On Israel vs Hamas’s Gaza
Saturday, June 16th, 2007 https://adamkhan.net/rambles/fatahland-and-hamastan
mazing history unfolding these days, the Palestinian national territory becoming split between an Islamist Gaza and a less radical nationalist West Bank. “We are witnessing the end of the Palestinian national movement,” one report ends. I’m not so sure about that. Certainly there are so many angles to this.
Hamas may well now establish law and order and furthermore set up a more functioning Gaza than Fatah will be able to do in the West Bank, one journalist suggests. I’m not so sure about that neither. What’s sure is that they will impose a complete state of fear; they will have a polity, albeit a totalitarian one (perhaps that’s what he means).
Turning to Debka, it has a completely different viewpoint, talking about how Hamas captured an incalculable intelligence bonanza on covert Palestinian dealings with Israel and others.
Now Israel has a dog in a real Palestinian fight—a nationalist rather than an Islamist entity. “Hundreds of other Gazans rushed to the border crossing with Israel to try to escape Hamas rule but found gates locked. Israeli troops briefly fired warning shots, and only a few managed to cross,” the Washington Times reports. And hark at this from the same story: “Mr. Abbas, meanwhile, angrily rejected attempts by Arab League chief Amr Moussa to mediate between him and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo said the president would not engage in a dialogue with ‘killers.’”
That insight may be a bit premature, but if it’s true, I’m fascinated with the question of whether Sharon knew and planned this, and whether he had groomed Olmert to replace him because it was Olmert’s idea, and Sharon was deeply impressed with the strategy and decided this is the man with the audacity and creative strategic acumen to replace him. Audacious initiative, remember, is what Israel values. I’m coming up with such notions about Olmert because despite everything he’s still in power, and that must partially be because the ruling classes want him in power, and that can’t be entirely for corrupt, self-interested reasons, but perhaps also because they see in him a master tactician; that if he can survive such a hostile domestic environment, he’s actually pretty fit to survive in the slightly less immediately hostile geopolitical environment. He’s such a great tactitian and strategist that he doesn’t need to be an ideological visionary; his unconventional means of achieving the conventional ends is plenty good enough.
Nonetheless, I can’t believe that the unfinished war in Lebanon is something he designed and aimed for. I guess it was a stalemate that while not a victory was not a defeat, and perhaps the victory was in changing the rules, that Israel has evolved to the point where the old adage that Israel must win every time and its enemies need only win once is no longer true (I’m grasping at straws a little here to justify what seems to be continued confidence in his leadership). Nonetheless, the fact is that Israelis think things are reasonably okay at the moment.
The question is whether Sharon’s disengagement plan from Gaza was not only to secure Jerusalem but also to defuse the Palestinian national movement by returning unilaterally to the pre-67 situation, give or take this or that (Jerusalem, Ariel): Gaza to Egypt, the West Bank to Jordan. That’s certainly how it’s playing out. The second question is whether that was Olmert’s plan. I remember he was the one tasked with floating the idea of Disengagement to the public. That does lend credence to the notion that it was his idea. Pretty ingenious if so: let’s go back to pre-‘67 and cherry-pick: the fruits of victory at last, 40 years later. Indeed, Jordan’s King Abdullah has referred to this direction as a “conspiracy”—though perhaps one he’s involved in himself.