Will the Palestinians Just Declare a State?

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva and author of the book Choosing Life in Israel. 


In the aftermath of last month’s diplomatic ruckus—Israeli bureaucrats referred, with Vice-President Biden in town, to building apartments for Jews in East Jerusalem; the Obama administration took severe umbrage; the Palestinians pulled out of the nascent proximity talks—things, at this moment, remain stuck. Does that mean no progress toward the administration’s cherished goal of a Palestinian state, and frustration all around?

Not necessarily. Moshe Elad, a columnist for Israel’s largest daily Yediot Aharonot, notes that the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, and prime minister, Salaam Fayyad, have been talking about unilaterally declaring such a state in 2011—and that while “in the past, such statements would anger the Americans…this time around, even if we heard a response from the White House or the State Department, it was rather meek.”

Palestinians, Elad reports, have been setting aside their traditional anti-Americanism and “taking pleasure in feeling that ‘America is with us’”; and are “coordinating with the Americans the building of infrastructure across the West Bank as preparation for economic independence and detachment from Israel’s hold.” Elad goes on to ask “What will Israel’s position be in respect to the long list of guests invited to the ceremony that will seek to land in Ben-Gurion Airport?”—that is, if and when the Palestinians declare their state next year and invite many of the world’s dignitaries to honor the event.

Yaakov Katz, military correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, describes Israel as “extremely worried” about the prospect “because it may lead to a third intifada, during which Israel would be fighting a 20,000-strong militia”—much of which would be American-trained. As Katz explains,

Five battalions of 500 soldiers each and trained by US security coordinator Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton in Jordan have already deployed throughout the West Bank alongside seven regional battalions.

By 2011, another five battalions will have undergone training. Fayyad’s plan is to then dismantle the regional battalions and expand the Dayton-trained battalions to close to 1,000 soldiers each, bringing the total number to around 10,000. Add the police and the presidential guard and the number of armed PA security officers comes out to around 20,000.

The Palestinians would still then have to face the fact that about 300,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank. “The solution—an official PA decision to launch a violent terror campaign branded around the world as a war for freedom.”

Or, in another scenario, Fayyad goes to the UN Security Council to get his state recognized; with the Europeans, Russians, and Chinese likely to assent, the question mark is the United States.

Traditionally the U.S. has vetoed anti-Israeli resolutions in the Security Council, and also has upheld the principle of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as the way to resolve the dispute. But given what is now known about President Obama’s identification with Palestinian goals, delegitimization of any Israeli presence in the West Bank and even East Jerusalem, contemptuous treatment of Israel’s prime minister, and hurried timetable for Palestinian statehood—augmented by General Dayton’s activities that started under President Bush—Israelis can no longer be confident of U.S. backing in such a situation.

Some say these fears are exaggerated because Abbas and Fayyad lack sufficient Palestinian support. While Abbas’s Fatah movement (with which Fayyad, while not a member, is effectively aligned) is thought likely to defeat Hamas in this summer’s municipal elections, Fatah is itself deeply divided with its young guard scorning Abbas and Fayyad as weaklings—to the point that even a civil war is not ruled out.

Israel, though—as if not already pressured enough by the Hamas, Hezbollah and, ultimately, Iranian threats—has to take all scenarios into account, and now would be the time to start emphasizing to friends in the U.S. the dangers posed by a Palestinian state. True, in his speech at Bar-Ilan University last June, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he could accept such a state as the outcome of negotiations if it, in turn, was genuinely accepting of Israel and effectively demilitarized.

Clearly, a unilaterally declared Palestinian state would be neither. It would be bristling with hatred instilled by the seventeen years of hate-education enabled by the “peace process,” and with largely American-provided forces that would only grow as further weapons, trainers, and fighters flowed in from the Arab and Muslim world.

  • Arnold Wolf

    It takes more than a non-entity to declare someone else's country to be an independent state. That is not the way an independent country is established. History has taught us that to declare an independent state the requirement is that those individuals must take the land by battle and win. The land of Israel is now a Jewish state and no one can annex or take it by declaration.

    I can declare that my town is an independent country and the world may agree with me but in effect I have created nothing. The same is with the Arabs who occupy Israel and who would declare an independent state in a United Nations partitioned state in 1948.

