Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Palestinians are shooting each other again...

"Palestinian gunmen on Friday opened fire on Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's convoy, destroying one vehicle in a burst of flames in the latest violence between the rival Fatah and Hamas movements. Nobody was injured."

Okay. So it's only the cars which have felt it this time but Fatah and Hamas have been steadily shooting it out for months.

"The attack came shortly after Haniyeh, of Hamas, brushed off threats by President Mahmoud Abbas, of Fatah, to dismiss the Hamas-led Cabinet. Haniyeh travels in a convoy of more than 10 vehicles and was believed to be about a quarter-mile away at the time of the shooting."

A 10 vehicle convoy? Amazing how a man in charge of such a dismally poor part of the world is able to afford such luxury isn't it?

"Tensions have been steadily rising since the Islamic militant group defeated the long-ruling Fatah party in parliamentary elections early this year. Hamas has rejected international calls to renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist, despite widespread hardship caused by sanctions."

There is more in the Forbes article but I think the main point to highlight is just how well the process of unilateral withdrawal is working for Israel. The New York Sun blog's contention here that the kidnappings are a result of withdrawal doesn't stand up. They were clearly a response to military impotence which would have appealed to the Palestinians regardless of where they were fighting Israel.

While it hasn't bought peace it has shifted the attentions of the leadership towards fighting each other and away from fighting Israel. The more thoroughly this shift can be achieved and the Palestinians are fighting each other more than the Israelis the more elements of the "international community" will find it difficult to cast the Palestinians as victims. Equally, the military capacity of these movements to attack Israel has to be to some extent drained by shooting at and being shot by each other.

If Israel can maintain the move towards unilaterally creating a Palestinian state the various violent movements (the Intifada was never really about poor children throwing rocks at tanks) will have more of an interest in fighting over that state (and its revenues) than scrapping with the Israelis. The apparatus of the Palestinian state provides them with an opportunity to indulge their venality and delusions of grandeur worth fighting for. This will make the Palestinians less and less an Israeli problem, allow Israel to pretty much draw its own borders and then leave the Palestinians as another dysfunctional Middle Eastern polity.

With a border to separate them from an obvious external enemy they'll revert to the dismal Middle Eastern mean and scrap it out along tribal lines (if these don't exist they'll create them). Palestine will still be an unpleasant place and we won't have seen the back of Palestinian terrorism but the Israel-Palestine conflict as a particular danger to the stability of Israel and a unique source of international friction would seriously decline. The unique problem of having a large number of Middle Eastern Muslims and the Jewish state superimposed on each other will be largely gone.

1 comment:

Gracchi said...

Matt I see your point in part but I don't think it completely works. Firstly take the Palestinian area- the key thing is that its divided in two to cross from one area to another factional warfare goes through Israel. Secondly the way that Hamas and Fatah work is by auctioning hatred of Isreal- so consequently their political competition may end with increased hostility.