impact of Donald Trump’s policies kicked in. Such a realization is now being reflected even in aspects of European policy.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: BDS, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Palestinian Authority, Saeb Erekat, Second Intifada, United Nations

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