Occupation Vocation: Palestinian Peace of the Not So Brave
Only The Right Can Make Peace
That’s a well known secret in these parts borne out by fact. Contrary to conventional thinking, the Palestinians themselves most probably prefer Israeli right wing governments too. The reasoning is simple enough, Israeli right wing governments are the only ones that can bring stability, the possibility of peace, and a normal life for Arabs in the territories through stable economics and some sense of security to stave off at least partially, lawlessness & corruption.
Netanyahu through his right wing government is the only man that can bring about the chance for peace, and it is Netanyahu’s ‘Economic Peace Plan’ which is the only one which even so much as stands a remote chance of success. For all the realists now so popular in America under Obama, they offer up a surprising lack of realism.
You’re going the WRONG waaaay!
You cannot proceed Top Down as the Palestinians, Quartet & US have been for the most part proposing. We must proceed Bottom Up, as the big bad Likud & Israel have maintained for many years. This reality has been sinking in for the Palestinians but not via Abbas, rather from Fayyad the Palestinian PM & economic / fiscal chief. Without law & order, without institutions, without basic governing infrastructure & efforts toward joint security cooperation no peace plan no matter how wonderful or hyped can bypass reality.
In fact, this bottom up approach makes life so good for established Palestinians many seemingly don’t even want to progress to the stage of Statehood, with all the responsibilities and work that would entail. It is much easier to simply sponge off economic aid & Israeli assistance, while maintaining world wide sympathy and simultaneously stoking international animosity toward Israel. This has been the Palestinian reality for a long time now.
Let the good times roll..
Under this formula, Palestinian elite enrich themselves, goods flow, the standard of living catapults upward. Contrast that with Top Down peace efforts such as those under Arafat -Where the leadership steals from the people, nothing gets done, terror causes closures with Israel stifling economic output, gangs of criminals and militants rule the streets, Israel is forced to carry out night time raids & arrests, and civilians are killed in the clashes. Meanwhile the international community loses its mind and suffers full on conniption.
Daled Amos does a great job outlining the economic realities in the territories, and why Abbas himself is seemingly content to sit & do nothing on multiple fronts, from Gaza to the West Bank..
Meanwhile, in the West Bank there is perhaps a growing realization that Netanyahu’s ‘economic peace’ may be succeeding where others–including Obama–have failed:
Fayyad told Haaretz this month that he realized that “security was the glue between a thriving economy and proper government and achieving liberty for the Palestinian people.” (On the question of whether or not Israel is a “Jewish state” — an admission Netanyahu has been adamant about getting from the Palestinians and which he has hitherto been denied officially — Fayyad sounded more Zionist-friendly than the New York Review of Books typically is: “The character of Israel, as the total character that Israel would like to have, is Israel’s own choice.”)
Back in May, Abbas said in his interview with Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post:
“I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements,” he said. “Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life.” In the Obama administration, so far, it’s easy being Palestinian.
Abbas will continue waiting, assuming that everything he wants will fall into his hands. However, if it is not Israeli concessions but rather Israeli contributions to the reemerging Palestinian that make the news, Abbas will find that the Palestinian Arabs of the West Bank are growing tired of waiting for him.
On a cautionary note, George Gilder writes in The Israel Test that historically foreign aid intended for economic recovery is conducive to corruption and failure, rather than economic growth. When I emailed him about the apparent challenge that the West Bank poses to that rule, he responded:
Hey, when you have a 40 to 60 percent drop in output in the midst of violence, it is relatively easy to get a rebound when calm returns and you have Netanyahu both standing firm against more concessions to terrorists and declaring his determination to open new opportunities for enterprise in the territories.
If Netanyahu’s broad based economic recovery for the Palestinian Arabs is successful–and Gilder is a big admirer of Netanyahu’s economic know-how–then maybe this time around the apparent Palestinian economic renaissance will be permanent, and auger better times to come in the region.
Indeed, there may be growing pressure between Fayyad & Abbas. Abbas seemingly gets a pass from the USA & Quartet on everything. The world speaks day after day about propping up Abbas, supporting Abbas, helping Abbas.. Poor Abbas – the powerless victim. Meanwhile Fayyad is the one who has to get things done & face the music as the functionary and representative in the 2nd tier meetings with international working groups & players.
As Daled Amos writes, soon enough the Palestinians may begin to tire of having a perennial victim at the helm, especially if pressure mounts internationally and the good times start coming to an end, with yet another failed peace plan sure to usher in the same factors that existed under the Top Down Arafat years. Stifling the good life Abbas & the Palestinians now enjoy in Judea & Samaria. Doubly so if the chance at statehood slips right through their fingers yet again, through their leader’s obstinacy & weakness to concede for the benefit of his people and peace.
Peace & Security is the platform of the right
It was the right wing Likud leader Begin who delivered Peace with Egypt, in Israel itself center left voters feel much safer entrusting Netanyahu & the right to secure peace, while clearly right wing voters will entrust no one else. On the Palestinian side the Israeli right brings prosperity and the chance for peace. Tony Blair, Quartet special envoy to the region is a solid backer of Netanyahu’s bottom up plans having seen the realities himself these past 2-3 years. He professed as much in testimony to the US House of Congress at Obama’s behest. The question remains, when will the ideologues in America & the new American President come around too?
One prays it isn’t only after their own plans & ideas fail as have so many others before. Instead of bullying Netanyahu & Israel, instead of undermining the Likud and indirectly Israel itself which via majority supports the party & government, it is high time Rahm, Obama, and the rest of the National Security Council team face these realities.
It is not a few housing units here or there, or a kindergarten under construction which is holding back peace. It’s failed ideology both within the Palestinian camp itself, and from America’s eager but erroneous left wing & leadership. That is not to say peace will be easy or forthcoming, only that failure to acknowledge these realities means it will never come at all.