Why Didn’t the Peace Process Create a Palestinian State? Because Yasir Arafat Didn’t Want One

Concluded 30 years ago last Wednesday, the Oslo Accords were intended to begin a process that would eventually lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian polity. Yet this final-status agreement was never reached, despite considerable efforts. Paul Cainer, recalling an interview he conducted with Yasir Arafat, explains why:

Arafat really did not feel he needed a “final status,” which would condemn him to the obloquy of most of the Palestinian and Arab elite, and which would reduce him to the leader of a small and unimportant “state.” He felt much more comfortable politically and psychologically in being portrayed internally and around the Islamic world as a revolutionary, not as a statesman, or, worse, as a sell-out. During our interview with him he was pleased to show us his tiny bedroom, still displaying some small holes made, he said, by Israel shrapnel. In reality, he had a much grander bedroom reachable by a corridor to the other side of [his compound].

What Arafat desired and got was a path to continued and expanded influence and international importance. . . . The Accords allowed 30,000 of Arafat’s armed men, mostly those who had fled Beirut during the 1981 PLO-Israel war, to enter the West Bank and Gaza. They promptly replaced local mayors and more moderate leaders who had spent their lives co-operating with the Israelis to some extent.

His system ensured that the corrupt leadership cadres of the PLO could become immensely fat cats, siphoning off many millions of dollars of international money that had flowed into the coffers of the newly constituted Palestinian National Authority, an offshoot of the PLO.

His repression of dissent of any kind was legendary: he even had a Palestinian newspaper editor arrested and tortured for putting Arafat’s photo on page seven, not the front page.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Palestinian statehood, Peace Process, PLO, Yasir Arafat

Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria