Time to put an end to the fantasy of a Palestinian people
The seizure of a shipment of long-range missiles heading from Iran to the Gaza Strip was definitely an amazing success for Israel's intelligence agencies and Navy. Israeli officials highlighted the increase in Hamas's military might and its intention to acquire game-changing tie-breaking weapons that would pose a strategic threat to Israel. According to some estimates, Iran is fortifying the Gaza-based group to better prepare for "Judgment Day" - once it attains nuclear weapons and could use a southern front in its war against Israel.
These estimates ignore one basic fact: Syrian and Iranian ties with Hamas have been severed completely over Hamas' declared support for the jihadist rebels fighting to overthrow Bashar Assad's regime in Syria, and sowing death and destruction throughout the country. Hamas is seen in Iran and Syria as a movement that has betrayed its benefactors: Syria, which played host for years to the Hamas leadership, and Iran, which bankrolled it lavishly and provided it with munitions.
In my opinion, the missiles were not intended for Hamas, but for other organizations: the Islamic Jihad in Gaza and, probably, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis in the Sinai Peninsula. Both serve the Iranian-Syrian plan, which has three major goals:
1. To create a strategic missile threat against Israel from the Sinai and Gaza in order to deter it from attacking Iran.
2. To spoil the close relations between Israel and Egypt.
3. To take revenge against the Hamas for betraying Syria and Iran.
The third goal, taking revenge against Hamas, requires explanation. Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks on Israel, even if these attacks are carried out by rogue organizations, such as Islamic Jihad. The Iranian-Syrian plan is to enable Islamic Jihad to carry out strategic missile attacks against Israel in order to hurt Hamas. And thus, Israel would be carrying out an Iranian-Syrian revenge against this organization.
If this explanation is true, Israel must make a strategic decision regarding its attitude toward Hamas. It has two main options:
1. Overthrow the Hamas regime due to the strategic threat it poses for Israel and allow the PLO to regain control of the Gaza Strip and consolidate it with the second part of the Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria.
2. Not to overthrow the Hamas, which served Israeli interests when it took over Gaza in 2007, dismantled the Palestinian Authority into two parts and put an end to the
3. Palestinian dream of establishing a single state. Israel does not see the PLO as a partner for peace and therefore shouldn't allow it to regain control of Gaza.
The first option justifies an all-out war against Hamas to strengthen the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the second requires Israel to maintain the Hamas government that is weakening the PLO. Until now Israel has not announced what its policy toward Hamas is, and this state of ambiguity allows it to act according to the second option. And should any Palestinian organization in Gaza attack Israel, it can activate the first option.
Despite the benefits of this ambiguous situation, Israel should adopt a clearer policy: Since the PLO has not abandoned its plan to destroy Israel, it must end the dream of establishing a state under the rule of this organization. The Hamas movement began the process in Gaza, and Israel must continue it in Judea and Samaria in order to establish seven city-states and to leave the rural areas under Israeli control.
The seven city-states will free most of the Arab population in Judea and Samaria from Israeli control and Israel can offer citizenship to residents of the rural space. These city-states based on local clans will be real entities and not the fantasies of some Palestinian intellectuals and tired Israeli souls regarding the existence of a single united Palestinian people in Gaza and in Judea and Samaria.
The Palestinian people exist just as the Syrian people do, the Iraqi, Libyan or Sudanese people. The social reality in the Middle East is rooted in the culture of the tribe, the ethnic group (Arabs, Kurds, etc.), the religious group (Muslims, Druze, Alawites, Christians, etc.) and sectarian group (Sunni, Shia, etc.). Only countries based on one homogeneous group can survive in this area, and provide their citizens with a reasonable life.
Israel must base its policy on reality, not on dreams and fantasies of a new Middle East.
Mordechai Kedar is Director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation) at Bar-Ilan University, Israel