Unilateral declaration of independence will likely lead to Palestinian Authority’s collapse
by Guy Bechor
It’s hard to understand, but Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is heading full force into his own collapse, and that of his Authority, in September.
It’s already clear that a Palestinian state will not be established. New states are only established through a Security Council decision, and the United States already made it clear in the most explicit way that it would impose a veto on a unilateral Palestinian move, just like Russia did in the case of Kosovo.
Indeed, since 2008 Kosovo is a state in its own eyes, yet it is not a UN member. This week, the Americans sent a special envoy to warn Abbas. The Europeans did the same, yet he insists on rushing towards the wall.
Hence, all the fear-mongering and de-legitimization on the part of Israeli politicians are empty. Abbas’ people fail to make a distinction between UN legitimacy, which they can obtain via the support of more than 100 states (most of them from the Third World) that would vote for them in the General Assembly, and acceptance as a UN member, which they will not be getting.
Their disappointment may be immense and destructive. Palestinian violence may result and possibly focus on Israel, but also turn domestically, against the Palestinian Authority that prompted the failure.
Why could this turn into a collapse? Because Abbas is endangering the relationship of his fragile Authority with the US, with Israel, and with the European Union. At this time already, America is furious over the Authority’s pact with Hamas, and should the PA act against the wishes of the great superpower it may lose American support, thereby collapsing diplomatically and economically.
Hamas, Fatah no friends
Meanwhile, Israel already warned that should the PA seek to establish a Palestinian state, the Oslo Accords shall be annulled. In this case Israel would no longer collect Value Added Tax on behalf of the Authority, and that would mean that the immense monthly fund transfers to the PA and to Gaza shall draw to an end. The Authority will then collapse within a week or so. Moreover, Arab states are not enthusiastic about handing over money either.
Another issue is Hamas, which objects to Abbas’ move and characterizes it as a “fata morgana.” Should a state not be established, we shall see the reemergence of the major Fatah-Hamas dispute, which both sides are seeking to blur at this time in order to secure a state. Under such circumstances, a violent clash may again erupt, as was the case in 2007 when Hamas expelled Fatah from the Gaza Strip using brutal violence.
The sides are already having trouble setting up a government of experts, despite the reconciliation declarations, so how will they co-manage an independent state that is wholly dependent on Israel?
The Palestinians are also contradicting the new spirit in the world at this time, one of negotiations and agreements, by attempting to force a unilateral move upon the other side. Abbas’ declaration that no Israelis will reside in his future state stunned the West. Moreover, many states don’t like this unilateral move: After all, tomorrow the Kurds may take a similar step against the Turks, Tibet against China, the Sunnis in Iran, and so forth.
And so, a tactical move utilized as a psychological pressure tactic against Israel in the framework of talks turned into a strategic Palestinian step that has become inseparable from the PA’s fate. Before it’s too late, Abbas would do well to reexamine the planned September move and return to the negotiating table with Israel. At this time he has the lower hand, after the West took Israel’s side, and he does not have many choices if he wishes to avert his own collapse.