Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Chaos in Gaza

Is the Gaza Strip headed for civil war? Many signs point to yes. Or at least, if not civil war, at least a low intensity chaos that will do little to promote Palestinian claims to statehood and a great deal to exacerbate the miserable plight of Gazans too often victimized by the terrorism too many of their own people have wrought and the inevitable Israeli reprisals that come as a consequence. certainly a number of Palestinians fear that ongoing clashes between Hamas and Fatah will result in civil war. At least part of the debate centers around Mahmoud Abbas'laudable assertion that a two-state solution must be the only path Palestinians pursue. This flies in the face of everything for which Hamas has stood since its inception, thus the escaating conflict.

One wonders how the anti-Israel crowd will spin this to be the fault of Israel and by extension the United States. Fundamentally, the conflict in Gaza, and surely in West Bank sooner or later, revolves around two issues that are closely linked -- one is the very future of Palestinan statehood. The other is simple power politics. Hamas and Fatah want as much of the pie as they can get, however small that pie might be.

Israel's critics will naturally assert that the plight of the people of Gaza is the fault of israeli politics and policies. And there will be a grain of truth to these assertions -- Israel is not without blame. But surely that blame stems in large part from the insistence of Palestinian leaders and their foot soldiers to declare war on Israel, to declare and wage intifada, to threaten to drive the little nation to the sea. Surely were Palestinian leaders to look inward, to focus on political legitimacy and accepting Israel as a neighbor and working toward autonomy, they would discover that the plight of Gazans is at root so barren because of their own noxious rhetoric and policies.

No one should wish civil war or its lesser cousins on the Palestinians. But such a conflict might further reveal that vacuity of a Palestinian leadership that seems not to care about the realities Gazans face. One would think that the people of Gaza deserve better. Then again, they have chosen as their champions Hamas and Fatah to begin with, so perhaps even their victimhood is easy to overstate. Funny how supporters of Israel who advocate a two-state solution seem to care more about the plight of the people of Gaza than those the Gazans choose to represent them. Funny, but not in a "ha ha" sort of way.


montana urban legend said...

I think the Israelis are getting to a point where they can basically predict where the Palestinians will fail themselves, and hence Olmert's stance of proclaiming simultaneously what basic principles he (or any other nation should) expect(s) from a negotiating partner and what his government will do if and when the P.A. fails to be forthcoming on them.

I'm wondering if there's a sports analogy where you just keep losing count.

dcat said...

What you describe ultimately might come down to one thing: Fatalism. The israelis can hope for an onest broker, a sincere partner, but they are pretty resigned to that never happening. This largely explains the push for the wall, an imperfect solution that nonetheless allows israel to protect itself and give some sense of geography to the Palestinians. That they do not have borders more to their liking is largely the fault of their leaders who have consistently chosen violence over negotiations.