Former recess-appointed UN ambassador John Bolton writes that “war in the Gaza Strip demonstrates yet again that the current governance paradigm for the Palestinian people has failed.”
Terrorists financed and supplied by Iran control Gaza; the Palestinian Authority is broken, probably irretrievably; and economic development is stalled in Gaza and the West Bank. Palestinians are suffering the consequences of regional power struggles played out through them as surrogates.
Interestingly, Bolton doesn’t think that Israel’s imprisonment of Gaza and its occupation of the West Bank — both of which make any sort of normal Palestinian political or economic life impossible — merits inclusion in the list of problems with “the current Palestinian governance paradigm.” In fact, Israel figures nowhere in Bolton’s analysis of the current crisis except as an unfortunate victim of Palestinian rocket fire. This is like analyzing Iraq’s sectarian civil war of 2006-7 without mentioning that the U.S. had invaded and occupied the country, only complaining about the U.S. embassy being shelled.
Bolton then declares that “trying to create a Palestinian Authority from the old PLO has failed and that any two-state solution based on the PA is stillborn.”
Instead, we should look to a “three-state” approach, where Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty. Among many anomalies, today’s conflict lies within the boundaries of three states nominally at peace. Having the two Arab states re-extend their prior political authority is an authentic way to extend the zone of peace and, more important, build on governments that are providing peace and stability in their own countries. “International observers” or the like cannot come close to what is necessary; we need real states with real security forces.
Demonstrating the sort of innovative thinking for which the U.S. Senate refused to confirm him, Bolton recognizes that this idea is hugely unpopular in Jordan and Egypt, but suggests this problem could be solved by giving them some money, or something.
What Bolton does not recognize, however, is that the Palestinian people actually have a claim to anything so quaint as their own independent state. We often hear that Hamas and other extremist groups must “recognize Israel’s right to exist,” (a red herring, as recognition is something that is achieved between states, not between an occupying army and a people under its control) but apparently Bolton doesn’t believe that Palestine is entitled to this right. Nor does Bolton consider what the Palestinians themselves might think about his antique Western plan for divvying up the Levant between various powers.