The Palestinians’ 21st-Century Strategy Has Failed Them

Dec. 24 2020

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.

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Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

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

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela