The Palestinian Authority’s campaign to bypass negotiations and gain recognition for an independent state received an important boost yesterday from the International Monetary Fund. The IMF issued a report about the economy in the West Bank and Gaza, which will be formally presented an international donors conference for the Palestinians next week in Brussels.
The report is a resounding endorsement of the policies enacted by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The PA is “now able to conduct the sound economic policies expected of a future well-functioning Palestinian state, given its solid track record in reforms and institution-building in the public finance and financial areas,” the IMF says. Fayyad’s efforts to transform the PA from the corrupt terror state created by Yasir Arafat after the Oslo Accords has been widely praised by both Americans and Israelis. But even those who vouch for the good intentions and skill of the American-educated technocrat would have to acknowledge that he has only just begun to change the mafia-style political culture of the PA.
The IMF report makes it clear that the West Bank, run by Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah—Fayyad was appointed by Fatah—is still mainly dependent on foreign aid. As for Gaza, which is governed by the Islamist terrorists of Hamas, it remains an economic basket case. But the report, which rightly predicates future growth on the emergence of vibrant Palestinian private-sector economy, says that is “unlikely to emerge while Israeli restrictions on access to natural resources and markets remain in place, and as long as investors are deterred by the increased cost of business associated with the closure regime [in Gaza].”
The real question, though, is not whether Israel can be pressured to lift its blockade of Gaza or what security measures it employs in the West Bank, but why those policies are still necessary.
The answer comes in the form of the Palestinian missile fire from Gaza that was once again launched at southern Israel today. This morning an Israeli school bus was hit by an anti-tank missile, leaving a 16-year-old critically injured and wounding the driver. Another rocket aimed at Israel was intercepted by an anti-missile battery. These were just the latest of over 100 rockets and mortar shells fired into Israel from Gaza in less than a week. Israeli President Shimon Peres called attention to the Gaza missile attacks today during a visit to New York. For all intents and purposes Gaza is an independent self-governing entity since Israel withdrew all troops and civilians from the strip in 2005. Since then it has been transformed, Peres said, into a “terror state.”
For all of the optimism heard from the IMF about the prospects of an independent Palestinian state, the brute fact is that one of its two prospective governing parties is carrying on a war to extinguish the Jewish state and to kill as many Jews as possible in the mean time. Even in the West Bank, which has made great strides under the leadership of Fayyad (support for whom remains tiny when compared to the belligerents of the main Palestinian movements), the terror threat against Israel is palpable. Should the current autonomy of the PA be expanded to complete independence without an Israeli security presence, there is ample reason to worry that either Hamas operatives or Fatah’s own terrorists will be able to replicate the terror state in Gaza.
Right now the Palestinians appear to be counting on a United Nations General Assembly vote to recognize Palestinian statehood in all of the territory of the former Palestine Mandate that was illegally occupied by Egypt and Jordan from 1949 to 1967. It is not clear how strongly this attempt to evade negotiations will be resisted by the United States and the diplomatic quartet, or whether they will oppose it all. No doubt reports like the one issued by the IMF will be cited as a reason to drop back and permit the Palestinians to have their own way.
A two-state solution to the conflict is the worst possible idea—except for all the others. There should be no doubt that any Palestinian state endorsed by the UN will not be a liberal democracy. It will not have the free economy that Fayyad and the IMF envision. It will be a two-headed terrorist monster whose political culture will remain dedicated to pursuing the decades-old Arab war on Israel. Unless the PA agrees to negotiate a peace that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state and guarantees its security, there should never be recognition of a Palestinian state.
The IMF and the Terror State
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Hyperbole yields cynicism, not the other way around.
Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron surprised almost everyone when he invited President Donald Trump to celebrate Bastille Day with him in Paris, especially after the two leaders’ awkward first meeting in Brussels in May. After all, between now and then, Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and Macron has become perhaps the most vocal critic of Trump among European leaders.
In hindsight, Macron’s reason for embracing Trump might have been to get the president to reverse course on the Paris agreement. From the Associated Press:
French President Emmanuel Macron says his glamorous Paris charm offensive on Donald Trump was carefully calculated — and may have changed the U.S. president’s mind about climate change…. On their main point of contention — Trump’s withdrawal from the landmark Paris climate agreement — Macron is quoted as saying that “Donald Trump listened to me. He understood the reason for my position, notably the link between climate change and terrorism.”
According to Macron, climate change causes droughts and migration, which exacerbates crises as populations fight over shrinking resources. If Macron really believes that, France and Europe are in for some tough times.
First, droughts are a frequent, cyclical occurrence in the Middle East, the Sahel, and the Horn of Africa. The difference between drought and famine is the former is a natural occurrence and the latter is man-made, usually caused by poor governance. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the Horn of Africa, where the same drought might kill a few dozens of Ethiopians but wipe out tens of thousands of Somalis.
Second, the common factor in the wars raging in the Middle East today is neither climate change nor extreme weather, but brutal dictatorship, radical ideologies, and the militias supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Yemen could be a breadbasket. Its terraced fields rising up thousands of feet in the mountains grow almost every fruit imaginable. Yemen also catches the tail end of the monsoon. If Yemenis planted exportable crops like coffee rather than the mild drug qat, which does not bring in hard currency, they might be fairly prosperous.
It is not climate change that denied the Syrian public basic freedoms and liberty for decades, nor was it climate change that dropped barrel bombs on civilian neighborhoods, tortured and killed 13-year-old Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, or used chemical weapons. For that matter, when it comes to radicalization, the problem is Syria was less climate and more decades of Saudi-and Qatari-funded indoctrination and Turkish assistance to foreign fighters.
Regardless of all this, another obvious factor nullifies Macron’s thesis: When drought occurs in regions outside the Middle East, the result is seldom suicide bombing.
Terrorism does not have a one-size-fits-all explanation but, generally speaking, when it comes to Islamist terrorism, ideology plays a key role. Most terrorists are educated, middle class, and relatively privileged. Islamic State caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, for example, has a Ph.D. Many of the 9/11 hijackers were educated. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas recruits inside schools. Simply put, there is no linkage between climate change and terrorism.
Not only would Trump be foolish to buy Macron’s argument, but environmentalists who believe climate change puts the Earth in immediate peril should be outraged. It is hyperbole. Moreover, it is the casual invocation of climate change as a catch-all cause for every other issue that breeds the cynicism that leads so many to become so dismissive of everything climate activists say. Macron may look down up Trump as an ignorant bore, but Macron’s own logic suggests he is also living in a world where facts and reality don’t matter.