Israel Cannot Negotiate With the Failed States of Gaza and the West Bank

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Israel cannot negotiate with  Gaza and the west bank because both are failed states

When the media talks about the Israel-Hamas war, they have adopted a point-of-view that Israel is the Goliath and the Palestinians are David.  While biblical comparisons have merit, they do not apply to this complex and historic conflict.

After almost 40 years of negotiations and failed peace deals, the current war between Israel and Hamas would make more sense if Gaza and the West Bank were considered failed states rather than as unwilling participants of Israeli aggression.

This is the popular way the conflict appears in the mainstream media (MSM).  But what if this scenario is presented not as a colonial-apartheid suppression but one in which the existing West Bank and Gaza territories are considered failed states?  They have failed because they collapsed primarily under their own failed leadership and the squandering of at least $40 billion in international aid.  What if the plight of Gaza and the West Bank was mainly due to the corruption of their own elected leaders in the Palestinian Authority and Hamas?

Instead, it’s best to frame the Israel-Hamas War from the bigger perspective: Gaza and the West Bank are both failed states.  In this framework, Israel is fighting against a lawless, corrupt neighbor that has victimized its people and embezzled billions in international relief funds for terrorist purposes.  The MSM media ignores this for many reasons, but none of them are professionally justified because the media is using a flawed point of view.

Under this assumption, a more significant share of the current dismal plight of the Palestinians falls upon their dismal governing process and its tolerance for corruption and misdirecting humanitarian aid towards offensive guerilla and military attacks against Israel.

This does not minimize Israel’s role and responsibilities in controlling material access to these areas.  Still, it should not be considered the sole or primary cause of the long-term humanitarian crisis that began decades before the October 7, 2023, attack by Hamas on Israeli civilians.

The Failed State Proposition

The proposal that Gaza and the West Bank are failed states is controversial, but it is not a new idea.  A chapter in the book by Glenn Robinson argues that Gaza and the West Bank have some attributes of being a state (it has international recognition) but fail to meet other criteria of statehood.

The problem is made more complex because Hamas, a terrorist group affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, calls for Israel to be eliminated.  Alternately, the Palestinian Authority proposed a two-state solution working with Israel.  Since the 1993 Oslo Accords gave some hope to Palestinians that there could be a separate state, the two opposing groups have created a schizophrenic governing system between the two areas.

An incisive article in the Jerusalem Strategic Tribune by Ksenia Svetlova notes that Israel is a victim of being bordered by failed states.  Svetlova writes that “Israel borders two failed states, Lebanon and Syria, while Gaza is a part of a failed autonomy.  Further away from Israel lie Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, and Libya – all torn by internal wars and insurrections.  Each has a different degree of “failure.”

“However, all have lost control of the most important feature of a sovereign state – a monopoly on military force –and have, in the process, become playgrounds for others.”  In the north, Lebanon is a failed state where Hezbollah (an Iranian proxy) occupies its southern border.  If a war breaks out in the north, Hezbollah will again encourage maximum civilian casualties for the same propaganda purposes Hamas did in Gaza.

Svetlova proposes that anyone interested in lasting peace in the area has first to address the regional failed states, which will continue to be a fertile group for militias, gangsters, and terrorists. As a functioning democracy, Israel cannot be surrounded by failed states that serve as a launching pad for terrorism and gangster activities.

A Staggering Amount of Aid

What propels the terrorists and gangster militias is money.  While the media shows the devastating impact of war in the West Bank and Gaza, the media does not acknowledge the staggering amount of international aid the Palestinians received before the October 2023 war.

Yara Asi, an Assistant professor in the School of Global Health Management and Informatics at the University of Central Florida, estimates Palestinians have received around $40 billion in international aid since the Oslo Accords in the mid-1990s.

This includes nearly $4.5 billion in Gaza from 2014 to 2020, including $600 million in 2020 alone from UN Aid Agencies.  According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, aid to Palestinians totaled over $40 billion between 1994 and 2020.  This is in addition to the $6 billion in assistance provided by Saudi Arabia to the Palestinian people over the last 17 years.

It’s not known where this money went.  Still, based on the lives of the average Palestinian,  this money did not build much infrastructure or other civic facilities that would advance the local population.

Internal political corruption in Gaza, under the administration of Hamas and other Palestinian governing authorities, is well established.

  • Yasser Arafat. A 2002 report said that Yasser Arafat has secretly amassed at least $1.3 billion in “personal assets,” Israel’s chief of military intelligence said yesterday.  Citing British intelligence, this same article said Arafat’s net worth could be as high as $10 billion.  While Arafat did not have a lavish lifestyle, his control over money meant no one knew exactly how much and the location of the money.  However, Arafat did allow subsidies to his wife, Suha, who lived in Paris, of some $100,000 a month.
  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has a net worth of $100 million.
  • An NBC article found that Hamas has an investment portfolio of real estate and other assets worth $500 million, say experts, and an annual military budget of as much as $350 million.  The unemployment rate in Gaza is 47%, and more than 80% of its population lives in poverty, according to the United Nations.

While much of this money came into the hands of these leaders and groups through international aid groups and humanitarian organization donations, Abbas and Arafat also operated as Palestinian oligarchs.  For instance, according to the New York Times, Arafat gave monopoly concessions for cement, oil, gas, and other goods to political friends and financial advisors.

Gaza and the West Bank As Failed States

This high degree of corruption is characteristic of failed states. The World Population Review defines a failed state as “a state whose government has lost control of its territory, economy, and people” (See list below).

               Failed nations list

The same group says the reason why nations fail “is a predatory and corrupt government, which acts in the best interests of a small group of people (the ruling class) rather than the citizenry as a whole.  Additional possible reasons include civil wars (particularly those driven by religious extremism), genocide, and ethnic violence.”

Since the October war began, Gaza and the West Bank have met two of the criteria for a failed state.  Hamas runs Gaza and is recognized as an international terrorist organization.  In the January 2006 election, Hamas captured 44% of the vote, while the more moderate Fatah party won 41%.  However, because neither party could agree on a joint governing arrangement, Hamas and Fatah went to the streets.  “When a unity government was finally formed in June 2007, Hamas broke the deal, started murdering Fatah members, and, in the end, took total control of the Gaza Strip.  Those who weren’t killed fled to the West Bank, and the territories have remained split ever since,” Slate News reported.

Hamas’ military power is why it has controlled the Gaza Strip.  Since its purpose is to destroy Israel, Hamas has harassed its people and done everything it can to disrupt the daily lives of its citizens.  As described in a 2021 research report by Daniel Cordesman, “Some of Hamas’ main (military) targets were the civilian crossings into Gaza, which were routinely attacked by mortar and rocket fire, terrorist raids, tunnels, and suicide attacks.

The relentless attacks against the civilian lifeline of Gaza have greatly curtailed the operation of the crossings and ultimately necessitated the shutdown of some (Karni, Sufa) and relocation of their operations to Kerem-Shalom. …The process has reduced the capacity for economic and civilian ties between Israel and Gaza, further exacerbating the economic hardship in Gaza.”

This is what failed states look like.

But the media and public opinion continue to lambast Israel over “genocide” and the bombing of hospitals, mosques, and schools that also serve as military bases.

The better framework is to consider the failed state conditions of Gaza and the West Bank to demonstrate that Israel does not have a partner for serious negotiations to end the war.  If the war does not end on a conclusive note–the hostage return and the destruction of Hamas–it’s impossible to forge ahead with the elusive dream of a two-state solution, as failed states surround Israel.

 

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