Monday, August 31, 2015
The blockage is internal, Dr. Ibish
In his August 29th column, “The Road to statehood is blocked in all directions” which appeared in the Abu Dhabi paper the National, Dr. Ibish manages to ignore nearly all the paths that are and have been open to the Palestinian Authority for statehood. He starts with a screed against Danny Danon, claiming Danon’s appointment as Israel’s ambassador to the UN means the sky is falling on a two state solution. While Danon is no advocate for a two state solution, he's less against giving up land to an Arab State than Menachem Begin was. An article that starts with flogging Danon is not going dig up the PA intransigence for the last 10 plus years of Abbas fruit on the bottom rule. I find it hard to imagine that Danon would have a job in government if Abbas negotiated with the Israelis or was willing to make the compromises necessary for peace. Instead, Abbas has led the PA away from the Oslo accords to seek recognition unilaterally leaving Dr. Ibish to complain the Israelis are somehow not two state enough after all these years of zero progress.
Dr. Ibish writes, “Israel’s government has dropped all pretenses” but pretenses are all that’s left of the peace process barring the possibility of new Palestinian leadership. He then claims, “It is no longer to possible to argue honestly with Israel’s government is open to, let along supportive of, peace with the Palestinians.” I think it is possible to argue that Israel is no longer optimistic on a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority but Abbas has kept the PA off a war footing and Israel has done the same. Peace is possible, “Palestine” could become an semi autonomous part of Israel, something I think will be very difficult considering the amount of corruption in the PA and its lack of democracy but such a peace is possible. It is also possible that the Palestinians and Israelis will both hold their noses and come to an agreement that creates a mostly Arab state within Judea and Samaria.
“Palestinian leaders themselves appear to be further burying, rather than rescuing, their own cause” is a solid point and Dr. Ibish goes on to list Abbas’ attempts to purge rivals, increase control over the PLO and angering European financial supporters. However, Dr. Ibish then creates a false dichotomy of a PA state increasingly finding international acceptance instead of doing the work on the ground to create a Palestinian state. I’ve always called Abbas, ‘yesterday’s man doing yesterday’s work’ but a lot of progress along with a lot of corruption has happened on his watch. The PA is much futher along on its project toward a state since the time of the Grand Mufti and then Arafat. Palestinians still need the man the world hoped Abbas was but not being up to all the tasks is not the same as making no progress. While Ibish is correct that Abbas is making himself available to the "highest international bidder," I believe pitting Iran against Saudi Arabia the problem is the highest bid remains a peace settlement with the Israelis and yet Israel is not allowed a bid.
“However, events on the ground, and the attitudes and conduct of both the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, point to a very different and extremely dangerous future. Viewed from that perspective, the cause of Palestine appears to be a rapidly vanishing aspiration,” Dr. Ibish is being understandably myopic here. The big picture is that regional acceptance of Israel is increasing which means region is likely to be more supportive of the compromises necessary to make peace, governments that are tired of the Israeli-Arab conflict are more likely to pressure Abbas to make and agree to some of those compromises and the silver lining to the tragic disruption in Syria is that Palestinians may one day eventually gain some rights and citizenship in the places they reside without prejudice to their claims against Israel. The most important item that Dr. Ibish ignores is that were an Abbas willing to negotiate with Israel and a peace deal was struck, no Israeli government could resist the popular desire for peace with Israelis nor the pressure of the international community because Israel is a democracy. If all his accusations against the Israelis were correct, Dr. Ibish would still be incorrect because he wants to blame the failure of the peace process on the Israelis even when he describes Abbas as “recently sprung into uncharacteristically vigorous action…hasn’t been behaving like a national leader,” he still claims “Israel has dismissed Palestinian statehood.” While Ibish makes a great case for dismissing Palestinian Statehood in his description of Abbas, Israel has not done so but Israel appears to share Dr. Ibish’s skepticism regarding Abbas and has leadership acting like “national leaders.” The PA has long since been saddled with a pair of ruby slippers but wizards like Dr. Ibish keep giving bad advice by on how to get home by casting Israel as a wicked witch when the PA has had the power all along to become a state. All that ails Palestine is ultimately internal.