Let’s be honest: “resistance” to Israel by the Palestinians is idiotic.
By resistance, of course, I mean armed resistance, armed intifadas, shooting aimless missiles into Israeli territory, and outlier actions like the bus bombing that recently occurred in Tel Aviv. A general strike, other nonviolent actions and other sorts of peaceful resistance are fine, and in fact vital.
I get it, that for Palestinians living in near-hopeless conditions, oppressed by an unending Israeli occupation led by a regime in Israel that seems intent on expanding settlements and grabbing all the land it can hold onto, violence might seem like the answer.
But the answer is a two-state solution, negotiated between Israel and Palestine, under the auspices of the United Nations—and, naturally, with the United States using all of its muscle and influence to get Israel to go along.
That’s why the vote today at the United Nations on Palestinian “statehood” is important.
Is it impossible that a major reason behind Israel’s assault on Gaza this month was because Israel wanted to distract from and undermine President Abbas’s diplomacy at the UN? I don’t think so. By bludgeoning Gaza so brutally, Israel strengthened Hamas and eclipsed Abbas’ Palestinian Authority. For decades, Israel’s far right has thrived on emasculating and undermining moderate Palestinians and building up radical groups, including Hamas, thus creating the self-fulfilling prophecy that there is no “partner” to negotiate with. Hardline Israelis, led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, are like tuning forks that resonate with Hamas’s extremist views.
The real threat to Israel is not Hamas’s missiles, but growing world pressure on Israel to strike a deal along the lines of the Oslo Accords.
That’s why, when it became clear that Abbas and the PA were going to the UN, Israel threatened to retaliate by canceling Oslo, dissolving the PA and getting rid of Abbas. Now that most of Europe has agreed to support the PA initiative at the UN today, Israel is backing off its radical threats. Still, it’s clear that Israel fears the PA move, in particular the idea that Abbas might use his newfound UN status to call for an investigation of Israel’s criminal policies in the occupied territories, especially the West Bank, by the International Criminal Court.
Israel is well aware that its cruel policies toward the Palestinians push them toward Hamas and toward “resistance.” But violence is not only futile. It’s counterproductive.
Bolstered by its macho status following the Israeli assault on Gaza, Hamas is talking tough. But there are hopeful signs that Hamas might be willing—under pressure from Egypt—to rejoin the PLO and the PA. By so doing, for all its macho talk about “resistance,” Hamas will take a step toward recognizing the legitimacy of the Israeli state and entering into two-state talks.
While the UN votes on Palestinian statehood in New York, families in Gaza are still suffering from the trauma of recent bombings. Check out Sharif Abdel Kouddous’s dispatch from Gaza after the ceasefire.