Looks like the Obama administration is going to punt (in the form of a ten-year “peace” plan) over the Palestinian-Israel issues. I’d really hoped for better, but I can’t say I’m surprised. (How does someone that tall stay upright without a spine?)
Years from now, they’ll be telling us, “Who could have known that refusing to deal with this would have the potential to bite us in the ass later?” Spencer Ackerman:
What do Palestinians gain from a declared state in 12 months without, say, a determination of its borders? Control over water rights? Its electromagnetic spectrum? Its airspace? Its access to foreign markets? Does the State of Palestinian get to end the Israeli blockade of Gaza? Does it get to evict the IDF from the West Bank? Does it ensure territorial contiguity between the WB and G? What happens to the refugees? Do the roadblocks and the checkpoints in the West Bank disappear? Will Israel get to keep building settlements in Palestine? How does fictive statehood, without any such exercise of sovereignty, end the immiseration of over a million people in Gaza?
It’s easy enough to forecast the political dynamic that can take shape if this is the direction of the 2010-era peace process. Hamas and other Palestinian extremists, who already have an interest in seeing Fatah fail, will be able to argue that Fatah is giving up the vital Palestinian trump card of ending the struggle for national liberation for a bunch of vague promises that do nothing to change the reality on the ground of an occupied West Bank and a brutalized Gaza. Fatah grows weak and searches for deliverance from the Quartet and from Israel to make statehood real. But Israel will be reluctant to make substantial compromises when it sees Hamas resurgent. The cycle continues, as it did in the 1990s when well-meaning diplomats took a similar approach.
Except notice one thing: Hamas was not one of the dominant Palestinian political actors in the 1990s. Now, obviously, it is. The complicated path that brought Hamas to power in Gaza has many origins, but among them is the failure of the peace process to deliver substantially for Palestinians. No one should believe that either Palestinian domestic politics or Israeli politics has reached the outer limits of extremism. Another failure to deliver on peace in a manner that Palestinians can tangibly experience will be a dramatically radicalizing experience.