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The Prospects of a Palestinian State and National Interests of the United States By: Yoram Ettinger
Jerusalem Summit | Thursday, February 12, 2004


                        Presented to the Jerusalem Summit (October 2003)

The Strategic Goal

The post-9/11 world has highlighted the fact that the primary feature of anti-US Islamic terrorism is State Sponsorship (in the Middle East and beyond), rather than merely a law enforcement challenge (in the US). The strategic goal of the US and Israel is to defeat terrorism and stabilize the Middle East, which is inconsistent with the establishment of a new terror-supporting regime on the shores of the Mediterranean.

I.    The Root Cause of Anti-US and Mideast Terrorism

The establishment of a Palestinian state will not bring down Middle East terrorism in general and anti-US terrorism in particular. The Palestinian issue has not been the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Regardless of the Palestinian issue, of Israel’s policy and Israel’s existence, the following factors should be considered concerning anti-US Islamic terrorism:

  • Throughout history, inter-Muslim and inter-Arab politics have been a combination of terrorism, political violence, violation of agreements, dictatorships and suppression of human rights. Those who resort to terrorism against domestic rivals are expected to employ terrorism against foreign ones.

  • Iran, Iraq and Syria consider the US as the chief obstacle on the way of realizing their megalomaniac ambitions: control of the Persian Gulf, takeover of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait oil fields, occupation of territories in Turkey and Jordan, acquiring nuclear, chemical and biological capabilities, etc.

  • The US represents the bastion of ideas that threaten the dictatorships of the Middle East: Free Market, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Expression, etc.

  • Anti-US Muslim forces have targeted Israel as a Jewish State, as well as “the Little Satan” that serves as the outpost of “the Big Satan”, advancing US interests and values in the Middle East, deterring radical regimes in the Middle East. In fact, an Israel-like outpost in the Persian Gulf would eliminate the need to deploy hundreds of thousands of American troops and spend billions of dollars in order to protect US interests. 

  • Islamic terrorism has targeted the US regardless of Israeli concessions and independent of US pressure on Israel (1993 Twin Towers, 1995/6 Saudi Arabia, 1998 Kenya and Tanzania, 2000 Aden).

  • Islamic terrorism has targeted the US in spite of the fact that six times in the last decade the US went in harm’s way in defense of Muslims in Kuwait, Northern Iraq (Kurds), Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

II.   The Palestinian Issue is Not the Root Cause of the Arab-Israeli Conflict and Middle East Violence

  • The 1948 war was launched by the Palestinians, and then joined by Arab countries due to Arab ambitions and at the expense of Palestinian interests. The 1956, 1967 and 1973 wars were launched irrespective of the Palestinian issue. The 1982 Israel war on PLO terrorism in Lebanon, the 1987-92 intifada and the current 1993-2004 war between Israel and Palestinian terrorism have not evolved into Arab-Israeli wars, because Arabs do not shed blood – or expend significant financial resources – for Palestinians; Arabs shower Palestinians with rhetoric.

  • Since the seventh century, the Middle East has been torn by inter-Arab and inter-Muslim conflicts, unrelated to Israel’s existence, to Israel’s policies, or to the Arab-Israeli and Palestinian-Israeli conflicts. The Sunni v. Shi’a, religious v. secular, rich v. poor, Iraq v. Iran, Syria v. Iraq and the Saudi v.Yemen conflicts, as well as internal strife in Iran, Egypt, Jordan and other Arab countries, have produced much more violence, instability and damage to US interests, than the Arab-Israeli and Palestinian-Israeli conflicts.

III. The PLO/PA Are Not a Top Arab Priority

  • Arab leaders have not marshaled their resources on behalf of the PA during the current war between Israel and PA/Hamas terrorism. The Arab league pledged some $2 billion in assistance, but forwarded about $200 million. The Saudis do not transfer assistance through the PA, but rather through Hamas and private organizations.

