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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Arms for Palestinian authority? Beilin says 'No'

Yossi Beilin argues against giving the Fatah guns. He has a point, but I am not sure he is right:


...[T]the last thing we need to add to the Palestinian Authority is more weapons. When the PA was established, it had to be allowed to acquire arms, because without enforcing law and order there would have been no significance to the creation of such Authority.

Today, arming one element in the PA due to the intention to see Fatah twist Hamas' arm soon could end up as a terrible boomerang. The historical experience of such "boosts" is horrifying. Moreover, in this case it would constitute an incentive for Hamas to arm itself even more, and if clashes between the two sides break out it would not be much of a gamble to assume Hamas would emerge victorious.

All true. We can add that Abbas has already promised that guns would not be used against other Palestinians on more than one occasion. We can also add that Fatah factions like Al-Aqsah martyrs brigade are opposed to compromise. How many of their members are in the Palestinian Police forces? Therefore, the question of who gets the guns and what guns they get must be reviewed VERY CAREFULLY.

On the other hand, there is a big flaw in the argument, a point that Beilin is ignoring. Palestinians cannot deliver their part of a peace agreement until they can control violence in their own society. They can't control violence until they have an orderly government that can also make the transition to statehood. They can't possibly have an orderly government as long as there is a large armed faction that is more powerful than the government forces. We are continually reminded that the Hamas are the "Democratically elected government," but that is a fallacious argument. No democracy can exist in a society of armed groups, and no armed group can be said to be the "democratically elected government."


Beilin also writes:

By the way, should the Arab League decide to put itself in the Palestinians' shoes and engage in dialogue in their place, we can assume that its positions would be much less compromising than the Palestinian positions.


The Arab League made it clear that it would not "put itself in the Palestinians' shoes and engage in dialogue in their place." Beilin knows this, because he writes:


The Arab Initiative's bottom line is that if Israel makes peace with the Palestinians and Syrians, Arab states would maintain normal ties with it. The Arab world would not be objecting to one clause or another in bilateral agreements, should such agreements be signed, and as a result the principles appearing in the Arab Initiative are very general and do not constitute a substitute for negotiations.


But the Arab League can possibly be persuaded to put pressure on Hamas to accept the Arab initiative and to announce that it WOULD make peace with Israel following a negotiated agreement.


Beilin also writes:


If Abbas succeeds in this move and is able to submit a draft agreement with Israel to a Palestinian referendum he would be stronger than all his opponents.


Indeed that is so. But Abbas has shown no sign that he is willing to negotiate an agreement that might be acceptable to Israel. He never said "Geneva Accord" or "Right of Israel to exist as a state of the Jewish people." He insists on 1967 borders, Right of Return and a PalestinianStateWithitsCapitalinJerusalem. Depriving Israel of the historic capital of the Jewish people and flooding it with Palestinian refugees are NOT compatible with peace. Beilin will argue that when Abbas says "Right of Return" he doesn't really mean it, and that when he advocates a PalestinianStateWithitsCapitalinJerusalem ("Palestinian State With its Capital in Jerusalem") he means only a part of Jerusalem. But Abbas has never said he would compromise on Right of Return. On the contrary. Abbas never specified either, what part of Jerusalem he might be willing to "surrender" to Israel.

Until and unless Fatah can be persuaded to adopt a realistic peace program, strengthening Abbas may not help Israel or peace.

Beilin is the author of the Geneva Accord, and that is no doubt what he is advocating. It is great in theory, but advocates of the accord have failed to deliver two key elements: Support of the Israeli government and support of the Palestinian leadership.

Ami Isseroff

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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