The U.S. Promises Palestinians a State While Demanding Nothing in Return

After criticizing Israel’s conduct of the war at a press conference in Tel Aviv, Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed the need for “a concrete, time-bound, irreversible path to a Palestinian state.” Elliott Abrams comments:

Even if one assumes that creating a Palestinian state is an important goal, what Blinken has done here is to destroy any preconditions. Blinken of course said that new state should live side by side with Israel in peace, but he did not make that a condition of its creation.

If the path forward is “time-bound and irreversible,” there are by definition no conditions that would slow or preclude creating that state. . . . A “time bound and irreversible path” to Palestinian statehood demands nothing of Palestinians. They are not asked to confront hatred of Jews, not asked to end terrorism, not asked to create decent and effective governance. Instead of being asked to reform their institutions and confront the murderers in their midst, they are asked for nothing. And if that is what they are asked for, that is what they will deliver.

This U.S. position would be understandable in many ways were it entirely cynical. . . . The deeper problem with the U.S. position today is that it appears to be idealistic: Blinken actually means what he says and does want a “time-bound and irreversible path” that will create a Palestinian state no matter how great a danger to Israel it presents. If so, he is promoting a policy that does Palestinians no favors and endangers Israelis.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Palestinian statehood

Hamas Has Its Own Day-After Plan

While Hamas’s leaders continue to reject the U.S.-backed ceasefire proposal, they have hardly been neglecting diplomacy. Ehud Yaari explains:

Over the past few weeks, Hamas leaders have been engaged in talks with other Palestinian factions and select Arab states to find a formula for postwar governance in the Gaza Strip. Held mainly in Qatar and Egypt, the negotiations have not matured into a clear plan so far, but some forms of cooperation are emerging on the ground in parts of the embattled enclave.

Hamas officials have informed their interlocutors that they are willing to support the formation of either a “technocratic government” or one composed of factions that agree to Palestinian “reconciliation.” They have also insisted that security issues not be part of this government’s authority. In other words, Hamas is happy to let others shoulder civil responsibilities while it focuses on rebuilding its armed networks behind the scenes.

Among the possibilities Hamas is investigating is integration into the Palestinian Authority (PA), the very body that many experts in Israel and in the U.S. believe should take over Gaza after the war ends. The PA president Mahmoud Abbas has so far resisted any such proposals, but some of his comrades in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are less certain:

On June 12, several ex-PLO and PA officials held an unprecedented meeting in Ramallah and signed an initiative calling for the inclusion of additional factions, meaning Hamas. The PA security services had blocked previous attempts to arrange such meetings in the West Bank. . . . Hamas has already convinced certain smaller PLO factions to get on board with its postwar model.

With generous help from Qatar, Hamas also started a campaign in March asking unaffiliated Palestinian activists from Arab countries and the diaspora to press for a collaborative Hamas role in postwar Gaza. Their main idea for promoting this plan is to convene a “Palestinian National Congress” with hundreds of delegates. Preparatory meetings have already been held in Britain, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Qatar, and more are planned for the United States, Spain, Belgium, Australia, and France.

If the U.S. and other Western countries are serious about wishing to see Hamas defeated, and all the more so if they have any hopes for peace, they will have to convey to all involved that any association with the terrorist group will trigger ostracization and sanctions. That Hamas doesn’t already appear toxic to these various interlocutors is itself a sign of a serious failure.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian Authority