Arab Journalists Encourage Palestinians to Take the Best Offer They Can Get

April 23 2019

For decades, Palestinian leaders, egged on by Arab rulers, have rejected every offer to divide the Land of Israel into Jewish and Palestinian states. In a departure from the usual positions found in the Arabic press, note the translators of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a few writers have recently criticized such Palestinian intransigence. One, Ahmad al-Tawwab, wrote in Egypt’s state-owned newspaper al-Ahram:

We must reassess the bizarre belief that has prevailed for many years among many Arab politicians and intellectuals, especially Palestinian ones, that time necessarily works in our favor; that, despite Israel’s power and the success of the Zionist enterprise, the natural course of events will eventually lead to the fulfilment of all of the Palestinians’ national demands, and that Israel’s demise is a forgone conclusion because it is an alien crop [planted in Middle Eastern soil]. This outlook is one of the reasons that the Palestinians have repeatedly missed opportunities [to resolve the conflict] on the grounds that [the proposed solutions] did not meet their aspirations—based on the belief that the future would bring better opportunities or even eliminate the problem altogether. . . .

Even more surprisingly, the former Palestinian Authority minister Nabil Amr, a member of the ruling Fatah faction, made a similar point in the UK-based and Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat:

Seven decades after the Arabs and Palestinians rejected the [1947 United Nations] partition plan, the question remains of whether they were right or wrong in doing so. There are different answers. Those in favor of an all-or-nothing approach still think that rejecting [the plan] was the right decision. But those who believe in agreements and in the principle of saving what can be saved consider this a bitter mistake that led to losses and no gain. . . . The best proof that the opponents [of the partition plan] were wrong is that, today, [the Palestinians] are demanding less than a quarter [of the territory] that they rejected at the time, and there is no guarantee of attaining even this small territory.

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Arab World, Palestinians, Peace Process

A Better Syria Strategy Can Help Achieve the U.S. Goal of Countering Iran

While the Trump administration has reversed much of its predecessor’s effort to realign Washington with Tehran, and has effectively used sanctions to exert economic pressure on the Islamic Republic, Omar Hassino argues that these measures might not be enough:

Iran and its militias control more territory and natural resources in Syria and Iraq than before President Trump took office. . . . The U.S. should back the low-cost insurgency approach that has already shown potential in southwest Syria to bleed the Iranian forces and increase the costs of their expansion and [of Tehran’s] support for the Assad regime. It makes no sense that Iran can fund low-cost insurgencies to bleed American allies in the region, but the United States cannot counter with the same. The administration should also consider expanding support to the proxy forces that it currently works with—such as the Revolution Commandos near the [U.S.] al-Tanf garrison in southwest Syria—for the purpose of fighting and eliminating Iranian-backed militias. This limited escalation can curb Iranian expansion and put pressure on the Assad regime in the long term.

Furthermore, in this vein, the U.S. should empower peaceful Syrian civil-society groups and local councils operating outside Assad-regime control. Last year, the Trump administration eliminated assistance for stabilization in Syria, including funding going to secular anti-Assad civil-society groups that were also combating al-Qaeda’s ideology, as well as the Syrian [medical and civil-defense group known as] the White Helmets, before quickly [restoring] some of this funding. Yet the funding has still not completely been resumed, and if this administration takes an approach similar to its predecessor’s in relying on regional powers such as Turkey, these powers will instead fund groups aligned ideologically with Muslim Brotherhood. This is already happening in Idlib.

The United States must [also] jettison the Obama-era [strategy of establishing] “de-escalation zones.” These zones were from the start largely a Russian ruse to help the Assad regime conquer opposition areas, and they succeeded. Now that the regime controls most of Syria and Iranian proxies are dominant within the regime side, support for de-escalation is tantamount to support for Iranian expansion. The United States must [instead] prevent further expansion by the Assad regime and Iran in parts of the country that they still do not control.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy