Eli Lake writes today in the Daily Beast the Obama administration has launched a “frantic, last-minute campaign” to head off a unilateral declaration of statehood from the Palestinian Authority next week at the United Nations. Though it is unlikely the PA will back off their plans, they’ve indicated the Americans’ offer of new peace talks with Israel doesn’t appeal to them.
That’s hardly surprising, considering they have gone to the UN precisely to avoid negotiating with Israel, not in order to get better terms from an antagonist that offered them a state in 2000, 2001 and 2008 only to be turned down each time. The impending passage of a resolution endorsing statehood in the General Assembly will be accompanied by an orgy of Israel-bashing. But the PA has set in motion a set of events that will do more to hurt them than Israel. Reports of an upsurge in Hamas activity in the West Bank indicate that the fallout from the failure of the PA to accomplish anything more than an upgrade in their observer status at the world body may well represent a deadly threat to Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah government orchestrating the UN circus.
The Jerusalem Post reports security experts have noted Hamas is gaining influence in the West Bank while still maintaining its iron grip on Gaza, where it already runs an independent Palestinian state in all but name. If, as many expect, demonstrations in favor of the UN resolution get out of hand, Hamas may exploit the resulting chaos. By the same token, if Palestinian disappointment over the purely symbolic nature of the exercise in New York explodes into unrest, Hamas may be ready to exploit that situation.
That may mean, as some warn, Hamas will resume their campaign of suicide bombings. That’s a scary proposition for Israelis. But such a decision would also mean hostilities that would undermine the economic progress made in the West Bank under PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and might destroy, perhaps for all time, the credibility and perhaps the power of the PA.
So as much President Obama is eager to avoid a veto of a Palestinian statehood resolution in the Security Council, it is still Abbas himself who has the most to lose from the diplomatic standoff he has created. That’s why Obama’s efforts to bribe the Palestinians with Israeli concessions to prevent them from blowing up any hopes for peace are an absurdity the Netanyahu government must not accept.
Though Obama and much of the mainstream media are always inclined to blame Netanyahu for the refusal of the Palestinians to make peace, the goal of the upcoming exercise is to win international recognition without making peace. The PA’s objective here was always to destroy the peace process, not to increase their leverage within it. But Abbas has forgotten his PA is the product of a peace process that began 18 years ago this month with the signing of the Oslo Accords. But now that they have sowed the wind and shucked off that process, they are about to reap a Hamas whirlwind that may destroy any hope of peace for the foreseeable future.