Monday, January 05, 2009

No Peace in Sight

At the new Foreign Policy web site, Aaron David Miller argues that the divided Palestinian national movement is the biggest obstacle to peace:
"But looming largest is the crisis that confronts the Palestinian national movement. It is a badly shattered humpty-dumpty -- two polities, two armies, two ideologies, two sets of patrons -- and putting it back together again does not look hopeful. Nor do the prospects for fostering the unity Palestinians require to negotiate with Israel, monopolize the use of violence in their society, or even struggle successfully for a Palestinian state.

"Without a unified Palestinian house, what Israeli Prime Minister would make existential concessions to a Palestinian leader who doesn't control all the guns? And what Palestinian leader could even begin to make the kinds of concessions that peace with Israel will require without the authority and legitimacy that derives from the support of most Palestinians? At present, if Israel wants peace and quiet for its southern towns and cities or the return of its kidnapped soldier, Gilad Shalit, it goes to Hamas not to Abbas. And yet Israel and the United States look to Abbas to deliver a political settlement...

"The current war will only lengthen this timeline. In the wake of the death and devastation caused by the ongoing fighting, Palestinian anger (both in Gaza and the West Bank) is likely to be directed at Israel, the United States, Abbas, and only then at Hamas. The Hezbollah precedent is far from perfect, but if Hamas survives the full brunt of an Israeli assault and emerges still capable of launching rockets into Israel, this would be a tremendous victory. Hamas' power and prestige will likely grow. And it can always count on the combination of Abbas's fecklessness, Israeli settlement and occupation practices, and the U.S. bias toward Israel to help it maintain its relevance and influence."

This analysis is spot on, and explains why the analogy to Operation Grapes of Wrath, which I flirted with a couple of days ago, is much weaker than its proponents would have it.

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