Hot Topics

8
Mar
2016

The Two States in the West Bank and Gaza Annul the Two-State Solution


Hamas leader Ismail Haniya and PA President Mahmoud Abbas

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya and PA President Mahmoud Abbas

The Palestinian Authority, which calls itself “the state of Palestine under occupation,” is pushing for international recognition of the state of Palestine along the 1967 lines or, in other words, in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem (pre-Six-Day War), and Gaza.

The French initiative for an international peace conference has won the support of the Palestinian Authority, which also wants to prod the permanent members of the Security Council to approve a proposed binding resolution for a full Israeli withdrawal from territories captured in 1967. The resolution would also stipulate providing the Palestinian people with protection against Israel and paving the way for official recognition of the state of Palestine.

The Palestinian foreign ministry (March 1, 2016) has again accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “continuing the campaign of fraud, deception, and incitement against the Palestinian people in an attempt to wriggle out of pursuing peace and putting an end to the occupation of the land of the state of Palestine.”1

The Palestinian foreign ministry also asserted that: “The lack of determined international activity to bring an end to the occupation and settlement, and the lack of deterrent international responses to the Israeli positions, policy, and measures, enables the Netanyahu government to complete its plans and measures of Judaizing al-Quds [Jerusalem] and Area C [West Bank territories that are under Israeli security and civilian control] and thwarting all international efforts to salvage the peace process in keeping with the two-state solution.”

In addition, the Palestinian foreign ministry called on the international community “to take responsibility and convene an international peace conference that will bring an end to the Israeli occupation and the removal of the historical injustice that has been the lot of the Palestinian people.”

The Two Palestinian States

The Palestinian Authority favors the “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet the most fundamental obstacle to achieving that solution is precisely the existence of “two (Palestinian) states.” One is led by Fatah, the PLO, the Palestinian Authority, and the president of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), and the other by the Hamas movement, which is led in Gaza by Ismail Haniyeh, the deputy of Hamas chief Khaled Mashal.

Gaza’s subordination to PA rule exists only on paper. In actuality, two separate political authorities exist, which not only operate independently but see each other as bitter enemies and aspire to conquer each other’s territory.

Because of the basic animosity between the two leading organizations in the Palestinian arena, the series of “reconciliation” agreements signed by Fatah and Hamas have come nowhere near the implementation stage; each side suspects the other of working to gain exclusive control of the representative institutions of the Palestinian people.

The Fatah-Hamas rivalry has escalated anew in recent months, with Hamas accusing the Palestinian Authority of “treason” against the Palestinian people because of its ongoing security cooperation with Israel and assistance to Israel in maintaining the blockade on Gaza.

Fatah Opposes a Hamas Seaport

Senior Fatah officials, for their part, have accused Hamas of aiming to cut off Gaza from the West Bank. Fatah spokesman Osama Kawasmeh said (March 1, 2016) that Hamas’ agreement to establish a seaport under Israel’s full supervision and opposition to transferring the Rafah crossing to PA control, constitute clear proof of Hamas’ intentions to sever Gaza from “the homeland.”2

Kawasmeh averred that “no party has the right to negotiate in the name of our Palestinian people…our Palestinian people has a main address and it is the PLO, the legitimate and sole representative of our people. We will not allow this to be breached and everyone must honor it.” 

Fahmi al-Zarir, deputy-secretary of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, declared (March 1, 2016) that “the Hamas movement is not interested in giving up the Gaza Strip and constantly strives to gain control of the West Bank.”3

In his view, “no reconciliation [with Hamas] is possible unless Hamas recognizes that it made a mistake when it carried out the takeover [of Gaza], and it must apologize for the takeover and genuinely and honestly promise that it will not repeat these actions in the foreseeable future. I do not think Hamas is prepared for that.”

The Palestinian people are like a person with two heads that uncompromisingly fight each other over the birthright. The Palestinian Authority controls the Palestinian territories in Judea and Samaria and enforces its rule there. Yet it has no effective control over Gaza, which is under the untrammeled dominion of Hamas and its military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades.

The international initiatives aimed at recognizing the “state of Palestine” in the pre-1967 territories ignore the Palestinian rift that paralyzes and nullifies a Palestinian leadership that could take binding decisions in the name of the Palestinian people, let alone decisions on a historic compromise with Israel that would make a sustainable diplomatic solution possible.

* * *

Notes

About Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi

Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is a co-founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd.
This entry was posted in Hamas, Palestinians and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.