Jan. 25, 2017
- The Losers of 2016: The Palestinians – Walter Russell Mead
In 2016, the Palestinians had one symbolic victory at year’s end: the passage of a UN resolution (passed with a crucial abstention from the U.S.) condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank. But the fact that this toothless declaration from a UN echo chamber, passed with the help of a lame duck American administration, counts as the Palestinians’ main accomplishment only underscores how much trouble their cause is in.
The gap between the capabilities of the Palestinian movement and the Israeli state widens every year. The Palestinian Authority could not pay its bills without annual subsidies from donor governments. The Palestinians remain dependent on the kindness of strangers; their movement is financially and politically beholden to outside forces. Their supporters are as sympathetic as ever, but their friends in Europe and the Arab states are weak and getting weaker, and as they respond to other threats and priorities, they have less and less help to give the Palestinians.
For the Arabs, the double whammy of low oil prices and a rising threat from Iran reduce the ability of the Gulf states to help the Palestinians and reduce their appetite for a confrontation with Israel over Palestinian issues. The Gulf Arabs see the Israelis as a vital regional strategic partner if Iran is to be contained. Egypt welcomes Israeli security assistance against Islamic radicals and movements like Hamas. Jordan needs good relations with Israel to survive. (American Interest)