Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has been under intense pressure to agree to the resumption of direct talks with Israel. He is not alone. My janitor has finally succumbed to my pressure and agreed to negotiate peace between Israel and the Palestinians. "Funny," you might say, breaking a tentative grin, "but your janitor does not count; he is not in charge of anything Palestinian."
"I know," I would admit, smiling back conspiratorially. "But so is ."
Let's be real. Mr. Abbas pretends to be in charge of Gaza. He is not. Gaza is a separate pseudo state, province or territory under the control of Hamas; it has a government, an army, all run by an Islamic fanatic, mafia-style leadership. It even has a nickname—Hamastan. Abbas would not dare resting his foot on that sacred Palestinian ground. He knows he won't last there for more than a jiffy. What's more, it's no longer a secret that Abbas is not in charge of the entire West Bank either. The only little parcel (within his ) he feels safe is confined to a few blocks in Ramallah, and even control of that slice may be put in jeopardy once he recognizes Israel as a Jewish state. It makes no sense to deliberate a two-state solution when reality calls for a five or a six-city-state product.
We can ignore the fact that Abbas is not in charge; we can pretend that he represents more than just a small minority of old guards who stand to benefit financially from being perceived as moderate, non-violent peace seekers. We can ignore the fact that his predecessor, Arafat, turned down the most generous offer an would ever make to a Palestinian leader as a price for peace, and that no Arab leader can survive after accepting less. We can ignore the fact that Abbas's Ph.D. dissertation was about denial of the Holocaust. Israel can play the game and negotiate with him, trade land for his written promise of peace. And then, once the Israeli military transfers total control to Abbas's security forces, when the last Israeli soldier leaves town—the countdown will be set in motion.
I give it no more than a month before Hamas takes over the West Bank, transforming it to an Iranian base before launching a Jihad against the . There will be no peace; there will be a bloody showdown.
But not to worry. Abbas will find ways to avoid signing any peace agreement with Israel. You can't drag a leader to a , make him sign on the bottom line even when the document's promise is hollow. In the Arab world, it's the appearance that counts, it's the flowery language that ignites emotions, it's the honor that must be redeemed. All these essential ingredients will be washed away once the document is signed. Peace is boring; hate is exciting. It's an essential brain food for many Palestinians. Without hate, without the promise of a violent victory over the "Zionist Occupation", a Palestinian leader can offer little to his flock. The echo of Egypt’s president and leader of the Arab world, still serves as a guiding principle to many in the Arab world. “The liquidation of Israel,” he announced on March 8, 1965, “will be liquidation through violence. We shall enter a Palestine not covered with sand, but soaked in blood.”
Palestinians perceive a peace agreement with Israel as a document formalizing their unconditional surrender. Their humiliating defeat in 1948, in which they watched the Jewish people establish a Jewish state on land they considered Islamic, is a shameful experience they are unable to get over with. That humiliation and the corresponding urge to redeem the lost honor is more commanding than the sensible strategy of calling for a peace offensive. Some cool-headed Arab leaders have claimed that the peace process can serve as a smoke screen in pursuit of what had been defined as the Salami Principle—one slice at a time. It boils down to putting international pressure on Israel to weaken itself through a series of withdrawals to earlier borders, preceding the final assault on what’s left of the Jewish state whose indefensible borders would make it an easy prey. And in the , reclaiming a lost honor overshadows straightforward logic.
A two-state solution is a mirage, an illusion borne by western leaders and the world’s media. It's infeasible because the Palestinian side is divided into several camps or city-states. It's impractical because it is perceived as an unconditional surrender in a culture where (false) honor eclipses all else. And it's unacceptable to Palestinians who view a single state solution, Palestine, as their ultimate objective.