It is common place for third world countries to prefer to be governed by their own corrupt and violent nationals rather than by perhaps more law abiding outsiders. Nonetheless at a certain point regimes may become so appalling that there is a conflict between this principle and the responsibility of foreign maybe neighboring states to intervene. This was at least in part the case when Vietnam threw out Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge butchers and when Obote overthrew Amin and then was thrown out himself in the case of Uganda. Plainly the USA thought similarly when it launched itself at Somalia and its warlords.
In the case of the 'Palestinian Authority', as yet national boundaries, and the prohibitions on interference in other states' internal affairs, simply do not apply. The 'laws' of reasonably decent humanity however do. Now is the time therefore to take a sober appraisal of the kind of monster in waiting that Oslo (so-called) and the 'international community' appear to want to force the Israeli cabinet and Binyamin Netanyahu in particular to concede security and land to create. Plainly the expectation, as Arafat has warned, is of a state in the waiting, which will be declared no matter what and in defiance of the wishes of the consensus of almost all Israeli politicians until the Meretz-Labour coalition created in 1992. As far as Arafat is concerned, he has the first batch of territory from which to implement the 'Phased Plan' of 1974, and he cannot be stopped (1).
The White House has a strong supporter of Palestinian statehood at its heart. Hillary Clinton has failed to hide her support, perhaps as instructed by the pressure team of Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, and Madeline Albright. It is no fantasy to suppose that the US Administration may support a declaration of statehood, as the PA likes to suggest it, on May 4, 1999, by a recognition. Certainly this would present no problem to the EU who openly support a further division of Palestine (in pre 1948 parlance). Critics of the 'Oslo' process always had those like Yossi Sarid and Yossi Beilin to point to who recognized that the path being worked towards was that of Palestinian statehood.
What this would mean however, is so hideous and vile in moral and human terms, that it should never be allowed to exist. The elections to the Palestinian Legislature and of Arafat were rigged and manipulated. Intimidation controls and thus over shadows the Palestinian media (witness for just one example Daoud Kuttab's imprisonment). People are tortured and beaten in detention and regularly murdered. Murderers of Jews are released after being rounded up, detained briefly often after token 'show' trials, and treated for the on looking Israeli and world press like true prisoners, but with covert nudges and winks. Censorship and brutality, kidnaping and extortion are simply every day modus operandi. The proliferation of militias under the guise of different security organizations means a series of rival armed groups marauding unchecked, rampaging and threatening practically at will.
We know of tunnels running from Egypt to Gaza via which arms smuggling continues, in direct contravention of the spirit and letter of the agreements with Israel. 'Vast quantities of illegal weapons are being stockpiled in the West Bank and Gaza - for possible use against Israel, or in any post-Arafat succession battle'.(3) The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem has reported persecution of Arab Christians by Arafat's people such that the trend of their fleeing the Middle East is now accompanied by an open hostility typical of Islamic persecution. There is no rule of law as the incitements to murder, and support of them by the PA Attorney General, in the case of Arabs selling land to Jews, bore clear witness. All this along with the many pronouncements of threats of violence and intifadah and redemption of Palestine by blood and fire makes for a hostility and viciousness running right through Palestinian political culture and which surfaced recently in the actions of those killed as a result of rioting.
The point is that it all runs deeper than just the record of the murderer who heads the incipient and aspiring 'state'. But his example matters and the world turns a blind eye to his theft of funds, fraud, swindling and narco-terrorism. While his people starve, he enjoys hidden bank accounts and luxury. The 'New Kleptocracy' has assumed huge proportions in the case of Arafat and the PA and yet the donor countries turn a wilful blind eye. "=85the entire future of the PLO operation for liberation, may hinge on our exporting more drugs throughout the world" (Sallah Dabbah, then PLO treasury chief).(3)
The illegally built beach residences near Gush Katif, the thefts of cars from Israel, and the refusal to allow extraditions are but further examples of the unwillingness to co-operate with Israel and indeed of the lawless society created under Arafat's aegis. Nothing whatsoever makes the Palestinian Autonomy suitable for statehood. Nor does the absolutely dreadful condition of the economy which cannot be a viable unit without very drastic changes. 'Public statements and wishful thinking aside, the Oslo agreements can contribute little or nothing towards the achievement of economic prosperity'.(4)
Since there is no ethnic, religious, cultural or historical differentiation between a Palestinian and any other Arab in the region, there is no demarcation crying out for recognition as a separate state, as perhaps a Serb might say was operative in his contradistinction from a Croatian. The largely 'Palestinian' population of Jordan strongly suggests that any such demarcation has in any case already been made. In so far as the creation of the state of Israel had anything at all to do with morality: other nations' guilt and sense of the deserving nature of the Jewish people after the Holocaust, no such moral deserving can be found for the repugnant record of human rights abuse and terror among even the Arab hosts of the Palestinians; witness their atrocities in Lebanon before Israel pushed them out and their threat to Jordan before 'Black September'. These once more were while Arafat wielded authority. The attempt at claiming victim status simply does not exculpate from the brutal cruelty and disregard for human life which has characterized them as a social entity wherever they have been. These traits do more than reflect Arafat's own personal cruelty which has been well enough documented.
Such a Palestinian society can add nothing to the region's safety or dignity. It offers nothing except blood lust and the prospect for war. '=85when examined in the context of the evolving circumstances in the region, the urgency for Arafat's radicalism and militancy to erupt is growing'.(5) There is no virtue whatsoever observable in the entity currently clamouring for statehood by which it can be argued that such a status should be deserved and so conferred. Another dictatorship robbing its people and arming for war cannot be justified. One so corrupt and evil should not be created. Israel cannot be expected by rational people to do anything but oppose the creation of so hostile and lawless a neighbor. Intervention to prevent statehood should be the responsible response of the western democracies - before things get even worse. Any other policy defies ethics and sense.
(1) See for example, Khalil Shikaki, 'Countdown to Confrontation', Jerusalem Report, April 16, 1998, p.55 and Ehud Ya'ari, 'Runaway Statehood', ibid., p.30
(2)Khaled Abu Toamech, 'No Farewell to Arms', Jerusalem Report. Ibid., pp.28-9.
(3)For the Kleptocracy and financial comments see Rachel Ehrenfeld, 'Arafat, the World's "Blind Spot"', Ariel Center for Policy Research, Policy Paper 17, 1997, and for the Dabbah quotation p.4 (and footnote 16).
(4)Professor Eliyahu Kanovsky, 'Has the Peace Process Reaped Economic Dividends?' in 'Israel at the Crossroads', Ariel Center for Policy research, 1997, p.24.
(5)Yossef Bodansky, 'Arafat's "Peace Process"', Ariel Center for Policy Research, Policy Paper 18, 1997, p.87.
Christopher Barder is the editor of the ISRAEL BULLETIN published in Swindon, England.