  • Arab leaders did not come to the rescue of the PLO during the 1982 Israeli assault on PLO terror bases in Lebanon. Saudi financial assistance to the PLO (until the 1990 PLO collaboration with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait) was $100 million annually, while their assistance to the anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan was a $1 billion annually.

  • Rhetorically, Arab leaders have always identified with PLO/PA’s claims to sovereignty. However, in practice, Arab leaders have been aware of the treacherous nature of the PLO/PA, and therefore have preferred to keep the PLO/PA under control, thus refraining from active support of PLO/PA aspirations for independence.

IV. The Palestinian Authority (PA) Intensifies Terror

  • The Palestinian Authority was established in 1993 by Palestinian terrorists headquartered until then in Tunisia and terrorist camps in Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Sudan. The establishment of the Palestinian Authority was perceived by terrorists as a reward to a systematic campaign of terrorism and intimidation against Israel, the role-model of counter-terrorism. Thus the Palestinian Authority has bolstered the forces of regional and global terrorism.

  • 254 Israelis were murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the 15 years PRIOR to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. 1,400 Israelis were murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the 10 years SINCE the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.   Proportionally, the number of Israelis murdered since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, would be equal to 70,000 Americans (23 World Trade Centers).

  • The Palestinian Authority has become the largest and most (diplomatically) protected anti-US terrorist base.

  • The Palestinian Authority was established in 1993 by the Oslo Accord and supported by the Wye Accord and the Road Map.   The most intense wave of anti-US terrorism has been conducted since 1993, culminating on 9/11.

  • Never has a political process (from Oslo Process to the Road Map) produced as much terrorism, bringing the participants closer to war and further from peace, as has the process that centered on the establishment of the Palestinian Authority and aimed at the establishment of a Palestinian state.

  • Recent history (since 1968) suggests that the broader the authority of the PLO/PA, the more intense is terrorism. International terrorism intensified during the 1968-70 PLO autonomy/independence in Jordan, and plummeted upon PLO’s expulsion from Jordan. Terrorism subsided in 1991/2 when the PLO was increasingly constrained in Tunisia, but was enormously exacerbated upon the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1993. The upgrading of the Palestinian Authority to the status of a State would drastically escalate terrorism.

V.   The PA Undermines US Interests and Values

  • Since the demise of the USSR, the US has faced the following threats stemming from Middle East: Islamic terrorism, ballistic missiles and non-conventional military systems, Iran, Iraq (until the destruction of Saddam’s regime) and other rogue regimes such as Syria.

  • The Palestinian Authority – and its source of power, the PLO – have been traditional strategic allies of Osama Bin-Laden, Saddam, Khomeini and his successors and other rogue regimes in the Middle East and beyond. The ideological mentors of the PA were the allies of the Nazis (Haj Amin Al Husseini) and the Communist regimes of the USSR and East Europe. Arafat himself was trained by the KGB. 

  • PA leadership openly rejoiced at the WTC bombing. Conversely, the capture of Saddam Hussein was met with gloom and anti-US demonstrations   A central square in Jenin was named after Ali Jafar Al Na’amani, the Iraqi homicide-bomber who murdered four US Marines in Najaf on March 29, 2003. A typical anti-US sermon was given on January   2, 2004, by PA clerics, at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, condemning “the modern-day Tatars, the Big Satan, which has destroyed Baghdad.”   The sermon was broadcast live by PA TV and radio, and urged Moslems to launch a Holy War against the US. 

  • Three US attaches were murdered by PA-sponsored terrorists on October 15, 2003 upon entering the Gaza Strip in a diplomatic convoy. More US citizens, visiting or residing in Israel were murdered by Palestinian terrorists, including Leon Klinghoffer (SS Achille Lauro), and the US ambassador to Sudan and his deputy, murdered by Arafat’s terrorists in 1972. Unlike the Taliban, the PA has never faced an ultimatum of handing over the terrorists or be destroyed. 

