Monday, December 26, 2016

Oh! Palestine!

44's decision not to block a UN Security Council resolution declaring Israeli settlements on the West Bank illegal can be read many ways. 
The vote is certainly a propaganda victory for the Palestinian cause, but it does nothing to help the Palestinians in practical terms. Indeed, a sober look at the situation suggests that the Palestinians have not been this weak, this divided or this helpless in many decades. Almost everywhere one looks around the world, the net effect of the policies of 44's presidency has been to undermine the movements and the values that the President hoped to support; the cause of the Palestinians and the quest for the two state solution are no exceptions to the rule.
Meanwhile, the diplomatic success of the very professional and dedicated cadre of Palestinian representatives and notables who represent Palestinian interests to the international community has created a strong base of support for Palestinian aspirations in much of the world. But the last few years have seen a catastrophic decline in the power of Palestinian allies to affect events on the ground. 
The Sunni Arabs, the most natural if always self-interested and undependable allies of the Palestinian cause, are so weak and divided that they look to Israel as a defender of the Sunni world against the Persians and the Shi’a.
The European Union has never been less able to exert influence beyond its frontiers. The incapacity of the United Nations to do anything concrete in the Middle East has never been more obvious; ask the people of Aleppo how much of a player the United Nations really is.
The end of the 44th administration would have been a setback for the Palestinians even if HRC had been the next President; with the succession of 45, the United States appears to be shifting toward a pro-Likud orientation in its Israel policy. Putin has broken from the Russian tradition of sympathy for the Palestinians; Erdogan at least for now is prioritizing his need for Israeli support over his instinctive sympathy for the Palestinians and in any case, his identification with Hamas threatens to perpetuate rather than to heal Palestinian weakness and division.
Not only have the Palestinian territories devolved into two micro-states (Gaza and the West Bank, so that instead of a two-state solution one would have to speak of a three state solution barring a Palestinian civil war), but both Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank have become increasingly corrupt, ineffective and exhausted.

Both of the major Palestinian political organizations depend on foreign paymasters to cover their expenses; neither has shown much ability to build a real state or to solve the problems of the Palestinian people.