Who would lead that "Palestinian state" ?

Recognizing a Palestinian state after the October 7 atrocities sends a dangerous message that sexual violence and terrorism against civilians can successfully achieve political gains. Op-ed

Hamas march
Hamas marchFlash 90

As a Palestinian human rights activist, I find it outrageous and deeply troubling that three European countries have announced that they will recognize a Palestinian Arab state in response to the atrocities committed by the terrorist group Hamas on October 7, 2023. Such recognition not only undermines the struggle for genuine peace and human rights but also rewards a terrorist organization for its horrific acts of violence and sexual crimes.

On that fateful day, Hamas terrorists launched a brutal attack on Israel, resulting in the kidnapping of over 240 innocents, most of whom remain hostage or unaccounted for, and the murder of at least 1,200 Israelis. The invasion was not just an act of war but a calculated campaign of terror designed to inflict maximum pain and fear. The images and reports from that day are harrowing: women raped and mutilated, children killed, and entire families wiped out in a matter of hours. Recognizing a Palestinian state under these circumstances sends a dangerous message that sexual violence and terrorism against civilians can successfully achieve political gains.

The question arises:

Who exactly would these countries recognize as the leaders of this new Palestinian state? If established now, this state would undoubtedly be under the control of Hamas. As acclaimed Muslim author - and longtime jihadi target - Salman Rushdie aptly put it: "If there were a Palestinian state now, it would be run by Hamas, and we would have a Taliban-like state. A satellite state of Iran. Is this what the progressive movements of the Western Left want to create?"

Hamas, an Islamist militant group, has shown time and again that its primary goal is not the welfare of the Palestinian Arabs but its charter purpose since its founding in 1987: the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamist theocracy.

However, the alternative—recognizing a Palestinian state run by Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA)—is not much better. Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the PA, has turned the organization into a personal kleptocracy that perpetuates corruption and instability. Abbas's government is notorious for its "Pay-for-Slay" policy, where the PA pays salaries to terrorists serving in Israeli prisons and provides financial support to the families of deceased terrorists. This policy, which costs over $350 million annually, incentivizes acts of terror and rewards the murder of Jews.

Despite the U.S. Congress passing the Taylor Force Act, which aims to cut off aid to the PA unless it abolishes this policy, Abbas continues to uphold it, effectively ensuring that peace remains an elusive dream. The PA's refusal to end these terror payments has led to the forfeiture of over $1 billion in potential U.S. aid in the last three years.

It is crucial to understand that the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza are not ideologically aligned with those in the 'West Bank'. The division was starkly highlighted during the violent coup in which Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 when Hamas fighters threw Fatah supporters off buildings in Gaza as they seized control of the strip. This brutal act was part of a bloody civil war that saw Hamas systematically capture Fatah positions using rockets and mortar shells, leading to execution-style killings in the streets. The event marked the culmination of a year-long power struggle, transforming Gaza into a stronghold of Hamas and leaving the 'West Bank' under equally terrorist Fatah control.

Furthermore, what would the borders of this new state being recognized by these European naifs look like? The geographical and political fragmentation of the Palestinian territories makes establishing a cohesive and functional state exceedingly tricky.

Gaza and the 'West Bank' are not only physically separated by Israeli territory but also politically divided by a deep chasm between the PA and Hamas.

Recognizing a state without clear and agreed-upon borders and without a unified government that represents all Palestinian Arabs is not only impractical but rather reckless and likely to lead to the worst-case outcome envisioned by Mr. Rushdie: a rejectionist theocracy waging war outside of any civilized norms until the bitter end.

The events of October 7 have laid bare the brutal reality of Hamas's ideology and methods. The New York Times investigation revealed the systematic sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas against Israeli women during the attack. Israeli police and medical personnel have documented cases of rape, mutilation, and murder that were part of a broader pattern of sexual violence, torture, and abuse, which have also been confirmed by returned hostages and by the United Nations and the terrorist-filmed brutality screened in Times Square. These acts are not isolated incidents but reflect the deeply intentional strategies reflected in a hostage-taking manual the Hamas invaders had with them on October 7.

To reward such behavior with the recognition of statehood is not only morally indefensible but also sets a dangerous precedent. It tells the world that terrorism, violence, and the gross violation of human rights can be effective tools for achieving political ends. It undermines the principles of justice, human rights, and the rule of law that the international community claims to uphold.

Instead, a concerted effort is needed to support genuine peace and reconciliation. This involves empowering moderate Palestinian Arab voices, strengthening civil society, and ensuring that any path to statehood is predicated on a commitment to nonviolence, democracy, peacemaking, and human rights. The international community should foster dialogue and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs rather than taking actions that could exacerbate tensions and entrench divisions.

To instead reward the dysfunctional and violent factions that constitute present-day Palestinian Authority governance with "statehood," albeit unrecognized by Israel, the U.S., and other countries in the wake of the October 7 atrocities, would be a grave mistake. It would reward Hamas's campaign of terror and undermine the prospects for a genuine and lasting peace.

I urge the international community to reject such recognition and instead support efforts that promote peace, justice, and the welfare of all people in the region. The path to a Palestinian state must be paved with dialogue, mutual recognition, and a steadfast commitment to human rights—not the blood of innocents.

Reposted from the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

Bassem Eid is a Jerusalem-based Palestinian political analyst, human rights pioneer and expert commentator on Arab and Palestinian affairs. He grew up in an UNRWA refugee camp. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @realbassemeid

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