    No I wouldn't worry about Arabs declaring anything for it is meaningless. A UN (now Arab majority) has no authority in the world of nations.

    I hereby declare a holy land in Mecca and am backed by hundreds of thousands of radical followers. Hallelujah

    • Ron Grant

      "a Jewish state and no one can annex or take it by declaration. .."

      I've news for you ,Mr.Wolf.While actions may indeed seem to speak louder then words,today,more then ever,ideas and declarations are to be feared more then bullets and bombs.One need only look at the recent history of Zionism to understand this.And in an (arguably ) increasingly moral world ,decency,fairness and justice will prevail.The Palestinians have as much right to these values as do Jews.Paradoxically,perhaps,the acknowledging and realizing of these same rights for Palestinians may be the best means of safe guarding the rights and safety of Jews in the region and the broader world.Muchiboy.

  • Informer

    that will never happen…never

  • logdon

    For anyone interested in the facts surrounding this gross decapitation of the only democracy in the ME, get the DVD, Farewell Israel which outlines precisely this scenario.

    Whilst being depressing it also illuminates in stark reality the game now being played out.

    Whilst Obama is at the helm expect little support from the US.

    If I were Israel right now I'd start looking elsewhere for more reliable alliances, starting with India which has similar problems. And guess what? Is also an Obama target.

    Join the dots and an Islamist President emerges. Given a clear choice he always allies with Islam.

    Maybe it's something to do with his middle name.

  • Zion

    The best thing for Israel to do is to annex all of Judea and Samaria.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

      You're right.

    • BS1977

      I agree…this is the traditional land of Israel. The so called Palestinians had a state…and it was called Jordan. If the so called Palestinian Arabs would quit firing rockets and setting off suicide bombs and concentrate on building a decent society…they might get ahead and have nice homes, gardens, businesses,schools and PEACE….but if you look at the last sixty years, these are nt the priorities…the priority is to destroy Israel, invade it and take it over completely…….that is the constant objective…not a two state solution with peaceful neighbors.

  • Harry

    Go for it.
    Let the Palis assume the responsibility for running a nation.
    BTW: that includes paying your creditors, and not allowing attacks on you neighbors.
    If they fail to live up to their obligations, the Israelis can declare war and give them what they really deserve.

  • cochavi1

    They don't want a state. The dream ends the moment they declare a state. And if something tangible comes into being, then the Hamas goes into full civil war mode on Abbas.

    As far as the implicit worry David expresses about the IDF facing off against American-trained 'troops', so be it. The US advisers can get the bleep out of the way or not. James Jones already threatened Israel with 'his troops' in the past. It's their call.

  • Shalom Freedman

    I believe David Hornik is correct in taking this threat seriously. Especially worrisome is the position of the Obama Administration which as he indicates seems to more identify with Palestinian goals, than with Israel's. The U.S. can be the game- changer. If it recognizes a Palestinian state then the whole world does.
    There are however problems for the U.S. if it does that. There is no way this cannot be seen as betrayal of Israel. There is no way that it can be equated with 'peace'. In fact its probable outcome is war. There is still no Palestinian unity, and can the U.S. possibly recognize a Hamas or partly Hamas state?
    If I were to guess I would guess that the U.S. simply will not do this. But the Obama Administration has been so slighting of Israel so far, so biased and negative one should not be surprised by anything anti- Israel it does.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

    Prime Minister Netanyahu was wrong, bowing to US President Hussein's demand he accept the inevitability of a Muslim-terror state in Israel, even a so-called demilitarized one that recognizes the existence of a greatly truncated Jewish state. The whole enterprise is immoral with or without negotiations; wicked even. It will pose an existential or near existential threat to Israel's existence, not to mention, as has been written above, historically territory is more often than not gained by aggressive wars of conquest. North American continent certainly was. Israel, by way of contrast, has re-acquired her historic land by means of wars of self-defense. I cannot accept that a Muslim-terror state can be imposed on Israel by the Obama administration's endorsement without the acquiescence of Israel's prime minister. If in such an event, this scenario comes to pass, the burden will fall to Israel's prime minister and the government.

  • Ft. Ticonderoga

    P. David Hornik poses a scenario of Fatah declaring a Palestinian state in the West Bank, with dignitaries from other countries arriving at Ben-Gurion airport to honor the event. This is frightening enough, however, he says nothing of that fact that Hamas
    occupies Gaza, and a Palestinian state in the West Bank would therefore have the
    potential of cutting Israel in two.