  • Rather than combating terrorism, the PA has harbored and ran the largest terrorist base in the world. Every territory conceded by Israel has become a safe haven for terrorists. The PA has become a breeding ground and a test site for “modern-day terrorism”, such as suicide bombing and car bombing, which has been exported to other arenas in the Middle East and beyond. Modern-day hijacking was introduced by the PLO in the late 1960s, and then was employed by other terror organizations. 

  • Official PA education, media and clergy systems have promoted anti-US hate education, heralding Bin-Laden and Saddam and encouraging anti-US terrorism. 

  • The PA has become a role-model of suppression of (Palestinian) human rights. 

  • The PA regime has caused an unprecedented flight of the Arab Christian community in Bethlehem, Beit Jallah and Ramallah.

VI. The Track Record of the PLO/PA

  • The PLO has been the role model of inter-Arab terrorism, treachery and murderous violation of agreements. 

  • In the late 1950s, Arafat, Abu Mazen, Abu Ala` and other leaders of Fatah fled Egypt due to subversive activities. 

  • In 1966, they fled Syria – which provided Fatah with logistic infrastructure – after executing a number of Syrian intelligence officers. 

  • In 1970, the PLO attempted to topple the Hashemite regime, which provided them with a safe haven beginning since 1968. 

  • In 1975, the PLO tried to topple Lebanon’s government, and in the process initiated a many-year civil war. 

  • In 1990 (when the Bush/Baker team was pressuring Israel), the PLO participated in Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, which had accorded the PLO and Fatah diplomatic, financial and terrorist safe haven since the late 1950s. 

  • As a result of PLO’s track record, no Arab regime allows PLO personnel to bear arms on its soil, for fear of subversion. 

  • The PA/PLO track record since 1993 has been consistent with PLO’s inter-Arab track record, and true to the axiom: Leopards don’t change spots; they change tactics.

VII.     A Threat of PA to American Security

Based on the aforementioned PLO/PA track record, one can expect that the proposed Palestinian state will aggravate the damage caused by the PA to US interests and values:

  • A Palestinian state will intensify international terrorism. 

  • A Palestinian state will destroy the Hashemite regime – a US ally – thus expanding the territory and bolstering the radical clout of the Palestinian state. 

  • A Palestinian state will provide Iran with an ally. 

  • A Palestinian state will provide the pro-Saddam (or other radical) elements in Iraq with another ally in the unpredictable and volatile Mideast. 

  • A Palestinian state will export terrorism into the Persian Gulf, threatening the survival of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, etc. 

  • A Palestinian state will become an outpost for anti-US regimes in the Middle East and beyond.  

  • A Palestinian state will transform Israel from a power-projecting strategic asset of the US into an assistance-requiring strategic liability. Without the mountain ridges of Judea & Samaria, Israel will lose its power of deterrence, which has kept radical regimes at bay and served to bolster the security of pro-US weak Arab regimes (e.g. Jordan). 

  • With a 9- to 15-mile-wide 1949 border – without the mountain ridges of Judea & Samaria – Israel will lose a vital military surveillance platform, which has provided the US with important intelligence. 

  • Israel’s posture of deterrence has spared the US the need to deploy a large military force in the eastern part of the Mediterranean. It will require the US to stretch its forces beyond current capabilities, while these forces are needed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma, etc.

VIII.  Stopping Palestinian Terrorism

PA/PLO terrorism was triggered in 1994 by sweeping Israeli concessions, and by the the PLO status being raised from an increasingly irrelevant organization in Tunisia to an autonomous entity in Gaza, Judea & Samaria.

In the 10 years since its establishment, the Palestinian Authority has signed – and promptly violated – scores of agreements.

They have demonstrated that there is no political solution with the PA. The only effective solution to terrorism is military, as has been demonstrated by the US (vs. Iraq and Afghanistan), Turkey (PKK), Germany (Baader Meinhoff), Italy (Red Brigades), France (Action Direct), Egypt (Muslim Brotherhood), etc.

