Will Europe Put an End to Hizballah’s Operations on Its Soil?

Last week, Hussein Bassam Abdallah pled guilty to involvement in a terrorist plot in Cyprus, where he was hiding 8.2 tons of ammonium nitrate intended for attacking Israeli and Jewish targets on the island and smuggling the remainder to Hizballah operatives throughout Europe. Matthew Levitt cites this as evidence of how little has been accomplished by EU’s July 2013 ban on Hizballah’s military wing but not on the organization in general:

Not only did Hizballah actively maintain an explosives stockpile in Cyprus, the group retained the operatives, infrastructure, and reach to engage in operations across Europe. Over the course of the time Abdallah maintained this explosives stockpile, Hizballah remained active across Europe, from a 2012 bombing thwarted in Greece to the arrest and deportation of a Hizballah operative in Denmark in 2013 who arrived on a commercial ship for purposes still unknown. . . . Germany’s domestic intelligence agency recently reported that Hizballah maintains some 950 active operatives in the country. . . .

When the EU banned Hizballah’s military wing, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius pledged, “There’s no question of accepting terrorist organizations in Europe.” Now, as Europe marked the third anniversary of the July 18 Hizballah bus bombing in Bulgaria, there is abundant evidence that Hizballah is doing just that: engaging in terrorist activities in Europe.

In other words, the EU banned part of Hizballah and warned it to cease activities in Europe, and Hizballah promptly called Brussels’ bluff. Which leaves us with a question for Fabius: will the EU accept a terrorist organization operating in Europe?

Read more at Daily Beast

More about: Cyprus, European Union, Hizballah, Politics & Current Affairs, Terrorism

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood