Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews

What is it about West Bank building projects that get the anti-Israel forces so excited? The land in question may be disputed, but it does not irrefutably “belong to” the Palestinian Arabs (as opposed to the Palestinian Jews, who are now Israelis). Its future status is to be determined in negotiations. The entire West Bank has been offered on several occasions to the Palestinian Arabs, who have either rejected the offers or ignored them.

Even accepting that this is potentially Palestinian Arab territory, is it really true that Israel is establishing immutable facts on the ground in constructing homes and communities? Won’t the buildings and other infrastructure (electricity and such) just go to the Palestinian Arabs in the case of a deal, as happened when Israel pulled out of Gaza? What will happen to the residents is a different question, of course, since the Palestinian Authority has said repeatedly that it will not allow Jews in its territory. And apparently that’s all right.

So if the settlements are to be given to the Palestinian Arab people, should they be passed to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is nearing the 13th year of his four-year term, or to the government as a whole including representatives in Gaza, where Hamas leader Khaled Meshal has effectively overthrown Abbas and maintains an iron-clad grip on the territory through military force and summary executions (he shot a prominent commander last year for being gay, others for selling land to Jews)?

To the Abbas who calls for peace with Israel and a two-state solution, or the Abbas who to this day has yet to respond to a near decade-old offer from Israel’s then-PM Ehud Olmert giving him all of the West Bank and Gaza and half of Jerusalem? (Olmert said wryly in a recent interview that he’s still waiting for Abbas’s call.)

To Abbas in English, where he speaks of harmony and coexistence with the Jewish population, or Abbas in Arabic, where he calls Jews the sons of apes and pigs and rejects outright their right to live in Palestine (which in his mind includes Israel itself)?

To the Abbas who pleads poverty among his people, or the Abbas who, according to Arafat’s former financial adviser and head of the Palestinian Investment Fund, has a personal net worth of $100 million (not including the fortunes amassed by his sons)?

It’s not for us to tell the Palestinian Arabs how to run their lives, and people are free to choose their own tyrants. But it is wild fantasy to assume that they will suddenly be enamored of democracy or pluralism or an impartial legal system or freedom of speech/press/religion/anything given that they, or at any rate their leaders, have never shown the slightest inclination of such (as has, say, Israel). Even if they were to take over the settlements in a peace treaty with Israel, we can safely assume, from their own words and actions right now, not to mention the example of pretty much every other Arab nation, that there will be no rule there by the people for the people, but only of the people. No independent courts. No free economy. No mechanism for wresting power back once it’s taken. No skipping smiling celebration of other cultures. No gay rights or women’s rights or individual rights or minority rights.

And, sooner rather than later, no Jews.

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