Jan. 11, 2018
The Weakening of the Palestinian Camp – Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Israel Hayom)
President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the ensuing reactions reflected a real change in the international community’s stance toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the weakening of the Palestinian camp.
The U.S. completely undermined the convention that the Palestinian narrative – which rejects the existence of a Jewish people and its sovereign and historical link to the Land of Israel – must not be challenged. The U.S. decision put the myth of the dreaded Arab and Muslim street backlash to the test and proved that the perceived threat was baseless.
The threat to slash funds to the Palestinians over their refusal to cease salary payments to terrorists or to renew diplomatic talks leads to concerns that reducing funds could cause the PA to collapse. But the PA will almost certainly not fall as a result because its existence is first and foremost a Palestinian interest.
The constant Palestinian demand that any final status agreement must first address Palestinian sensitivities effectively marginalizes Israel’s security needs. However, this demand has not deterred President Trump’s Middle East team, and it no longer enjoys the support of Arab countries.
The Palestinians are approaching a decisive juncture and must decide whether to cling to their rejectionist policies and armed struggle or come to terms with the new reality. If American, Israeli and Arab pressure intensifies, it is possible that Fatah will be forced to examine, for the first time, its ability to adhere to the anti-Zionist narrative, which is the primary obstacle to a peace deal.
Yet the chances of this happening are still very small, and Abbas’ advanced age and the consequent power struggle over his successor reduce the chances even further.
The writer, former chief of the research division of IDF Military Intelligence and director general of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs, is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.