Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Netanyahu Against Palestinian Unity
Government Because he Does Not Believe in Peace
By Uri Avnery
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, June 6, 2014
Good for the Jews?
HOW DOES a football
club choose its team?
The simple way is the usual one: each side has
a manager, who chooses his team. No problem.
Now the Israeli
government has hit on a new way: Our manager appoints both our team and the
adversary’s team. Simplifies the matter.
I wonder if this method
could not be refined. For example: each side’s manager chooses only the team
of the other side. Could turn out interesting.
Yet another way
would be for the betting mafia to choose both teams. This would maximize
profits in the spirit of modern market forces.
claim by Binyamin Netanyahu that he has a right to pick and choose the
Palestinian government is rather astonishing.
All the important
Palestinian political parties have agreed on a new government coalition.
This is a negative coalition: all the parties agree not to have their own
members in the government. The government is composed of non-party
“technocrats”. I hardly know a single one of them.
be happy. No member of Hamas is included.
But then, the fertile
mind of Netanyahu invented a new gimmick. True, no Hamasniks in the
government. But the government is supported by Hamas.
Intolerable! If Hamas “supports” somebody, he must surely be (as the Israeli
propaganda claims) a suicide bomber, a Jew-killer, and, of course, an
anti-Semite (though a Semite himself).
Ergo: such a government must
be boycotted, not just by Israel, but by the entire civilized world.
If Europe, or even the US, do not agree – well, it just shows, doesn’t it? A
bunch of bloody anti-Semites, the lot of them!
AN OLD Jewish
question asks, half in joke and half serious: “Is
it good for the Jews?”
Whether an earthquake in Alaska or a flood in
China, the question invariably arises. Good or Bad?
much closer to us, like the setting up of a Palestinian unity government,
poses this question far more urgently.
This is not a new question
in this context. Already in the early 1950s, two important leaders debated
David Ben-Gurion did not believe in
peace. He was sure that “the Arabs” would never accept us in this
region. In his view, the conflict would last for many generations, if not
Please, don’t bring me quotations to prove the
opposite. There are heaps of them. Historians love them. But quotations from
statesmen are well-nigh worthless. They reflect at most the needs of the
originator in real time to achieve a temporary goal.
It’s the acts
which count, and Ben-Gurion’s acts leave no doubt. At every stage he took
what he could, and then waited for the next opportunity to gain more. No
Since he was certain that the
Arabs, and especially the Palestinians, would remain our enemies forever,
the logical conclusion was to do everything possible to weaken them. And the
best way is to split them. Divide et impera.
Ben-Gurion did everything possible to split the
Arab world. When Gamal Abd-al-Nasser appeared on the scene with his
pan-Arab message, Ben-Gurion sabotaged his efforts at every stage. He
aggravated the conflict by his “retaliation attacks” beyond the border and,
in 1956, invaded Egypt in collusion with the two ugly colonial powers,
France and Britain.
adversary was Nahum Goldmann, then the president of the World Zionist
Organization. He believed in the exact opposite. The Arabs, he asserted,
will only recognize us if they are united and feel strong. Therefore,
every split in the Arab world was “bad for the
(Goldmann, by the way, wanted us to keep out of the
Cold War and turn Israel into “the Switzerland of the Middle East”.)
In this respect, there is very little difference between Ben-Gurion and
all his successors. The difference between Ben-Gurion and Netanyahu is that
between a small giant and a large dwarf.
Needless to say, I was all
for the Goldmann line. My magazine welcomed the Egyptian revolution of 1952,
strongly objected to the Sinai war and supported the pan-Arab line.
THE BASIC question was, of course, if one wanted peace at all. Was peace
“good for the Jews?” Ben-Gurion obviously did not think so. Goldmann did.
What about Yitzhak Rabin?
that Rabin really wanted peace. But he never quite accepted the idea which
is the essential basis for peace: a Palestinian state next to Israel.
If he had been able to continue along his path, he probably would have
arrived there, but he was felled before he could.
Yet it was Rabin
who took the fateful decision to split the Palestinians.
The Oslo agreement stated unequivocally that the West Bank and the Gaza
Strip constitute one territorial unit.
To insure that, Israel
undertook in the agreement to open four “safe passages” between the two
regions. On the way from Jericho to Gaza, tri-lingual signposts were set up:
”to Gaza”, etc. Yet none of these passages was ever opened.
is difficult to remember that from the beginning of the occupation, in 1967,
to the Oslo agreement, in 1993, movement in Israel/Palestine was unfettered.
Palestinians from Gaza and Hebron were free to visit Haifa, Israelis could
easily buy food in Nablus or Jericho. Incredible as it sounds, it was the
Oslo agreement that put an end to this paradise.
After Oslo came
the Separation Wall and all the other measures
which are turning the Gaza Strip and the West Bank into open-air prisons.
The inevitable result was the split.
THERE ARE few instances in
history of a state consisting of two or more widely separated territories.
The most conspicuous in our time was Pakistan.
When India was
partitioned, large Muslim areas were located west and east of what became
India. It did not work. It took only a few years for the East Pakistanis to
resent the domination of the West Pakistanis. Mutual hatred raised its head.
The Easterners broke away with the help of India and set up their own new
state – Bangladesh.
Between the two Pakistani areas there was a huge
distance, with the bulk of India in between. But
between the West Bank and the Gaza strip, the distance is just some 40
In the beginning, there was lot of talk about how
to bridge that distance. Quite literally. Ehud Barak played with the idea of
building a giant bridge and shopped around the world for a model. Others
thought about extraterritorial highways or railway lines. Nothing was
In the meantime, what was bound to happen, happened. In
both areas free elections were held, supervised by Jimmy Carter, and Hamas
won. A government was formed. Under immense
Israeli pressure, Europe and the US boycotted it, and it fell apart.
The rest is history. A Fat'h faction in Gaza, led by an
Israeli-American collaborator (Dahlan), tried to stage a putsch in Gaza.
Hamas reacted with a putsch of its own (if one can perform a putsch after
winning an election) and became the government in the Gaza Strip. Fat'h took
power in the West Bank. Both sides vilified each other, to the delight of
Israel and its supporters.
But history has its own mysterious ways.
After some guns v. rockets duels, Israel attacked the Gaza Strip and after a
lot of bloodshed, Egypt stepped in and arranged for a settlement (not a “hudna”,
which means an armistice, but a “tahdiya”, which means stillness).
Both sides were happy to work together. Hamas even took concrete steps to
stop the attacks of the smaller, more extreme Gaza factions. Israel also
negotiated with Hamas about the return of the captured Israeli soldier,
It even seems that Israeli army officers prefer to
deal with the combative Hamas than with the softer Fat'h, whose leader,
Mahmoud Abbas, was referred to by Ariel Sharon as a “plucked chicken”.
PRESIDENT JOHNSON once said that it was better to have your adversary
inside the tent and spitting out, than have him stay outside the tent,
Inclusiveness is better than exclusiveness. Hamas
bearing the responsibility for a Palestinian Unity Government is better than
Hamas attacking it. If you really want to make peace with the Palestinian