    Nevertheless, Israel could win in this situation, preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state, by the IDF defeating the 20,000 man Palestinian militia. However, if a third intifada was unleashed, with the Palestinian militia playing a significant role, the likelihood of an Iranian strike on Israel would increase. Israel would therefore do well to hit Iran first. In such a war, Israeli casualties would be on a scale never before experienced. Very frightening; but Israel will survive.

  • joelsk44039

    With the declaration of statehood, a continuation of "cross-border" hostilities would constitute "acts of war" to which Israel would no doubt respond accordingly. (At least I hope that would respond.) Of course, the UN would attempt to intervene and blame Israel's mere existence for being the proximate cause of any conflict.

    Israel can't win for losing.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

      Supporters of "disengagement" from Gaza used this justification. As you wrote, when Israel responded to cross-border attacks – thousands of Hamas rockets on Israel's southern communities – Israel was condemned by the international community for acts of unprovoked aggression. Neither were these cross border hostilities considered acts of war by the international community.

      • cochavi1

        There is an assumption in your post which I partly share, but not completely. That is that Israeli leaders expect a 'reward' from the so-called int'l community for such actions. I think that's part of it, but it as much fatigue with dealing with them (in Gaza) and ideological opposition to the 'settlers' that drive such actions. They see 'disengagement' as a triple win, reducing pressure and saving resources, 'winning' over the far-right, and making America happy. Of course they are wrong, but so it goes.

        I have not been in Israel since late December, however it is reliably upsetting that most Talking Heads on TV and radio continue to sound like representatives of the State Dept or the EU.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

          My point was not so much Israel's leaders but the logic of the left. My leftist Jewish neighbor argued as far back as Oslo in the early nineteen nineties, the Oslo accords would provide Israel justification for taking harsh retaliatory action should the PLO not uphold their side of the arrangement. We saw the same argument leading up to disengagement. As for Sharon's and now Netanyahu's motivations, my guess is, motives are complicated; everything from moral weakness and cowardice to what you propose, "making America happy." Who do you consider the "far right?" By far right, you cannot possibly mean religious Zionists. Can you? How do concessions of precious land win over the "far right," unless you believe the far right despise the land of Israel or the far right long to see a mass-slaughter of Jews at the hands of Israel's Muslim enemy?

          • cochavi1

            I mean 'the view of the far right as a disruptive and negative force within mainstream Israeli society.' By 'winning' I did not mean 'persuading' but rather 'defeating' – that is, showing who is boss and at the same time keeping the 'dream of peace' alive. In other words, the 'Establishment' sees idealistic, religious settlers as enemies of peace.

            But I don't think that Barak, dubious as his world view might be, countenances a slaughter of Israeli Jews. I suspect this will upset you, but I merely see him and those like him as careerists and pragmatists who see 'Israel' as the ultimate value, not Judaism or Zionism. Or, they see 'Zionism' as 'as many Jews as possible as in as little land as possible.' That is Labour Zionism…

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

            OK, I see what you mean by winning over. I do not know what motivates Ehud Barak. I lost faith in him when he betrayed Israel's SLA (Christian) allies in 2000; when he decided to cut and run from south Lebanon, leaving our allies to the tender mercies of the Lebanese Muslims; not to mention all the other things he has done.

            Such a terrible pick for Defense Minister! What was Mr. Netanyahu thinking? Every time this defense minister opens his mouth, he embarrasses Israel and the Jewish world. At least he embarrasses me. One of his more recent outrageous observations was that working to resolve the Palestinian conflict is more critical than the existential threat posed by a nuclear Iran.

            This is a foolish and dangerous man in my opinion.

          • cochavi1

            I don't like him either. Why did Bibi pick him? Mostly so he wouldn't have to sit with Kadima and Livni, and maybe because he esteems Barak's technical abilities.

