As expected, the conference held today in Brussels for donors to the Palestinian Authority, endorsed the idea that the PA “is above the threshold of a functioning state.” This statement echoed the opinion rendered by the International Monetary Fund last week and the United Nations yesterday. According to Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, this all amounts to a “birth certificate” for a Palestinian state.
This birth certificate will add more fuel to the PA’s campaign for a UN General Assembly vote endorsing a Palestinian state in all of the West Bank, Gaza, as well as eastern Jerusalem. While such a move would trash the peace process, the best that Tony Blair, the Middle East envoy of the diplomatic quartet of the European Union, Russia, the UN, and the United States could muster today against this development was to assert that a Palestinian end run around negotiations would split the international community even though he admitted that such unity on the subject was “a rather misplaced hope.”
While the reforms and the efforts at better governance of the West Bank championed by Fayyad are worth supporting, the idea that his administration has somehow miraculously transformed Palestinian political culture is unrealistic.
The assertion that the PA could actually run a “functioning state” ignores a fundamental truth about Fayyad’s regime. It is not merely dependent on massive foreign aid. It also could not function or survive without the protection afforded by Israel’s military presence in the West Bank, the very thing that Fayyad claims he wishes to eliminate. Although the area’s economy is starting to recover from the terror war started by Yasir Arafat in 2000, an Israeli withdrawal would mean that the terror groups who constitute the real power in Palestinian society might obtain the ability to transform this territory into another terrorist launching pad like Gaza. Even though unilateralism seemingly allows Fayyad and PA head Mahmoud Abbas to gain statehood without committing political suicide (or signing their own death warrants) by agreeing to a peace accord with Israel, such independence isn’t very good for their long term survival either.
In that light, today’s endorsement of statehood must be understood as having more to do with isolating Israel than with the hard work of building an actual state.