Best Case Scenario
Over on Quora I answer questions. One question I chose to answer tonight was
What is the reason for Israel to allow the Palestinian Authority to govern Gaza?
My normal response would be: None. I can give you lots of reasons it would be a terrible idea. But are there circumstances under which it could work? So I wrote the following:
Best case scenario, and I’m not stupid enough to think this is likely, but if it were going to work, this is how it would work:
If Hamas is truly defanged, the only candidate to govern both the West Bank and Gaza any time soon would be the PA/Fatah. They, of course, want all of Israel, though they’re not as vitriolic as Hamas is about it.
Let’s look at who wants a two-state solution: the American government, most of the West, and, probably most importantly, the Sunni Arab states. They originally backed the Palestinians, even the formation of the Palestinians as a discrete people, because they wanted to get rid of Israel. However, two things changed: they finally figured out that Israel is not a territorial threat and George W. Bush’s elimination of Saddam Hussein turned Iran into a regional power. Iran wants much more influence in the Arab world and, like their proxies at Hamas, whom many of the Sunni Arab governments hate (especially Egypt), they’d like to replace the Sunni Arab governments with caliphates. Israel and the Sunni governments have a common enemy in Iran, Israel is an extremely valuable ally, and Israel has turned into a great place in which to invest and from whom to get technology. However, the Palestinian monster that these governments originally created has now turned into a pain in the ass to them, very demanding and wanting to get rid of a nation that these governments now value. Some have signed the Abraham Accords. But because of their own propaganda to their people over the years, the Israelis are often hated by their general populations, so they have to be careful.
But what happens if the Palestinians get a state?
The Arab debt to the Palestinians is paid, at least as far as the Arabs are concerned, and in this case that’s what matters. Now the Arab governments can say to their own populations: “We got Israel to give the Palestinians a state. Israel finally behaved reasonably.” Nearly their entire populations have never known a world without Israel, so Israel’s existence is not the offensive anomaly it was in 1948.
The Arab Sunni governments may even kick in money to help rebuild Gaza, but there will be a quid pro quo, and that quid pro quo will be that it’s over. “We got you your damned state, we insisted on it, we looked out for you, and now we don’t want to hear a word about our normalizing relations with Israel. And we sure as Hell won’t accept being targets of terrorism for doing so. Israel is useful to us.” Keep in mind that the Saudis have already been openly critical of Palestinian intransigence – as in in the international press – when it comes to statehood over the last several years. Also keep in mind that a Saudi prince recently announced that if Israel gives the Palestinians a state, Saudi Arabia will normalize relations with Israel.
Most people aren’t aware of what Israelis went through during the early days of the Trump Presidency. Obama had made a complete mess of the Middle East, in part by threatening Syria if they used chemical weapons and then failing to do anything when they used chemical weapons, and I say that as a Democrat who voted for him twice. When Trump was elected, both sides of the Arab/Israeli conflict were optimistic. Arabs were approaching Israelis at international scientific conferences, saying “we look forward to finally normalizing relations with you now that Trump is President.” This shocked the Hell out of the Israelis, and the Iranians have become much more openly dangerous to the Sunni Arab governments since. But Trump didn’t pull it off. If Hamas is effectively finished, Biden might be able to pull it off with a whole lot of international help, particularly from the Saudis.
Now, this is an extremely optimistic scenario. It leaves out the severe danger to Israel of having an independent state full of people who want to take over Israel on their border. Of course, an allegedly oppressed occupied population is a far cry from an independent nation next door. Being attacked by an occupied people is very, very different from being attacked by a neighboring sovereign nation, particularly a nation that a lot of the world would view as ingrates. We’ve reached the point where people in power in the Arab world actively want better relations with Israel, and that’s a sea change. The most influential player in that community is Saudi Arabia, and they are who want improved relations with Israel.
This doesn’t mean that I believe the Israelis would embrace something so risky, nor does it mean that I believe that the Palestinians will stop their “from the river to the sea” bullshit. As I said: best case scenario. But at least there is one, and it’s not 100% implausible.