Israel should follow the US leadership in the global war on terrorism, adopting US tactics in its wars against the Taliban and Saddam regimes:

  • The prime responsibility of a leader is the security of his own people, rather than the prestige in the eyes of the UN, West Europe or other parts of the globe. A nation does not subcontract defense against terrorists to a third party (let alone to a terrorist authority), does not complain about terrorism, but rather launches an offensive against terrorism. Would the US consider entrusting anti-terrorist activities to Saddam or to the Taliban?! 

  • Moral clarity suggests that terrorists are not partners to negotiation, but rather enemies to be crashed.   Members of the Saddam regime were not “president”, “prime minister”, “national security advisor” or “legislator.”   They were “terrorists”, “liars”, “cancerous elements”. 

  • There can be no negotiation with a regime that has systematically and violently violated every agreement. 

  • Instead of a compromise or a ceasefire, the aim should be the destruction of the infrastructure that feeds the fire of terrorism. 

  • Instead of defensive, deterrent, retaliatory or containment tactics, we should employ offensive, pre-emption and prevention on the enemy’s own ground. 

  • Instead of low-intensity war, we should conduct a swift and comprehensive military campaign. 

  • The political, ideological and financial echelons that constitute the key terrorist elements are to be eliminated, just like the initial bombing in the 2003 war on Iraq targeted the political leaders of Saddam’s regime. 

  • General MacArthur barred all Japanese connected to the Hirohito regime from participation in Japan’s political, educational and business systems, locally and nationally.

Paul Bremer is following in McArthur’s footsteps, excluding Ba`ath Party members from participation in the rebuilding of New Iraq.

Israel should adopt the same attitude toward the Palestinian rogue terrorist regime, the Palestinian Authority. The problem has never been a personal one (Arafat); it has always been organizational and systemic (the PA).

IX. The Three-Stage Solution (Jerusalem Platform)

  • The nature of the Middle East, the most violent region in the world (no inter-Arab comprehensive peace during the last 13 centuries!), the nature of regional topography and geography (Israel’s vulnerable narrow waistline and the threatening topography of Judea & Samaria mountain ridges), the track record of the last 100 years (the sustained campaign of war and terror aimed at eradicating the Jewish State), and the resulting security requirements, determine that Israel’s control of the area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean (40 miles) is essential to Israel’s survival. 

  • Israel is facing a unique enemy (the PA) that idolizes suicide bombing through its formal education, media and clergy systems. The PA has had anti-Jewish, anti-Israel and anti-US hate education (K-12) in place since 1994. It has corrupted the minds of Palestinians, especially the youth for the next one or even two generations. 

  • The true and lasting peace has to be built on these facts, not on the false paradigm of “Land for Peace” in which the only democracy of the region, Israel, is forced to provide to its totalitarian enemies – scores of times its size – the only thing that it lacks: territory. In exchange, these dictatorial regimes promise to provide the one and   only thing that they lack: peace.

 Stage 1: Removing the Terror Regime of the PA

  • Co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians requires the dismantling of the morally illegitimate PA. The effective dismantling of the PA requires the destruction – via war on terrorism – of the infrastructure established by the 60,000 terrorists, imported since Oslo from Tunisia, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Sudan, Syria and Jordan. 

  • The removal of PA’s despotic regime would enable moderate Palestinians to assert themselves. The dismantling of the PA is a precondition for the democratization and pacification of the Palestinian society, following ten years of damage caused by the PA, and in defiance of the non-democratic and non-pacified Arab Middle East (with scores of inter-Arab conflicts and not a single democratic regime). 

  • The democratization and the pacification of the Middle East can be secured primarily by deterrence. The bolstering of Israel’s posture of deterrence – which requires Israel’s military control of the 40-mile-stretch between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River - is a prerequisite for stability, for the defeat of Palestinian terrorism, and for the prevention of the establishment of a Palestinian terrorist state.

