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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Must read - Khaled Abu Toameh

Michael Totten transcribed a long talk by Khaled Abu Toameh that is essential reading if you want to understand the Middle East. A small part:
Now you may ask yourself why Arafat was inciting against his peace partners in Israel, why was he inciting against the Americans and Europeans who were feeding him? It doesn't make sense.

Well, to us it does make sense. This is how our Arab dictators survive. They constantly blame the miseries of our people on the Jews and the West and the Crusaders and the infidels and the Zionist lobby and the imperialists. They use all these slogans. Arab leaders always need to make sure that their people are busy hating somebody else, preferably the Jews and the Americans. Otherwise their people might rebel, and God forbid they might demand reforms and democracy.

This is exactly what Arafat did, but he did it in Arabic. The international community – and even Israelis – did not want to listen to what Arafat was saying in Arabic. They only cared what he said in English. They said that what he said in English was good.

The question we should ask ourselves in the wake of this scenario is whether or not there is really a partner on the Palestinian side for any deal, let alone a peace agreement. Any kind of deal. Is there really a partner on the Palestinian side? And the answer is simple. No.

I don't know how to solve this problem. Talking about a Palestinian state today is a joke. Where would that state be established? Israel controls nearly half of the West Bank. These PLO people can't deliver. If Israel gives up the West Bank, you will have to go to Cairo or Amman to take a flight back to America because snipers will be sitting on the hilltops above Ben-Gurion airport.

If you keep up this policy of supporting one party against the other, Gaza will move to the West Bank and we will end up with more anarchy and lawlessness and God knows what else is going to happen. It's a very unpleasant picture. It's very gloomy, I know.
And while you are at it, also read his article here.
Because the two-state solution and the one-state solution are not going to work for all the above-mentioned reasons, the time has come to consider other options. One idea that has been floating around lately is to involve the Jordanians and the Egyptians in running the affairs of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptians and Jordanians are already involved, to a certain degree, in helping the Palestinians in both entities. In recent years, the Egyptians have often found themselves involved in what's happening inside the Gaza Strip. The Jordanians have also lately increased their involvement in the affairs of their former citizens in the West Bank.

What is needed now is to exert pressure on Cairo and Amman to step up their involvement in what is happening in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Training Palestinian security forces is not enough. The two Arab countries should be more involved, even if that means deploying their own troops in these areas.

President Hosni Mubarak and King Hussein II do not like the idea. They prefer that the Palestinians remain Israel's problem alone. But the Palestinians really need the help of these two countries. As such, there is nothing wrong with trying a new solution - one that would place the West Bank and the Gaza Strip under the jurisdiction of Jordan and Egypt respectively until the Palestinians get their act together and start working toward establishing a good state. It is possible that, with the help of the Jordanians and the Egyptians, the Palestinians might move faster toward achieving their goal.