Commentary Magazine


More Proof That a Palestinian State Would Already Be a Failed State

Rick Richman has been closely following the international effort to create another failed Arab state in the Middle East, a process that will culminate in September when the Palestinians unilaterally declare independence and the General Assembly signals its approval of same. The process has an Alice-in-Wonderland quality. Everyone pretends that everyone else is being sincere in vetting Palestinian readiness. The Palestinians don’t have a constitution, they don’t have an independent judiciary, and they don’t have a free press; they can’t hold elections and their President is seven years into his four-year term; their educational system is a cesspool of primitive and savage anti-Jewish bigotry.

But according to Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store—speaking on behalf of donors and echoing the World Bank, the IMF, and the UN—they’re “above the threshold of a functioning state.” Nobody really believes that’s true in any theoretical or empirical sense. But part of the beauty of anti-Israel diplomacy is that you just kind of get to make things up and—if your inventions aren’t too absurd on that particular day—people pretend to believe you. Fantastical assertions and predictions are used to change facts on the ground before reality has a chance to catch up.

So while a Palestinian state as currently projected will certainly fail, the international community will pretend otherwise just long enough to get past September. The “promising” Fatah-Hamas unity deal is part and parcel of this nudge-nudge-wink-wink game, a temporary fiction established lest the Palestinian Authority declare sovereignty over Gaza without actually controlling Gaza. The unity government will quickly collapse, along with the rest of the Palestinian state. At that point some foreign policy analysts and diplomats will simply move on—there’s never been any consequence to getting things wrong about the Middle East, provided one was toeing the proper ideological line—while others will invent new ways to blame Palestinian failures on Israel. It’s not like intellectual honesty is going to come to the debate over Middle East pathologies any time soon.

That said, the “Palestine-is-above-the-threshold” crowd should really be held to some sort of minimum argumentative consistency, and today’s Nakba demonstrations are another example of just how difficult that can be for them. Palestinians across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip rioted extensively in a series of violent, coordinated actions. Not to get pedantic but either those riots were coordinated by Fatah-Hamas or they were coordinated by what would—in the aftermath of a Palestinian statehood declaration—be subnational groups. If it’s the former then the international community is giving birth to a state that uses civilians to conduct warfare by proxy. If it’s the latter then the Palestinian Authority doesn’t have control over the territories in which it intends to declare itself sovereign.

It’s not just the Nakba rioting. The Palestinians want to have it both ways for all violence coming out of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They and their apologists are quite literally incoherent on this point. For the purposes of statehood, they insist that the Palestinian Authority has full control over future Palestinian territories. For the purposes of rocket launches and terrorist attacks, they insist that Hamas and Fatah have no control over splinter terrorist groups operating from within future Palestinian territories.

They can’t admit that subnational militias are operating out of territories they want for a state, since that’s the textbook definition of a failed state. But they also can’t admit that their own soldiers are attacking Israelis, since that would detonate the narrative of a peaceful Palestinian state. So they’re saying both at the same time. There are days where they can’t even keep track of which terrorist groups they’ve pretended to disband.

And they’re being allowed to get away with it, because choosing one or the other would be uncomfortable for their international apologists.

Meanwhile Palestinians are rioting across the West Bank and Gaza, either with Palestinian Authority connivance or in the face of Palestinian Authority impotence. Somewhere out there, a Reuters or Associated Press journalist is very much not writing an article about how “this is a window into the fundamental tension underlying the Palestinian narrative as Mr. Abbas and Mr. Fayyad move towards a September statehood declaration.” But they could be.