DO ISRAELIS HAVE ANYTHING TO FEAR FROM A PALESTINIAN STATE?
By David Bedein
In only one week's time, the Israeli government has been asked by the US state department and by the White House to dispatch representatives to talks that will take place somewhere near Washington , to meet with representatives of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's administrative prodigy, known as the Palestinian Authority (The PA).
On the agenda: Establishing the rudiments of a Palestinian state, no later than February 13, 2000.
On the face of it, what could Israelis possible have to fear from a neighboring mini-state, whose size would be half of Rhode Island?
Yet some of the practical and topographical considerations of having a Palestinian state next door are not lost on people in Israel who already feel the consequences of this nascent entity.
The establishment of a Palestinian Authority in 1994 was meant to test the implications of having an autonomous entity nearby. The consequences have been tested in many ways:
Israelis who have had their cars stolen and driven into the PA-controlled areas have been helpless to get their vehicles back or to sue anyone to get their cars back.
The PA has consistently refused to hand over or indict criminals who have taken refuge inside the PA.
The PA has provided a sanctuary for 31 Arabs accused of murdering Jews who have taken refuge inside the PA.
Contrary to all agreements, armed PA officers have been patrolling Jerusalem. Instead of cracking down on the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations, the PA has incorporated both groups inside the PA.
Instead of adopting a peace curriculum for the PA schools that would parallel the peace curriculum that has been running in Israeli schools for the past six years, the PA ministry of education has adopted a curriculum that prepares a new generation for a war to liberate all of Palestine.
Arafat's official PA radio and PA TV continue their daily tirade against Zionism that calls for the Palestinian Arab population to continue a holy war of Jihad, while the Friday sermons in PA-controlled mosques blare out calls for obliteration of the Jewish state.
3.5 million Arab refugees, disenfranchised by the PA and confined by the UN to the squalor of transit camps inside the PA and in neighboring Arab countries for more than fifty years under the internationally supported premise and promise of the "right of return" to the cities and villages that they left in 1948, now prepare themselves to go back to those cities and villages, even if they are now occupied by Israeli cities and collective farms.
Palestinian Arab refugees evoke the recent precedent of Kosovo refugees who took back their homes and villages from Serbians who had lived there for more than forty years.
Israeli and western intelligence agencies report that The PA police force that was supposed to comprise a lightly armed police force of 9.000 has evolved into fourteen units of a Palestinian Liberation Army of 50,000, trained by American military advisors. Small bands of PLA troops could at any time conduct guerilla attacks into any part of Israel and simply melt into the Palestinian population.
All these factors of a "Palestinian state next door" are known to the population of Israel, yet not often discussed or reported in the media. Israelis simply do not take Arab plans and ambitions very seriously, and most Israelis would prefer to get on with their lives after more than sixty three years of continuous war in the land of Israel.
The consensus of all major political parties in the Knesset is that if the economy of the Palestinian entity is strong, then the Palestinian people will have little reason to engage in hostilities against Israel.
Yet study after study show that humanitarian aid and economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority has been squandered and embezzled by an elite circle of people around Yassir Arafat, with little "trickle down" effect to the Palestinian Arab population who blame Israel for imposing Arafat's regime on their people.
IT WOULD SEEM THAT ISRAEL'S NEIGHBORING STATE-IN-THE-MAKING IS MORE LIKE HAVING BEIRUT AND TEHERAN NEXT DOOR THAN THE PROVIDENCE OF A RHODE ISLAND.
David Bedein is a MEDIA RESEARCH ANALYST, BUREAU CHIEF, ISRAEL RESOURCE NEWS AGENCY, BEIT AGRON INTERNATIONAL PRESS CENTER, JERUSALEM, ISRAEL