Israel should let the Palestinian Authority collapse, particularly in the wake of its unilateral statehood bid at the United Nations, says Professor Efraim Inbar.
Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) at Bar-Ilan University, was interviewed by the Besheva Hebrew-language weekly this week. The interview was published several hours before the United Nations voted to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to a non-member observer state.
Besheva: Mahmoud Abbas is going to the UN to request the status of a non-member state. How do you view this move?
Inbar: "I'm not too upset by it. The Palestinian Authority is a fictional entity. It continues to exist only because of the IDF, and if we are not there, Hamas will take over take the place. I'm not sure it is right for us to continue to support the Palestinian Authority. We should let it fall apart."
Maybe now they are fiction, but they are going to the UN to upgrade their status.
"The UN is irrelevant. This move won’t bring them closer to a state. What matters is only the facts. I think the strategic decision that was recently passed by the forum of nine senior ministers, to support them financially, is not good for the Jews. There is no obligation to give them money. It's just like that same old nonsense of giving gas and electricity to Hamas in Gaza."
What can the new status give them?
"In terms of international law it gives them more options to act against the State of Israel."
Can they form alliances? Establish a strong army? Bring in weapons?
"No. We control the area. They cannot do anything. They can form an alliance with whomever they want."
Abbas is claiming that the whole move is designed to revive the political process so that he can come to the negotiating table with a status equal to that of the Israelis.
"I do not understand what has prevented him from holding negotiations for the last three years."
I have heard that there was an attempt to calm Israel down and say there's a difference between someone who asks for status of a non-member state and someone who asks for the status of a state. Is there something in that?
"These legal nuances are nonsense. There is a Palestinian Authority here that works against us and we should know how to operate against them. I'm not sure we are treating them the way they ought to be treated. Those are our enemies."
And their bid is expected to pass.
"The UN can decide anything. There is an automatic majority there for the Palestinians. I would even suggest that Israel leave the United Nations. There’s no reason for us to be partners in an institution that is morally bankrupt. We do not need to give a hand to this organization and we should work with the Americans to get them to stop funding them.”
Is such a move possible?
"What do we get from the UN? We just pay. We are condemned all the time. Why should be members of such an institution that spits on us? For some reason the Foreign Ministry likes it, and if they are masochists then let them be the ones to go to the United Nations..."
Can a country conduct itself independently today, without being a member of the UN?
“Absolutely. Take Taiwan for example. It was thrown out of the UN and it functions very well."
And in terms of the legal status of the residents of Judea and Samaria, should something change in the eyes of the world?
"The legal issues are minor issues. I do not attach importance to them. What matters is power."
Do you think Israel's actions against this move by Abbas is reasonable?
"I'm not sure we know what we're going to do, because after all we cannot prevent the move. If they want to go to the UN, they’ll go. Then they can decide that you and I are dinosaurs [and that will pass in the General Assembly as well]. Well, so what? The question is what to do with this creature called the Palestinian Authority and not what to do with the UN.”
How serious were the reports of American attempts to prevent the move?
"I do not know what the American national interest is. It’s hard to understand them. After all, Obama favors the Palestinians and does not want to get involved. He does not want to hurt the dialogue between the parties. I do not think there is such a dialogue and that is why we need to do only what is good for us. Maybe the Americans took steps, but Obama is weak and even the Palestinians dismiss him.”
The day after the redefinition of the Palestinians at the UN, how do you believe Israel should act?
"The question is, again, not how to act when they go to the UN, but what to do with a Palestinian entity that makes claims against us, that runs an anti-Israel campaign all over the world, that educates its people toward hatred of Israel. That is the question. Going to the UN is less significant.”
And what is your answer to this question? How to treat them?
"We have to let them fail."
Then there is a concern that Hamas will take over the area.
"We will not allow Hamas to take over the area. We will rule. Maybe not the whole area, but we will control the security space. We should prepare to put up with some disturbances, and stop paying lip service to the paradigm of two states for two peoples. It simply does not work because there is no partner on the other side.”
And in terms of international law, we will not be responsible for them?
"There’s no need for us to be responsible for them. I am not prepared to be responsible for the food that comes or does not come to them. It's their problem, not ours. What, must I take care of the whole world? We left their big cities in 1996 and that's it. Everything they do there is their own problem. If they want to be nice to us then we’ll help them, if not then we won’t.”
Such a policy invites international pressure on us.
"Yes. There would be international pressure and we will wihtstand it. If the Europeans want to help them, let them help them. We do not especially want hungry neighbors. That's not good for us either, but I'm not responsible for them. If they don’t know how to support their actions, that's their problem. Just as I’m not responsible for the Arabs in Somalia, so is the case here. The Palestinians are a failing entity and that’s their problem. We should intervene only in cases where we have a clear security interest.”
That means full security control over the entire area.
"Of course. What, do we want rockets on Jerusalem?"
If I understand what you’re saying, you are supporting the remarks of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, that the Israeli response to the Palestinian move at the UN should be the collapse of Abbas’s rule.
"We do not need to help him. That's all. He will fall apart on his own. We should not help our enemies."
Meanwhile, we do exactly the opposite.
"Yes. We give him money, safeguard him from Hamas, and what does he give in return? We need to change our mindset. And if the world wants to send them money for them to waste on Abbas’s sons, in order to make them wealthier, let it go ahead…”