At the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies we pride ourselves at going where others dare not tread.
One such example is the Israeli-Palestinian problem.
Collective thought stops at a two-state road block. Strategic thinking dare not go beyond this point. No alternative route to peace can be contemplated. It is, for too many, the only route allowed. All other maps are discarded with little or no examination. The only end goal is a Palestinian state and they try to convince us that this is the only ultimate aim that should be considered.
At IISS we raise the uncomfortable question that is rarely, if ever, heard. What Palestine are they creating?
Basically, they don’t care to think about the inevitable and horrible entity they tirelessly try to concoct.
Allow me to predict the reality of a Palestine that will emerge from their efforts. And my prediction is firmly based on facts on the ground that any thinking diplomat should be able to see for themselves.
Firstly, when they talk about the negotiating arm of Palestine they only refer to the Authority led by the undemocratic, corrupt and elderly leadership of Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas claims he represents the Palestinian people.
In their parliamentary elections of 1996, parties not affiliated with the Palestine Liberation Organisation were banned from registering their candidates and Hamas refused to participate. When the inevitable results were announced Hamas usurped power in the Gaza Strip in a bloody civil war which left Arabs dead on both sides of the political divide.
What is swept under the carpet is the fact that in the 2006 parliamentary elections Hamas won an overwhelming victory taking 74 of the 132 seats. The Palestinian Authority have been fearful of holding parliamentary elections ever since.
Hamas continues to enhance its grip on power in the Gaza Strip by eliminating much of the opposition by fair means or foul. Its repressive fist leave Gazans hostage to the whims of an ideological-based terror regime that devotes its full attention and most of its finances to developing an increasingly sophisticated terrorist infrastructure. Despite an internationally legitimate blockage on Gaza both by Israel and by Egypt, Hamas has stockpiled thousands of missiles aimed at Israel.
The anti-Semitic Hamas founding charter openly calls for the murder of Jews. And they have made steady headway in the territories controlled by its Fatah-led rival, the Palestinian Authority
If not for the tireless efforts of Israel’s counter-terror intelligence and security forces Hamas would be the power of influence in key West Bank cities governed by the Palestinian Authority including Bethlehem, Hebron, Tulkarm and even in east Jerusalem.
In April 2015, Hamas students scored a convincing victory in the student council election winning 26 seats as opposed to Fatah’s 19. For those unfamiliar with the geography Bir Zeit is located just ten kilometres north of Ramallah, the central headquarters of Fatah and the seat of the Palestinian Authority administration. Bir Zeit has been considered as the most liberal of all Palestinian universities and is, therefore, a good indicator of the mood of the Palestinian street in the West Bank.
How about the future political face of Palestine? In Gaza, Hamas just elected their replacement to Ismael Haniyeh. If you thought that the old face of Hamas was bad, the new face is even worse. Haniyeh was a disciple of the Muslim Brotherhood. His replacement, Yahya Sinwar, is an arch-terrorist linked to the extremist Islamic Salafist movement.
Sinwar was released from a twenty-year prison sentence on gross terrorism charges as part of a prisoner exchange for the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier kidnapped from Israel and dragged into Gaza by a Hamas terror cell and kept in captivity for five years. Sinwar is not only responsible for the deaths of many Israelis. He is also reported to have murdered Palestinians with his own hands on alleged charges of “spying” or “collaboration” though it is more likely that they opposed his ruthless Hamas oppression.
The Hamas monster is such a distasteful reality that they need to airbrush it out of their incessant campaign. Better, they think, to ignore it. Raising the likely outcome of Hamas usurping power by the ballot or by the bullet in the West Bank in a new Palestine is too awful a thought. Better to leave it to the Israelis to deal with after the Jewish state has been forced to withdraw to impossibly vulnerable lines.
As for the Palestinian Authority, a Post-Abbas future looks equally grim.
I am involved in a campaign to have Jibril Rajoub removed from his position as the Palestinian delegate at FIFA, the governing body of soccer. We have irrefutable evidence of Rajoub using football, and other sports, to propagate and glorify Palestinian terrorism including naming sports events after Palestinian terrorists who have murdered Israeli civilians, including women and children.
Yet, shockingly, this man is one of the leading candidates to replace Mahmoud Abbas.
The other leading candidate is Marwan Barghouti currently serving five consecutive life sentences in an Israeli jail for his murderous terror outrages against Israeli civilians. In a 2015 Palestinian poll he was the only Fatah candidate pegged to defeat Hamas in any Palestinian election.
One would have thought the record of these candidates would disqualify them from serving as president of any country but, in a society brainwashed and indoctrinated in hatred and violence and the inadmissibility of a Jewish state, this is the result.
The inevitability of yet another civil war seems certain. These rival forces are divided by a deep political chasm. They may be united in their hatred of the Jewish state which in both their lexicons must be obliterated, by stages if necessary, but when push comes to shove they hate and distrust each other as they vie for overall power.
This is the Palestine a naïve and cynical world is determined to impose on Israel.
The two-state solution demands an Israeli withdrawal from territories and a vague Palestinian promise to desist from violence.
The inadvisability of establishing such a regime is not predicated on issues of settlements or borders. It is entirely based on the inevitable spectre of a violent politically nonviable Palestine with a long term agenda to continue its struggle to destroy whatever remains of Israel.
Therefore it is essential for the Israeli government and all self-respecting academic and strategic think tanks to ask the diplomatic community and the impactful global institutions what they are doing to reform the Palestinian leadership into united and peace-loving pragmatists.
So far we have seen little progress in any such reformation. Nor are we likely to see any positive change going forward.
If no assurance can be given then Israel cannot be expected to make dangerous concessions based on nothing more than the empty echo of peace.
Barry Shaw is the Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. He is the author of the new book ‘1917. From Palestine to the Land of Israel.’