A guest post by AKUS
That old axiom of Abba Eban’s – “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” – may once again be the best description of the latest misfortune to befall the Palestinians. Obsessed with the new idea of demanding recognition of a Palestinian state they missed the chance to reach a negotiated settlement with Israel in 2008 with Olmert and 2010 under US pressure with Netanyahu and have been swept aside by a tidal wave of events in January.
While far away in Latin America countries are rushing to recognize a non-existent Palestinian state on the non-existent 1967 “borders” (the 1949 armistice lines), closer to home all attention has shifted to greater issues. Had the Palestinians seized their opportunity to engage in negotiations with Israel as Obama requested during the 9 month building freeze, and better yet, signed an agreement, they would be looking at a real state rather than one that exists only in the blogosphere. Better yet, had they accepted Olmert’s map and offers, they would be two years down the road to developing whatever that little patch of land on the West Bank would look like as the Palestinian state (Gaza, of course, would still be under Hamas control and no-one knows what its future will be). Now they can only sit on the sidelines and watch greater events capture the world’s attention.
In January, the roof caved in on the Palestinian Authority – a second “nakba” again of their own making, once again, as internal quarrels opened the lid on an ugly reality so reminiscent of the Arab politics of 1948. The Pallypapers destroyed what little credibility the leadership had. The Arabs and the rest of the world saw the leadership saying one thing in public in English, another in Arabic to their people, and a third to Israel and the US in negotiations – the last being, by and large, acceptance of many of the positions that Israel and the US had presented for years of not decades since there really are no logical alternatives if one wishes to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank.
Even worse from the Palestinian perspective, the EU countries’ obsession with “Palestine” was marginalized as the revolt in Tunisia occurred, followed by the huge demonstrations in Egypt which may yet bring the Mubarak regime to an end. Suddenly, it was clear that the Palestinian issue is not the most important issue in the Middle East, nor would settling it lead to a new reality in the Middle East. Far from it – the issues in the Arab world are internal sociopolitical issues that play on the Palestinian issue as a distraction from real and serious problems the dinosaurs leading their father–son dynasties face.
Less noted are similar events in Yemen, and, most importantly for the West Bank Arabs, Jordan. The global stock markets took a serious hit on Friday 28th as traders wondered what the effect on oil supplies from the Middle East would be – a matter of far greater concern than the Palestinian issue. The fact that Egypt controls the Suez Canal, through which a huge proportion of Europe’s oil supplies and commerce with the Far East pass, with Yemen in turmoil at the entrance to the Red Sea leading to Suez, only adds to the anxiety. Will Europe consider a repeat of the 1956 effort, perhaps this time with American support, to take over the Suez Canal by force?
News from Jordan has not been prominently displayed – perhaps because there is not enough blood in the streets yet to satisfy the ghouls running the international news organizations – but clips showing the demonstrations for food and jobs indicate that all is far from well in the Kingdom. What is particularly interesting is that the demonstrators were waving large green flags – the flag of Hamas. Approximately seventy percent of Jordan’s population is generally described as “Palestinian” and King Abdullah holds on to power by virtue of an iron Bedouin fist in a velvet glove. The glove came off during “Black September” in 1970.
Should the demonstrations gather force and Abdullah react as his father did to preserve himself, the issues of the West Bank Palestinians will once again be made trivial by comparison. If, on the other hand, the Jordanian Hamas supporters manage to topple Abdullah, where then will the PA go, trapped between Hamas in Gaza and Hamas in Jordan? Will Jordan then become a Hamas-controlled Palestinian state, and, if so, what will the future of the West Bank be? Israel will not agree to a second Gaza right next to the Green Line. Better the current situation than kassams flying into Tel Aviv, Netanya, and Jerusalem.