Stage 2: Transition to Democracy and Co-Existence

  • Palestinian human rights and democracy are preconditioned upon the removal of the terrorist, tyrannical and corrupt PA regime, whose primary victims have been ordinary Palestinians.  

  • The Palestinians seek security and comfort just like any other people. However, with PA regime imposed on them, lawlessness and violence have become a way of life on territories under PA rule.  

  • Presently these territories enter the state of chaos and civil war among clans, gangs and terror groups who control different areas of West Bank and Gaza.  

  • Democratization and pacification are not attained via rhetoric and declaration of intent.   The transformation of a rogue society into a democratic and peace-loving society is reflected through an intense overhaul of the education, legal, political, media, civil service, business and clergy systems. The transformation process must feature a drastic change of personnel, excluding the members of the rogue regime at all levels.   The transformation must be proven over a long period of time, overcoming ideological, political and physical challenges from within and from without. The transformed political institutions, education system, the courts, the civil service and financial system and other institutions must demonstrate their departure from the jihadist norms of the PA and their adaptation of democratic norms. 

  • Following the removal of the PA, day-to-day activities of Palestinian Arabs will be managed by regional autonomous councils. The regional councils will be assisted by Israel, as well as by outside entities, such as the US, Jordan and other member countries and organizations of the International Coordination Body (ICB). 

  • Local Palestinians, with the assistance of Israel and members of the ICB, will elect representatives to the regional councils. No candidate shall be elected who was directly or indirectly involved in PA’s activities, which directed, financed, incited, organized or carried out acts of terrorism. 

  • Israel shall invite representatives of the ICB to observe – and facilitate – free democratic elections to the regional councils; preservation, upgrading and democratization of civil institutions; restoration and preservation of Palestinian human rights: women’s rights, children’s rights; eradication of torture and corruption.

Stage 3: Comprehensive Regional Settlement

  • Once the long-term democratization and pacification stage is attained, then the road is clear to a political solution between Israel and the Palestinian Arab residents of Judea & Samaria and Gaza. 

  • Each party will have the right to introduce its own proposed solution. The Palestinians would be able to propose an independent state, while Israel would be able to propose annexation, regional and an administrative autonomy for the Palestinians, or any other solution. 

  • Proposed solutions should consider the lessons of the past 10 years, the unpredictable and violent nature of the Middle East, the threatening topography of the mountain ridges of Judea & Samaria and the vulnerability of Israel’s narrow waistline (which is comparable to the length of the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport). 

  • All plans partitioning the area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River (from the 1937 Peal Commission, through Oslo, the 2000 Camp David and the Road Map), have radicalized Arab and Palestinian anti-Israel policies, destabilizing the region, producing unprecedented terrorism and bloodshed, undermining US interests and distancing Jews and Arabs from peace. 

  • The State of Israel   from Mediterranean to Jordan River (only 22,700 sq.km., smaller than New Jersey) is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with scarce natural resources. This tiny area therefore cannot physically accommodate two independent states, Jewish and Arab.  

  • Additional attempts to partition this area would amount to another costly victory of wishful thinking over experience. As the old saw says, “Fool me once – shame on you; fool me twice – shame on me!”  

  • The area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River accounts for less than 1% of the land possessed by Arab countries. 

  • This are is a mere 23% of British Mandate Palestine, designated by the League of Nations to become the Jewish National Home. Israel accepted the Partition and sacrificed 77% of historic Palestine to Jordan, in order to live peacefully in the Cradle of Jewish History: in Judea and Samaria.

  • The largest Palestinian community resides in Jordan, constituting over 70% of the population, commerce and banking and at least 50% of Jordan’s government and military, thus making it a true Palestinian state.

Is there a need for an additional state for the Palestinians? One People is entitled to only One State. What the international community is pushing for now is a “two-states-for-one-people solution”.

