A Palestinian State?

The decision by the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to claim a seat in the United Nations is a last ditch effort by one side of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to resolve the region’s eternal crisis peacefully. The statement largely drafted by Tony Blair on behalf of the “Quartet,” which essentially gave the Israelis everything they wanted – including acceptance of settlement expansion as “facts on the ground” – was “the final blow, the final straw,” according to top Palestinian Authority official Nabil Shaath.

As the New York Times puts it,

“The Palestinian decision to apply for full United Nations membership at the Security Council, announced Friday by President Mahmoud Abbas, was the most viable of the only options possible: surrender, return to violence or appeal to the international community.”

The Israelis would like nothing better than a Palestinian surrender, and so, it appears, would the “international community,” supposedly represented by the United Nations. The decision to appeal to the Security Council, instead of taking the matter to the pro-Palestinian anti-Israel General Assembly, underscores the seriousness of the matter. After this, Abbas can throw his hands up and declare: “Don’t say I didn’t warn you” the next time rockets rain down on Israeli heads – and then prepare to retire. Because the Western stance is good news for the violent extremists on both sides – the radicals of Hamas and the crazed Israeli settlers, who hate their own government almost as much as they hate the Arabs. What little political authority the old Fatah organization – and the “peace process” – retains will be gone soon after this Palestinian charge of the light brigade at the UN: Abbas has decided that if they’re going to go down, they might as well go down honorably.

Both sides are captives of their own extremists: the Israelis have to deal with the settlers, whose political violence has more than once had its tragic impact on the course of events. If the government gives up the settlements, what will they do with hundreds of thousands of radicalized settlers, whose activities they have avidly funded and encouraged? The Palestinian Authority, likewise, is facing a similar threat from Hamas, which has already seized not only Gaza but also the loyalty of the young and the embittered.

Hardened and driven to desperation by the circumstances of their helotry, the Palestinians who must live under Israeli rule in the occupied territories have no alternative but to turn to Hamas and the radicals. Besieged in their own land, they look around for some means to defend themselves – and find it in the camp of violent extremism.

The West, having succored the nascent Israeli state from the beginning, is now intent on going along with their progeny’s expansionist designs: why else are “facts on the ground” considered sacrosanct – unless the Quartet sees its role as overseeing the creation of a “Greater Israel”? If the IDF should invade Jordan and annex it to Israel tomorrow, would these, too, be considered “facts on the ground,” to be legitimized by the Quartet’s imprimatur?

Seeking some defense against the daily aggression of their Israeli overlords, the Palestinians seek to create a state of their own – an agency with a monopoly on the use of force in Palestine, one that isn’t of foreign provenance. Or, to say it in another way: they are preparing for war. Because warfare, against enemies foreign and domestic, is the essential function of any and all states. In theory, we are talking about defensive war: however, in practice, all too often these are wars of aggression. Their purpose, aside from diverting attention away from persistent internal problems – a bad economy, the corruption of the ruling elite, etc. – is to increase the power and glory of the almighty State, which we are all supposed to worship as a beneficent semi-deity that will take care of us when all else fails.

In short, the creation of a Palestinian state – a centralized, unified bureaucratic apparatus, that rules over the occupied territories – is a bad idea whose time has come. It is not going to lead to peace: quite the opposite. That’s because neither side wants peace, and this is quite obvious from their demands: the Israelis demand the “right” to build settlements on other people’s property, and the Palestinians continue to insist on the “right of return” – a “right” I’m waiting to be exercised in the United States. Is the UN going to demand that we give most of the country back to the Indians? (Then they can turn Wall Street into a giant casino – oh, wait ….)

Since neither sides wants peace, there will be none. Given these intractable circumstances, we must withdraw from the role of “broker,” which the American conceit of exercising “world leadership” at every opportunity has made mandatory. We have no interest in the creation of yet another radical Arab state which is bound to turn against us, no matter what we do, or how we vote in the UN. We must also withdraw as Israel’s shield and chief financier: that, indeed, is the very first step we can and must take in order to extricate ourselves from the most dangerous trouble spot on earth.

At the point where the world’s three great Abrahamic religions meet, there the seismic plates of civilization brush up against each other – to inevitably violent effect. The creation of a new state in the very epicenter of this seismic disturbance is just asking for an earthquake of epic proportions.

With some few exceptions, the rest of the world is amenable to transitional solutions of one sort or another – some reform, short of full-fledged libertarianism achieved overnight, which will ameliorate the crisis and help find a peaceful way out. Not in Palestine. There the only solution is radical and immediate decentralization of power, in both the occupied territories and Israel proper – that is, the separation of mutually hostile populations into mini-“states,” with each community exercising its right of secession, street-by-street. This would, at least, reduce the scale of the violence, and rob the haters of their power to impose an extremist “solution” on the rest.

Short of that, there is nothing to be done to advance the “peace process” even by a single inch: aspiring to the role of “world leadership” doesn’t mean trying to do the impossible. Not all problems have solutions, and the recognition that we have done what we can – while making the situation far worse – is key to forging a new policy that puts our own interests first.

In vetoing the Palestinian resolution before the Security Council, the US will be doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. The desire to placate the Israel lobby – especially after the Democrats’ defeat in Brooklyn – is not a motivation that any honorable government will acknowledge, but that is the core reason for the Obama administration’s stance, and a shameful one it is. It is particularly egregious in light of what we’ve done in Libya, and this is yet another reason why they hate us: since we’ve gone into the business of creating new Arab states, why not give the Palestinians what they see as their just due? This inconsistency is already backfiring in our faces, as our Egyptian allies stand by while mobs storm the Israeli embassy, and Turkey – our NATO partner – breaks relations with Tel Aviv.

The US government’s self-appointed role in the region as mediator and “peace” broker is a textbook example of how interventionism leads to the exact opposite of its ostensible objectives. We tout a “peace process” that has only produced more war and stick our noses into snake pits where they don’t belong. Then we wonder why we get bitten.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of Antiwar.com, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].