PA Arabs Losing Interest in Independent State

There are indications that the Annapolis Conference comes at the tail end of the movement for an independent PA state.

Ezra HaLevi ,

Though the Annapolis Conference is widely seen in Israel as an effort to keep the Olmert government alive, there are indications it comes at the tail end of the movement for a PA state.

“It would not be a great exaggeration to conclude that the Palestinian national movement has ceased to exist in recent years,” writes political correspondent Danny Rubinstein for Haaretz. “The institutions of the PLO, which were to represent all groups among the Palestinian people, have become outdated and of little importance.”

Rubinstein, in fact a leading proponent of a Palestinian state, laments that many top PA officials have returned to their countries of origin and given up on carving from Israel another Arab state in the Middle East, for the Palestinians. “Nabil Shaath, a PLO veteran who was a minister in the Palestinian government after returning with Arafat and settling in Gaza, has return to his home in Cairo where he runs a thriving business,” Rubinstein notes. “Muhammad Dahlan and Hasan Asfor, who not long ago were ministers and powerful advisors in Gaza, now spend most of their time in Cairo with their families. In Ramallah, it is estimated that 50,000 residents have left the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] in recent years, most to return to their homes and property in Amman. They had come to Ramallah and Nablus to work in PA offices there.”

Though he does not mention it and presumably would not support it, Rubinstein seems to conclude that MK Benny Elon’s Israeli Initiative - to reengage Jordan and Egypt with regard to Judea, Samaria and Gaza – is the way of the future. “With the failure of the PA experiment, the Arab states have begun to return to the scene. The Jordanian government, with the encouragement of Israel, is establishing a renewed presence in the West Bank…King Abdullah II and government leaders in Amman are careful to publicly announce that they have no designs on the West Bank. While this may be true, there is no doubt that their interest in events there is growing. There is every reason to expect further cooperation between the West Bank and the East Bank in Jordan, which will also have political consequences.”
Another report bolsters Rubinstein’s assessment, with PA Arabs massively trying to obtain Israeli citizenship. Reportedly, thousands of PA Arabs living in the areas surrounding Jerusalem have submitted applications to become Israeli citizens, fearing the rise of a PA entity along the borders of the Partition Wall following the Annapolis conference.

Arabs in the surrounding neighborhoods listed as part of Jerusalem’s municipality were offered citizenship after the Six Day War, but many refused. Since then, according to officials, only a few dozen applications were received each year.