  • Palestinian people have the natural right to strive for the unification of their nation and for being citizens of one state. However, with Palestinian people divided (1/3 in the Judea, Samaria and Gaza, 2/3 in Jordan, Israel and elsewhere), and the Oslo agreements encompassing only 1/3 of Palestinian people, they will strive for unification even after (or even more so) the creation of a Palestinian state west of Jordan (family and tribal ties of Palestinians extend across the Jordan River), thus destabilizing Jordan, Lebanon and the entire region.  

  • The Jordan River is the only natural border between the Jewish State of Israel and the Palestinian Arab State. Only this natural rift could assure a viable fence between the neighbors. 

  • While the Palestinian residents of Judea & Samaria and Gaza will administer their own local affairs (legal, financial, municipal, law-enforcement, issuing ID cards, etc.) Israel shall retain all security and external relations authority, lest it repeat the grave terror-producing errors of Oslo. 

  • Palestinian residents of Judea & Samaria, most of whom hold (or used to hold until 1988) Jordanian citizenship, will be allowed to participate in the Jordanian electoral process, in addition to their own regional elections. They will be citizens of Jordan and residents of the regional administrative autonomy. A Marshall Plan for developing and strengthening Jordanian economy and democracy should be implemented. 

  • Democratization and pacification would enable Israel to remove road blocks, to end closure, to open the labor market (for Palestinians) and to expand, significantly, the transportation, communications and utilities infrastructure in Judea & Samaria and Gaza for the benefit of Palestinians and Jews residing there.

X.  The Palestinian/Jewish Refugees Resettlement Regional Cooperation Project

The Refugees Resettlement Project will be launched by members of the International Cooperation Board, with the active involvement by Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.

The project will follow in the footsteps of similar projects, which have resettled almost all 100 million refugees, throughout the globe, since 1945.    It will commit itself to a factual account of Jewish and Palestinian Arab refugees, of the origin and the number of Palestinian refugees and of the circumstances, which produced their misery.

The project will involve a multi-billion dollar investment in Jordan, Egypt (especially in Sinai, which is contiguous to Gaza), Syria and Lebanon, in order to resettle the refugees.

Appendix

Nearly 70% of Americans Say “NO” to a Palestinian Arab State. The Zionist Organization of America conducted a poll, querying 1,000 Americans throughout the United States. The poll carried out by the firm of McLaughlin & Associates in mid-January of 2004 found that:

By 67% to 19%, Americans Oppose Giving the Palestinian Arabs a State: 67.4% of Americans say that the Palestinian Arabs have not met President Bush’s conditions for statehood, such as fighting terrorism, halting incitement to murder, and respecting human rights. Only 19.3% say they have met those conditions.

By 66% to 17%, Americans Oppose Expelling Jews from the Territories: 66.6% of Americans disagree with the Arab position that all Jewish residents of the Judea-Samaria-Gaza territories should be expelled; only 17% agree with that demand.

By 65% to 18%, Americans Say Palestinian Authority Can't Be Trusted: 65.2% of Americans say the Palestinian Authority "cannot be trusted to fulfill peace agreements that it signs with Israel"; only 18.6% say it can be trusted to fulfill them.

By 55% to 21%, Americans Say Palestinian Arabs Seek Destruction of Israel: 55.7% of Americans say that the Palestinian Arabs' goal is "the eventual destruction of Israel"; only 21.3% say their goal is "to have a small state living in peace alongside Israel."

By 73% to 15%, Americans Oppose US Aid to The Palestinian Arabs: 73.6% say the US should stop sending $200-million each year to the Palestinian Arabs; only 15% say the aid should continue.


Ambassador Yoram Ettinger served as Minister for Congressional Affairs at Israel’s Embassy in Washington and Director of Israel’s Government Press Office, in addition to other posts. He speaks frequently on U.S. college campuses about the conflict in the Middle East.


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