Last week's Israeli government cabinet meeting included a discussion of possible scenarios for when the Palestinian Authority collapses. This would bring the Jewish and Arab population of Judea and Samaria to where they were before the Oslo Accords were signed, and leave Israel responsible for finding a way to deal with the Arab population of the region. This is, of course, taking into account that Gaza now has a stable and legitimate government, a Hamas government, a fact Israel is willing to live with indefinitely.
The important question is what Israel will do with Judea and Samaria, when the world demands a two state solution. Does Israel have a partner to deal with?
The first time Israel agreed to establish an official Palestinian Arab body was at the Camp David Accords, the agreement reached between Israel and Egypt in 1978. In these agreements, then Prime Minister Menachem Begin agreed to establish an autonomous authority for the Palestinian Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza with "a strong police force." This agreement was rejected by the PLO which saw it as "granting Arab legitimacy to the Zionist entity and Egyptian abrogation of the right to independent decision making by the Palestinian people."
The PLO did not agree to autonomy and demanded a Palestinian state on the ruins of the state of Israel. It saw no way to recognize Israel as a legitimate state, even if it took up just one square millimeter of "Palestine." The Camp David Accords led to peace between Egypt and Israel, but to no breakthrough on the Palestinian issue. Since the 1980s, Israel has been searching for a recognized, accepted Palestinian body that will take the responsibility for enforcing law and order in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. In the early 1980s, Ariel Sharon gathered a few people on the margins of Arab society, gave them Uzis and authority, named them "The Association of Villages" and hoped they would enforce law and order in their surroundings. The experiment failed, in large part because Sharon did not depend on the heads of local clans, the large extended families called hamoulot who form the traditional leadership in Judea and Samaria's cities, but whom he felt wielded too much power. People who knew the situation well warned him not to give weapons to these marginal people, but Sharon, who did not make a habit of taking advice, did not listen to them.
Another attempt to seek out Palestinian Arab leadership was towards the end of the first Intifada, the uprising started in late 1987 and brought Hamas
Several months earlier, as a result of the October 1991 Madrid Conference, secret contacts were initiated between several Israelis and PLO representatives in Oslo, Norway. Those contacts led to the signing of the Oslo Agreements on the White House lawn in September 1993. The agreements were based on the illusion that the PLO had put down its arms, turned into a peace movement, given up its plans to eliminate Israel, would change the PLO Covenant, recognize Israel and accept the responsibility of creating something that is less than a state on the territory Israel would hand over to PLO control. Everyone knows how that story ended, but the signs were there from the beginning. It is simply a case of there are "none so blind as those who will not see."
The Oslo Agreements created the Palestinian Authority, an entity which quickly abrogated its first mission, that of fighting terror. Instead, it continued its anti-Israel incitement in the media, the public sphere and the educational system (whose budget was made up of overseas donations). Since then, the PLO continues the battle against Israel on the international stage and pushes for BDS.
The establishment of the Palestinian Authority allowed terrorists wielding Kalashnikov rifles to take over its Legislative Council in the January 2006 elections and go on to take over Gaza in June 2007. All the polls taken so far point to a clear victory for Hamas in the next Palestinian Authority elections – if there ever are any – and that includes capturing the position of chairman, so that the act of exercising democracy will turn Judea and Samaria into a terrorist state.
This leads to the generally accepted remark that "there is no Palestinian partner", since it has become clear to all that the PLO has no desire for a peaceful state alongside Israel. In fact, it hopes to establish a terror state on Israel's ruins and the last twenty years have sufficed to convince most Israelis of the futility of trying to change that. Much of the left has realized that the Oslo Accords were a fatal mistake, but has not come up with an alternative to the two-state solution, continuing to see the Palestinian Arabs as a "nation" with the right to self-rule.
