Friday, June 15, 2007

Two States?

I haven't written about the deteriorating situation in Gaza because frankly Palestinian politics are well outside my area of "expertise" as a blogger, but I do try to inform myself and pass what nuggets of wisdom I find on to you the reader. One meme that appears to be emerging is that although the takeover of Gaza by Hamas undoubtedly signals the death of the Bush vision for Palestine (such as it was) it also signals new opportunities. Martin Indyk in today's Washington Post says this:

Abbas and Fatah have in effect conceded Gaza to Hamas while they hold on to the West Bank. Hamastan and Fatahstine: a "two-state solution" -- just not the one that George W. Bush had in mind.

Whatever transpires, Gaza has become Hamas's problem. It's a safe bet that the real attitude of Abbas and Fatah is: Let Hamas try to rule Gaza, and good luck.

This turn of events would free Abbas to focus on the much more manageable West Bank, where he can depend on the Israeli Defense Forces to suppress challenges from Hamas, and on Jordan and the United States to help rebuild his security forces.

Meanwhile, Palestinians in Gaza could compare their fate under Hamas's rule with the fate of their West Bank cousins under Abbas -- which might then force Hamas to come to terms with Israel, making it eventually possible to reunite Gaza and the West Bank as one political entity living in peace with the Jewish state. It's hard to believe that such a benign outcome could emerge from the growing Palestinian civil war. But given current events, this course is likely to become Abbas's best option.

Via Brian Ulrich at American Footprints, Calev Ben-Dor of the Jerusalam Post echoes these sentiments:

Hamas's disregard for the PA constitution in carrying out a military coup could work in Israel's favor. With a clear Fatah majority in the PLO, Abbas could use the fighting as an opportunity to break the constitutional Gordian knot tying Palestinian hands and annul the Basic Law, thus centralizing power in the West Bank under his leadership.

This new scenario would, in effect, create two separate political-territorial units alongside Israel - a Gaza Hamastan and a West Bank Fatah-land.

Instead of Israel being faced with no Palestinian address, it would suddenly be able to deal with two.

While no one would celebrate the official presence of a Hamastan a few kilometers from Sderot, the new situation would nevertheless provide opportunities. The de facto division between Gaza and the West Bank would allow Israel to maintain its boycott of Hamas in Gaza while utilizing the emergence of a political partner in the West Bank for the first time in many years.

In short, Hamas' victory celebrations will be short-lived, as they find themselves rulers now of a largely isolated and constrained territory, and will face enormous pressure to reconcile with Israel and Abbas. This may ultimately provide proof yet again that political power is in some instances the best antidote to the excess radicalism of revolutionary movements.


adam said...

let's hope this silver lining pans out.

prof said...

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