            I did not realize he said that; well, again, to the heirs of Labour and the kibbutz movement, nothing would be worse than annexing Judea and Samaria, though Barak is probably opposed in reality to a PLO (or Hamas) state. He is mostly against things, it seems. He is for himself. He is respected 'technically', that is how I think most people see him. Barak does not inspire any body.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

            Here is is, according to Zbigniew Brzezinski and Stephen Solarz in today's Washington Post:

            "Ehud Barak recently said that the absence of a two-state solution is the greatest threat to Israel's future, greater even than an Iranian bomb."
            http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/arti

  • Democracy First

    A Palestinian state can be declared with American support. Maybe it would actually suit Israel's goals too, providing that there is prior, if secret, agreement between Obama and Israel on its borders. And some kind of public sworn agreement by the US, Europe and even Arab nations, that terrorist or missile attacks on Israel will be considered acts of war to which Israel will have a right of military reply to the same proportion as, say, the US attacking Afghanistan following 9/11. Would Obama grant this much? He just might, if he wants Israel's and American Jews' support, and to succeed.

    But, as others point out, gaza is a perhaps insurmountable Palestinian. Would it be considered Hamas occupied?

    And what about, as others point out, that the palestinians don't want a state that doesn't stand on Israel's ashes? Can the world actually force one on them? Certainly, they'll declare that whatever they get is insufficient.

    Can the world force Israel to accept even a small measure of a Palestinian "right of return?" This too would have to be secretly worked out between Obama and Israel in advance.

  • Tom W.

    Another mini Muslim state is meaningless! The following is proof of what Iran does to its female virginal imprisoned dissenters:
    http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=36402

    Now after you read this story then get back to me and state why the world needs another Muslim state anywhere in the world!

    • Tom W.

      I'm following up on my most recent post with another damning article regarding the subject I spoke of, please go to the following link:
      http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2

      Now, although this is article is about Iran, the Arabs that are unfortunate enough to live under Hamas in the Gaza Strip or under Fatah rule in the West Bank live under terrible Islamic oppression! The MSM (main stream media) never report on all the vendetta murders being carried out in the Gaza Strip and not just by Hamas thugs on Arabs who are against Hamas rule but bloody Arab tribal conflict still rages on as well. The MSM never reports how 3 Arab women who were tried and convicted in the West Bank as traitors (all they did was try to link up an Arab peace movement with one of the many peace groups in Israel) and were sentence to life in prison by Fatah (with no moral outrage from the European and American leftists)! Fatah unlike the State of Israel has not yet done away with capital punishment and since its inception, Fatah has 'legally' murdered hundreds of Arabs–that's without yet having a Palestinian State! That's just so they can keep law and order, Fatah can also justify killing its opponents by the use of the death penalty through their Islamic kangaroo courts! If Iran who has been an Islamic State since 1979, where the Mullahs have maintained power through intimation, violence against their own people and use of capital punishment via its courts. Then what does that say about Fatah who now only runs the West Bank (via a mini civil war, Hamas ran Fatah out of the Gaza Strip) through what's called the PA (Palestinian Administration) and uses the exact same measures to maintain power as the Mullahs do in Iran but Fatah doesn't even have a country yet!

      Here's proof of the PA's use of capital punishment, all the leftists will love this:
      http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/ua

      See–that's Amnesty International getting involved in just one of the more highly publicized PA cases but where were all the leftists' voice against all those who have already been put to death by Fatah! And yet these are the same people who say what a wonderful thing a mini Palestinian State would be!

      You're all a bunch of cowardly hypocrites!

  • Trumpeldor

    A unilateral pali independence would be matched by an instant annexation of Gush Etzion,E1 corridor,Maalei Adumim, Jordan Valley and Ariel salient which is long overdue
    Come on abu,make my day and why not now ???

  • Big Elk

    Lt-Gen Keith Dayton looks like a typical Clinton-era officer; politically correct and trained as a traitor. Hey, Dayton, step on any IEDs lately, or are they just for our fighting American enlisted troops, not for the officers who hide back behind enemy lines?

  • 080

    I don't think that the Palestinians would declare an independent state. That would leave Israel free to declare its new borders in such a way that the independent state might regret it.

  • Mike

    Big Elk – I doubt you are still reading this, but you are an idiot and you are slandering a good man. I am a friend of General Dayton's son and his son did 3 tours in Iraq, including serving in Anbar province in 2006 where some of the worst fighting occured. How many tours did you or your kids serve. How dare you slander a guy who has given the better part of his life to serving to defend your freedom. You may not agree with his mission, but don't speak on matters you know nothing about