The real truth about the Arab world has become obvious over the last few years. The modern Arab state is a dismal failure that did not succeed in convincing its own citizens that it is a better choice than clinging to traditional tribal loyalties and ethnic groups (Arabs, Kurds, etc.), religious groups (Muslim, Christian, Alawite, Druze, etc.) and warring groups within the same religion (Shiite, Sunni, etc.). The nationalism offered by the modern state has failed to create a Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan, or Sudanese basis for a national consciousness and the proof of that is playing out in front of our eyes as we witness the terrible civil wars that show where the real loyalties of each population sector lie.
There is no "Palestinian nation" either. The Arab residents of the land of Israel west of the Jordan are really made up of tribes and clans with accepted tribal leadership and binding social traditions. They live in demarcated areas and enjoy active lives in their communities. The PA, a creation of the PLO, just like Syria, Iraq, Libya and Sudan, has failed to find its way into Palestinian Arab hearts. The only thing uniting them all is hatred of Israel, so that if a state does get established in PA territory, it will, in all probability, turn into another Gaza at best or into another Libya and Syria in the worst case scenario.
Israel and the rest of the world must not support the establishment of another failed Arab state based on the illusory concept of a non-existent people which will soon bring untold suffering on its citizens and their neighbors.
What is that elusive alternative people keep on looking for? The alternative solution exists. In the Middle East the right thing to do is to establish states on the basis of tribal loyalties. That is the basis of the Gulf States: Kuwait, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharqa, and Umm al-Quwain. These are tranquil, stable emirates, each with a majority of citizens who are members of a single tribe.
A homogeneous society creates stability, a legitimate legal framework and a legitimate government. The citizens of an emirate do not fight each other because they belong to the same tribe, and can turn their oil into prosperity. Saudi Arabia and Oman are also countries that have tribal cultures that keep them stable. Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Sudan are oil producing, but life in those countries is short and bitter because of the endless fighting between rival groups. These are fragile and illegitimate countries created by British, French and Italian colonialist powers, all based on the Western model of a nation.
This is also the way we must address the Palestinian Arab problem, and instead of creating another failed Western-model state that has no chance of succeeding in the Middle East, create seven emirates in the Arab cities of Judea and Samaria, based on the powerful extended families in each of those cities. Hevron can be the emirate of the Jabri, Abu Sneineh, Qawasmi, Natsheh and Tamimi tribes, Jericho of the Erekat tribe, Ramallah of the Barghouti tribe, Nablus of the al Masri, Tukan and Shak'ah tribes and so on in Tulkarm, Kalkilya and Jenin.
Anyone who has not yet noticed, is asked to look at Gaza where since June 2007 (eight years!) there is a functioning state.
In addition, Israel has to remain in control in the villages and surrounding areas of Judea and Samaria in order to prevent the formation of a terrorist contiguity uniting the discrete city-emirates, but.Israel can then offer citizenship to the residents of these villages who make up only about 10% of the Arabs in Judea and Samaria. The other 90% can stay in their independently run city-states.
These are the broad parameters of a program based on the "partner" to be found in each city-emirate, the natural, traditional leadership of the large clans in each city. Israel must negotiate with each emirate and reach an agreement with each one on the issues of electricity, water, waste, roads, industry, agriculture, traffic, security, the use of ports and airspace, and the boundary lines of each. If the emirates wish to form a federation, so be it. That doesn't pose a problem as long as their territories are not allowed to be contiguous.
The PLO, the organization that runs the Palestinian Authority, never agreed to the existence of the state of Israel as a Jewish state, and is therefore not a partner for peace. Israel, however, has a partner in each Judea and Samaria city. Israel must bring about the collapse of the PLO and PA, the two entities preventing a lasting peace agreement with the residents of Judea and Samaria, who will then be able to establish thriving emirates on the lines of Dubai, if not even better.
The PLO, Hamas and Islamic Jihad want only wars, death and destruction, while peace between Israel and the Emirates will lead to growth and prosperity.
For a more detailed explanation, see www.palestinianemirates.com.