Will terrorist attacks on Israel in the past few days undermine Israel’s efforts to head off a United Nations vote on the Palestinians’ plans to get the world body to recognize their independence? That’s what one “senior diplomatic source” told Israel’s Army Radio today. As the Jerusalem Post reports, the source said the bloodshed and the subsequent unofficial cease-fire between Israel and Hamas means that “Hamas will be seen as leading the way for the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
The bloody assaults on southern Israel have shown the world the true face of Palestinian nationalism. The terror attacks on Eilat and the subsequent missile barrage aimed at Ashkelon and Beersheba illustrated the nature of the Hamas regime that governs Gaza. That ought to worry Europeans and others contemplating a vote for the Palestinians’ UN ploy to avoid peace talks with Israel. But it also demonstrated one attribute of statehood the Palestinian Authority (which neglected to condemn the attacks on Israel) lacks in the West Bank: sovereignty.
When people speak of Palestinian independence it is usually associated with the hopes the PA will control the West Bank and even part of Jerusalem. But despite the fact few nations recognize the legitimacy of Hamas’ reign of terror in Gaza, there is no denying they control that territory and govern it. And Israel is complicit in the unofficial acceptance of this state of affairs.
Though the prime minister’s office denied today it had entered into any cease-fire after the weekend’s rocket barrage on southern Israeli cities, few doubt one was negotiated. Just as Hamas now feels secure Israel won’t seek to oust it by military means from its Gaza stronghold, Israel understands the cost in casualties and international opprobrium a full-scale counter-offensive would incur is probably too high. While a cease-fire serves both parties because it gives Israel a respite from the rocket fire and Hamas the opportunity to continue to strengthen its defenses, it is yet another confirmation of Gaza’s independence in all but name.
Palestinian sovereignty in Gaza is a fait accompli, and it is doubtful Israel will ever seek to reverse it. But for all of the fact it shows Palestinians do govern themselves — albeit badly because Hamas cannot and will not seek to improve the lot of Gazans as it pursues its terrorist agenda — the reality of this independent state is an even stronger argument against extending their sovereignty to the West Bank.
The PA is too afraid of Hamas to ever sign any peace agreement that would recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders were drawn. That’s why they are headed to the UN in yet another attempt to evade negotiations. But the reality of Palestinian independence in Gaza shows again that, despite the talk of state building and the high hopes of American peace processors about the future of the West Bank, Hamas’ endless war against Israel is the true face of Palestinian nationalism.